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The Yawkey Way (1974) [OOTP]

Started By CatKnight, Mar 29, 2015 12:49 AM

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#1

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March 1974
Boston, Massachusetts



United Flight 169 from Cleveland dropped out of clouds at 12,000 feet into a warm (for March), brilliant morning. She was a Boeing 737-200, almost brand new with less than 1,000 hours wear, and her red, white and blue hull arced gracefully through the sky as she banked into the traffic pattern at Logan International.

She was a full flight with some 120 people on board including crew, mostly businessmen with a handful of revelers in the back rows determined to paint the city green well in advance of St. Patrick's Day. Of the former, there were two situated in first class near the cockpit. The elder was in his forties, a thick, heavy shouldered man with receding brown hair. His companion was some ten years younger, shorter and smaller: A man more used to the office than the playing field. That would be me.

"You will love Boston, I'm sure," Haywood Sullivan said. "There is no other city quite like it in the world, and no team quite like the Red Sox." He lifted his champagne glass in salute and drained it before giving it to the passing stewardess.

Perhaps that should have been my first warning - or my sixth: Boston's Director of Player Operations, for all intents and purposes their Assistant GM, practically inviting me to supersede him. When I hit my thirtieth birthday I thought myself a man of the world. It turned out I didn't have a clue. Ambition drove out all other thought: I could play second fiddle to Phil Seghi in Cleveland, a team that hadn't won the pennant since '54, or I could run the Red Sox, who needed just one tiny nudge to turn into a dynasty.

"I look forward to meeting Mr. Yawkey," I replied, which was true enough. Boston's patriarch bought the team before I was even alive. I imagined he knew more about baseball than I ever would. If they were sincere about offering me the GM position, and all signs pointed to 'yes', I looked forward to learning from the best.

"Please, call him Tom. Oh, and his wife, Jean. We are all family here."

------------

The Yawkeys' inner sanctum was a suite at the Ritz-Carlton: Bedroom (which I never saw), dining room, living room, pantry and library, all with marble floors, scones on the walls intricately detailed arches, paintings, wood furniture. The living room alone displayed more wealth than I'd seen in my lifetime.

A Ritz-Carlton employee opened the door to let us in: Pandemonium. Boxes everywhere. Another harrassed employee putting decorations on a shelf. The Yawkeys wintered in South Carolina, and coming 'home' was always an adventure. In the middle of the living room, directing traffic like a police officer, was a woman in her sixties or seventies. Haywood paced over to her and she smiled. He whispered, and sharp eyes focused on me. Then she nodded at him and pat his arm. Sullivan indicated a set of double doors and I followed him through.

"Was that Mrs. Yawkey?" I asked.

"Jean. Yes," he confirmed. "Let her get the house in order and I'll introduce you."

The library, really a small nook with two empty shelves and a desk, held two men. The younger, leaning over the desk and pointing something out on one of the papers, looked up and smiled politely. Smaller man, wide and intent eyes. "Tom, Haywood's here."

"I can see that," rasped the older man. Tom Yawkey was once a broad shouldered, strong man but I could see where age had stolen some of that strength with hollows around his throat and temples. He could still smile though, and his eyes, though perhaps a bit tired, were clear enough. Yawkey lumbered to his feet. "Mister Grey? It's a pleasure." He shook my hand. "John, perhaps you and Haywood can wait outside? This should only take a few minutes."

Once the two left, Yawkey's gaze following them, he sat back with a sigh. "How do you like Boston, Mister Grey?"

"I like it fine, sir." I sat across from him. "I...it's a beautiful city." Not that I'd seen any of it.

"I love Boston," he answered. "And I love the Red Sox. So long as you feel the same, we can do business. All this..." He indicated the papers on his desk, "...is a labor of love for me, and I want my employees to feel the same."

He hadn't asked a question, so I nodded politely.

"When Dick let me know his heart wasn't in it anymore, I brought him to South Carolina for a talk." Dick O'Connell was the former Red Sox general manager, who'd stepped aside only days before pitchers and catchers reported to Winter Haven. "I tried to reason with him, and to be honest I don't think he said whatever needed to be said. Perhaps it's my fault. It's true I didn't cordially like him, and my wife would barely speak with him, but he was good at his job. I respected his decisions."

"Yes, sir."

"Tom," he corrected. "This left an opening, and your name came up. I'd like to know, in general, what you'd do with my team if I offered you the position."

"Well, sir...Tom, your team is in a strong position to win the division or pennant already. I'd perhaps seek out a reliever or two to bolster the bullpen, and I'm worried about your depth and staying power. The team's young and lacks coherent leadership from the..."

He leaned forward. "You don't think Yastrzemski will do?"

"He might." 1B/OF Carl Yastrzemski had been with the team since 1961. 10 time All Star, 6 Gold Gloves, one MVP and a fan favorite in the bargain. If he could keep healthy for another five years or so it was hard to imagine him not getting into Cooperstown. "I've never met him."

