Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Clinton Ends With a Gusher

If there is one thing we can count on, it's that the Presidential Tournament All Star Games will provide some interesting times both on and off the table.  If you remember, while the former stars of baseball were battling each other in their world during these things in the past, we were battling yellow jackets, fat kids and construction crews with power equipment in ours.  It's been quite an experience.

The Yankee Boy managed his American League Clinton Tournament All Stars to a wins in the first two games to give the 1995 Red Sox the home field advantage in the championship series against the 1994 Astros.  They put it to good use, as the Sox swept the 'Stros 9-2 and 6-1 in a less than dramatic series.

But left unfinished was the third and final game of the All Star series.  One thing for sure about this tournament director, Bill Clinton.  He doesn't like to stop something once he's started.  So, we agreed to Clinton should be brought to an end.

We loaded up the truck and headed out to Pulaski Park on Lake Cumberland, found a nice quiet picnic shelter, and set up shop.  It was truly a tranquil and beautiful spot for an early morning APBA baseball game between father and son.

The game wasn't particularly necessary.  We do use the 2 out of 3 format to determine home field in the championship, but that was accomplished in the first 2 games.  Instead, this was for bragging rights and to honor a legend.

We always seem to add a little something each time we do these.  For this event, we elected to add two honorary players to each team.  We would pick two favorite players from each league who retired during the time frame (1991-1995) and add their last card to that team.  After reviewing my options, I chose Gary Carter and Dale Murphy to join the National League, while Yankee Boy added George Brett and Dave Winfield to the AL.  These last year cards appeared to provide only a hint of the former greatness that each possessed earlier in their careers. Our goal was to try to get these players into a game at some point in the series.

In Game 2, with the AL taking a 5-4 lead in the top of the 8th, George Brett blasted a Steve Bedrosian offering and drove it deep into the Rockie Mountain sky and over the outfield fence, to put the AL team up 7-4.  Brett would single later in the 9th for a perfect 2 for 2 night.

Just as Game 3 started moving into the middle innings, the bulldozer and front end loader fired up and began their assault on our peaceful APBA environment.  By now, we are old pros at playing through adverse conditions.  Leaf blowers blowing debris have no effect on us.  We laugh at men in bucket trucks working over our heads with chain saws cutting limbs down on top of our picnic shelters.  Little nosey kids who want to interrupt our games with stories about skinned knees and Hostess snack cakes are met with cold shoulders and icy stares.  We are APBA men.  We play in all types of adverse conditions.

But as the heavy equipment kept working closer and closer to our location, beating, banging and screeching their way along, moving dirt and transforming the landscape, the Yankee Boy looked at me and said, "Is this picnic shelter scheduled to be demolished?"  Being the wise father and needing to bring sage advice to this potentially disasterous situation, I answered, "Probably not.  Let's play on."

With only bragging rights (and general humiliation) left, the Yankee Boy had started both of his legends.  George Brett batted 3rd and played first base, and Dave Winfield batted cleanup and played left field.  With this handicap, I was sure to blow out the American League squad.

In the bottom of the first inning George Brett doubled home Kenny Lofton to score the games' first run.  In the bottom of the 3rd, Brett led off the inning with a base hit to run his Clinton All Star batting total to a perfect 4 for 4.  The hit streak ended there, as Brett failed to get a safety in his final 3 at bats, but his heroics did not.

In a further attempt to humiliate the Nationals, the American League manager vowed to use every single player on his roster in the game.  This was a good strategy except for one thing.  As the game headed to the late innings, the score was close and extra innings would ruin his plans.

Just as suddenly as the equipment had started, it quit.  Looking over the opposing managers' shoulder, I saw the reason.  The dozer had dug a little too deep in the wrong spot, hit a water line, and just like that, we had a squirter!  Water was shooting out everywhere, but our game trudged on in the muck and the mud. (Well, actually, there was no mud or muck anywhere near us or our cards, but you get the idea.) 

Rick Wilkins of the Cubs blasted a solo home run in the 7th to break the tie and give the Nationals a 5-4 lead.  Ken Griffey, Jr. returned the favor with a solo shot of his own in the bottom of the 8th, and the game headed into the 9th inning knotted 5-5.  

With no plans of saving any pitchers, Jeff Nelson, Dennis Eckersley and Jose Mesa were intended to split the 8th and 9th innings.  * Relievers have a 1 inning pitch limit under out All Star game rules.  Nelson, Eckersley and Mesa each worked their 2/3 of an inning as planned.  However, the AL could not score in the final frame of regulation, sending the game into a 10th inning.  Now the plan looked bad.

Reality set in on the young manager.  His evil plan had backfired!  With no one left in the bull pen, Yankee Boy allowed Mesa to get his full inning by retiring Bagwell with a fly to right field for the first out of the 10th.  Faced with no graded pitchers, George Brett was sent to the mound to pitch.  Why not?  The 40 year old had already dominated me in the batter's box; why not the pitchers mound?  He coaxed a pop out from Vinny Castilla and Dante Bichette took a called strike 3 to get out of the 10th inning.  Geez, Brett was killing me.  He couldn't retire fast enough.

When the AL failed to score in the bottom of the 10th, Brett climbed the mound again.  Larry Walker ended Brett's fun with a 11-1 home run that broke the tie.  Greg Jefferies followed with a double and moved to third on a base hit by Ryne Sandberg.  

A boat was coming out of the lake, and the boy noticed an odd situation.  The guy in the boat had his hands on the wheel and appeared to be trying to "drive" the boat on the trailer being pulled by a truck.  I told the boy, "I think he's gaining on him."  You see a lot of interesting sights around the lake.

With the water line still spewing water at high volume, with people driving their boats down the road, and with my National League team having a lead and a rally going, Barry Larkin's 61-23 (Game called because of rain) finished the Clinton project suddenly, unexpectedly and prematurely.  But that was ok.  With a 1 run lead, I had won.  I'll take what wins I can get.

In all the tournament games we've played, there has not been a single rain out.  Of course, there were no water lines broken in the process of any game before either.  It certainly was not the way we anticipated it wrapping up, but Bill was relieved with knowing he finally had a happy ending without needing to go to the cleaners.


  1. Joel,

    What are the charts I see on the table, such as the Optional Defensive Grade Chart?

    1. Yes, we use advanced Defensive Grade Charts as well as Pitching Charts (similar to the Coxx Chart) to add a little extra degree of realism.