Best of 2011 Tournament: Call for Managers (Replay Zone – Oct. 2012)

By Jeff Polman
October ruminations from your trusty Strat-O-Matic replay addict.
It’s almost that time of year again. Time to sort my 2011 season cards back into their original stacks and roll my month-long Best of ’11 Tournament. Like last year, I’m inviting any and all Strat-O fans to “absentee manage” the eight best teams in each league by supplying me with lineups vs. lefty and righty pitchers, and a four-man rotation for each 4-out-of-7 series. Teams are seeded 1-8 NBA/NHL style, with home advantage in each round going to the better season record. Also like last time, news and updates will be featured on the Strat Fan Forum under my “Polfro” handle.
Jason Stapley of Kearns, UT won last year’s 2010 tourney when his Giants outlasted Paul Salzgeber of Akron, OH and his Yankees in a great 7-game World Series. Strat-O-Matic will be offering another $25 gift certificate to the 2011 champion, so now’s the time to get your managing requests in!
As always, I prefer having fans of each team manage that club, but enthusiasm and good lineups can also go a long way. If you’re interested in helming one of the 14 teams listed below, send your first, second, and third team choices to me at by Friday, Nov, 9th. I hope to secure all the lineups and rotations and begin play by the middle of November, and will announce the managers in my next column.
Nationals at Phillies
Dodgers at Brewers
Giants at D-Backs
Braves at Cards
Indians at Yankees
Blue Jays at Rangers
Angels at Tigers
Red Sox at Rays
Recently I found a collection of old issues of the Strat-O-Matic Review, a fan publication written, edited and produced by the Newell family of Ostego and Kalamazoo MI during the 80s and 90s. They’re still a kick to pore through, and after I finished the 1978 season, the first time I ever did a full 26-team replay, I sent the results to Del Newell and he printed them in the August, 1980 edition. It was an amazing replay, won by the Rangers, and I’ve included an image of what the page looked like below:
My younger brother reminded me recently of a drive we once took from Springfield, MA to Boston, probably when he was in college. The 90-minute trip was notable for the fall foliage, the stop we made for fried clam rolls, and the entire Strat baseball game we played on the front seat while I was driving. I can’t recall what the teams were and who won, but you can imagine I was a bit distracted at the time, having to look up from my dice rolls once in a while to make sure the car was still on the road. Texting while driving is a crazy and illegal thing to do these days, but in the maniac baseball fan realm, doing what we did was surely a close second.
Much was being made of the fact that the Tigers and Giants met in the World Series for the very first time. Oh really? Not in my universe.
My 1934 full season replay eight years ago featured Bill Terry’s New York Giants shocking the Gas House Gang Cardinals by leading the National League virtually all season and taking the pennant by three games. St. Louis was charging fast but just ran out of games.
Meanwhile, the Tigers won the AL rather easily with a monstrous, Hank Greenberg-led offense and hardly any pitching outside of Schoolboy Rowe. They met the Giants and played a thrilling 7-game World Series, taking the last game on a late Gehringer triple.
Before that, though, there was Game Five. I wrote this up back then for a Strat-playing buddy:
And then there was Game 5, one of the more bizarre, exciting games in my Strat history.  Backs to the wall, the Giants erase an early 1-0 Tiger lead with RBI hits from Travis Jackson and Blondy Ryan. Then New York’s gloves melt off their hands.  Jackson throws two balls away in the 3rd, leading to three unearned Tiger runs.  Lefty O’Doul drops a fly with two in scoring position in the 4th, and after an RBI double off Parmelee by pitcher Firpo Marberry, it’s 7-2 Detroit and cigar boxes are on order to the clubhouse.
Sorry, folks.  Harry Danning doubles to start the last of the 5th.  One out later, Parmelee triples.  Jo-Jo Moore slams one into the cheap seats.  George Grantham skies one into the cheaper seats.  It’s 7-6 Detroit.  In the 6th, Blondy Ryan belts a 2-run ballpark shot off reliever Luke Hamlin and the Giants take an 8-7 lead.  This holds until the 9th.  Greenberg leads with a double, Marv Owen and Walker walk with one out.  New York plays the infield in and a hard grounder by Billy Rogell gets by Travis Jackson (again!) for a 2-run single.  Hamlin contributes a sac fly.  It’s 10-8 Detroit!!
But you and I know this means nothing in 1934.  Hamlin, the only pitcher in the Tigers bullpen who can get lefties out, immediately walks three of them—Moore, Grantham and Bill Terry—to start the last of the 9th.  Not tired, he stays in to face Mel Ott, another lefty, with the infield back.  Mel lifts his leg and poles a ballpark grand slam for an insane 12-10 Giants victory.
Back to Detroit, with Fitzsimmons and Hubbell slated to face Bridges and Rowe.  Look out.

TIGERS  013 210 003  —  10 11 0
GIANTS  020 042 004  —  12 10 3

W-Smith  L-Hamlin
HRS: Moore, Grantham, Ryan, Ott
Anyway, seeing their modern counterparts make it to the Big Dance was a huge thrill, but the real
event paled in comparison to my tabletop version.