Yawkey nodded. "That's fair enough. Anyway that's more Darrell's territory." Darrell was the team's new manager. "I agree with your assessment, but would add the need for a stronger second baseman. Catcher and center field are set, and if (Rick) Burleson does what I expect than shortstop should be fine as well. You'd agree that a solid center core is vital to success?"

"Of course." Personally I leaned towards pitching: Visions of Bob Gibson and Denny McLain absolutely dominating 1968 flashed through my mind, but perhaps this was my first lesson at Yawkey's knee.

"Good." Yawkey inhaled and suddenly looked tired. As if on cue, his wife strode in with pills and a glass of water. Tom took both and waved at her. "My wife..."

"Jean? It's a pleasure to meet you." I stood up and offered my hand, mine turned so as to take hers.

The beginning of a polite smile died when I said her name, and her brow arched. "Mister Grey," she replied distantly. She clasped my fingertips for a fraction of a second before turning back. "Dear, if you're finished with the gentlemanyou should come rest. I've already sent Haywood and John away."

Yawkey nodded agreement and rose. "Mister Grey, I've arranged rooms for you here over night. I need to make a few calls...talk to a few people, but you will have my answer in the morning.



#2

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Introduction:

I'm probably speaking to the choir when I say that OOTP 16 is the best version of the best baseball simulator out there. For me it's the little changes that increased my immersion and ability to really feel like I have a handle on things to try and tell my story.

The 1974 BoSox are one year away from their championship run in 1975. Tom Yawkey, the team's well liked but controversial owner for most of their history, is still alive. The team is young and ready, and for awhile it looked like they might win the AL East. Being young, however, they tired towards the end and injuries betrayed them.

Further, the vultures are just beginning to circle. Following Yawkey's death there was a great deal of politicking surrounding the secession, which finally ended in a very public and humiliating trial that pit general partner against general partner. We'll attempt to navigate that maelstrom and perhaps give the 'Sox a better history than in our world. Or at least just survive.

Needless to say, this is a fictional account that involves people both living and dead. Any similarities are possibly coincidental, and anything I get wrong is completely my error. If you don't think a person would behave like I portray them, please consider it an alternate reality and not a reflection on who they are/were.

Onward!



#3

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March 1974
Winter Haven, Florida



Roger Moret stood on the mound. He was a tall man, lean with dark skin and brown eyes. A Latino hailing from Puerto Rico, according to my scouting report, he would never be on the level of say Tom Seaver or Steve Carlton, but we expected solid contributions from him. He was 13-2 last year with 3 saves, but Darrell wanted to convert him to a full time starter. The fact he asked my opinion was flattering, but I had no real insight. If he could keep his fastball in the 90s through nine innings, then why not.

Moret's opponent was another black man, this one a little stouter and more muscular. Younger also. Moret pitched. The ball hissed at them, then at the last second abruptly veered outside. The batter swung viciously and nearly tied himself in a knot.

"Patience!" Johnson yelled from my side. "You don't have to swing at everything!" He shook his head as Bob Montgomery, our probable backup catcher, tossed the ball back to Moret. "I was never that young," he joked.

I smiled. "Who is he?" I nodded at the plate.

"Jim?" He grinned in return. "Jim Rice. Give me a few years to teach him DISCIPLINE," he yelled the last, "and he'll give you 30 or 40 taters a year. He has real power if he can connect. Strong as an ox and knows what he's doing."

"Will he make the team this year?" I asked.

He shrugged. "That's up to you, Jeff, but if it were me we have enough outfielders to let him get good and ready. He's only twenty. Give him a year in Pawtucket, then ask me again."

I nodded. So far I found Johnson..pliable. Perhaps too much so. His players liked him well enough for his easy-going manner, but whether that served a young team trying to come into its own remained to be seen. He went along with all my suggestions regarding strategy, including the unconventional ones.

boston%2074%20staff_zpskkghlbfk.jpg

Of his junior staff, the bench coach had Minor League experience but no success. The trainer, Buddy LeRoux, had experience but no chance to really prove his skills. He seemed more interested in building a private financial empire than serving the team. The hitting coach was brand new, while the pitching coach got an earful from reliever Bill "Spaceman" Lee and tendered his resignation.

"We have our minor league coaches helping out, but that's not going to do us any good when the season starts," he told me.

"I know. Haywood's interviewing candidates for me. We should find you someone good soon."

Johnson nodded. "I hope so."

We watched Rice whiff through a 78 mph changeup. "How do you like our chances this year?"

He glanced at me. "That depends. I know Tom gave you instructions. What did he say?"

"Why does it matter what Tom said?"

Darrell frowned at me. "I'm curious what he thinks, that's all."

owner%20goals_zpssimoyanx.jpg

"He told us not to completely suck."

Johnson laughed. "I think I can guarantee that!"

"And a pennant?" I pressed. 

He hesitated. "I...don't know Jeff. We have a good team, we really do, but Baltimore's always dangerous and I hear that new owner in New York is insane."

"Who?"

