History repeats itself in Best of ’14 Tournament (Replay Zone – Dec. 2015)

By Jeff Polman
December ruminations from your trusty Strat-O-Matic replay addict. Check out, “Mystery Ball ‘58”, my latest baseball novel, which was inspired by a replay of the 1958 season.
When we left off with our tournament story, the Braves, Giants, Athletics and Tigers had advanced to the two championship series…
#5 San Francisco defeats #8 Atlanta, 4 games to 3

at Giants 2, Braves 0
–Complete game 4-hit shutout for Madison Bumgarner, with solo shots by Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence

Braves 4, at Giants 1
–The Amazing Tommy La Stella continues his tourney onslaught with two doubles and the go-ahead single as Alex Wood gets the win over Tim Hudson

at Braves 7, Giants 5
–Freddie Freeman snaps a 3-3 tie with a three-run shot off Jake Peavy, as the Braves take the series lead

Giants 4, at Braves 0
–Ryan Vogelsong and Santiago Casilla combine on an 8-hit shutout, and Sandoval and Buster Posey go yard off the previously unhittable Julio Teheran

At Braves 9, Giants 8
–Atlanta takes the pivotal Game Five in thrilling fashion, blowing an early 6-0 lead before taking the lead in the 5th on another Freeman blast and coming from behind with two in the 7th to win it, capped by a double by—you guessed it—Tommy La Stella

At Giants 3, Braves 1
–An early two-run shot by Michael Morse stands up for Hudson, Strickland and Casilla, and the series goes to a seventh game

at Giants 2, Braves 1
–Freeman with a double, walk, single and homer in his four trips, but it’s all the Braves can muster off four Giants pitchers, as San Francisco edges them to move on to the World Series!
#3 Detroit defeats #5 Oakland, 4 games to 3

at Tigers 4, Athletics 2
–Detroit collects five doubles off Jeff Samardzija and Max Scherzer continues his spooky dominance by winning again and inducing five double play balls

Athletics 2, at Tigers 0
–Sonny Gray with a brilliant two-hitter and the series is tied heading to Oakland

Tigers 5, at Athletics 2
–Jon Lester, Jesse Chavez, and Luke Gregerson get crushed for 17 hits and Anibal Sanchez goes the distance to give Detroit the series lead

Tigers 4, at Athletics 3 (15 innings)
–That Scherzer guy again. This time he goes all fifteen innings because the DH is in play and the A’s can’t get him tired because he’s made out of thin cardboard. Doubles by Ian Kinsler and Rajai Davis off Sean Doolittle in the 15th decide it.

At Athletics 10, Tigers 3
–Oakland’s turn to mash, racking up 13 hits, including three apiece by Kyle Blanks and Coco Crisp atop the lineup.

Athletics 8, at Tigers 3
–A’s set up another Game Seven with a fairly easy win against David Price. Blanks with three more hits and Josh Donaldson with a homer and double.

At Tigers 2, Athletics 1 (13 innings)
–Scherzer all the way again to improve to 7-1 in the tournament, and the Tigers eek out the AL pennant with another extra-inning thriller on Torii Hunter’s walkoff homer off Doolittle in the 13th.

Giants 13, at Tigers 1
–Yikes. Bumgarner with the CG, the Giants with the non-stop carnage, as they score three times in the 1st and never look back. Posey with a single, double, homer and five RBIs.

Giants 4, at Tigers 3
–Mr. Posey with three—count ‘em—three solo dingers off David Price, and another one by Andrew Susac gives the Giants just enough runs to take a 2-0 series lead.

Tigers 4, at Giants 3 (10 innings)
–In a bizarre finish, Miguel Cabrera scores the winning run on a balk by Casilla and Detroit completes an exciting late comeback with a gutty win.

Tigers 6, at Giants 5
–The third straight one-run battle, and the Tigers tie the series behind Scherzer win no. 8 despite him giving up four doubles and a triple. Susac’s pinch double in the 8th off Blaine Hardy would have tied the game 6-6, but Brandon Crawford is gunned out at home by Hunter on a 1-15 chance to end the inning.

At Giants 2, Tigers 1
–Crawford’s triple after a Kevin Romine error in the 7th provides the winner in pivotal Game Five, as Bumgarner is superb once again.

At Tigers 6, Giants 5 (14 innings)
–Make it FIVE straight one-run games, and another excruciating thriller. The Tigers pummel Hudson for three homers and five runs in the first three innings, but Price gives it all back by the 5th. Then nobody scores for eight innings, despite all six relievers getting in constant trouble. (Travis Ishikawa is thrown out at home on another reasonable safe chance in the 8th to keep things tied.) Bottom of the 14th against Casilla, JD Martinez singles, Victor Martinez gets plunked, and Hunter singles in the winner one out later.

Giants 9, at Tigers 4
–Detroit scores in each of the first three innings off Peavy, but the S.F. bullpen of Jean Machi, George Kontos, and Sergio Romo shuts them down from there, while the Giants go off on Scherzer and Posey collects four more hits to help give them the 2014 CHAMPIONSHIP for the second time in the last five tournaments. Congrats to Giants skipper Matthew Benham of Vacaville, CA, who wins the $25 Strat gift, as well as Tigers manager Scott Seidel of Glendale AZ for providing the fierce competition!
Buster Posey wins his second tournament MVP award by hitting .413 in the 25 games with 9 homers and 25 RBIs including 4 game-winners, and a 1.186 OPS. The Giants’ bullpen combo of Kontos, Machi, Casilla, and Strickland also contribute big time with a 0.71 WHIP and 0.81 ERA in 66 innings.
And so in my five tournaments for this column, a National League team has now won every single year:
2010—Giants over Yankees
2011—Dodgers over Tigers
2012—Nationals over Athletics
2013—Dodgers over Rays
2014—Giants over Tigers
In other replay news, my 1934 FREAKS LEAGUE DRAFT is this Saturday, with the following 12 clubs (and 20 combined managers!) hoping to land triple crown winner Lou Gehrig and other greats…

Baby Face Nelsons
Bogie’s Bashers
Robert Johnsons
Our Gang
The New Dealers
Apollo Flash Gordons

Public Enemies No. 1
Tokyo Barnstormers
Fleet Dust Runners
Jack Benny Bengoughs
Top Deck Steinbecks
The Nine Stooges
I’ll provide an occasional update on the league, but if you’d like to follow the daily standings and my game blurbs (written in 1934 style, naturally), you can invite yourself to our Facebook page to follow along.
See you next month with another hockey tournament!