Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Welcome to the Losers League

Cue Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers:

Even the losers
Get lucky sometimes

Even the losers
Keep a little bit of pride 

They get lucky sometimes ...

This league will involve the eight teams from the 1969 set that lost more than 90 games: the four first year expansion teams (Kansas City Royals, Montreal Expos, San Diego Padres and Seattle Pilots) and four others (California Angels, Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians and Philadelphia Phillies).
Their records ranged from 71-91 (Angels) to 52-110 (Expos and Padres).

One of them is going to win the pennant. The idea makes me giddy.

Eight teams is, of course, the pre-expansion standard for a major league. My plan is to graft these eight teams onto a real-life schedule, specifically the 1924 American League, as found on Baseball Reference.

Cleveland and the White Sox will have their predecessor's schedule. The Phillies will have the Athletics schedule (both being Philadelphia teams in 1924). The Pilots will get Detroit's schedule because Detroit is the most northwest of the remaining 1924 clubs, and the Padres will get the Browns schedule because St. Louis is the most southwest of the 1924 clubs. The Expos will get the Senators schedule because the Expos eventually moved to Washington. The Angels get the Yankees and the Royals get the Red Sox because that's what left.

I'll follow the schedule as the games were actually played; if a game was rained out, I'll play it on the makeup date. If a game was tied, I'll skip it and play on the replay date.

I'm quite certain this will result in road trips that, if scheduled in real life, would have the player union filing grievances. I am grafting a continental selection of cities onto a schedule from the rail era of travel when the AL was limited to the northeast quadrant of the country. But these are cards, not people.

Not every game was played in 1924. The Yankees, Athletics and Browns had 152 decisions each, and the Indians and White Sox 153. Only the Senators, Tigers and Red Sox had 154 decisions. It will require some digging to find out who missed games with who, and I think I'll deal with that problem should it arise, If I don't need to play any of those games to get a champion, I won't. If I do, I'll play what needs to be made up at the end of the season.

Eight teams playing 152 or more games is more than 600 games, and in that regard this is the most daunting Strat project I've attempted in my solitaire career, One thing that should make it easier: I'm not going to do the accounting work I've done in the previous projects. Yes, I'd like to know if Rusty Staub is contending for the Triple Crown or how many strikeouts Sam McDowell is racking up. But it doesn't matter to me if Vern Fuller hits .203, .223  or .243, and I want to play the games, not accumulate data.

Instead of playing this season by series, I'll play it by dates. The first day of the 1924 season was Tuesday, April 15, and that day featured games involving all eight teams. I'll play those games, then post that date's recap, then move on to Wednesday, April 16.

Other rules: I'll use injuries. 25 man active rosters, demotions must last at least 10 days. I will use the weather ballpark ratings (1969 parks, obviously; only the schedule is 1924). Games will be presumed to be night games with the following exceptions:

All Saturday and Sunday games are day games
All double headers are day games
All holiday games are day games (without looking it up, I assume the holidays will be doubleheaders, so this may be redundant)
Other than in San Diego and Anaheim, the first two weeks of the season will be day games and the last two weeks will be day games.
Getaway games without a following offday will be day games.

Having written all that makes my head spin a bit, and I may well hold off starting the season until I have actually written out the full schedule.

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