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THE REPLAY ZONE - NOVEMBER 2013
 
By Jeff Polman
 
November ruminations from your trusty Strat-O-Matic replay addict. Read the conclusion of my latest blog at Dear Hank.
 
 
OUT WITH ‘38, IN WITH 2012!
 
Well, my “Dear Hank” 1938 replay blog is over. The story about Hank Greenberg shooting for Babe Ruth’s home run record (he tied him with 60) while trying to rescue a young German Jewish baseball fan from persecution in Europe came to a surprising, satisfying end, and you can read the tale at any time. Thanks to the expert Strat computer play and stat compiling of my gaming friend Paul Dylan, I was able to complete the season in six months of real time, and there were lots of startling results.
 
Number one was the ridiculously good play of the Red Sox, who won 99 games, edged out the also-great Yankees by two in the standings, and outlasted the New York Giants in seven games in the World Series! The Giants weren’t supposed to win either, and took the N.L. flag by a mere game over the St. Louis Cards, and they won 20 more games than they were supposed to.
 
On the down side, the Pittsburgh Pirates finished at 69-85, deep in 6th place and 17 games worse than the actual second place ’38 team. I’m not sure what was going on here. Like every replay I conduct, I assemble the best rotations and lineups I can muster for every team, and in this case simply fed them to Paul to plug into his computer game. Hitting overall was definitely on the uptick, especially in the American League, where Jimmie Foxx went berserk, hitting .342 with 53 HRS, 190 RBIs, 150 walks and a 1.185 OPS. Johnny Mize (.378, 35, 138, 1.150) easily won the triple crown in the N.L., which mostly explains why the Redbirds excelled.
 
Boston just outslugged everyone and got a great 21-8, 3.03 ERA season out of Lefty Grove. They actually trailed the Yankees in team run differential, +217 to +246, but the Red Sox being able to beat New York 13-9 in the season series proved to be the difference. Anyway, 1938 was a very fun, spirited season to replay, and I heartily recommend it to all Strat gamers. Here’s a breakdown of how the teams’ replay records varied from their actual ones, followed by the World Series results…
 
American League
BOS +8.5
CHX +5.5
PHI +5
WAS –1.5
CLE –2
NYY –3
DET –3.5
SLB –9
 
National League
STL +18.5
NYG +7
PHL +7
BRK +2.5
CIN +2
CHI –6
BSN –10
PIT –19
 
WORLD SERIES: Aside from the opener, every subsequent game was decoded by at least six runs, perfectly in line with the offensive theme of the season…
 
GAME ONE
Red Sox 5-9-0, at Giants 4-8-1
Foxx doubles and homers, McKain saves it for Grove by escaping a bases loaded, nobody out jam in the 9th.
 
GAME TWO
Red Sox 9-18-1, at Giants 2-8-1 (10 inn.)
This one’s actually 2-2 into the 10th when Boston scores SEVEN times, started by, yup, a Foxx two-run homer.
 
GAME THREE
Giants 8-10-0, at Red Sox 2-7-1
New York scores four times in the 1st and never looks back. Seeds, Ott, and Haslin with Giant homers.
 
GAME FOUR
Giants 12-19-0, at Red Sox 1-6-1
Lefty Grove gets mauled, Ott with a double and homer, and Carl Hubbell throws a complete gem.
 
GAME FIVE
At Red Sox 7-10-0, Giants 1-5-2
First home win by either side, as Sox score six times in the 1st off Harry Gumbert. Jim Tabor with a grand slam.
 
GAME SIX
At Giants 10-15-0, Red Sox 4-11-1
Good game through three, before New York pulls away with six unanswered runs to set up the finale.
 
GAME SEVEN
Red Sox 9-15-0, at Giants 2-5-0
Another wipeout to end things. Grove with the CG, Foxx homers again and Boston scores six in the first three innings off Hubbell.
 
* * *

The Best of 2012 Tournament I announced last month has gotten underway, with even more surprising results in its first round. The sixteen “absentee” managers from around the continent submitted their rotations and lineups, with a $25 gift certificate from Strat as the ultimate prize, and here’s how the original Sweet 16 just became an Elite 8…
 
MANAGERS AND FIRST ROUND RESULTS:
 
#8 WHITE SOX: Mike VanDerGoore (Pittsboro, IN)
 defeats
#1 YANKEES: Rob Stricker (Saginaw Township, MI)
 in 5 games
A monster upset, as the Yanks, with an offense built on the home run ball and little else, can’t do anything with Peavy and Sale while Chicago gets every clutch 20-sider roll imaginable.
 

#2 ATHLETICS: Norman Brown (Brampton, ONT) defeats
#7 ANGELS: John Nocero (Euclid, OH) 
in 5 games
Weak offense (Pujols goes 2-21 with zero RBIs) and aside from Jared Weaver, very weak pitching dooms the Halos.
 
#6 TIGERS: Gary Ragland (St. Clair Shores, MI)
 defeats
#3 RANGERS: Adric Olson (Lubbock, TX)
 in 4 games
See comment on the CHX/NYY series. Tigers get big hits in their sleep while the Rangers roll virtually none, stranding runners everywhere against the tough Detroit starters and grounding into constant DPs. Miggy Cabrera only hits .300 in the sweep but clubs two critical homers.
 
#5 RAYS: Paul Clinton (Lakewood, CA)
 defeats
#4 ORIOLES: Rich Gapinski (Mentor, OH) in 6 games
The only thing close to a competitive series in the American League finds the Rays taking it with some great pitching from David Price, Matt Moore, and two wins by James Shields. With the ’12 Orioles getting a lot of flukey one-run and extra-inning wins that year, I wasn’t expecting their real luck to translate into Strat, and at least in this series, it didn’t.
 
#1 NATIONALS: Chris Witt (Arlington, IL)
 defeats
#8 DIAMONDBACKS: Matthew Benham (Vacaville, CA)
 in 7 games
The only first round series to go the distance, Arizona nearly pulls off a miraculous comeback after being down 3-0, but Gio Gonzalez silences their bats in the finale as the Nats pummel Trevor Cahill and go on to score nine runs in the first three innings.
 
#7 BREWERS: David Lick (Marion, SD)
 defeats
#2 REDS: Joe Cordoba (Milwaukee, WI) in 5 games
No, the other miracle happens here, as Ramirez, Braun, and especially Jonathan Lucroy go nuts on Cincy pitching, while the Reds can’t get any offense going at all, winning their one game on late clutch homers from Votto and Bruce.
 
#3 
BRAVES: Michael Horvatin (Anchorage, AK) defeats
#6 
DODGERS: Paul Dylan (Poulsbo, WA) in 6 games
Very tight games are the story of this battle, with scores of 3-2, 4-3, 5-2, 5-3, 4-3 and 2-1, the Braves winning the final two on great Craig Kimbrel relief and Kenley Jansen walking Kimbrel to set up a series-winning single by Michael Bourn.
 
#4 
GIANTS: Josh Turnes (Henderson, NV) defeats
#5 CARDS: Bill Ferguson (Madison, WI) in 5 games
The ’12 World Champs play like ones, rolling key hits all over the place while the Cards turn in a Rangers-like performance, blowing scoring chances day and night. Marco Scutaro goes 11-for-22 in the series and Melky Cabrera 9-for-22, while Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina go a combined 5-for-39.
 
SECOND ROUND MATCHUPS:
 
Tigers vs. Rays
White Sox vs. Athletics
 
Brewers vs. Nationals
Giants vs. Braves
 
Be sure to follow the almost daily results on my new Strat replay web site. Stay tuned!