Archive for the ‘Cincinnati Reds’ Category

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César Gerónimo

June 3, 2022

The Worcester Birds are still hanging on, despite the prolonged midseason swoon that seemed to reveal that their abundant flaws would decidedly outweigh their virtues. More recently, after taking two of three games in each of their last two series, they stand one game out of first in their four-team division, behind two teams tied for first (and four games out of the basement). It’s sort of an ugly scene, man. None of the teams are distinguishing themselves but are merely taking turns transcending, temporarily, mediocrity. When the Birds were, at the beginning of the season, the first team to embody this mirage of excellence, I had had hopes that they’d keep surging all season long. Now I’m just hoping they keep hanging on.

Right now I envision as the symbol of the slim margin between victory and defeat the image of César Gerónimo sprinting from the crack of the bat toward where he instantly has determined the struck ball is heading, and I imagine him leaping at the end of his sprint and snaring a nastily sinking line drive in the topmost webbing of his glove. You have to imagine such things with Strat-O-Matic, because there are no actual images provided to you. It all happens in your mind or doesn’t happen at all. As I explained in a post about Larry Bowa, the dice rolls occasionally land on outcomes that require an additional dice roll to determine whether and how well a fielder handles a chance hit their way. Geronimo is arguably the best-equipped fielder on the whole team of gloved magicians (which is currently manning five of the nine spots on the league’s running Gold Glove awards leaderboard, as shown below).

Gerónimo matches Bowa and Morgan with a defensive range rating of 1 (the highest in the game) and also like them has a low error rating. Additionally, he has the best throwing arm rating of any centerfielder in the 1977 Strat-O-Matic card set, and is equaled only by legendarily strong-armed right-fielders Dave Parker, Dwight Evans, and Ellis Valentine. His throwing arm rating is a -5, meaning that in any of the situations where a runner might be offered the opportunity to take an extra base with a roll of a 20-sided dice against their own baserunning ratings, Gerónimo’s strong arm would subtract 5 from the runner’s chances (e.g., Lou Brock, who has the gold standard rating of 1-17 on baserunning chances, would only advance on Gerónimo with a roll of 1 through 12 and would be out with a roll of 13 through 20, the same chances that Ron Cey, a 1-12 runner, would have in advancing on a centerfielder with an average arm, such as Ron LeFlore; in other words, César Gerónimo turns Lou Brock’s breathtaking running abilities into the fervent, inching waddle of Ron Cey).

There’s no “spectacular play” readout embedded anywhere in Strat-O-Matic, online or otherwise, so I have to make it up, imagining that each of Gerónimo 6 assists so far this year have been astounding displays of accuracy, velocity, concision, astonishment, maidens fainting in the aisles, etc. I also scan the play-by-play readout of the games to look for the rolls that land on his fielder rating, and with those I always imagine some version of the sprinting, leaping shoestring catch described above. Gerónimo made one of those when Mark Fidrych was clinging to a slim lead in the game, described below, that would end with Fidrych notching his 12th win.

As suggested in the image in the card at the top of this page, Gerónimo also took periodic breaks from his mastery in the field to pull on batting gloves and swing a bat. Though he batted low in the Big Red Machine order that’s often argued to be the best ever fielded, his position at the bottom is, I think, part of the reason for that argument, as there’s a certain incredulity in finding that Gerónimo is the least of the lineup of Hall of Famers and All Stars, as he was a decent hitter and was even capable (at least once, anyway, in 1976) of batting over .300 for an entire season. And he was their worst guy! And he was good!

I was hoping, surely, to channel some of that Big Red Machine dominance into the Worcester Birds. It’s not going to happen. The pitching is too shitty, and the offense, though capable of occasional miracles and explosions (see games 99 and 100 below), is proving to be too streaky to consistently paper over the glaring shortcomings of that aforementioned shitty pitching staff.

But the fielding! Oh, the fielding. Just imagine it. César Gerónimo leaping, making the catch, flipping back onto his feet, unleashing a laser beam toward the catcher, Munson, blocking the plate as a speedy opposing runner, having tagged up, races toward home.

It’s going to be close.

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Worcester Birds game notes:

  • G97: L 7-5
    • New pitcher Ron Schueler is decent through 6 and then unravels.
  • G98: W 12-5
    • Munson and Bostock (3 hits each) lead hit parade. New pitcher Soto notches the win.
  • G99: W 10-9 (14 innings)
    • Win of the season so far. Down 8-0 early against one of the two teams the Birds are trying to climb past for the division lead, the offense chips away and then frantically rallies to tie with 3 in the 8th and 1 in the 9th. Campbell (5 scoreless innings) and Tekulve (3.2 scoreless innings and the win) keep a monstrous offense (Foster, Schmidt, Bench) at bay, and Rodney Scott, of all people, wins it with a bases-loaded single in the bottom of the 14th.   
  • G100: W 22-7
    • Riding the wave from the previous game, the Birds produce 44 total bases (28 hits, including 4 doubles, 1 triple, and 4 home runs). Morgan (5 hits, HR, 3B) and Munson (5 hits, HR) lead the way. Singleton and Ron Jackson each chip in with 4 hits, and Soderholm and Bowa have 3 each. 
  • G101: W 7-4 (Fidrych 12-6)
    • Singleton drives in 3 with 2 hits, and Geronimo adds 2 hits and 2 runs scored and makes a sensational play in centerfield. Over the four-game winning streak that has allowed the Birds to climb a little closer to the top and a little farther from the bottom of their ugly, clumped-together division, Geronimo has hit .421.
  • G102: L 7-0
    • Schueler gets banged around, and the roaring offense suddenly disappears, stymied by Koosman, who allows only 3 hits, 2 of them to the unstoppable Singleton.