"Some shipping mogul, name of Steinbrenner. I hear he's giving his team a blank check."

"Don't worry, Darrell. Money doesn't win championships. People do, and we have the talent." It sounded false even to me, but with the reserve clause in place the only place Steinbrenner's money would do any good is in trades. We could hold our own.

Moret pitched. Rice swung and hit with a loud crack, not unlike a gun shot. The ball soared, soared into the brilliant Florida sunlight. I lost it there. For all I know, it's still going.



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#4

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This is so good...


GLF--Nebraska Knights

 

WWPF--Rams (2017 NFC West Champs)

CBL--Vallejo Admirals (2016 and 2017 BACK 2 BACK CBL Premier Cup CHAMPIONS)


#5

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NOppenheimer:  Thanks for the welcome!  Enjoy!

 

March 1974
Spring Training


"Look, I'm not saying you're wrong," I told Haywood on the phone. "I just wish he had more experience."

"Well, do you want to fire him?" he replied. "He'll be there today."

"No, no. I'm sure he'll be fine." I shook my head at the receiver. "Next time: More experience."

"Hey, you wanted the best candidate that we could get quickly - quickly being the operative word here. Most of the..."

I tuned Sullivan out at that point and let him give his rambling defense. I really wasn't angry or upset, just a little disappointed. Our new pitching coach, Nick Robbins. Major League experience: None. Minor League experience: None. A college manager from Ontario with delusions of grandeur.

By the time I got off the phone, my nagging headache had found a set of gongs and started ringing them in my ears. I retreated to the air conditioned infirmary where the team's trainer, Eddie LeRoux waited. He took one look at me and bid me lie down.

"What news from up north?" he asked glibly, rifling through his shelf for something more powerful than aspirin.

"Haywood's found us a pitching coach."

"Oh?" He pulled down a bottle. Frowned. Put it back. "Any good?"

"God knows."

"Oh." He found what he wanted and poured a pill into his hand. "How much did you say you weigh?"

"Huh? Oh, about one-ninety."

LeRoux nodded and poured out a second pill. "Try this."

Within minutes the gongs had gone away. I lay with a cloth over my eyes to blot out the light, listening as LeRoux puttered about humming to himself. This early in spring training there were any number of stretches and strains, but nothing serious. Nothing a combination of ice, pain killers and amphetamines couldn't answer for.

"Do you want some advice?" he finally asked out of the darkness.

I doubted it, but I also doubted this was my last headache and these pills were lovely. I waved at him to continue.

"Just don't trust Haywood with anything too important. Think of it this way: Tom likes him. Jean adores him. If he was really any good, don't you think Tom would have hired him and not you?"

About two hours later I stepped into the Florida sunshine. I'd made a number of trades during my first week on the job and it badly disrupted team chemistry: Your battery mate yesterday might be your opponent today. In a rare show of force, Darrell Johnson let me know it was hard to build a regimen when he didn't even know who to expect to show up. I promised him that, for now, I was done tinkering.

Analysis_zpsfngo91r5.jpg

The team I'd inherited had one glaring weakness: Relief. I dealt with that. Tom wanted a better second baseman? Found him one. I even traded for an all star pitcher to bolster our rotation. Frankly I was quite pleased with my first week.

"Hey! You must be Mister Grey, eh?" A pale man in everyday clothing - pink shirt, slacks, shoes - hustled across the diamond towards me. "I'm your new pitching coach!"

"Mister...Mister Robbins. It's good to meet you." 

"Sorry about the clothes, just came from the airport! I'm anxious to get started," he said. We shook hands. "I'll get changed right away, eh?"

"That would...that would be great." I pointed to where the pitchers were practicing. "Those are yours."

We watched as Luis Tiant planted a 95 mph fastball into catcher Carlton Fisk's mitt with an audible pop.

"Wow, he's pretty fast," Robbins commented. He scratched his head. "Well, I'll think of something."

Great.

*******

Trades:
Boston to Cincinnati: 1B Danny Cater (age 34) (.313 1 HR-24 RBI in 1973)
Cincinnati to Boston: RP Rawly Eastwick (23) (Rookie)

* Cater will probably make the roster and play second fiddle to Tony Perez, giving 27 year old Roger Freed more time to develop. Eastwick will also probably make the roster. He adds depth to the bullpen but probably isn't my best.

Boston to Texas: C Bob Montgomery (29) (.320 7-25)
Texas to Boston: 2B Cesar Tovar (33) (.268 1-21 w Phillies)

* Montgomery will be backup catcher for Jim Sundberg in Texas. Tovar is primarily there to make Mr. Yawkey happy and will be on the opening day roster.

Boston to St. Louis: 2B Dick McAuliffe (34) (.274 12-47 w Detroit)
St. Louis to Boston: 3B Ken Reitz (22) (.235 6-42)

* McAuliffe can make a good case for being the Cards' starting 2B this year. Reitz is with us for depth: He'll back up Rico Petrocelli.

