Alternate History: The 1985 Detroit Tigers by ChatGPT

My dabbling with ChatGPT so far has been centered on topics I know well enough to fact check or at least well enough to know something might be amiss — or amusingly wrong.

Let me present to you today’s installment of Adventures in ChatGPT, Detroit Tigers Edition.

My prompt was “Write a blog post about the Detroit Tigers from this date in 1985.” (I ran it through Baseball Reference’s life-saving player-linking tool for the first AI response.)

Settle in.

As we look back on this date in 1985, one of the hottest topics in the world of sports was the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers had just come off a strong season in 1984, winning the American League East with a record of 104-58, and advancing to the World Series. Although they lost the series to the San Diego Padres, the Tigers were poised to make another run at the title in 1985.

Led by manager Sparky Anderson, the Tigers boasted a lineup that included some of the game’s biggest stars. Outfielder Kirk Gibson was the reigning American League MVP, and was joined in the outfield by Chet Lemon and Larry Herndon. At first base was Darrell Evans, a veteran slugger who had hit 40 home runs the previous year. The infield was anchored by shortstop Alan Trammell and second baseman Lou Whitaker, who had formed a double-play combination since their rookie year in 1978. Lance Parrish, a six-time All-Star, was the starting catcher.

The Tigers’ pitching staff was equally impressive. Jack Morris, who had won 19 games in 1984, was the ace of the staff. Dan Petry and Milt Wilcox were also solid starters, and Willie Hernandez was a dominant closer who had won both the Cy Young and MVP awards in 1984.

As the 1985 season got underway, the Tigers looked like they were primed for another successful campaign. They got off to a strong start, winning their first five games and 12 of their first 15. They continued to play well throughout the first half of the season, and by the All-Star break, they had a record of 55-29 and held a commanding lead in the AL East.

The second half of the season was a bit more challenging for the Tigers. They suffered a few key injuries, including one to Gibson, and had to navigate through a tough stretch of games against some of the league’s top teams. Despite these challenges, the Tigers managed to hold on to their lead in the division, and clinched the AL East title on September 17th, with a record of 98-59.

The Tigers would go on to face the Kansas City Royals in the American League Championship Series. The series went the distance, with the Tigers winning in seven games to advance to the World Series for the second consecutive year. In the World Series, they faced the St. Louis Cardinals, but were unable to repeat their success from the previous year, losing in seven games.

Despite falling short in the World Series, the 1985 Detroit Tigers were a dominant team that will be remembered as one of the best in franchise history. With a lineup full of All-Stars and a pitching staff that was equally impressive, the Tigers were a force to be reckoned with in the American League throughout the 1985 season. Even though they came up short in the end, the memories of that season still live on in the hearts of Tigers fans today.

My reply: “Ok, but that information is mostly about the 1984 season, not the 1985 season”

I apologize for the error in my previous response. As we look back on this date in 1985, the Detroit Tigers were in the midst of another strong season. Led by manager Sparky Anderson, the Tigers had a solid lineup that included outfielders Kirk Gibson, Chet Lemon, and Larry Herndon, first baseman Darrell Evans, and a double-play combination of shortstop Alan Trammell and second baseman Lou Whitaker.

The Tigers’ pitching staff was anchored by ace Jack Morris, who had already won 12 games by this point in the season. Dan Petry and Frank Tanana were also solid starters, and Willie Hernandez was still a dominant closer.

At the time of this writing in late March, the Tigers had a record of 2-1, having won their opening series against the Boston Red Sox. They were scheduled to play the Baltimore Orioles next, followed by a series against the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Tigers would continue to play well throughout the season, finishing with a record of 84-77 and a second-place finish in the AL East. Although they missed the playoffs, the Tigers still had several standout performances during the season. Kirk Gibson had another strong year, hitting 29 home runs and stealing 29 bases, and Jack Morris finished the season with a record of 16-11 and an ERA of 3.33.

Despite not making the playoffs in 1985, the Tigers remained a competitive team throughout the rest of the 1980s, winning the AL East in 1987 and 1988 and making it to the World Series in 1984 and 1987. They would continue to be a prominent team in the American League for years to come.

Nope. The Tigers opened the season April 8 against Cleveland and ran their record to 6-0, and didn’t play Boston until June 17. But it was close in some areas: Gibson did have 29 homers in ’85, but stole 30 bases, not 29.

My next prompt: “Ok, but they did not make it to the World Series in 1987.”

I apologize for the error in my previous response. The Detroit Tigers did not make it to the World Series in 1987. They did, however, win the American League East that year with a record of 98-64, before losing in the ALCS to the Minnesota Twins in five games. The Tigers would go on to have several more successful seasons in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but did not make it back to the World Series until 2006.

Meh. The late ’80s were not great for the Tigers, especially 1989, and to say they had success in the early ’90s isn’t true either.

