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Four days to opening day!

1986 Opening Day, that is.

I'm cautiously optimistic.

One personal benefit of this project is that it got me back in touch with a buddy I hadn't talked to in years.  He's a hardcore Strat guy -- he actually introduced me to the computer game, and he's been playing it since it was just a cards & dice game.

He's going to be my interim manager when I'm going on vacation this month, and he, like Ted Simmons, brings a lot of experience to the table.  He noticed that the 1986 Brewers have an unusual amount of clutch ability--basically, everybody except for Yount and Gantner was good in the clutch that season.

That's leading to some slightly weird setups -- I'm moving Molitor down in the lineup so that he'll come up more frequently with runners on, and I'm batting Dale Sveum third against lefties.  (Trust us on this one!)

What has me the most optimistic, though, is the pitching.  This version of the online Strat game doesn't limit players to their real-life playing time.  If I wanted to catch Bill Schroeder every day, I could.  (But I won't.)  It does mean that I can put Pete Vuckovich (3.06 ERA in 30+ IP) in the rotation all season long, and I get to keep Danny Darwin, rather than trading him to Houston in August.

That gives me the luxury of sending Bill Wegman and Jaime Cocanower back to Vancouver for more seasoning (yes, the Triple-A affiliate was Vancouver) and getting a lot more good starts on the season.  The bullpen was a strength all along, so I won't have to push Tim Leary and Juan Nieves too far into games.

The offense can only be fixed so much, but there are some unexploited platoons (more p.t. for Rick Manning!) and the clutch factor ought to help out.

Anyway, we'll keep you posted on the season, and you can track the games daily, starting next Monday, on the league site.  In the meantime, they are reprinting Sporting News articles from the '86 preseason, which are quite entertaining.