Boston to Baltimore: 2B John Kennedy (32) (.181 1-16)
Boston to Baltimore: 2B Chuck Goggin (28) (.289 0-7 w Braves)
Boston to Baltimore: C Bob Didier (25) (.455 0-1 in 25 AB w Tigers)
Baltimore to Boston: SP Jim Palmer (28) (22-9, 1 SV, 2.40)

* At first this looks like robbery: Three part timers for the Cy Young winner. Didier probably doesn't even make Baltimore's roster. I did some digging around though: Palmer may be declining early. Further, Baltimore's owner wants to cut payroll and Palmer's one of the highest paid players in baseball.

California to Baltimore: SP Rudy May (29) (7-17 4.38)
Baltimore to California: 1B Tommy Davis (34) (.306 7-89)
Baltimore to California: RF Mike Reinbach (24) (Rookie)

* Even before Palmer was traded, Rudy May would probably make the starting rotation for Baltimore. Now it's certain. California has a glut of 1B, but Davis probably still makes the opening day roster as a backup for Tommy McCraw. Reinbach needs time to develop.


Major Injuries
Philadelphia: RP Tom Underwood (20)(Rookie): 4 months, shoulder inflammation
San Francisco: RP Jim Willoughby (25)(4-5 1 SV 4.68): 5 months, torn labrum
St. Louis: RP Mike Thompson (24)(0-0 0.00): 4 months, torn labrum

Baltimore: CF Paul Blair (30)(.280 10-64): 2 months, strained hamstring
California: RF Joe Lahoud (26)(.204 5-26): 3-4 months, concussion
Kansas City: SS Freddie Patek (29).234 5-45): 4 months, fractured ankle
Oakland: SP Glenn Abbott (23)(1-0 3.86): 9 months, partially torn ligament
NY Yankees: RP Fred Beene (31)(6-0 1 SV 1.68): 11 months, torn flexor tendon
San Francisco: RP Jim Willoughby (25)(4-5 1 SV 4.68): 5 months, torn labrum



#6

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April 1974
 
"We can't start the Cy Young winner in Pawtucket!" I told them.  "Are you mad?"
 
Nick Robbins, my fledgling pitching coach, looked unhappy.  "I know it's not popular..."
 
"Not popular!?"
 
"But I'm telling you he's not ready.  Something's wrong.  I can't tell you what, but..."
 
I opened my mouth to retort, but Johnson stepped in, quietly:  "He's right, Jeff."
 
I flicked my gaze at him.  "There's something about his delivery.  He didn't do badly in the games themselves, but it looked stilted.  As if he had to push himself to get it over the plate."
 
"I'm not saying he's done," Robbins jumped in.  "Just that he needs some extra time in camp to work it out."
 
I grit my teeth, nodded at the trainer.  "Is there anything wrong with him?"
 
Buddy LeRoux shook his head.  "The normal soreness, but nothing mechanical."
 
(Note:  In the middle of an incredible career, Palmer had one bad year: 1974.  Unfortunately his ratings reflect that.  Hopefully he'll bounce back.)
 
I drummed my nails.  It'd been an odd Spring Training, with no less than eight different pitchers starting rather than the usual six.  It'd worked out:  We'd gone 17-7, which was tops in the Majors, but...
 
"Alright.  Fine.  Now, tell me about our injuries."
 
We had three:  2B Doug Griffin missed about five days with a back strain, but he was ready.  His replacement, 2B Cesar Tovar, hurt his knee and would probably miss the first series against Milwaukee, but then he'd be back.  In fact, I'd already decided to save a roster space for him and go north with 24 players.   Reliever Dick Pole strained his oblique in the last exhibition game and would report to minors camp for extra conditioning.
 
We weren't the only ones with last minute surprise injuries:  Cincinnati rookie SP Tom Carroll (age 21) was out for the year with a torn rotator cuff, while Tiger LF Gates Brown (34)(.236 12-50) broke his elbow and would miss four months.  Compared to some of the other teams out there we'd been fortunate.
 
"Then this is who we go north with:"
 

BOSTON RED SOX

OPENING DAY ROSTER, 1974

 

 
MANAGER:  Darrell Johnson (1st year)
 
STARTERS:
Dick Drago (28) (12-14 4.23 with Royals in 1973) <Debut: 1969 Kansas City Royals>
Bill Lee (27) (17-11 1 SV 2.75) <Debut: 1969 Boston Red Sox>
Roger Moret (24) (13-2 3 SV 3.17) <Debut: 1970 Boston Red Sox>
Luis Tiant (33) (20-13 3.34) <Debut: 1964 Cleveland Indians>
Rick Wise (28) (16-12 3.37 with Cardinals) <Debut: 1964 Philadelphia Phillies>
* A mix of veterans and newcomers.  Drago converted from an RP during Spring Training.  With Palmer in reserve this should be one of our strong points.
 