But what the hay, it’s still fun to futz with these AI tools and appreciate when they do get it right.

Becker, EY, and Reggie

Three notables from an unusually carefree weekend:

“Boom! Boom!” — The first was the unexpected and thoroughly captivating Boris Becker documentary on Apple TV+, “Boom! Boom! The World vs. Boris Becker.” I had been following Becker’s legal woes but hadn’t read about the two-part documentary from Alex Gibney — but what a pleasant surprise.

I have been a Becker fan since he came more or less out of nowhere to win Wimbledon in 1985 and again in ’86 (AND in ’89.) He was the first professional athlete that was also my age, so that blew my mind then (and now.) The film was a time machine for me and it left me feeling bad for Becker yet hopeful that he can get his house in order right quick.

April 9, 1993 — I’ve been fortunate enough to attend some memorable baseball games in my life, Game 3 of the 1984 ALCS and Game 3 of that year’s World Series certainly top the list, as does Game 4 of the 2006 ALCS. But the game I saw in person 30 years ago this week tops them all — and that’s saying something.

April 9, 1993 was the Colorado Rockies’ inaugural home opener, played in the club’s temporary home, Mile High Stadium. It was not my first time at the home of the Broncos, three years earlier my brother and I attended a Triple-A Denver Zephyrs game against Buffalo.

The Rockies faced the Expos that afternoon, a clear, crisp spring day that, in the shade, was borderline cold. Luckily for us — my brother and my good friend Doug— we sat in the sun, about midway up the right-field bleachers, better known then to football fans as the South Stands, where the rowdy Broncos faithful harassed the opponent.

This version of the South Stands was much more polite and excited, at least until Rockies leadoff man Eric Young treated us to a first-inning homer. The home team knocked 18 hits and trounced Montreal, 11-4

It’s tough to beat all the elements we packed into that weekend: Doug and I driving straight through from Ann Arbor to Denver, getting to see my brother for a few days, and seeing baseball history on Opening Day.

Of course, Doug does a better job of recalling the week here.

Reggie. I really don’t watch as much TV as this post would lead one to believe. After seeing a preview online of Amazon Prime Reggie Jackson documentary, I was in. I’m a sucker for anything baseball related from the 1970s and ’80s — I can never get enough of the Swingin’ A’s of the early ’70s — and this offered a big, carb-heavy serving of it.

As I watched, I couldn’t remember my feelings for Reggie Jackson when I was growing up. My hunch is that I didn’t like him because he was a Yankee — reason enough back then. Yet, I think I kinda liked him … ? When he left New York for my beloved California Angels, well, he was all right in my book. Again: I think … ?

Now, he’s in the Astros’ front office which is, at best, unfortunate. Oh, and one thing is certain after watching this: I hope to never watch another segment about Reggie and Billy Martin.

ChatGPT and ’80s Chart Toppers

A couple of months ago I decided to try ChatGPT to see what it can do. Here’s what I asked:

Make a list of the number 1 and number 2 songs from each year in the 1980s from the Billboard top-40 list.

Today, I did some (Wikipedia-based) fact-checking and dropped in some commentary and formatting to what the tool provided:

Here’s a list of the number 1 and number 2 songs from each year in the 1980s from the Billboard Hot 100:

1980: Correct!

1. “Call Me” by Blondie

2. “Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)” by Pink Floyd

1981: Partially Correct

1, “Bette Davis Eyes” by Kim Carnes

2. “Kiss on My List” by Hall & Oates“Endless Love” by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie

1982: Partially Correct

1. “Physical” by Olivia Newton-John “Ebony and Ivory” by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder

2. “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor

1983: Correct!

1. “Every Breath You Take” by The Police

2. “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson

1984: Correct!

1. “When Doves Cry” by Prince

2. “What’s Love Got to Do with It” by Tina Turner

1985: Partially Correct

1. “Careless Whisper” by Wham! Featuring George Michael

2. “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves“Like a Virgin” by Madonna

1986: Incorrect!

1. “West End Girls” by Pet Shop Boys Dionne and Friends – That’s What Friends Are For

2. “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel “Say You, Say Me” by Lionel Richie

1987: Partially Correct

1. “Walk Like an Egyptian” by The Bangles

2. “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” by Whitney Houston “Alone” by Heart (#2 on the Billboard chart, #1 according to ChatGPT)

1988: Correct!

1. “Faith” by George Michael

2. “Need You Tonight” by INXS

1989: Incorrect!

1. “Like a Virgin” by Madonna (My guess is that ChatGPT confused this 1984 song with 1989’s “Like a Prayer” which was the #25 song of the year.) “Look Away” by Chicago

2. “When I See You Smile” by Bad English “My Prerogative” by Bobby Brown

I don’t have the interest to fact-check Wikipedia on these but I do have interest in tinkering with ChatGPT, the new Bing and other AI tools. They will only get better. I hope.