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Old 12-28-2017, 08:56 PM   #1
Juggernt
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Building an Oriole Dynasty: 1969 and Forward

I figured for my first historical game, I'd start with an easy one and the team of my childhood, the 1969 Orioles. The team that won more games over three years than anyone else was clearly the way to go.

During the 69 season, I made some key trades--for Wilbur Wood (then a RP), John Hilller, and Mike Marshall to bolster the bullpen and set up for the future. The season was still rocky--even with four pretty good starting outfielders, I had all of them on the DL for one period or another. Don Buford, at the time hitting .320/.424 went on the DL for good in the season's third month. Boog Powell carried the offensive load with .326/.435/.542, 33 HR and 104 RBI. Of course, it was the pitching staff, led by Mike Cuellar's 25-3, Dave McNally's 20-9, and Jim Palmer's 18-8 that got us to 109 wins.

One of the other major acquisitions during the year was picking up a disgruntled Tim McCarver from the Cardinals, who hit .277 and did a great job with that pitching staff.

We took the Twins down in the ALCS 3-1. Then it was onto the Mets for the World Series.

In game 1, 1969 nightmares came back to life. We made 3 errors and lost. We bounced back to win games 2 and 3. Then trailing by 1 with a man on with two outs in the bottom of the ninth in game 4, Powell hit a dream home run. Jim Palmer outdueled Tom Seaver in an epic matchup to close out the series.

Next up: 1970.
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Chief Wahoo (12-29-2017)
Old 01-03-2018, 10:20 AM   #2
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The 1969-70 off-season was a busy one. Owner Sean Davis gave us a huge budgetóand we spent it on three players for the future. We got into and won a bidding war over 19-year-old starter Bert Blyleven. We signed another 19-year-old, Cesar Cedeno, and 21-year-old Bobby Grich. We dealt Don Buford and three less consequential players to the Dodgers for a young prospect named Steve Garvey.

It wasnít all smooth sailing. We started 6-11. Frank Robinson had gotten hurt on the last day of spring training, and Mike Cuellar did not return to form (in fact, he became the 5th starter at some point). Then, we just turned it on. Everyone started producing, and keeping to a strict 5-man rotation of Palmer, McNally, Blyleven, Dobson, and Cuellar (no one started more than 32 games), we went an absurd 106-39 the rest of the way (even losing 6 of the last 10 while resting the starters) to set a new MLB record of 112-50.

Palmer went 22-3 with a 2.60 ERA en route to the Cy Young award, and Boog Powell hit 44 HR with 131 RBI but somehow didnít win the MVP. Robinson came off the DL to hit .330, all the starters (plus several bench players) save McCarver hit .280 or higher, and we stayed otherwise injury-free.

We swept Oakland in the ALCS by scoring 27 runs in 3 wins, to include lighting up Catfish Hunter. We faced a very scary (but Willie Stargell-less, due to an injury) Pittsburgh Pirates in the World Series. Sweeping them as well was a huge surprise.

The major mid-season acquisition, which we didnít really need but was insisted upon by the owner, was picking up SS Jim Fregosi, along with minor league reliever Pedro Borbon for SS Steve Ontiveros. Fregosi mostly served as a pinch-hitter and fill-in, but he presents one of several dilemmas. Heís a 4-star player; Bobby Grich, who will move to 2B is as well. Dilemma #1: what to do with Davey Johnson, who just hit .288/14/66 and won a Gold Glove? What about one of the best fielding shortstops in the league, Mark Belanger (fortunately, thatís an easy answer since he hit below the Mendoza line)? We also have Tim Foli waiting in the wings, and we canít forget about Steve Garvey, who will most likely spend the year getting at-bats at AAA Rochester. It gets crazier when we get to the pitching.

We have six (now that Wilbur Wood has converted) top-flight starters. I suppose Pat Dobson could go back to the bullpen, but the guy won 15 games for us in 1970 and finished the season stronger than McNally (who started 7-2, but limped in to 15-10). Cuellar seems like the odd man out given that heís 33, so heís on the block (turns out it was a good decision, as he went 10-14/3.88/1.30 WHIP for the Mets).

Next up: 1971
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Old 01-03-2018, 03:51 PM   #3
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Decided to have RECALC turned off 1 Feb 1971. I can abuse my knowledge of history to load up on future superstars, which seems of limited fun. Let’s see what I can do without knowing exactly what’s going to happen. Made some off-season moves:

5 Feb: Traded Cuellar to Mets for Tug McGraw and two prospects SS Ronnie Collins and 2B Eugene Spatz

5 Feb: Traded Minor League C Paul Casanova to WAS for two prospects SS Tom Ragland and RF Steve Bryant

10 Apr: Traded minor league 1B Tom Hallums and SP Ed Figueroa to Atlanta for OF Enos Cabell

Big deal of the year was trading Fregosi (who was hitting .200) in May to Chicago for C Ed Hermann and a minor league OF Grant Steer. It ended up being a great swap, as Hermann stepped into a starting role, handled the pitching staff well and ended up 15/63/.282/.333 and a 3.7 WAR. McCarver, who hadn’t been hitting, handled the demotion well enough.

The big issue throughout the year was in the middle infield. Davey Johnson started slowly, so we ended up going with the Grich at 2B/Belanger SS combination, which worked for a while. Belanger’s offensive contributions picked up well, but then returned to normal. By season’s end, we returned to Grich SS/Johnson 2B. The good news is that we got to give everyone work, because we won the division. By a lot.

The main story was the pitching staff, with three 20 game winners. Wilbur Wood stepped into the starting role by going 25-3/1.68/0.82. Pat Dobson broke out as well, going 24-4/2.12/0.98. Palmer did as expected, 21-8/2.08/0.91. Fourth starter Bert Blyleven finished 17-6/2.31/0.92. Fifth starter McNally was decent, 14-7/3.55/1.19.

The bullpen, which didn’t get much work, was nonetheless strong. Led by Tug McGraw’s 33 saves, 1.43 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. Mike Marshall and Sparky Lyle pitched well when they had the chance, as did youngster Dick Tidrow. The only disappointment was the inexplicable demise of John Hiller, who just couldn’t get people out for most of the year, his ERA ballooning to 5.27. We nonetheless have faith in his stuff for the future.

