The Negro Leagues Strat-O-Matic game is fantastic

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Though not an avid player, I really like Strat-O-Matic. Though I’ve never met him in person, I’ve known Scott Simkus, the man behind the Negro Leagues version of Strat-O-Matic for a year or two.  At the Winter Meetings a couple of weeks ago I sat next to the Los Angeles Times’ Kevin Baxter in the media room for four days, and he was a really nice damn guy.  So of course I’m going to link a story by Kevin Baxter about Scott Simkus’ Negro Leagues Strat-O-Matic set when it gets published:

His name is Scott Simkus, and about a dozen years ago he commandeered a
microfilm reader at the offices of a suburban Chicago newspaper
searching for the results of a long-ago game his late grandfather, a
semipro outfielder, played against the Negro Leagues’ Cuban Stars.

Simkus, 39, never found exactly what he was looking for, but in the
archives of the Chicago Tribune and newspapers such as the Baltimore
Afro-American and the Pittsburgh Courier, he found more than 3,000
other box scores, which he parsed and cataloged into what may be the
most detailed collection of Negro League statistics ever compiled.

Those numbers allowed Simkus and Hal Richman, founder of Strat-O-Matic,
to put together a Negro League version of the game — no small, or
unimportant, feat.

The cool part of the article is that Baxter and Simkus traveled to Cedar Rapids Iowa to visit Negro Leaguer Art Pennington, the last surviving player for whom Simkus was able to compile a Strat-O-Matic card.  Pennington, Baxter and Simkus played some Strat and traded war stories.  Baxter told me in Indianapolis that it was a great trip, if for no other reason than Cool Papa Bell led off with a homer off Satchel Paige in one of their games.  Pennington sounds like an awesome dude, if for no other reason than he used the phrase “dipsy doodle,” which I haven’t heard deployed non-ironically since my uncle Harry died 25 years ago.

It’s a slow day. This is a great story.  Feed your minds a bit today ladies and gentlemen.

Alex Wilson broke his leg on a 103-MPH comebacker

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This one is brutal. Tigers’ right-handed reliever Alex Wilson was diagnosed with a broken leg after taking a blistering 103.8-MPH line drive off of his right leg during Saturday’s game against the Twins. According to the Detroit News’ Chris McCosky, it’s a non-displaced fibular fracture, but will still warrant an extended recovery period and signal the end of Wilson’s season.

Wilson replaced Drew VerHagen to start the eighth inning and worked a full count against Joe Mauer. Mauer roped an 93.3-MPH fastball back up the middle, where it struck the pitcher on his right calf. While Mauer took first base, Wilson got to his feet and tried to toss a warm-up pitch, but was in too much pain to continue and had to be helped off the field.

Even in a season that isn’t going anywhere in particular, this isn’t how you want it to end. The Tigers have yet to announce a recovery timetable for the 30-year-old reliever, but he won’t return to the mound until 2018. He exited Saturday’s outing with a 4.35 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 6.3 SO/9 over 60 innings.

The Tigers currently trail the Twins 10-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Yankees defeat Blue Jays to clinch postseason spot

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The Yankees guaranteed their place in the postseason with a 5-1 win over the Blue Jays on Saturday. Sonny Gray led the charge against their division rivals, clinching his 10th win of the season with six innings of four-hit, one-run, four-strikeout ball.

Gray worked into a little trouble in the first inning, putting runners in scoring position after Josh Donaldson drew a four-pitch walk and Justin Smoak advanced him with a single. The Yankees’ ace induced two quick outs to end the threat, but was overpowered by a Teoscar Hernandez home run in the third inning, the rookie’s fourth blast of the season:

Thankfully for the Yankees, that was the only run that slipped through the cracks. Gray finished the remainder of his outing with two hits and two walks and was backed by another three scoreless innings from the bullpen. Greg Bird supplied the go-ahead run with a three-RBI shot in the fifth inning, plating Chase Headley and Starlin Castro to give the Yankees their first lead of the night.

Todd Frazier tacked on another solo homer in the eighth, while Starlin Castro returned in the ninth to cap the win with an RBI single. Aroldis Chapman did the rest, wielding just 10 pitches to get three straight outs from Kendrys Morales, Kevin Pillar and Rob Refsnyder.

Following Saturday’s win, the Yankees have at least secured one wild card berth, though they’re not out of the division race just yet. They still sit a full four games back of first place in the AL East, with eight games left to play.