Angels 1, Rangers 0. California's Mike Witt was 23 and good. Texas's Charlie Hough was 36 and also good. Despite the 13-year age difference, Hough had more time left in the majors. Knuckleball!
Charlie Hough was highly excellent in this game. He faced the minimum through two innings, worked around a leadoff triple by Mike Brown in the third and a Fred Lynn single and wild pitch in the fourth, and allowed a walk in each of the fifth and sixth but nothing else in either inning. California finally picked up its first run in the seventh when Doug DeCinces singled, took second on a passed ball, moved to third on a groundout, and scored when Reggie Jackson's grounder drew a late, unsuccessful throw home. Brown doubled Jackson to third, Bob Boone grounded to third and got Jackson thrown out at home, Dick Schofield walked to load the bases, and Rob Wilfong grounded out to end the inning. Hough then allowed singles to Lynn in the eighth and Brown in the ninth, but neither runner reached scoring position. All told it was a complete game seven-hitter, with the only run unearned.
And Mike Witt? He just struck out 10 Rangers on the way to a perfect game. Which kind of one-ups both Hough's performance in this game, and the last-day no-hitters baseball has given us in 2013 and 2014.
Awesome though they are, perfect games give me very little to write about. But since it's the last game of the regular season, there are at least full-season results to throw in here.
Counterintuitively, the least-dramatic team of 1984 was the champion of the season's only close division race, the Kansas City Royals. They were edged out by the Tigers by less than a point of WPL over the course of the full 162-game season - which proved a far smaller margin than the one deciding the ALCS between the same two teams. The Tigers cruised through that series, while the Padres (#11 in excitement) rallied past the Cubs (#20) in an infamously crushing NLCS. Detroit then hammered San Diego in five to claim the World Series.
Meanwhile, the most exciting team of the year was the 66-96 San Francisco Giants. They cruised to the title, with a margin over the second-place Yankees that would have required New York to replace their least-interesting game with the best game in my entire database to make it up. It was quite a comedown for the Yanks, who held a prodigious lead at the halfway point in the season, then played a second half that was considerably less interesting while the Giants steadily entertained fans throughout the season. (Given their record, they appear to have primarily entertained fans of the opposing team. That still counts!)
The season on the whole produced an average WPL of 2.74, which is lower than 1977's mark but higher than any of the last four seasons have produced. So what is WPL seeing that makes it think baseball was more exciting back in the day?
Not to be a tease (except that I totally am), but that'll be a later post - probably after the conclusion of the 2014 postseason, which will hopefully be more exciting than the edition of 30 years ago. It's certainly off to a good start.