Folks who are not baseball or tabletop baseball fans can head to the last paragraph of the post for some somewhat related music.
In the midst of a busy week, reader Steve E dropped a note here, asking about the results of last Saturday’s Strat-O-Matic tournament and about how we play the game in general.
This year’s autumn tournament was won by Rick’s 1954 Indians, who took a best of three finals by two games to one from Dan’s 1998 Braves. Rick’s Indians gave us two remarkable games: In the single-elimination opening round, Rick was down 6-2 to Rob’s 1936 Yankees as he started the bottom of the ninth. The Indians scored five runs in that ninth inning to win the game 7-6.
And after losing the first game of the finals to the 1998 Braves, Rick’s Indians pulled off another ninth-inning comeback. Trailing 4-3, Rick tied the game and then loaded the bases with two out, setting up a game-winning and finals-tying grand slam home run by the little remembered Wally Westlake. The deciding game had its own drama, staying scoreless until the eighth inning. The Indians scored twice in the eight and twice in the ninth, with three of the four runs being unearned. The Braves managed only a single run in the bottom of the ninth, giving the Indians their second title in the nine tournaments that we’ve played.
Steve asked how teams are selected for the tournament. We play old-style, the basic Strat game with cards and dice (though Rob and I both have the computer-based game; my disk is from seven years ago). Rob and Dan have large collections of Strat-O-Matic teams, and we pull our teams from that pool. Once any one of us selects a team, he “owns” that team for succeeding tournaments. And the only team allowed to play in consecutive tournaments is the defending champion. (Rob elected not to play the defending champs, the 1920 Indians, in last week’s tournament.)
The teams I “own” after ten tournaments are the 1905 Giants, 1919 White Sox, 1930 Athletics, 1930 Cardinals, 1931 Athletics, 1941 Yankees, 1948 Indians, 1956 Yankees, 1961 Reds, 1965 Twins, 1971 Pirates, 1975 Reds, 1991 Twins, 2001 Diamondbacks, 2004 Red Sox and the 2006 Twins. My best finish was in 2009 when I got the ’48 Indians to the finals and lost two games to none to Rob’s 1922 Giants.
A note about game play: I said we play the basic game, and we do, but over the years, Rob and I have developed numerous modifications to that basic game, accommodating things like how a catcher’s defense affects a base-runner’s chances of stealing a base, how an outfielder’s defense affects a base-runner’s ability to take an extra base on a single or double, and pitcher’s fatigue. If Steve or anyone else is interested in those modifications, leave me a note, and I’ll share them.
And since we’re talking about play and about 1954, here’s a track from that year from one of my favorites, Big Maybelle. “Ain’t To Be Played With” is a tune that Maybelle recorded for the Okeh label in September of that year, but it went unreleased. I found it on the collection The Complete Okeh Sessions, 1952-1955, and even though it’s about an entirely different kind of play, it’s today’s Saturday Single.