By Jeff Polman
February ruminations from your trusty Strat-O-Matic replay addict.

Play ’58 Ball!

Well, I certainly hadn’t planned on having people guest-manage teams in my just-launched mystery “whowunit” Strat replay blog called Mystery Ball ’58. But it sure got out of control in a hurry.
I did this same format with my last year-long replay, Play That Funky Baseball, but that featured the best 16 teams out of 26. Surely, no one would be interested in skippering the true dregs of 1958. I first contacted Larry Granillo of Wezen-Ball, manager of the second place ’77 Dodgers in Funkyball, about taking the Braves—he being a Milwaukee resident and all. Pat Lackey of Where Have You Gone, Andy Van Slyke?, who led the ’77 Pirates to the World Series, agreed on the surprising second place ’58 Bucs, and after I got huge Yankee fan and baseball replay blogger Kevin Graham to take New York, I mentioned it on Twitter and the thing just snowballed. Within days, all sixteen teams were taken, and I even have two guys doubling up on the Phillies. It’s the best possible replay scenario, because the best way to make a game of solo Strat more fun is to be playing for two managers who have a stake in the game.
As I did with my Best of 2010 tournament on the Strat Fan Forum last fall, managers supply me their five-man rotations and lineups against lefties and righties, and I do a year’s worth of rolling for them. It’s a great way for some of these baseball writers who have never played Strat to get them excited about it, and enjoy the ups and downs of year-long standings. Anyway, here’s who I’ve got lined up to take the ’58 reins:
Baltimore: T.J. Smith of Eutaw Street Hooligans
Boston: Mike Lynch of Seamheads
Chicago: Rob Warmowski of Can’t Stop the Bleeding
Cleveland: The Common Man of The Platoon Advantage
Detroit: Dan McCloskey of Left Field
Kansas City: Aaron Stilley of Royal Heritage
New York: Kevin Graham of Baseball Revisited
Washington: Ted Leavengood of Nationals Archive
Chicago: Scott Simkus of The Outsider Baseball Bulletin
Cincinnati: Jimmy Moore of A Second Time Through the Order
Los Angeles: Bill Miller of The On Deck Circle
Milwaukee: Larry Granillo of Wezen-Ball and Baseball Prospectus
Philadelphia: Max Gallner of Fire Eric Bruntlett and Paul Dylan of One for Five
Pittsburgh: Pat Lackey of Where Have You Gone, Andy Van Slyke?
St. Louis: Daniel Shoptaw of C70 and Baseball Bloggers Alliance
San Francisco: Graham Womack of Baseball: Past and Present

I’m certainly expecting at least one close race. Milwaukee won by eight games, but their lead was just one and a half games on July 4th, when the last-place Dodgers were just seven games off the pace. I’ve made it clear to all the managers that the fun here will come from just following a team for a full season, making adjustments when needed to try and get it back on track, and communicating with their fellow managers, who truly come from every corner of the country.
The mystery? Well, you’ll just have to tune in three times a week to eventually find out who dun did it. Snappy Drake, the main character, is an ex-pitcher turned usher at Seals Stadium (pictured), and on Opening Day his life takes an unexpected turn for the strange.
Just in case playing my ’58 games and writing the blog isn’t enough, I have my spring draft on March 4 for the ECBA, the 12-man league that’s been playing by mail and at a yearly face-to-face convention for well over 35 years now.
See you next month with a progress report on all fronts!