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THE REPLAY ZONE
 
By Jeff Polman
 
October ruminations from your trusty Strat-O-Matic replay addict.
 
Some of you may wonder how I manage to complete one full season replay after another, using just cards and dice. There are three good answers: 1) I’m certifiably insane 2) My wife has learned to live with this insanity, and 3) I watch a lot of televised baseball while I play.
 
The long, leisurely pace of the real and tabletop seasons are a perfect match, and because I can play a super-advanced baseball game in about fifteen minutes, getting at least ten of them in during your average DirecTV doubleheader is no problem.
 
When the baseball postseason begins, everything intensifies, and the games I play on my TV room coffee table seem to take on an added significance. This year I was on vacation during the first week of the Division Series playoffs, giving me a chance to wallow in real and imaginary ball on a few days from morning to night. What follows is my running diary for October 4, when four LDS contests provided the hi-def background, and I was like a kid in a Strat candy store…
 
10:05 a.m.—1 p.m.
Rangers and Rays get underway in Tampa, and Ian Kinsler starts the game with a homer off Hellickson…On the Strat diamond, the 2004 Yanks and Bosox have at it, and the 20-sider is doing everyone a favor, as Mussina and Wakefield get knocked around in the early going at Fenway. 6-5 New York after three innings…A UPS man rings the doorbell, certain to shatter the hitting vibe in my dice…Beltre homers to make it 2-0 Texas in the 2nd, before a Matt Joyce doubles cuts it to 2-1…Thanks to the UPS man, the Yankee/Sox bullpens take over and calm the Strat game down in the middle innings, 7-5 New York into the 7th…Beltre homers again in the 4th…Boston scores off Quantrill in the 7th but Mariano gets the Sox 1-2-3 for the save…Beltre homers a third time!...My 1920 teams are hauled out, and the Cubs and Reds take the field in Cincinnati…Neftali Feliz saves the 4-3 Texas win, and the Rangers go to the ALCS.
 
1 p.m.—4 p.m.
The Phillies and Cards begin at Busch, Cole Hamels against Jaime Garcia….On the Strat table, it’s Claude Hendrix vs. Dolf Luque, and Fred Merkle of all people singles in a run for the Cubbies in the top of the 1st…No one scores for the first six innings on the TV, which makes it easier to speed up the Strat…Charlie See doubles and Edd Roush puts Cincy ahead with a two-run blast…Chicago ties it 3-3 on back-to-back triples by Barber and O’Farrell in the 7th, but Pat Duncan wraps a lucky ballpark HR around the fair pole at Redland Field for the roll-off 4-3 victory!….LaRussa leaves Garcia in too long and Ben Francisco smashes a pinch-hit 3-run homer to put the Phils in front in the 7th…Bill Bayne and Roy Caldwell take the hill at 1920 League Park for a Browns and Indians game…The TV Cards mount a comeback but four relievers combine to shut it off and the Phils go up two games to one…
 
4 p.m.—10 p.m.
George Sisler whacks a 3-run homer in the 4th and the Brownies go out in front like the real Phillies did…Burnett and Porcello get going at Comerica Park…Somewhere in here I eat dinner but I’ll be darned if I can remember what it is…Jeter doubles home two in the Yankee 3rd…3-1 Browns into the last of the 8th and Speaker’s bunch goes ape, put together seven singles, two walks, a Joe Evans double and Doc Johnston homer and score NINE times off Bayne and Burwell for the late, easy win…Yanks are up 4-1 in the 5th, Burnett throwing great…Okay it’s Strat Hockey Time (surprise!)…as the Bismarck Silos take on the Brattleboro Flatlanders in my Icy Hall of Famer League. Gil Perrault scores in the first period for Bismarck, but Brattleboro gets a power play goal from Conacher in the second and a game-winner from Lanny McDonald in the third, assisted by Bobby Orr…Six real Yankee runs cross the plate in the 8th on all kinds of nonsense, and this division series will head back to Yankee Stadium…
 
A visit to 1963 seems fitting for the Brewers-Diamondbacks finale. Hey, I’m a Strat-O-Matic time traveler; it’s what I do…The Braves and Giants battle for the NL pennant in early May of my occasional replay, and Bob Buhl duels Jack Sanford on the Strat field…Arizona turns the real game into a rout pretty quick, but my ’63 boys go extra innings at Candlestick, each team blowing multiple chances to win it. With Paul Goldschmidt cracking a grand slam on TV, Felipe Alou finally doubles in the winner off Hank Fischer in the 14th and the Giants close to within half a game of first…
 
Then my friend calls, my kid needs help with his homework, and the magic baseball grotto closes for the evening.
 
 
BEST OF 2010 TOURNAMENT ANNOUNCED!!
 
Feel like a winner? Right after the World Series, I’ll begin playing my annual “Best of 2010” Tournament, seeding the best eight teams in each league by their final records and playing them off in four rounds of 4-out-of-7 series.
 
This time I thought it would be fun to get the Strat Website, Strat Fan Forum and Stratomatic Baseball Village readers in on the action. I am actively looking for 16 “absentee managers” to represent the teams listed below. Just e-mail your lefty-righty lineups and 4-man rotations for your first, second, and/or third choice of team to jpolman54@gmail.com. Managers will be mostly chosen on a first come, first-served basis, and whoever wins the tournament will be given Internet immortality and a sweet $25 product credit from Strat-O-Matic!
 
And don’t worry about picking an 8th seeded team. As I’ve learned in my many years of playing these tournaments, anything can happen and often does. The 7th seeded Marlins just made the World Series in my Best of 2009 party, for instance. No injuries will be used, but please try not to pick “ringer” players with few at bats for your lineups.
 
I’ll be posting the clubs that are still available as others are filled in on this Forum page.
 
Here are the first-round matchups:
 
AL
(8) Oakland at (1) Tampa Bay
(7) Toronto at (2) New York
(6) Chicago at (3) Minnesota
(5) Boston at (4) Texas
 
NL
(8) Florida at (1) Philadelphia
(7) Colorado at (2) San Francisco
(6) St. Louis at (3) Atlanta
(5) San Diego at (4) Cincinnati
 
May the best manager win!