Even winning as much as we did, it wasn’t until mid-September that we could shake off the Tigers, who ended up winning 105 games—but we set a MLB record for the second year in a row by going 121-41, defying even our own lofty expectations. Oakland won the AL West by a game over Minnesota after the latter had trailed by as many as 10 games mid-season. Pittsburgh, even more scary than last year, won 105 games on the strength of Dock Ellis’ 26 wins to go with 19 for Bob Moose and 18 for Steve Blass. Cincinnati won the NL West with the big bats of Bench, Perez, Rose, and Lee May, along with the pitching of newly-acquired Sam McDowell, who won 20. I took it as a good sign when the Reds beat the Pirates in four games. But those Reds who won “only” 93 games, can really rake.

There are no words for how stressful the World Series was. We took the first two games in Cincinnati, then put up four runs in the first inning of Game 3. From there, the bats went silent. Brooks Robinson of all people made an error that led to a three-run inning as the Reds came back and eventually won in 13 innings. The Orioles had the lead runner on in each of the extra frames, but couldn’t push anything across. Jim Merritt threw a five-hitter to shut us out in Game 4. Gary Nolan was a run better than Wilbur Wood in Game 5. The Series went back to Cincy with the Reds up 3-2. The bats came alive a little in Game 6 as we jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but Jim Palmer couldn’t hold the lead. The Reds tied it in the sixth and then we went again to extra innings. The answer was in Dave McNally, the forgotten fifth starter, to pitch four scoreless innings for the win, backed by 12th inning homers by Boog Powell—who had produced nearly nothing all series long—and Bobby Grich. Pat Dobson pitched to a 3-1 lead through six, but tired. We turned to fourth starter Bert Blyleven, who had thrown 112 pitches four days earlier. As if responding to Blyleven’s heroic effort, the bats truly woke up, as Hermann and Powell homered in the eighth and ninth to seal the victory—one in which the visiting team won every game.

As if a team on a threepeat could face dilemmas, we still have a few for 1972. Some of our superstars are getting old and a drop-off is coming; I don't expect Frank Robinson to hit 30 homers again, and suspect that Brooks Robinson will be hitting out of the 7 hole as his skills continue to decline. We’ll see what the draft and free agent market have to hold, but it’s clear that we’ll spend aggressively both for today and tomorrow.
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Old 01-03-2018, 09:07 PM   #4
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OMG I just traded for Nolan Ryan. Paul Blair was rendered redundant by winning the lottery for a Japanese player who skills are simply better, so I traded Blair and (24-game winner) Pat Dobson to the Mets for Ryan (and a minor league reliever named Elias Sosa). I'm still a little in shock that the Mets went for it (Ryan was 21-5/2.71/1.20 for them with 263 Ks in 255 innings). I always wondered if Ryan would have won 400 games if he had pitched for good teams--I suppose we'll find out.
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Old 01-04-2018, 07:54 PM   #5
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Not that there's anything at all wrong with starting in 1969, but it just reminded me that the Orioles run actually extended over quite a long time. Over the 24 year period from 1960-1983:

3 World Series Titles
5 American League Titles
7 AL East Titles
100+ wins 5 times
90+ wins 17 times, plus 89, 88, and 86 -win seasons
over .500 every year but two (plus two more .500+ seasons right after the 24 year run)
and several "playoff-level" seasons (wins in the mid-to-high 90's) where they didn't make the postseason but were certainly good enough to contend for a championship

Those postseason totals don't stand out in comparison to some runs by the Yankees, Cards, Dodgers and maybe some others, but for being consistently very-good-or-better over that long of a time, it's impressive, and perhaps a bit overlooked.
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Old 01-05-2018, 08:18 PM   #6
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Currently victims of our own success in 1972. We're 87-40, 11 games up in the division on August 25th, and it feels like we're underperforming. The bad news is that we've lost both Frank Robinson and Merv Rettenmund to injuries for the year (although Rettenmund might be back for the playoffs).
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Old 01-19-2018, 06:09 PM   #7
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1972 worked out. We finished 112-50. Only 2 20-game winners (Wood and Blyleven). Palmer, who frequently got no run support, was 16-9 with a 2.24 ERA. Nolan Ryan was 18-5/2.79 and fifth starter Dave McNally 12-9/2.64.

Felt like we underperformed all year, but injuries had something to do with that. Stupidly lost Frank Robinson for the season to injury in the 9th inning of a blowout game in August by being too lazy to substitute for him (which I've been doing for 2 years, since I know he's getting old). It makes my playoff lineup lacking in the middle, especially since Boog Powell only hit .234/25/75. I know offense was down in '72, which the game adjusts for, but that's a concerning dropoff from .273/28/100 and .288/44/131 in the prior two years.

Went into the playoffs with some trepidation. Oakland was strong and had starting pitching rivaling our own--and simply a better offense. Bats fell asleep in the playoffs. We were leading in Game 1 despite getting no-hit by Vida Blue, but Gene Tenace homered in the ninth and we lost in extras

Blyleven beat Hunter in Game 2, then Palmer, once again getting no run support, lost 2-1. Bats woke up in Game 4 behind Nolan Ryan, so then all we needed to do was beat the reigning Cy Young winner in Game 5. He took another no-hitter into the fifth; we squeaked across one run in the sixth, and that was good enough for Wilbur Wood to go the distance, striking out 12. Epic final game.

We got embarrassed in Game 1 of the World Series vs. the Mets. Starter Bert Blyleven walked four batters and the Mets had put up five runs before he recorded an out, on the way to a 10-2 pounding. In game two, we scored twice in the bottom of the first and never trailed, as Palmer outdueled Pat Dobson. Five runs in the first two innings of game 3 and the pitching of Wilbur Wood took us to a 2-1 lead. Then it got ugly.

Bill Campbell outpitched Nolan Ryan, who lasted only four and a third. The specter of an Al Bumbry leadoff triple in the first inning that the gang behind him failed to drive in loomed large over the 3-2 loss. Tom Seaver was nearly impossible to solve in Game 5, but Blyleven was equal to the task. Ken Henderson’s triple in the tenth off of Dave McNally provided the Mets with an extra innings victory and a 3-2 series lead.

Henderson jumped the Mets out to a lead in Game 6 with two round-trippers in his first two plate appearances. It might have been fitting had Mets starter Pat Dobson been able to go the distance to close out the Series against the team who had traded him away over the winter after he had won 24 games for them the previous year (he won 19 for the Mets in 1972, one more than the man he was traded for, Nolan Ryan). Unfortunately for Dobson, the O’s chipped away to tie the game with two in the sixth and one in the seventh, with one of Al Bumbry’s unlikely three home runs in the series (matching his total for the season). Then with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Belanger singled, Cedeno singled him to third, and Bobby Grich capped off a 4-5 day with a three run blast to send the Series to Game 7—and more importantly for the Orioles, to Wilbur Wood taking the mound.

Wood spun two-hit ball, striking out nine. The game was still close until the O’s plated five in the bottom of the sixth, finishing an improbable come from behind Series victory. It was the second time in four years they topped the Mets in the Series after being behind.

After four Series wins in a row, what will 1973 hold for this squad of aging superstars buoyed by young talent?
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Old 01-19-2018, 09:53 PM   #8
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1973 simply exceeded expectations.
We broke our own record by winning an improbable 123 games. The pitching once again led the way:
Wood 23-4 1.54
Palmer 22-6 2.43
Blyleven 20-3 2.05
Ryan 19-4 2.47

Ryan had three shots at being our fourth 20-game winner, but the bullpen blew a big lead in the first, he got a no-decision in the 2nd and lost the third.
The offensive end was also remarkable, as we pounded out 214 home runs, led by mid-season acquisition Willie McCovey's 32 (40 if you count his time with SF), young Mike Schmidt's 34, and four other players with 20+. McCovey’s great season was especially significant because in August, we lost Boog Powell for the season. McCovey being the everyday first baseman solved the problem of what to do with Dave Winfield, who became the regular DH, putting up .268/17/48, and was awarded American League Rookie of the Year (Schmidt finishing second). Cesar Cedeno was our stud, hitting .310/28/128 and stealing 45 bases. If there was a disappointment, it was in the promising young Steve Garvey, who spent most of the year in the minors while only hitting .194 in the bigs. Brooks Robinson, who had simply stopped hitting, retired the day before the playoff rosters were announced, freeing up a roster spot for a player with more impact.
We made quick work of the A's in the ALCS, then faced the 107-win Pirates in the World Series.
It looked like we were going to make similarly short work of the Pirates, but they were made of sterner stuff. After going up 2-0, we lost two of three in Baltimore, but Jim Palmer twirled a shutout in Game 6 to seal away the victory, our fifth in a row.
After the season, Frank Robinson announced his retirement. The team immediately retired his number 20.
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Old 01-20-2018, 12:50 AM   #9
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As if 1973 couldn’t be topped, 1974 came roaring in. We started an absurd 54-7, rolling to the AL East crown. In that 54-7 run, the offense was outpacing the miraculous pitching, three times putting up more than 20 runs in a game. The only question was whether or not we would clinch before September (we didn’t but just barely), en route to once again breaking our record for wins with 125—despite resting most of the starters the last two weeks (more injury prevention than rest).
The surprise of the season was Steve Garvey, who in 74 games was hitting .350/13/58 before going down to a knee injury which will take until spring training to heal. Bobby Grich also spent quite some time on the DL, playing in only 114 games, putting up .283/12/74. Dave Winfield picked up the slack in his second year, hitting .297/25/101. Boog Powell rebounded from a tough 1973, hitting .274/25/97. Cesar Cedeno was once again the top offensive producer at .306/20/119 with 55 steals, translating into a MLB-leading 9.1 WAR. It was a tough sophomore campaign for Mike Schmidt, who was hitting below the Mendoza line until after the All-Star break and spent two different trips into the minors. Garvey’s injury forced him into full-time playing again, and he raised his average to .216 while hitting 24 homers and driving in 61.

You don’t rack up 125 wins without some pitching, and like the previous year, our starters were dominant.

Wood 26-2 1.88
Palmer 21-5 2.70
Blyleven 21-4 2.41
Ryan 15-6 2.84

Ryan had numerous blown saves behind him or his numbers would have been headier. He led the majors with 260 strikeouts. The pitching story of the year was the emergence of Tom Underwood as the team’s fifth starter. Underwood was slated for the bullpen until Larry Gura, the intended fifth starter, went down in spring training. Underwood won his first four starts but ceded the role when Gura came off the DL. Gura pitched ineffectively, and Underwood took back over. He was as good as the stars the rest of the season, finishing 15-1 with a 2.51 ERA.
The bullpen performed admirably when called upon. Sparky Lyle put up 26 saves, and ERA of 1.09 and a WHIP of 1.02. Blanks Nakamura, Mike Caldwell, and Pedro Borbon all filled their roles well enough for the team’s bullpen to lead the majors in ERA at 2.60, better than even the starters’ 2.67 (which was slightly higher than it might have been because of all the September starts by prospects).
The ALCS, again with Oakland, proved explosive. Wood battled Vida Blue to a 1-1 draw through 8, then Mike Schmidt hit a monstrous walk-off to win game 1. The bad news in the game was that Bobby Grich, who had spent so much time on the DL, was again hurt (knee inflammation). He started Game 2, but after the Orioles had put up five runs on Catfish Hunter in the first three innings en route to an 8-2 victory, Hunter hit Grich with a pitch that ignited a bench-clearing brawl. Both were ejected. Grich’s injury looked like it would hamper him for about 5 days; we decided to sit him for the remainder of the series. Down two runs in the 7th of Game 3, the Orioles rallied to tie the game at 4 all. Starter Jim Palmer had tired after throwing 139 pitches, so reliever Blanks Nakamura entered. Reggie Jackson hit his first pitch into the cheap seats for what would prove to be the margin of victory—but not before Nakamura drilled Rick Monday on the very next pitch. Another brawl ensued, with multiple ejections. With Oakland leading 1-0 in the top of the seventh of Game 4, the A’s manager called on star reliever Rollie Fingers for the 9-out save. Right fielder Abie Nozaki singled and stole second. Catcher Scott Larabee singled him home. Mike Schmidt walked, and after Mark Belanger grounded out advancing both runners, Al Bumbry doubled them home for a 3-1 lead. Ryan did the rest, finishing a 5-hit complete game victory and the sixth consecutive ALCS crown for the O’s.

In Game 1, we made the controversial decision to sit Grich for another day to give the knee time to heal. the Astros solved Wood for four runs through 7. The O’s rallied in the 8th, sparked by pinch-hitter John Lowenstein’s home run. We ended up plating four runs courtesy of four walks by former Oriole reliever Mike Marshall. Grich’s replacement Tim Foli went 2-for-4, driving in a run in the 8th. Sparky Lyle came on for the save.

Grich’s return to the lineup wasn’t enough for Game 2, as Don Wilson shut down the powerful Baltimore lineup on 2 hits. Palmer 5-hit the Astros in Game 3. Ryan was never sharp in Game 4, giving up 6 runs in 5 innings, as the Astros won 8-5. In Game 5, Houston plated three in the bottom of the first, but Wood stood the test all the way to a 5-4 complete game victory. Game 6 went back to Baltimore, the Orioles facing Don Wilson, who blanked them in Game 2. Neither starter was great, and the Orioles tied it at 4 with one in the bottom of the seventh. Tom Underwood was charged with shutting down the Astros after Blyleven tired. The game went to the 11th when with one out Mark Belanger singled. Al Bumbry popped out and Dave Winfield walked. That set the stage for superstar Cesar Cedeno, who stamped his passport to baseball history with a walk-off 3-run home run, giving the Orioles their sixth World Series title in as many years, a claim not even the great Yankees can make.
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Old 01-26-2018, 09:56 AM   #10
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1975 was emotionally draining. We were rusty coming out of spring training and through the first month or two of the year, our pitchers seemed quite hittable and quite human, as opposed to the nearly lights out version of the same from the previous year. The bullpen wasn't helping. The hitting was also spotty, although still comparatively strong.

I was my own worst enemy at times. Just before the All-Star break, we had a big 4-game series with the Yankees, who we were even with in first place. Cesar Cedeno had suffered a day-to-day injury a few days before and wasn't quite recovered. I had rested him, but decided we really needed him during the Yankee series. He re-aggravated the injury in game 1, which we won. I sat him through the All-Star break; we lost the next three, to include having the bullpen blow a 5-run lead in the 8th (partially my fault for not going to the closer in time); we went into the break 3 1/2 games behind.

We lost the first two coming out of the break, and were 4 1/2 behind at one point. We turned it around, however, going 20-4 after that time (against some of the softer teams). The catalyst was Wilbur Wood no-hitting the Indians on 29 July; today, Nolan Ryan no-hit the White Sox. By the middle of August, we were 3 Ĺ games up.

The bullpen was a constant source of stress, blowing leads with gut-wrenching frequency. Long reliever Ross Grimsley, who a year earlier had been a promising starter before a 13-month injury, went on the DL so if the starters didn’t go really deep, all bets were off. Even closer Sparky Lyle struggled a bit. Bobby Grich struggled all year, hitting only .246 until he went down with a major injury for a third year in a row.

Nonetheless, the pitching carried us through, as we clinched with 6 games left (remarkable considering we won 115 games; the Yankees just happened to be the second best team in baseball, winning 106). The ace this year was Blyleven at 23-7/1.99. Palmer was 20-8/2.57 and Wilbur Wood again gave us a 3 20-game winners at 20-9/2.88. Nolan Ryan was 18-8, again the victim of too many blown saves. Fifth starter Tom Underwood didn’t quite repeat the success of the previous year, but nonetheless finished at 12-3/3.63.

Steve Garvey was the clear offensive star hitting .289/27/136. Mike Schmidt tied for the MLB lead with 33 homers while driving in 95. In the middle of the season, which Grich struggling, we moved Garvey up to the 3-hole, Cedeno from 3 to 1, and Bumbry from first to second. The offense picked up, as Cedeno and Bumbry both drove in 80+ runs, as did young Dave Winfield. The surprise of the season was Dave Chalk hitting .299 in replacing Grich at 2B. Catcher Scott Larabee nearly lost his job at mid-season, but then rebounded to finish at .277/9/55. Abie Nokazi was limited to 94 games due to injuries, but still managed .315/15/59. Mark Belanger defied every attempt to replace him, hitting his usual .241, but winning a Gold Glove at shortstop.

In the ALCS, Andy Messersmith shut us out in Game 1, beating Blyleven 2-0. Palmer won game 2 behind big bats. Nolan Ryan pitched a heroic 11 innings on less than 130 pitches and we finally pushed through 3 runs in the 12th for a 4-1 win. Wilbur Wood got lit up (a disturbing trend) in Game 4, as we were blown out 9-3. Blyleven and Messersmith matched up again in Game 5; this time Blyleven twirled the 2-0 shutout. Now it was on to face the Mets for the third time in seven years, who led the NL in runs and were anchored by Tom Seaver, who went 27-1 with a 2.20 ERA, and an MLB-leading 256 strikeouts.

In World Series Game 1, we jumped right on Tom Seaver with three in the top of the first. Palmer shut them out for 8, tired in the ninth, but Sparky Lyle came in for the save.

In Game 2, Nolan Ryan and Pat Dobson engaged in a tight pitcher’s duel. In the top of the 7, Scott Larabee hit a 2-run homer to put the O’s up 2-1. Ryan went the distance, striking out 11. Mike Schmidt’s ninth inning solo bomb was insurance, putting us up 2-0 headed back to Baltimore, with our ace pitching game 3.

Blyleven spread around 9 hits while shutting out the Mets in the third game, which featured no extra base hits—unusual for these two high-powered lineups.
Wood got battered around in Game 4 (the writing seems like it’s on the wall) and we squandered some late chances in losing 6-3, sending us to Game 5 to face the mighty Seaver.

Palmer and Seaver battled to a 1-1 tie into the ninth. Palmer tired, and the bullpen got bombed for 6 runs en route to a 7-1 loss. Now we had to go back to New York.
Ryan got banged around this time, struggle with his control and giving up six runs through five. The O’s mounted a comeback, but the tying run died at third in the ninth when Steve Garvey, who had a terrible postseason, struck out and Mike Schmidt hit into a double play. Just like that, a 3-0 lead evaporated.

Our ace got us there in the end. Blyleven, who would go on to win the AL Cy Young Award, limited the Mets to 3 hits en route to a 4-2 win. There was a dicey moment in the 7th, as Blyleven appeared to injure his hand sliding into second; trainer Dave Ferguson pronounced him fit for duty. He struggled a bit in the ninth. With runners at first and third and one out, he convinced manager Sparky McSpitter to leave him in the game—despite closer Sparky Lyle being ready to face the two left-handed hitters coming up. Blyleven retired them both, claiming Baltimore’s 7th World Series in a row.

There is much work to do for 1976. The end appears near for Wilbur Wood, who despite winning 20 games, faded down the stretch and was ineffective in the playoffs. Reliver Blanks Nakamura became quite hittable, and the bullpen blew enough saves to be worrisome. The lineup will likely look much the same, with the obvious questions regarding the injury-prone duo of Bobby Grich and Abie Nozaki. Likely Wood replacement Ross Grimsley has also suffered numerous physical setbacks. We’ll be looking in the offseason to upgrade at least three or four pitching slots.

On the free-agent front, there’s an exciting Canadian reliever named Seamus Campbell who looks to help out in the bullpen, if we can sign him for reasonable money. Otherwise, the free agent market (for the last year ever) isn’t particularly interesting; in 1977, it sure will be. We’ll have to start negotiating hard with our own stars to keep them around. The important 24-year-olds, Blyleven and Cedeno, will both be free agents; Ryan is signed through 1978. Clearly, the world of MLB will be changing.

We’re hopeful about the minors. At least a third of our players at triple AAA, led by Lou Whitaker, Eddie Murray, Mike Flanagan, and Lonnie Smith, could be playing in the bigs. The first two will likely spend 1976 continuing to develop, as they’re both under 20 and their counterparts in the bigs still going strong. Without some major off-season acquisition, Lonnie Smith stands a good chance of making the big club; Flanagan is a strong candidate for a roster spot and development into a top-flight starting pitcher.
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Old 02-03-2018, 08:16 AM   #11
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In 1976, we took the AL East crown for the 8th year in a row, finishing 112-50. It was nonetheless a year replete with difficulties. The pitching was stellar. The offense, less so, although expectations were extremely high coming out of 1975.

We were 4th in runs scored, 2nd in batting average, 4th in home runs, and a terrible 6th in OBP. We went the first 12 games of the year without hitting a home run. Mike Schmidt, who tied for the MLB in HR in 1975, struggled all year, finishing at .230/20/77, hitting a paltry .218 with RISP. Steve Garvey, who drove in 136 runs in the previous campaign, was almost comical in his inability to produce an RBI. He hit .249 with RISP and drove in only 79, despite having three .300+ hitters in front of him in the lineup. DH Scott Larabee slumped in the second half to finish at .257/9/47. C Gary Carter also slumped in the second half, hitting most of his 13 HR in the first 50 games. Gold Glove shortstop Mark Belanger lost his ability to hit, batting only .113 before being released in June (after refusing both to be traded and demoted to the minors). He was replaced by Bob Bailor, claimed off of waivers from Oakland to replace Belanger. Bailor hit a respectable .278 and stole 19 bases while playing a decent enough SS. For the Toby Elliott fan club, his numbers weren't great, hitting only .174 in limited action. He still has three option years left, so he might end up in the minors in 1977 to work on that stroke.

In a season in which offense all over the board was down, there were some bright spots. Dave Winfield finished .282/23/95, and Bobby Grich played most of the season without an injury en route to .302/9/69. Cesar Cedeno was his normal fantastic self, playing world-class center field and putting up .314/16/83 (strong RBI production from the leadoff spot), and stealing 46 bases for an 8.3 WAR.

The biggest bright spot was the acquisition of Dave Parker from California in exchange for Al Bumbry and three top-shelf minor-leaguers. Parker was unhappy in Cali, Bumbry the same in Baltimore, so the trade made sense. Hitting .234 when the trade was made, Parker hit .319 in an Orioles uniform and finished the season with 54 stolen bases. He rounded out the best defensive outfield in baseball, with three true howitzers striking fear into the hearts of opposing base runners.

Still, the story was in the pitching. The numbers weren't as heady as the previous year, putting up only one 20-game winner, in the ageless wonder Wilbur Wood (his 6th in a row, and he would win his 3rd Cy Young), who began the season as the #3 starter and went into the playoffs as the ace. Blyleven won 19, Ryan 18, Palmer 17, and 5th starter Tom Underwood 11--and all five finished in the top 10 in the AL in ERA. The bullpen, anchored by two different stoppers, left handed Sparky Lyle (19 saves, 1.47 ERA) and right handed Bruce Sutter (15 saves, 2.28 ERA--although 5 losses and 8 blown save chances), finished #1 in the league in ERA as well--further buoyed by the emergence of rookie Shea Rutenber, who finished 9-1 with an ERA of 1.16. All the starters were punished by the inability of the offense to score runs, with Palmer and Underwood being the first Orioles pitchers since 1970 to lose 10 or more games.

The playoffs came next, facing AL West-winning California, whose offense was spotty but pitching rivaled our own. We played them in the series directly before and after the All-Star break, dropping 4 of 7 to them. On the year, the teams split 12 games. In the Senior Circuit, the New York Mets are once again in the NCLS, this time against the San Francisco Giants. It's a matchup of opposites: the Giants had the best offense in the National League (to go with 5th best pitching), and the Mets, once again led by Tom Seaver (17-8/1.63/MLB-leading 233 Ks) tops in pitching but 8th in hitting. Neither team would be a pleasure to face, assuming first we get past the Angels.

We didn't.

In Game 1, Messersmith beat Wood 1-0. That’s all there is to it.
In Game 2, Blyleven couldn’t get out of the 6th, and the Angels plated 4 runs. Shea Rutenber came on and pitched 3 innings of sterling relief. Gary Carter hit a 2-run homer in the bottom of the 8th, and Bruce Sutter closed it out in the ninth.
In a tight situation tied at 1-1 with runners on in the 7th, manager Sparky McSpitter lifted starter Nolan Ryan, who had thrown 123 pitches to that point. 5th starter Tom Underwood blanked the Angels the rest of the way, as the O’s tied it with Steve Garvey’s first clutch hit in forever with a 7th inning solo shot, and scored the winning run on a Cedeno single, stolen base, ground out, and wild pitch in the 8th.
Palmer couldn’t get through 7 in Game 4, as the Angels plated 3, capped by a bases-loaded double by Ken Oberkfell. Having to face Messersmith again was awkward.

A solo homer by Bobby Thompson in top of 8th tied it. Larabee led off bottom of ninth with single. Elliott ran for him. Schmidt singled him to third with one out. Carbo pinch hit for Bailor and walks the bases loaded, with the top of the order coming up. It was not to be. Cedeno grounded into a force out at the plate and Grich popped out. In 11th, a one-out error by backup SS Chalk (who came in after Bailor was PH for) put a runner on. Underwood came on again to face the heart of Angels lineup. Brett tripled him home, and the series was finished.

The reign is over and will need to begin again in 1977.
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Old 02-03-2018, 10:04 AM   #12
Juggernt
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1977

We needed a real shortstop and there isn’t one available (our luck at acquiring Toby Harrah struck out—we even offered them Bobby Grich; Harrah went on to hit .339/47/140, so you can see why they resisted us). Our best minor league prospect is in rookie ball, so I guessed we’d have to work with Bob Bailor and ALCS goat Dave Chalk for a while (although we eventually went with young Jamie Quirk as the backup, since he’s also a viable third-string catcher).

In the spring, San Francisco offered us Bobby Bonds for starting catcher Scott Larabee. We offered them instead backup Darrell Porter, which to our surprise, they accepted (and we're happy that Porter had a good season in the NL). Bonds filled the role for a great backup outfielder through the course of the year, putting up .252/22/51 and stealing 13 bases in 109 games. He was particularly useful when Cesar Cedeno sustained a shoulder injury—he could hit, but he couldn’t throw. For those two weeks, he DH’d, Parker moved to center, Winfield to left, and Bonds roamed right.

The season started with back-to-back losses to the Rangers, but then everything went pretty much our way, finishing at 122-40, winning the division by 19 games over the Yankees. 1977 was an expansion year, so the hitting numbers inflated quite a bit. Even by that standard, ours were a stratospheric:

Cedeno .331/23/107/.408/51 SB/9.2 WAR
Parker .326/34/120/.354/42 SB/6.8 WAR (became only the 2nd ever member of the 30/30 club)
Winfield .317/26/106/.385/4.3 WAR
Garvey .306/36/127/.347/4.6 WAR
(giving us four 100-rbi players, which the Red Sox also had)
Schmidt .249/30/77/.327/5.6 WAR

The catching platoon of Larabee and Gary Carter hit 23 home runs and drove in 94, although Larabee spent some early season time as DH—a job he lost to young Eddie Murray, who hit .282/14/46 in 98 games, presaging a wonderful future.
Although there were some bumps along the way, like getting shut out three consecutive games right after the All-Star game (twice by the Brewers and once by the Yankees), we were number one in runs scored (911), 2nd in batting average (.284), 3rd in OBP (.347), and hit a staggering 233 home runs—second all time (only the 1961 Yankees hit more at 240—and they had Mantle and Maris). Three hit 30 or more, three more hit twenty, Grich (once again injured for a large chunk) hit 18. And yet, the story was still the pitching

Wilbur Wood continued to dazzle 25-6/1.99, picking up his fourth Cy Young, and Nolan Ryan had his best year ever 24-4/2.39/251K. Ryan lost his chance for a 25th win when the bullpen blew a late lead in his last start. That bullpen, which was shaky going into the playoffs, was probably why we didn’t win 130 games. Jim Palmer also won 20 against 6 losses; his ERA was up a bit at 3.23, and he went into the playoffs in the bullpen since Bert Blyleven (17-8/2.93) and Tom Underwood (18-5/2.03) were simply better. Underwood continues to exceed expectations. He only had one or two starts during all of April; otherwise, he, too, would have won 20.

Sparky Lyle went down in spring training and out until 1978. That left an opening in the bullpen which Mike Flanagan admirably filled, but a closer like Lyle doesn’t come along all the time. Bruce Sutter tried to fill the role, but came up short. He had 21 saves, but also blew 6.

We faced Oakland in the ALCS, which is best of 7 for the first time. Game 1 pitted Wood against 19-game winner Phil Niekro, in the battle of the knuckleballs. Tied at 3 in the bottom of the seventh, Mike Schmidt homered, and Wood made it stand up, going the distance.

Game 2 saw power pitchers: Nolan Ryan and Vida Blue (19-8/3.31). In the top of the 8th, Oakland loaded the bases with one out on a walk, infield hit, and hit batter, but Ryan struck out Steve Staggs and got Sal Bando to pop up. Grich led off the bottom of the 8th with a walk; Lou Whitaker pinch ran, and Dave Parker singled him to third. Garvey flied to shallow left, then Winfield hit a sacrifice fly to center for the lead. Oakland loaded the bases with one out in the ninth. Sutter came on to close it out. Bando hit a fly ball that looked deep enough to score Frank Taveras, but Cesar Cedeno gunned him down at the plate for the win.

In Game 3, Underwood matched up against Tommy John, who had historically given us fits, but we had beaten 3 times in 1977. Underwood couldn’t make it through the fifth, and Oakland led 6-4. Gary Carter tied it in the top of the sixth with a two-run homer. Jim Palmer came in relief with the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth and pitched out of the jam. A double, ground out and wild pitch led to a 7-6 Oakland advantage going into the ninth. 39-save Dave LaRoche locked it down, sending us to Game 4.
Catfish Hunter twirled a 5-hit shutout to even the series in Game 4, spoiling a fine performance by Blyleven in a 2-0 victory.

Wood and Niekro matched up again for Game 5. Wood went into the 8th with a lead, but then two infield errors plated a run, and he couldn’t hold in the ninth for a 5-4 loss. To make matters worse, CF Cesar Cedeno was injured with an oblique strain, putting him out for the rest of the playoffs (or so we thought).

Nolan Ryan brought things back to parity, striking out 8 and firing a shutout as the O’s won Game 6 4-0, setting up Game 7 with Tommy John going for the A’s, and manager Sparky McSpitter making a late decision to start the more experienced Jim Palmer over Tom Underwood, citing Oakland’s predominantly right-handed lineup. Palmer had lost Game 3 in extra innings, but was raring to go.
Both pitchers rose to the task, tying 0-0 through 9. Palmer pitched a scoreless 10th but was gassed by the end. With Underwood warming up in the bullpen, Gary Carter hit a 2-out solo home run against John to send the O’s to the World Series against the Mets (for the fifth time in nine years).

McSpitter announced early on that the bullpen is better with Tom Underwood in it, and Palmer would be his Game 4 starter. The days off worked out so Wood could be #1, followed by Blyleven, Ryan, and Palmer. Trainer Dave Ferguson noted that Cedeno could probably come back for Games 6 and 7 if required. No slouches, the Mets won 108 games in the regular season, anchored by fantastic pitching and a powerful offense featuring 3 100-RBI men in Andre Thornton, Ken Henderson, and Dwight Evans. The only plus side to playing four games in New York (meaning no DH) is that with Cedeno injured and Bonds playing regularly, Eddie Murray was available for pinch-hitting duties.

Game 1 saw the Mets win 1-0, with reliever Enrique Romo pitching three innings of shutout. Worse, Bobby Grich was injured in Game 1 but came back for Game 2—perhaps a little worse for wear. Seaver beat Blyleven 3-2, guaranteeing the Series would have to come back to New York for the Orioles to win.