RELIEVERS:
Reggie Cleveland (25) (14-10 3.01 with Cardinals) <Debut: 1969 St. Louis Cardinals>
Rawly Eastwick (23) (Rookie)
Juan Marichal (36) (11-15 3.82 with Giants) <Debut: 1960 San Francisco Giants>
Bob Veale (38) (2-3 11 SV 3.47) <Debut: 1962 Pittsburgh Pirates>
* Acquiring Eastwick should help, and we have plenty of relievers in reserve, but we aren't strong here.  Marichal converted from SP during Spring Training.  He's lost alot of his lustre and is on the tail end of his career.
 
CATCHERS:
Tim Blackwell (21) (Rookie)
Carlton Fisk (26) (.246 26-71) <Debut: 1969 Boston Red Sox>
* Thanks to my trades there are no reserves here.  I'm counting on Fisk to stay healthy, because Blackwell simply isn't that good.
 
INFIELDERS:
Cecil Cooper (24) (.238 3-11) <Debut: 1971 Boston Red Sox>
Carl Yastrzemski (34) (.296 19-95) <Debut: 1961 Boston Red Sox>
Doug Griffin (26) (.255 1-33) <Debut: 1970 California Angels>
Cesar Tovar (33) (.268 1-21 with Phillies) <Debut: 1965 Minnesota Twins> - Injured 3 days
Terry Hughes (24) (.214 0-1 in 14 AB with Cardinals) <Debut: 1970 Chicago Cubs>
Rico Petrocelli (30) (.244 13-45) <Debut: 1963 Boston Red Sox>
Ken Reitz (22) (.235 6-42 with Cardinals) <Debut: 1972 St. Louis Cardinals>
Rick Burleson (22) (Rookie)
* Yaz is our team captain and projects to be our DH.  Our starters should be Cooper, Griffin (Tovar when he returns), Burleson and Petrocelli.  Burleson is a strong candidate for Rookie of the Year.
 
Burleson_zpsiytdvjjc.jpg
 
OUTFIELDERS:
Bernie Carbo (26) (.286 8-40 with Cardinals) <Debut: 1969 Cincinnati Reds>
Tommy Harper (33) (.281 17-71) <Debut: 1962 Cincinnati Reds>
Jim Rice (21) (Rookie)
Fred Lynn (22) (Rookie)
Rick Miller (25) (.261 6-43) <Debut: 1971 Boston Red Sox>
Dwight Evans (22) (.223 10-32) <Debut: 1972 Boston Red Sox>
* Our starters project to be Carbo, Miller and Evans.  I'll be watching to see how many AB Rice and Lynn get - both project to be superstars and I don't want them ruined by sitting on the bench.  We do have a spare outfielder if I need to bring them down.
 
PREDICTION:
BNN thinks we'll finish 76-86, in fourth place behind Baltimore, New York and Cleveland.
 
We'll see about that.


#7

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BASEBALL NEWS NETWORK PRESENTS

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST PREVIEW

 

 
1. BALTIMORE ORIOLES
Manager:  Earl Weaver (7th season, 543-337 .617, 3 Pennants, 1 World Series)
<1973: 97-65, 1st, +8g; 1972:  80-74, 3rd, -5g>
 
c: Earl Williams (.237 22-83)
1b: Boog Powell (.265 11-54)
2b: Bobby Grich (.251 12-50) - Gold Glove
3b: Brooks Robinson (.257 9-72) - All Star, Gold Glove
ss: Mark Belanger (.226 0-27) - Gold Glove
lf: Don Baylor (.286 11-51)
cf: Rich Coggins (.319 7-41)
rf: Enos Cabell (.213 1-3)
dh: Al Bumbry (.337 7-34) - Rookie/Year
p: Rudy May (7-17 4.38 w Angels)
 
Baltimore looks to repeat despite the questionable decision to trade Cy Young winner Jim Palmer to the Red Sox for prospects.  There's a great deal of talent on this team with the only question mark being their bullpen.  Look for a repeat of last year's ALCS, when the Athletics defeated Baltimore in 5 games.
 
2. NEW YORK YANKEES
Manager: Bill Virdon (3rd season, 1st in NY, 163-128 .560)
<1973: 80-82, 4th, -17g; 1972: 79-76, 4th, -6.5g>
 
c: Thurman Munson (.301 20-74) - All Star, Gold Glove
1b: Mike Hegan (.243 7-19 w Athletics/Yankees)
2b: Gene Michael (.225 3-47)
3b: Graig Nettles (.234 22-81)
ss: Jim Mason (.206 3-19 w Rangers)
lf: Roy White (.246 18-60)
cf: Elliott Maddox (.238 1-17 w Rangers)
rf: Bobby Murcer (.304 22-95)
dh: Ron Blomberg (.329 12-57)
p: Doc Medich (14-9 2.95)
 
The big news from New York is their new owner, George Steinbrenner who's promised to spare no expense to bring a title to the Big Apple.  The Yanks, who used to practically have reserved seating to the World Series, haven't been to the playoffs since 1964.
 
3. CLEVELAND INDIANS
Manager: Ken Aspromonte (3rd season, 143-175 .450)
<1973: 71-91, 6th, -26g; 1972: 72-84, 5th, -14g>
 
c: Jon Ellis (.270 14-68)
1b: Chris Chambliss (.273 11-53)
2b: John Lowenstein (.292 6-40)
3b: Buddy Bell (.268 14-59) - All Star
ss: Frank Duffy (.263 8-50)
lf: Oscar Gamble (.267 20-44)
cf: George Hendrick (.268 21-61)
rf: Charlie Spikes (.237 23-73)
dh: Jack Brohamer (.220 4-29)
p: Gaylord Perry (19-19 3.38)
 
Hope springs eternal from the shores of Lake Erie, and while they probably don't have the players to make a serious run they should at least avoid embarrassing themselves.  Perry won the Cy Young in 1972 and could easily do so again.  Couple that with a few career years, and these Indians might surprise you.
 
4. BOSTON RED SOX
Manager: Darrell Johnson (Rookie)
<1973: 89-73, 2nd, -8g; 1972: 85-70, 2nd, -0.5g>
 
c: Carlton Fisk (.246 26-71) - All Star
1b: Cecil Cooper (.238 3-11)
2b: Doug Griffin (.255 1-33)
3b: Rico Petrocelli (.244 13-45)
ss: Rick Burleson (Rookie)
lf: Bernie Carbo (.286 8-40 w Cardinals)
cf: Rick Miller (.261 6-43)
rf: Dwight Evans (.223 10-32)
dh: Carl Yastrzemski (.296 19-95) - All Star
p: Luis Tiant (20-13 3.34)
 
Boston takes a major, but temporary, step back this year.  Everyone from their GM, through their manager, pitching and hitting coach, and even their trainer are untested and unproven.  Half their roster consists of rookies or nearly so, and a rash of trades at the beginning of Spring Training has hurt team chemistry.  1975 might be their year at last, but expect them to struggle this campaign.
 
5. DETROIT TIGERS
Manager: Ralph Houk (12th year, 1st in DET, 944-806 .539, 3 Pennants, 2 World Series)
<1973: 85-77, 3rd, -12g; 1972: 86-70, 1st, +0.5g>
 
c: Bill Freehan (.234 6-29) - All Star
1b: Ben Oglivie (.218 2-9)
2b: John Knox (.281 0-3)
3b: Aurelio Rodriguez (.222 3-9)
ss: Ed Brinkman (.237 7-40) - All Star
lf: Jim Northrup (.307 12-44)
cf: Ron LeFlore (Rookie)
rf: Al Kaline (.255 10-46)
dh: Willie Horton (.316 17-53) - All Star
p: Mickey Lolich (16-15 3.82)
 
Five or seven years ago, these same players could have (and in 1968 did) taken the pennant.  Time has passed many of these players by however, and attempts to replenish the organization have been lackluster.  Still, they should avoid humiliation.  Houk comes over from the Yankees with a great deal to teach, and Ron LeFlore could easily take home Rookie of the Year.
 
6. MILWAUKEE BREWERS
Manager: Del Crandall (3rd year, 128-158 .448)
<1973: 74-88, 5th, -23g; 1972: 65-91, 6th, -21g>

c: Darrell Porter (.254 16-67)
1b: George Scott (.306 24-107) - Gold Glove
2b: Tim Johnson (.213 0-32)
3b: Don Money (.284 11-61)
ss: Robin Yount (Rookie)
lf: John Briggs (.246 18-57)
cf: Dave May (.303 25-93)
rf: Bob Coluccio (.224 15-58)
p: Bill Champion (5-8, 1 SV, 3.70)

The BrewCrew have never been very good, and didn't really do anything this year to improve. Their best finish to date has been 4th place in 1970, and that's a long shot for this team.


In Summary
 
AL East                           AL West
Baltimore  85-77 --               Oakland    107-55 --
New York   82-80  3               Chicago     86-76 21
Cleveland  78-84  7               Minnesota   85-77 22
Boston     76-86  9               Kansas City 83-79 24
Detroit    75-87 10               California  79-83 28
Milwaukee  74-88 11               Texas       65-97 42
 
NL East                           NL West
Montreal     88-74 --             Los Angeles   105-57 --
New York     85-77  3             Cincinnati    102-60  3
Philadelphia 80-82  8             Atlanta        81-81 24
St. Louis    74-88 14             Houston        75-87 30
Pittsburgh   74-88 14             San Francisco  71-91 34
Chicago      69-93 19             San Diego      71-91 34


#8

CatKnight
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April 5, 1974
Milwaukee, Wisconsin


It was a crappy afternoon for a spring sport.

The local variant of the lake effect, where moisture blows in from Lake Michigan and turns into precipitation, covered the city with a dusting of snow overnight. That morning the sun, a pale disc that gave little comfort, managed to pierce the clouds but it was only a partial victory. Thirty-six degrees at game time (2 deg. Celsius) with the wind, an inimical and even hateful thing that seemed to be in search of a blizzard to join up with, sliced across the field. Players on both teams wore extra wool padding on their arms and legs as well as gloves. Winter hats reinforced their caps while in the dugout.

The Yawkeys didn't usually travel with the team and waited at home in relative comfort. This was my job however, so I braved the Wisconsin chill. My suite was warm enough, thank God, and if nothing else Brewer owner Bud Selig was a gracious host, but the glass separating me from the field was almost painful to the touch and I felt for the 22,000 fans bundled and sitting in relative misery on their icy seats.

Not that I didn't hope to add to their misery in a few short hours.

BNN's annual minor league report came out yesterday, and if they didn't like our odds this year, they thought our future could be something special.

Prospects_zpsyoh1qa2u.jpg

While flipping through the newspaper during the pregame ceremonies, I found two last minute roster changes, one of which could affect our division chances. It looked like the mysterious Mr. Steinbrenner was beginning to make his move.

Yankees to Los Angeles: RF Lou Pinella (30)(.250 9-69 with Royals)
Los Angeles to Yankees: 2B Ken McMullen (31)(.247 5-18)
Los Angeles to Yankees: RP Rick Rhoden (20)(Rookie)
* Piniella joins the LA roster and will back up LF and RF. McMullen backs up 2B Gene Michael for New York, while Rhoden will start in the minors.

Meanwhile, a slightly more substantial move for two teams not expected to compete:

Minnesota to California: 3B Eric Soderholm (25)(.297 1-9)
Minnesota to California: RP Tom Johnson (23)(Rookie)
California to Minnesota: CF Mickey Rivers (25)(.349 0-16)
* Rivers is Minnesota's new starting CF, while Soderholm starts at 3B in California. Johnson will begin in the minors. 

*******

Following the preliminaries and an enthusiastic, if somewhat strained version of the National Anthem (I suppose it's hard to sing when one is freezing), the Brewers took the field. Their pitcher of choice: Bill Champion (5-8 1 SV 3.70 in 1973), who gave up a single but escaped the first unscathed.

The same couldn't be said for Luis Tiant (20-13 3.34). Milwaukee's second batter, catcher Darrell Porter (.254 16-67) hit a solo shot into the right field bleachers with one out. 3B Don Money (.284 11-61) then singled and I thought we might be in for a long game. Tiant mastered himself however, and struck out George Scott (.306 24-107) to end the threat. Milwaukee 1-0 (1st)

Revenge would be quick in coming. Dwight Evans (.223 10-32) and Bernie Carbo (.206 8-40) hit back to back doubles to open the second. Unfortunately the next three batters stranded him there. The Brewers tried: Dave May (.303 25-93) walked with one out, then Robin Yount and Tim Johnson (.213 0-32) hit back to back singles to load the bases, but Bob Coluccio (.224 15-58) hit into a 6-4-3 double play. I began breathing again. Tied 1-1 (2nd)

Once more we hit back to back doubles to open the third, this time by Rick Miller (.261 6-43) and Rick Burleson to give us the lead. Despite Carlton Fisk (.246 26-71) walking, we failed to advance Burleson. Tiant finally figured out how to control Milwaukee and put them down 1-2-3. Boston 2-1 (3rd)

Brewer pitcher Bill Champion continued to struggle in the fourth, allowing Rico Petrocelli (.244 13-45) and Doug Griffin (.255 1-33) to single as well as Miller to walk, but a double play in the middle broke up any scoring attempt. Once more Tiant retired the side 1-2-3. 

Boston fell the same way to start the fifth. Tim Johnson and Darrell Porter reached base in the Brewer half, but a Don Money's towering fly to deep left field ended any pretentions.

In the sixth, with Carbo on second and one out, Champion intentionally walked Cecil Cooper (.238 3-11). Normally I don't like intentional walks (or sac bunts) - it feels like giving the enemy something for nothing. This time it worked as Doug Griffin hit into a 6-4-3 double play. John Briggs (.246 18-47) singled for the Brewers but couldn't advance and ended the inning on a U6 fielder's choice.

Seventh inning play and the Brewer pitcher tired. Miller singled, went to second on a wild pitch, then third on Rick Miller's single. Burleson in turn went to second on a 4-3 grounder. Manager Del Crandall had seen enough and brought in Tom Murphy (3-7 3.76).

Mistake.

Miller scored on a wild pitch, then Burleson followed when Fisk hit a sac fly to deep center. Murphy escaped further damage. For a moment, it looked like Milwaukee would strike back as Tim Johnson doubled with one out, but this time it was manager Darrell Johnson's turn to make a change. In came Reggie Cleveland (14-10 3.01). Johnson chose this moment to test Carlton Fisk's arm and lost, getting tagged out at third. Porter struck out to end the inning. Boston 4-1 (7th)

Murphy and Cleveland continued to battle through the eighth. The Brewers only gave up a single, while Boston didn't even give up that. 

One inning left, and Murphy gave up back to back singles to Murphy and Burleson. Reliever Eduardo Rodriguez (9-7 5 SV 3.30) entered the game with one out and finished the 'Sox off. Darrell Johnson decided to let Cleveland try to finish it, and other than letting Dave May single he did just that.

Boston Red Sox 4, Milwaukee Brewers 1
WP: Luis Tiant (1-0), LP: Bob Champion (0-1), SV: Reggie Cleveland (1)
HR: (MIL) Darrell Porter (1)
POG: (BOS) Luis Tiant

740405_zpsw56yathx.jpg

One down, 161 to go.



#9

CatKnight
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Note: I forgot all about this screen, and it's too useful to pass up. Enjoy:

740405a_zpsdhws1mbs.jpg



#10

Chris
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Carlton Fisk!



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#11

CatKnight
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Chris:  Carlton Fisk was an outstanding catcher.  In '74 and '75 he didn't play in many games, so I wonder if OOTP is going to consider him injury prone.  He played for Boston through 1980, then the ChiSox from 81-93.

*******

 

And so it begins...

April 5: Red Sox 4 Brewers 1
WP: Luis Tiant (1-0), LP: Bill Champion (0-1), SV: Reggie Cleveland (1)
HR: (MIL) Darrell Porter (1)
PoG: Luis Tiant (1-0 1.42)(6.1IP 7H 1R 1ER 2BB 4K 1HR)

April 6: Brewers 4 Red Sox 3 (10)
WP: Ed Sprague (1-0), LP: Reggie Cleveland (0-1)
HR: (MIL) John Briggs (1)
PoG: MIL SP Jim Slaton (1-0 3.68)(7.1IP 9H 3R 3ER 1BB 5K)

April 7: Brewers 4 Red Sox 3 (11)
WP: Eduardo Rodriguez (1-0), LP: Dick Drago (0-1)
HR: (MIL) George Scott (1)
PoG: Dick Drago (0-1 2.61)(10.1IP 9H 4R 3ER 1B 5K 1HR)

April 9: Red Sox 5 Orioles 4
WP: Roger Moret (1-0), LP: Doyle Alexander (0-1), SV: Reggie Cleveland (2)
PoG: Roger Moret (1-0 3.38)(8IP 7H 3R 3ER 2BB 6K)

April 11: Orioles 8 Red Sox 3
WP: Rudy May (1-1), LP: Luis Tiant (1-1), SV: Bob Reynolds (1)
HR: (BAL) Enos Cabell (1), Bobby Grich (1), Boog Powell (1), Earl Williams (1)
PoG: BAL SP Rudy May (1-1 1 CG 1.69)(7IP 6H 3R 3ER 3BB 5K)

April 12: Red Sox 4 Tigers 1
WP: Rick Wise (1-0), LP: Luke Walker (0-1), SV: Reggie Cleveland (3)
HR: (BOS) Carl Yastrzemski 2 (2)
PoG: Carl Yastrzemski (.208 2-2)(3 for 4 with 2HR, 2R, 2RBI)

April 13: Tigers 4 Red Sox 2
WP: Woodie Fryman (2-0), LP: Dick Drago (0-2)
HR: (DET) Jim Northrup (2)
PoG: DET SP Woodie Fryman (2-0 2CG 1.02)(9IP 5H 2R 2ER 4BB 3K)

April 14: Tigers 8 Red Sox 7 (10)
WP: Bill Slayback (1-1), LP: Reggie Cleveland (0-2)
HR: (DET) Gary Sutherland (1), (BOS) Carlton Fisk (1)
PoG: DET 1B Ben Oglivie (.424 1-3)(3 for 5 with a 2B, 3R, 1RBI)

 

Team News:
RP Reggie Cleveland (25)(0-2 3SV 8.18) is beginning to vex me. I don't like to panic so early, but he needs to sort himself out soon.
SS Rick Burleson (22)(.387 0-3) is off to a pretty solid start to his career.
2B Cesar Tovar (33)(.419 0-6) returned for the second game of Milwaukee and has proven his value.

Other News:
Atlanta: On April 12, LF Hank Aaron (40)(.278 2-5) tied and on April 13th passed Babe Ruth for most HR, lifetime with 715.

Cincinnati: RF George Foster (25)(.282 4-9 in 1973) will miss 5 months with a concussion. He was 3 for 8 on the season.

Cincinnati: SP Fred Norman (31)(12-6 3.30) is out for the year with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament. He finishes the season (2-0 0.63). The Reds are currently 7-2 with a 1.5 game lead over Los Angeles and San Francisco. 


Standings

New York    6-3   .667    --
Detroit     5-4   .556     1
Milwaukee   5-4   .556     1
Baltimore   4-5   .444     2
Cleveland   4-6   .400     2.5
Boston      3-5   .375     2.5

Other Division Leaders:
Oakland     6-2   .750    +1.5 vs MIN
NY Mets     6-1   .857    +1.5 vs CHC
Cincinnati  7-2   .778    +1 vs SF

League Monkey:
Philadelphia  1-6   .143   5 vs NYM





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