THE REPLAY ZONE – JUNE 2013
By Jeff Polman
June ruminations from your trusty Strat-O-Matic replay addict. Check out my new 1938 replay blog at Dear Hank.
New Blog and a Summer Tournament!
I fully intended to take a year off from replay blogging, mainly because I couldn’t think of a good story idea for either 1938 or 1961. Then I saw the trailer for “42”, the movie about Jackie Robinson, and the subject of racial intolerance got me inspired all over again.
“Dear Hank” uses the just-released 1938 season, and is a fictional account of what happens when slugger Hank Greenberg of the Tigers starts a long-distance pen pal relationship with a ten-year-old Jewish baseball fan living in Austria—in the year the Nazis began taking over that country. Per usual, the story and characters are wrapped around my on-the-field baseball events, but this time the drama is a lot more serious, so I also created a fake 1938 newspaper called the Gazette to make sure I retained some humor.
The letters will post every Monday and Wednesday, and the Gazette every Friday. I’ve also enlisted simulation games blogger Paul Dylan of One for Five to run the season for me using the Strat computer game and feed me weekly stats and standings, so I can do the whole blog in “real” baseball season time of around six months. Hope you all can follow along!
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My first two post-October “Best of” tournaments were so popular I’m adding a summer model this year, featuring the ill-fated, hitting-crazy 1994 season! The Montreal Expos had the best record in the bigs that year, before a mid-August work stoppage jettisoned the entire rest of the season and ultimately doomed the Montreal franchise. Elsewhere, Jeff Bagwell, Matt Williams, Barry Bonds, Albert Belle, Frank Thomas and others were on a pace for ridiculous batting records. I did play out the rest of the ’94 schedule a while back, as I’m sure many other Strat players did, and the Astros ended up outlasting the Indians in the World Series, but this will be a reasonably quick tournament in which anything can happen. Don’t forget, the 7th-seeded Dodgers recently won my Best of 2011 tourney!
Once again, Strat-O-Matic will reward a $25 gift certificate to the champion. Also once again, all I will need from managers are four-man rotations and lineups vs. righties and lefties. Any stat and sample box score you might need to come up with these is available at Baseball Reference and Retrosheet.
Okay! So the best eight teams in each league that year are up for grabs. If you’re interested in being an “absentee” 1994 manager, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org before June 20, with your top four team preferences. If you narrowly missed out getting a team last time and were put on the “waiting list”, please remind me.
Here are the available teams and first round matchups, based on 1994 winning percentages:
#8 PHILLIES vs. #1 EXPOS
(Daulton, Kruk, Dykstra, Schilling vs. Alou, Grissom, Walker, Martinez)
#7 GIANTS vs. #2 BRAVES
(Williams & Bonds vs. McGriff, Klesko, Justice, Maddux, Glavine, etc.)
#6 METS vs. #3 REDS
(Kent, Bonilla, Saberhagen vs. Morris, Boone, Larkin, Sanders, Rijo)
#5 DODGERS vs. #4 ASTROS
(Piazza, Wallach, Mondesi, Candiotti vs. Bagwell, Biggio, Caminiti, Drabek)
#8 TWINS vs. #1 YANKEES
(Hrbek, Puckett, Knoblauch vs. O’Neill, Boggs, Mattingly, Williams, Key)
#7 RED SOX vs. #2 WHITE SOX
(Vaughn, Greenwell, Clemens vs. Thomas, Ventura, Raines, McDowell)
#6 BLUE JAYS vs. #3 INDIANS
(Olerud, Alomar, Carter, Molitor vs. Baerga, Belle, Lofton, Ramirez, Vizquel, Thome)
#5 ROYALS vs. #4 ORIOLES
(Joyner, Gaetti, Cone, Appier vs. Palmeiro, Ripken, Baines, Mussina)
In next month’s column, I’ll name the managers and hopefully have the first round results!