Saturday, June 09, 2007

2006 World Series, Game 1

Oakmere Street in sunny San Antonio was the site today for Game 1 of the 2006 Strat-O-Matic World Series, pitting the St. Louis Cardinals (managed by me) versus the Detroit Tigers (managed by Ted). We used the same lineups and starting pitchers (Anthony Reyes for the Cards, Justin Verlander for the Tigers) as in the real game, which was won by the Cardinals 11-9.

In reality both starters were chased early, but in our replay they combined for only two hits allowed in the first four innings. Unfortunately for the Cards, one of those hits was a solo homerun by Brandon Inge in the third. Designated hitter Chris Duncan led off the fourth inning with a grounder to the mound that was booted by Verlander for an error. Albert Pujols and Jim Edmonds then both flied out to center, Edmonds injuring himself in the process (out 3 games). Finally Scott Rolen doubled to right, but when I waived Duncan (not a speedster) around to home, he was gunned down by Magglio Ordonez for the third out.

In the fifth Ted played some masterful small ball. Carlos Guillen drew a leadoff walk and was bunted to second by Pudge Rodriguez. An error by 2b Ron Belliard then put men on first and third, and a sacrifice fly from Inge brought home the run. At the end of six innings it remained 2-0 Tigers.

The wheels fell off for the Tigers in the seventh. Preston Wilson (replacing the injured Edmonds) and Scott Rolen ripped off back-to-back doubles to make it 2-1. After a groundout, Belliard walked, and that was it for Verlander, replaced by Fernando Rodney. After another grounder, weak-hitting So Taguchi was next up with two outs. I put in Scott Spiezio as a pinch-hitter (worse fielder but vastly better hitter), and he promptly jacked a 3-run homer to make it 4-2 Cards. Managerial brilliance, of course. The next batter, David Eckstein, was hit by a pitch. Since you couldn't possibly hit a target that small unless you meant to, the benches cleared.

Reyes left with a fantastic stat line (6 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 7 K, 2 R, 1 ER), and reliever Braden Looper held off the Tigers until the bottom of the ninth. Ordonez and Carlos Guillen led off with a single and double (the only hits from the top six batters in the Tigers order all day), and both were brought home with a sac fly and single from pinch-hitters Vance Wilson and Omar Infante. Looper was then pulled for lefty Tyler Johnson, who got into a bases loaded jam after an error by Pujols (his second of the night) and a walk, but he got Craig Monroe to ground out for the 4-4 tie at the end of nine.

Extra innings were unspectacular, however. Scott Rolen led off the 11th with a solo HR, and Adam Wainwright shut down the Tigers in the bottom half to secure the 5-4 win. Spiezio and Rolen were clearly the heroes of the game, while the goats were the top two-thirds of the Tigers order, who went 2-25 with no RBIs and 8 strikeouts; Ted's substitions did better (2H, 2RBI) in just five plate appearances.


Cardinals 5R, 7H, 3E
Tigers 4R, 6H, 1E
Winning Pitcher: Johnson (1.1 IP, 0H, 1BB, 1K, 0R, 0ER)
Losing Pitcher: Rodney (4.2 IP, 3H, 1BB, 3K, 2R, 2ER)
Save: Wainwright
HR: Inge, Spiezio, Rolen
GWRBI: Rolen
Errors: Pujols (2), Belliard, Verlander

Since it was our first learning game, and extra innings to boot, the game took just under 90 minutes; experienced players should expect 30-60. Except for a couple of decision points (Ted's smallball inning, my Spiezio pinch-hit), the game flew by until the tense 9th, when things got tricksy and a lot of fun. Familiarity with the relievers and subs on a team would also help move things along.

So, who wants to do a mini-league?


At 12:31 PM, June 09, 2007, Blogger Ted Kostek said...

Nice session report, Dennis.

Strat-o-matic baseball lends itself well to this kind of session report because the results come with quite a bit of detail.

Baseball fanatics would probably enjoy the realism and detail, as well as the what-ifs. What if they had started X instead of Y at 1st base?

As a game, Dennis summed it nicely: It's a bunch of dice rolling to set up some interesting and tense decisions. As such, it's a realistic simulation of baseball. We had some innings with 3 up and 3 down. And we also had some fun situations like 2 men on and 1 out. Do you bunt? Swing away? Put in a pinch-hitter?

The baseball theme converted what would have been a dull exercise in dice rolling and chart checking into an interesting narrative. An "8" on d20 isn't just a near miss. Rather, the short stop bobbles the ball, but manages to throw out the runner at first anyway.

Where I think this game would *really* shine is league play. The player takes the role of team manager/coach. In any given baseball game the manager only has a few big decisions. The real managing decisions are at a larger scale than the individual game: who to start, what's the line-up, pitchers.

Dennis and I played the advanced version. I understand why Dennis picked that: the ratio of added strategy to added rules is very high. Still, for my first game I would have preferred the basic game. The truly hard-core can use the super advanced rules which includes things like individual ball parks and weather.

I enjoyed it, and I expect the fun factor will increase more as I get more familiar with the game. As I mentioned, I'm sure a league would be even better.

Anyone want to try a mini-season? A 4 way round robin would be neat.

At 1:57 PM, June 09, 2007, Blogger Mark said...

As a baseball junkie I think I would enjoy playing.

At 5:28 PM, June 09, 2007, Blogger Chris said...

I'd really be into this as well. What's required to have a league? Can we do it with the set you've got? Is this something where'd you'd pick a team, or draft out of a pool of players or what? Wow, sounds like fun!

So many games. So little time.

At 11:19 PM, June 09, 2007, Blogger Dennis Ugolini said...

Either way works. "Everyone take a pre-existing team" would be the easiest, but drafting would be pretty intensely cool. Then we each play a preset number of games against each other.

At 7:28 AM, June 10, 2007, Blogger Ted Kostek said...

A key fun element in a mini-league would be a limit on the total # of innings a pitcher (or other) can play. This would create some great decisions and tension. You can't just use your best pitcher (or whatever) to death.

As far as the logistics of the league, it would really help a lot if one of us bought another copy. There are a lot of charts and tables.

At 7:06 AM, June 11, 2007, Blogger Ted Kostek said...

As a first pass at a league, I would suggest we simply pick real teams. A draft for players would add a lot of optionst, but for this first time, I'm against it.

If we go w/ a round robin type of system, here's my suggestion for the pitchers. We'll know the base # of innings: 9 * (# players - 1). You can have 1 starter and 2 relievers in your bull-pen. After your starter pitches 3/4 of the base # of innings he's always automatically fatigued.

At 11:53 AM, June 11, 2007, Blogger Dennis Ugolini said...

The game includes rules on how you can legally use your pitchers and hitters in a league. From memory:

Basic -- "For best results, try to conform to realistic numbers of innings/at-bats."

- Starting pitchers cannot pitch again for four days (which is why all teams have 5-6 starters to rotate)
- Relievers can pitch at most two games in a row
- Cannot play again once you exceed the number of innings/at-bats printed on the card, prorated for the length of your season (so if Curt Schilling pitched 204 innings, and we play a 16-game season, you can't start him again after he's gone 20 innings, which is probably three starts for him)

Super-Advanced -- pages and pages of crazy-ass specifics.

At 12:26 AM, June 12, 2007, Blogger Brian said...

Having now played once, I'm in. This is like Blood Bowl -- not a great game (in fact, I think BB is probably better as a game) but amusing as hell as a league.

At 8:54 PM, June 12, 2007, Blogger Ben said...

Blood Bowl... now that's something I'd get fired up about if there were ever a groundswell of interest.


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