Archive for the ‘Tabletop Baseball’ Category

Saturday Single No. 417

Saturday, November 1st, 2014

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.

Saturday Single No. 416

Saturday, October 25th, 2014

Not much time to dally here: It’s autumn baseball day here today.

In a couple of hours, Rick, Rob and Dan will be here for the autumn installment of our twice-annual Strat-O-Matic baseball tournaments. If Rob is to be believed from his emails, he’s going to bypass the two-time defending champions, the 1920 Indians, in favor of two new teams, thus abandoning the Indians’ chances of being the first team to win three consecutive titles. We’ll see what happens when he gets here.

Until then, however, I’ll assume that he’s going to bring the 1936 Yankees and 1998 Astros into the tourney, two new and very good teams. Rick is bringing back one of his old favorites, the 1954 Indians, and adding to the mix the 2003 Cubs. Dan is going with one of his frequent favorites, the 1998 Braves, and adding the 2001 Mariners to his stable.

And I’m going to counter with the return of the 2006 Minnesota Twins and add to my cluster of (so-far-unsuccessful) teams the 2004 Red Sox.

Along the way, of course, we’ll sip some beer, eat some barbecue and potato salad, and tell tales and laugh. And one of those eight teams will win the tournament sometime around five o’clock this afternoon.

So, all we need is a tune. The lyrics don’t necessarily fit, but the title does, so here’s Aztec Two-Step’s 1975 track “It’s Going On Saturday,” and it’s today’s Saturday single.

Saturday Single No. 363

Saturday, October 26th, 2013

No time to dilly-dally! I have guests coming to play Strat-O-Matic baseball!

In less than two hours, Rick, Rob and Dan will be here for the eighth edition of our annual tournament. During the first six years, we did a one-day, eight-team tourney. Last year, we expanded to sixteen teams over two days. This year, because of scheduling conflicts, we went back to the original format, and we’ll debate what to do next year as we make our way through the day’s action.

This year’s teams?

Dan has the defending champion 1998 Braves and the 1995 Indians. Rob has last year’s runner-up, the 1920 Indians, and the 1996 Indians. Rick is bringing in the 1946 Red Sox and the 1968 Tigers, both of whom he’s played in the past. I’m the only player bringing in newcomers, adding the slugging-rich and pitching-poor 1930 Cardinals to the mix and bringing in the pitching rich and (generally) ethically challenged 1919 White Sox.

I should note that two weeks ago, at Dan’s, I shifted at the last moment from the 1941 Yankees to the 1948 Indians, moving closer to the year of my 1950 Joe Gordon baseball card. It worked, at least a little: The Indians won two of three in pool play to advance to the semifinals, and then one another game to advance to the finals. There, my boys ran into Dan’s 1927 Yankees. Lou Gehrig hit two home runs and the Yankees won 9-6.

I’m giving both Joe Gordon and Al Simmons a rest today, but I have high hopes for George “Showboat” Fisher of the 1930 Cardinals. A product of Albany High School just about 25 miles up the interstate from here (and laid to rest in the even closer burg of Avon, where for years, his family ran a supper club), Fisher batted .374 for the Cardinals in 1930, one of twelve Cardinals – eight regulars and four regular substitutes (40 games or more) – to bat .300 or more that season. That was a hitter’s year throughout the National League, so the Cards’ pitching is suspect, but I’m hoping Showboat and his boys knock enough balls around the park here under the oaks to bring me a title.

(Of course, if it’s the Black Sox who win, I’ll be pleased, too.)

Anyway, to cap things off and let me get back to preparations, here’s a suitable tune that I may have shared here on such days before: Mabel Scott’s 1950 romp, “Baseball Boogie,” and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 361

Saturday, October 12th, 2013

I’m heading out this morning for a day of Strat-O-Matic baseball at my pal Dan’s house. I had to skip his annual tournament last year, but Rick and Rob managed my 1941 Yankees in my absence. I don’t recall how the Yanks did, but I know they didn’t get out of the four-team division round into the semifinals.

Beyond being a great team, the 1941 Yankees attract me because of the presence of one of my favorite all-time players, second baseman Joe Gordon. And as always, I’ve got a Joe Gordon baseball card in my wallet. It is, however, a 1950 card, and by the time 1950 rolled around, Joe was playing in Cleveland in the last season of what was a Hall of Fame (2009) career. But there may be some mojo in the card anyway, so maybe this is the 1941 Yanks’ year.