Ryan couldn’t hold an 8th inning lead and the Mets scored five against the rocky bullpen to take a 7-4 lead and 8-4 win, going up three games to none. Tom Underwood pitched three innings of excellent relief when Palmer faltered in Game 4, and the O’s climbed back into it with a 7-4 win. Gary Carter once again provided the heroics with a 2-run homer in the bottom of the eighth, as Wood hung on to win 2-1, sending the series back to New York. That bullpen failure loomed large.
With Cedeno back in the lineup, the O’s touched up Seaver for five runs through five, and the bats kept going to a 9-1 win. It was all hands on deck for Game 7, with Nolan Ryan facing Clay Kirby. The question for manager Sparky McSpitter was which of his two catchers to start—Larabee, hitting .345, or Carter, the author of so many heroics. McSpitter opted to play his normal platoon scenario and start Larabee. It turned out to not matter.

Garvey and Cedeno homered in Game 7, but it was all Nolan Ryan, who struck out six and spun a three-hitter to seal the most improbable World Series comeback of all time, giving the O’s their 8 title in 9 years. Garvey, so miserable in the previous year’s playoffs, won the Series MVP award. Sportswriters have already started calling it the Vindication of ’76.

The only real question for 1978 will be if Grich can stay healthy and if we can land a great SS. Before the winter meetings started, Minnesota signed Toby Harrah, who we had pursued, to a six-year contract—although weirdly for less money than we offered. Now off to the winter meetings and the first year player draft, where we hope to pick up a young local SS named Cal Ripken, Jr.
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Old 02-08-2018, 02:37 PM   #13
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1978
What a year. We had a strong start and had developed a 7 game lead until the Yankees came into town and swept us 4 in our own ballpark on August 11-15. The lead was as low as 2 Ĺ games, but we bounced back—and then it got crazy. On August 23, we started a winning streak. The 7th game of it was a 4-run bottom of the ninth come from behind against the Yankees. The 8th was another walk-off come from behind win against them the next day. We didn’t lose again until the 27th of September—when we had already clinched the division and were fielding a team of backup and minor-leaguers. The counting was 30 consecutive victories, which will certainly stay in the record books a while, finishing us at 115-47.

Baseball was completely lopsided this year between the haves and have nots. Five teams (us, California, Minnesota, the Mets, and the Dodgers) won 100+ games and two more (Yankees, Red Sox) won 99. Six teams lost more than 100 (Blue Jays, Indians, Mariners, White Sox, Phillies, Padres).

Eddie Murray was the breakout star, winning the American League batting title while hitting .340/35/121—without Toby Harrah’s 46 HR and 134 RBI, he wins the Triple Crown. The bats were thunderous in the early going, but cooled significantly later on—even in that winning streak, we weren’t putting up large numbers of runs, just winning tight games. Mike Schmidt had his best year at .286/30/96 and Cedeno (despite most of a month on the DL) .304/23/78 with 37 steals. The player that was leading us out of the offensive funk was Dave Parker, whose average at the All-Star break was in the .330s, had plunged into the .270s. He was starting to sizzle it up when he went down (for 9 months) with a knee injury, finishing at .293/23/67. Garvey was Mr. Steady at .301/23/90.

And still, it was the pitching. Despite the routine awfulness of the bullpen, for which Mexican League acquisition Zorro Peregrino was supposed to bolster, Wood won 20 for the 8th year in a row (22-7/1.99), Ryan finished 20-4/2.49 while missing a few starts with a tired arm, Blyleven was 18-7/2.63 after being the victim of most of the bullpen’s misdeeds. It was Tom Underwood that broke through, finishing 20-6/2.75—that 20th win clinching the title and almost as an afterthought being a no-hitter (just one hit batter prevented the perfect game).

California one the ALCS by one game over Minnesota by winning 8 of their last 10, while the Twins stumbled with 4-6. They’re a much tougher match for us in the ALCS than the Twins might have been, whose offensive is a powerhouse, but pitching is a little suspect (as suspect as it can be on a 102-win team). It also looks like we’re back to a 5-game ALCS. The Angels have inexplicably moved 19-game winner Andy Messersmith to the bullpen to go along with stopper Joe Coleman, who appeared in 78 games, pitched 173 innings and saved 26 games. We’ll counted it a relief we didn’t need to face Messersmith as a starter, although it might have meant needing to see him in all five games.

In Game 1, Scott Larabee hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the first that would be the difference as Wood blanked the Angels en route to a 3-0 win, beating ace Tom Bradley. In Game 2, it was Nolan Ryan’s turn to shut them down, allowing only a ninth inning solo blast by George Brett in a 2-1 victory.

We pitched lefty Tom Underwood in Game 3 over normal #3 starter Blyleven because of the heavy left-handed bias of the Angel lineup. It worked, as Underwood limited them to 2 runs over 7 2/3 and we jumped all over starter Larry McWilliams, cruising to an 8-2 win and a berth in the World Series against the Mets for the sixth time in ten years. The Mets put up some serious offense in the last two games, scoring 11 and 10, respectively—although there’s the silver lining that they gave up 18 and 7 in those 2 games. Of course, the cloud is that we lose DH Steve Garvey for three of those games.

In the battle of old-timers, Wood matched up with Fergie Jenkins in Game 1. Wood was once again masterful, spreading out nine hits in a 4-0 shutout. The Mets loaded the bases with one out in the 8th, but the crafty knuckleballer struck out the next two and then pitched a clean ninth.

Nolan Ryan faced the franchise he came up with and Clay Kirby in Game 2. New York jumped on Ryan for three in the top of the first and he didn’t last through six. Down 4-2, we loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the ninth, when former free agent pursuit Seamus Campbell came in to shut us down. A passed ball plated one run, but Campbell struck out Steve Garvey and induced an Eddie Murray groundout to knot the Series at 1 all. We’d have to win at least one in New York to bring it back home.
After trailing 3-1 in Game 3, manager Sparky McSpitter opted to lift starter Blyleven for a pinch hitter in the 7th. We tied it there, and then scored one in the top of the ninth off of Campbell to take a 2-1 lead, Bruce Sutter saving the win for reliever Zorro Peregrino.

Underwood faced Bill Gogolewski in Game 4. Tied at 1, the O’s pushed across two in the sixth and one in the seventh. Shea Rutenber saved the win, putting Baltimore up 3-1 and New York hoping desperately to make it back to Charm City.

Neither starter was sharp in the Game 1 rematch. The O’s plated one in the top of the 8th after a Tommy Herr error, but the Mets came back with two in the bottom of the ninth with two out to take Game 5 6-5.

Nolan Ryan and Clay Kirby faced off again in Game 6. Ryan walked in run in the 7th to put the Mets up 2-0. The O’s sent the crowd into hysterics by plating 4 in the bottom of the 8th, sparked by Bernie Carbo’s pinch hit single and Cesar Cedeno’s double. Zorro Peregrino may have proved he was worth all that off-season money by winning his second game in relief in the Series. Cedeno, who hit .360 and drove in six runs was voted Series MVP.

After the season, we picked up some hardware
Cy Young: Wood (5th, 3rd in a row)
Gold Glove: Schmidt (2nd)
Manager of the Year: (10th).

We also didn’t wait long to get to work for 1979. With Parker out until at least May, I need a starting outfielder. I traded the every-year-injured Grich (who turns 30 soon) and minor league not-particularly-high prospect pitcher James Hypes to the Yankees for 24-year-old outfielder Andre Dawson and 19-year-old catching prospect Mike Scioscia. Trading within the division is always risky, but I think I got the better of this.

The owner also challenged us to upgrade at SS, so right after the free agent filings, we signed 23-year-old Chet Lemon to a 4-year deal, which should be enough time to get to the next thing: we traded top-rated pitching prospect Don Robinson to the White Sox for 17-year-old SS Cal Ripken, Jr. Now let’s just hope he develops.
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Old 02-12-2018, 09:35 AM   #14
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1979
Even with injuries, we went wire-to-wire in 1979, winning 125 games. Both Cesar Cedeno and Dave Parker started the seasons on the DL, Cedeno’s 2nd injury during the pre-season. In the spring, we traded Bobby Grich, he of the many injuries, to the Yankees for OF Andre Dawson and prospects. We did this comfortable in the knowledge that Lou Whitaker could step into the starting 2B role. He finished .278/15/72, compared to Grich’s .275/24/90, having played in more games (152) than he’d ever played for us. Even if we consider Grich’s performance better than Whitaker, the addition of Dawn as the primary backup outfielder paid dividends, as he finished .293/9/38 in a third backup role.

The big story was Eddie Murray, who won a second AL batting title, compiling .366/42/129. The O’s had seven players hit more than 20 homers, breaking the Yankees ’61 record of 240 with 256 round-trippers, but finishing 2nd in that category to Minnesota’s remarkable 275 (behind Toby Harrah’s 51). Dave Parker was limited to 100 games with a knee injury but still put up .320/29/71, and Cesar Cedeno hit .336/24/87 despite missing a month with two separate injuries. Bobby Bonds filled in admirably, hitting 21 homers in the first 50 games, before cooling when the starters came back.

Despite finishing number one in average and runs scored, pitching continued to dominate. Wilbur Wood ended up at 27-4/2.15, Nolan Ryan was 21-5/2.91 while leading MLB with 231 K’s, and Blyleven finished with his 5th 20 win season at 21-10/3.62. Jim Palmer and Tom Underwood won 16 and 15 respectively, signaling a significant comeback for the right-hander, given that his control abandoned him toward the end of 1978.

We made some rather large trades during the course of the year. The big two came right before the trade deadline. We shipped free agent-to-be Scott Larabee to St. Louis for C Terry Kennedy, who filled in admirably when Gary Carter needed rest. Second, we traded SS Chet Lemon to the Red Sox for SS Alan Trammel and minor league starter Dennis Eckersley. Lemon hit .340+ in a Red Sox uniform, but Trammell’s .310 in Baltimore was more than enough. Eckersley showed flashes of brilliance in a September call-up, signaling only positives for the future.

Seven different players hit 20+ home runs, and seven had more than 70 RBIs. Production was spread up and down the order. Garvey had the quietest .313/29/108 seasons in history, helping us finish 8 runs ahead of Minnesota for the title. The main concern in the playoffs is facing reliever Joe Coleman multiple times, as he won 19 games in relief and saved 17 more. It’s a five-game series, meaning it’s anyone’s ball game.

The Angels pushed across one in the top of the ninth to lead Game 1 of the ALCS. Coleman ended a rally in the ninth and California took a 1-0 lead. Gary Carter tied the game at 3 with a homer in the bottom of the 7th, and the match of super-relievers, Coleman and Peregrino, as on. Garvey doubled home Murray in the bottom of the eighth, taking the series to California tied 1-1.

Fergie Jenkins and Bert Blyleven matched up in Game 3. The O’s trumped California’s 8 runs with 17 of their own, cruising to at blowout win. The Angels would need to face a resurgent Jim Palmer and still go back to Baltimore to win the series.

A two-run homer off of super reliever Joe Coleman put the O’s up 3-2 in the top of the 8th. It looked like Shea Rutenber would pitch out of trouble in the 8th, but an error by SS Alan Trammell plated a California run to tie. Tom Underwood pitched 4.2 innings of perfect extra inning relief; Trammel redeemed himself with an RBI single in the top of the 15th to send the O’s to the World Series for the 10th time in 11 years. Steve Garvey was voted MVP after hitting an absurd .619 for the ALCS, setting a record for the most hits in a post season series. For the sixth time since 1969, the Orioles faced the Mets in the World Series, this year winners of 105 regular seasons games.

Wood outdueled Clay Kirby 2-1 in Game 1. Ryan had 1 bad inning in Game 2 and it was enough to propel the Mets into a Series tie. A Cesar Cedeno double in the bottom of the 8th was the difference in Game 3, as reliever Bill Caudill got the win and Bruce Sutter pitched the ninth for a save.

15 game-winner, the resurgent Jim Palmer matched up against Bob Shirley in Game 4. Palmer was good enough through 7 and the bullpen stood up for a 5-3 win and a 3-1 lead. Kirby would have to beat Wilbur Wood to get the series back to New York. He didn’t. Series MVP Mike Schmidt homered twice, the bats woke up early, and the O’s cruised to an 11-1 shellacking to take their 10th title in 11 years.

In the post season, Murray picked up his first MVP award and Schmidt his third Gold Glove. Wood (who we almost gave up on 100+ wins ago) earned his fourth Cy Young in a row and sixth overall. Now for 1980, we wonder what worlds there are left to conquer. If we stay injury-free, we should have another fantastic season. I feel bad for the team full of MLBers at AAA who are stuck behind a lineup of stars. With only 2 or 3 call-ups looking reasonable, the rest are just going to have to wait their turn or end up as FAs.
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