APBA Soccer Releases 2015-16 Euro Champions Set

APBA Games today announced the release of the latest edition of one of the best bargain sets in tabletop-sports gaming: the European Champions Set.

For $25 plus shipping the 202 card set includes last year’s (2015-16) champions of the 7 top European soccer leagues, as well as the Champions League title-holders.

Included clubs:

  • Real Madrid (UEFA Champions League)
  • Leicester City (Premier League – England)
  • Bayern Munich (Bundesliga – Germany)
  • Paris St. Germain (Ligue 1 – France)
  • Juventus (Serie A – Italy)
  • Barcelona (La Liga – Spain)
  • Benfica (Primera Liga – Portugal)
  • PSV Eindhoven (Eriedivisie – Netherlands)

zlatan psg 1415I personally own the 2014-15 version of this set, which was a no-brainer purchase for me when I realized that it included Paris St. Germain (PSG) and one of my all-time favorite strikers, Zlatan Ibrahimovic. I’d wanted a card of his for some time, but since his country (Sweden) didn’t qualify for the 2014 World Cup (which is an out-of-print APBA Soccer set I do own), and since I didn’t want to buy the entire French Ligue 1 set for just PSG, I figured I was out of luck. The Euro Champions set was a terrific opportunity to grab his card and a few other cards I’d otherwise probably never own.

If, like me, you purchased the 2014-15 set, you’ll notice right away that there are two changes to the included league representatives in the version announced today. The Champions League champs Real Madrid and the Portuguese Primera Liga champs Benfica  have replaced last year’s inclusions of Cruizero (Brazil Seria A) and Celtic (Scottish Premiere League). The new lineup makes more sense considering that Brazil isn’t in Europe and the Scottish Premiere League (forgive me, Scotsmen in the audience) isn’t a top-tier league on par with the others in the set.

The argument against the two year-over-year changes to the Euro Champions set is that now that the set doesn’t include Brazil and Scottish champions, it’s just a mini version of the Champions League set of 16 teams that APBA also offers for sale.

Indeed, if you wanted to play the full 16-team knockout round of the 2016-17 Champions League, the APBA Champions League Tournament set offers all 16 teams (354 cards) for $38 plus shipping. Seven of the eight clubs from the Euro Champions set are included (PSV Eindhoven is missing) in the Champions League set, as well as some other big-name clubs:

  • Arsenal (English Premiere League)
  • Atletico Madrid (La Liga)
  • Monaco (Serie A)
  • Bayer Leverkusen (Bundesliga)
  • Dortmund (Bundesliga)
  • Manchester City (English Premiere League)
  • Porto (Portuguese Premier Liga)
  • Sevilla (La Liga)
  • Napoli (Serie A)




October 4, 1985 – The End of the Mets’ Hopes

Sid Fernandez took a no-hitter 7 1/3 innings in game #159 of the season, before losing the no-no, the shutout, the game, and ultimately, the chance at a division title for the 1985 Mets in my Strat-O-Matic replay.

Fernandez entered the 9th inning having allowed just the one hit to Webster, and poised to face the top of the Expos lineup. El Sid is a lefty, of course, and if you include the switch-hitters Tim Raines and Mitch Webster, all 8 Expos position players in the lineup were right-handed batters. I considered bringing in Terry Leach to relieve, as he was the only decent fresh right-hander in the Mets bullpen, but figured Fernandez deserved the shot to close it out.

Raines tripled to lead off the 9th. Still holding a 4-0 lead, the Mets elected to play the infield back – willing to trade a run for an out on a hard-hit grounder. Vance Law immediately hit a gb(2b)A++, validating the decision. If you’re unfamiliar with Strat-O-Matic’s vernacular, the ‘++’ at the end of the result means that it’s a hard-hit groundball that would get through a drawn-in infield, but is gloved for an out in other situations.

Raines scored on the play so the new score was 4-1 in favor of the Mets. With one out, Andre Dawson strode to the plate and hit a home run. 4-2.

According to the rules of Strat-O-Matic’s advanced game, Sid Fernandez still needed to give up one more baserunner by hit or walk before he’d reach his “Point-Of-Weakness”. I have a personal rule that I always relieve starters at POW, but it’s at my discretion to do so before that moment.

I used Strat’s “Compare” feature to review Fernandez’s chances versus the chances of Terry Leach.

Strat's "Compare" feature helped me decide to bring in Terry Leach to face the next couple right-handed batters.

Strat’s “Compare” feature helped me decide to bring in Terry Leach to face the next couple right-handed batters.

Clearly, the call to the bullpen needed to be made. Leach allowed a double to the first batter he faced, Hubie Brooks, and then a ground ball out to Tim Wallach that sent Brooks to third. With two outs, a runner on third base and losing by the score of 4-2, rookie first baseman Andres Galarraga (who hit .187/.228.280 in real life 1985) was told to sit down and the Expos sent left-handed hitter Terry Francona (.267/.299/.349) to bat in his place.

Since the Mets only needed one more out and a left was coming to the plate, bringing in who was maybe the greatest LOOGY (Lefthanded-One-Out-Guy) in baseball history, Jesse Orosco to pitch.

Francona singled, Brooks scored. It was 4-3. Next up, Mitch Webster (aka Mr. No-Hit Ruiner) drew a walk. That’s when Sal Butera – who, in real life, hit just 8 homers in 911 career plate appearances – hit his 7th of this Strat season replay, a three-run home run that dashed the Mets division-title hopes.

With the Mets’ loss, the St. Louis Cardinals are the NL East division champions and will face the Cincinnati Reds in the NLCS.

An interesting note on the likelihood of a Sid Fernandez no-hitter:

1985 Mets scorebook coverIn real life 1985, 22-year-old Sid Fernandez threw 170 1/3 innings and allowed the fewest hits-per-9-innings (5.7) of any pitcher in baseball. It was an historic performance. In the 32 years since, only Nolan Ryan in 1991 (5.3 H9) and Pedro Martinez in 2000 (also 5.3 H/9) have posted a better figure over a full season (Max Scherzer is at 5.4 so far in 2017, but the year isn’t over yet).

Turns out, Fernandez was incredibly good at not giving up hits. His career record of 6.8513 H/9 is 4th lowest of all time, behind only Nolan Ryan, Clayton Kershaw, and Sandy Koufax. According to this Bill James study on “Expected No-Hitters” (included in the Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers) Sid Fernandez ranks 5th all-time on the list of guys who, based on statistical likelihood, SHOULD have thrown a no-hitter in their career but didn’t.

For a limited time, CLICK HERE TO TAKE 25% OFF a 1985 New York Mets as-played scorebook!

1985 NL Replay – Can the Mets Come Back?

For a limited time, CLICK HERE TO TAKE 25% OFF a 1985 New York Mets as-played scorebook!

Six games back with six games to play, the 2nd place New York Mets met the NL East division-leading St. Louis Cardinals in St. Louis for a three game series beginning on October 1, 1985 in my replay of the National League season. The Cards’ magic number was 1, meaning they needed to win only one of the three games to clinch the division.

NL Standings when the Mets came to St. Louis for a 3-game series on 10-1-85

NL Standings when the Mets came to St. Louis for a 3-game series on 10-1-85

It was an incredible series, highlighted by a 15-inning contest in game two, in which two 20-game winners (Dwight Gooden and Joaquin Andujar) started. Ultimately, though, through grit, talent, and luck, the Mets swept the series and have kept themselves alive; they are now just three games back of the Cardinals with each team having three regular season games left on the schedule.

NL Standings on 10-4-85, after Mets sweep of Cardinals to keep division title hopes alive.

NL Standings on 10-4-85, after Mets sweep of Cardinals to keep division title hopes alive.

I started this “1985 NL Cy Young Race” replay way the heck back in 2011. The concept was simple: I’d replay all of the starts of 3 1985 NL Cy Young contenders (Dwight Gooden, John Tudor, Fernando Valenzuela) with Strat-O-Matic cards & dice, and autoplay all other games using the PC version.

As the season unfolded over time I found myself interested in far too many of the games to keep up with the original conceit. I decided then to shift to a full PC-only replay wherein I manually play any games that interest me on any given day (never skipping the starts of the original 3 CY contenders, of course), and autoplaying the rest.

The Cincinnati Reds clinched the NL West on October 1st, when they beat the Giants to improve to 94-62, while Dodgers relievers couldn’t hold a 6-run lead in the 8th inning to the Padres, the loss dropping them to 87-70.

In the titular NL Cy Young race, Dwight Gooden (22-11, league-leading 1.55 ERA and 315 K) is still the front-runner. Tudor (19-8, 2.21 ERA, 158 K) and Valenzuela (15-12, 3.24 ERA, 197 K) have each pitched well, but other pitchers have emerged in the race ahead of each of them. Tom Browning (20-6, 2.48 ERA) of the Reds, Houston’s Nolan Ryan (17-8, 2.07 ERA, 217 K), and Orel Hershiser of the Dodgers (19-6, 2.45 ERA), most notable.

NL ERA leaders (Valenzuela is 23rd with 3.24)

NL ERA leaders (Valenzuela is 23rd with 3.24)

Click on the cover above to order your own as-played scorebook for the 1985 NY Mets!

Click on the cover above to order your own as-played scorebook for the 1985 NY Mets!

Free 2016 Chicago Cubs As-Played Scorebook (PDF)

2016 Cubs Front Alt cover

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD A FREE PDF COPY of the 2016 Chicago Cubs as-played replay scorebook.

On April 21, 2016, Kris Bryant hit two home runs and drove in six as the Cubs destroyed the Cincinnati Reds by the score of 16-0. Anthony Rizzo had a homer and 3 RBI, and Ben Zobrist and David Ross contributed long balls of their own in the offensive eruption.

On any other night, the Cubs’ bats would have been the lead story, but Jake Arrieta upstaged his teammates by throwing 9 innings of no-hit, no-run ball. It was the second no-hitter of his career.

Replay Jake Arrieta's no-hitter vs. Cincinnati with this as-played scoresheet from the 2016 Cubs campaign

Replay Jake Arrieta’s no-hitter vs. Cincinnati with this as-played scoresheet from the 2016 Cubs campaign

Re-live Arrieta’s magic and the triumph of the Chicago Cubs 2016 season with this FREE PDF download of the oneforfive.com customized scorebook.  This scorebook is designed for use with any baseball simulation game (e.g. Strat-O-Matic, APBA, Replay, Pursue The Pennant, Statis Pro, Payoff Pitch, History Maker Baseball, etc.).

The scorebook comes complete with as-played lineups and starting pitchers pre-filled for each game. An as-played schedule, list of significant transactions (with dates), and complete statistics for every player who wore a Cubs uniform in 2016 is included, too.

The 2016 Cubs run through the playoffs is included, too. For playoff games, the as-played lineups are written into the “notes” section of the scoresheet instead of pre-filled in the lineup slots.

All Cubs playoff games - including the 2016 World Series - are included in the download, too.

All Cubs playoff games – including the 2016 World Series – are included in the download, too.

If you’d prefer to order a PRINTED AND BOUND version of this scorebook, for a short time I can offer 20% off the normal price of $39 (plus $3.99 shipping).  Please use the BUY NOW button below to send $31.20 + $3.99 ($35.19 total) to paul@oneforfive.com via PayPal.

You can also email me anytime to discuss your project. I love making custom scorebooks. I want to make one for you.

Sadaharu Oh on Paper

Here’s a clip of a young, shirtless Sadaharu Oh slicing through paper with a samurai sword:

I recently finished reading Oh’s autobiography (co-authored by Dave Falkner), Sadaharu Oh: A Zen Way of Baseball, and it is not simply an excellent book, it may be the best autobiography I’ve ever read.

Fascinating in its insight, beautiful in its prose, courageous in its revelations, Oh and Falkner have written a compelling account of Oh’s journey to master hitting baseballs as far as they can be hit. The book was first published in 1974 and it remains among the best of its genre. I can’t recommend Sadaharu Oh: A Zen Way of Baseball enough.

Reading Oh’s autobiography has given me a new interest in playing the 1973 Tokyo Yamiuri Giants’ season on Strat-O-Matic’s PC game. I’ve played a handful of games with teams in this season roster, but haven’t yet taken on any projects.

Sadaharu Oh, 1973 Strat-O-Matic card for the PC game. Strat has never officially released a Sadaharu Oh card in the C&D format.

If you’re interested in learning more about Japanese Baseball history, I’d suggest any of Robert Whiting’s books, such as You Gotta Have Wa or The Chrysanthemum and the Bat: Baseball Samurai Style

Also, if you’re interested in playing some C & D Strat-O-Matic with some Japanese all-time greats, send me an email at paul@oneforfive.com and I can direct you to an unofficial, fan-created set that’s been floating around for a while.