Even if it’s not, today is still going to be a fun day, which means that Dan and I and his other guests are going to be taking advice from Tower of Power. Here, from the 1976 album Ain’t Nothin’ Stoppin’ Us Now, is “You Ought To Be Having Fun,” today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 325

Saturday, January 19th, 2013

Well, it’s baseball in January.

Last October, my pals and I found ourselves unable to clear a Saturday for us to get together here on the East Side and play the second half of our two-part 2012 Strat-O-Matic baseball tournament. November didn’t work, either, and then came the holidays, so we decided we’d regroup in January. And today is that day.

Waiting in the wings for most of today’s action will be the 1920 Cleveland Indians, who won last spring’s first half by defeating the 1988 Mets 11-2. Rob owns of both those clubs, and he chose to guide the Indians during the finals. The winner of today’s eight-team tourney will take on the 1920 Indians in a best-of-three finals at the end of what could be a long day today.

Today’s first round pairings have another Cleveland Indians team – Rob said he’d play either the 1995 or 1996 Indians; he wasn’t sure which one he could find in his stash—facing Dan’s 1998 Atlanta Braves; my 1991 Minnesota Twins against Rick’s 1946 Boston Red Sox; my 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks against Rick’s 1990 Oakland Athletics; and Rob’s 1922 St. Louis Browns facing Dan’s 1970 Baltimore Orioles.

As always, I’m very much looking forward to having the guys here. And as frequently is the case, the Texas Gal will be taking her laptop and her books to study at the public library for much of the day, leaving us to our loud day of baseball and brotherhood.

Here’s “Blood Brothers,” one of the tracks recorded new for Bruce Springsteen’s 1995 Greatest Hits album. And it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Corrected since first posting.

Saturday Single No. 261

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

Well, I noted three weeks ago that Rob and I headed off to Schultz’s place in the Twin Cities to play some Strat-O-Matic baseball. Rob won that tournament with his 1909 Pittsburgh Pirates.

And today, Rob, Rick and Schultz (otherwise known as Dan, for those who keep track of these things) will be here for another day of tabletop baseball, the sixth straight autumn the four of us have gotten together. (Well, Rick missed one year, but he told us which teams he would have played, and one his teams finished second, so he was here in spirit.)

Who’s in today’s tournament? Well, Rob is bringing back the 1922 St. Louis Browns, the winners in 2006 and 2007, and he’s entered the 1940 Cincinnati Reds. I’m piloting the 1948 Cleveland Indians (second in 2009) and the 1965 Twins. Rick has opted for the 1954 Cleveland Indians (second in 2008) and the 1930 Yankees. And Schultz has brought back the 1998 Atlanta Braves – the defending champions – and the 1970 Baltimore Orioles.

Given the impending festivities, I have things to do. So I’ll delve into history at YouTube and offer a 1908 recording of Edward Meeker singing “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” – including the rarely heard verses – and it’s today’s Saturday Single:

Saturday Single No. 258

Saturday, October 8th, 2011

This will be a brief post this morning, as I’m about to leave town for the day.

I’m heading over to Rob’s in St. Francis, and then he and I will head on down to the Twin Cities suburb of Plymouth for a day of Strat-O-Matic baseball with our pal Schultz and some other folks he knows.

Each of the eight of us has selected one team for the day; we’ll have two pools of four teams, with two teams advancing to the semifinals from there. Most of the guys have selected teams from the last twenty years or so. I saw that Schultz has chosen the 2006 Minnesota Twins, a good team. Rob and I – contrarians that we are – have gone the other way. Rob has chosen his historical go-to team, the 1909 Pittsburgh Pirates, a team with a wealth of very good pitchers and lots of speed. I have selected the 1948 Cleveland Indians, a good offensive team with some good pitching and one lights-out closer. We know our benches and bullpens will be thinner than will those of the newer teams, but we’ve got a good chance of one of us getting to the final.

Anyway, not having any new baseball tunes to share here, I went looking for Cleveland songs. And I found “Look Out, Cleveland” from The Band’s second, self-titled album, which came out in 1969. So it’s today’s Saturday Single: