Any day's a great day for tabletop baseball, but when you get a dozen-plus tabletop baseball gamers together in a great baseball city like Milwaukee, WI--well, it just doesn't get much better than that! Such was the setting at Board Game Barrister in Greenfield, where we pre-PLAAYed baseball's "Fall Classic" with HISTORY MAKER BASEBALL and the 2015 In-Season card set...
This year's group included two of the hobby's videographers: Al Wilson from "Hands On Games," who flew in from San Diego, and Steve Tower from "After Further Review" who arrived from Boston.
Joining Steve and Al as "guest managers" for the series were Travis Jansen, Bob Hansen, Roger RIckmon, Art Campana. In adddition, we had nearly a dozen other folks who stopped by to check out the action as spectators: Jack Christensen, Mike Limm, Russ Bednarek, Quinn McKenzie, Lance Bifulk, Joe Bryan, Tim Plum, Dan Janezick.
Our first order of business was to conduct the "game sevens" that would determine our series teams. In the ALCS, Travis managed the Royals, while Steve managed the Blue Jays. Toronto took an early 3-1 lead, but KC grabbed a 4-3 lead with two runs in the seventh inning, and scored an insurance run in the ninth when Escobar walked, moved to second on Moustakas ground out and scored on Cain's single. That proved to be the winning run when Goins knocked one out of the park for Toronto with two out in the bottom of the ninth to make it 5-4, but Carerra's fly out ended the game and sent KC to the Fall Classic.
Meanwhile, Al and Bob squared off for the NLCS game-seven, St. Louis vs. Los Angeles. As expected, this one was a classic pitching duel, Lackey vs. Greinke. Scoreless heading into the ninth inning, Gonzalez' lead-off double gave LA an opportunity, and Grandal's RBI single brought him home for a 1-0 lead. Jansen made it stand up with a pair of K's in the bottom of the ninth, and Wong's game-ending line-out, setting the stage for a Kansas City-Los Angeles best-of-seven series in the 3rd annual Fall Classic Pre-PLAAY.
Here's how the series unfolded, (guest manager in parentheses)...
Game One, Los Angeles (Art) at Kansas City (Roger): Rollins' two-run single in the fourth inning gave LA a 3-0 lead. Kansas City got two runs in the sixth inning, Morales and Gordon with RBI singles to make it 3-2. Los Angeles added runs in the eighth and ninth innings with Turner's ninth-inning HR blast providing an exclamation point. Los Angeles 5, Kansas City 2.
Game Two, Los Angeles (Travis) at Kansas City (Al): Cueto with a shaky start for KC, walked in a run in the first inning, finished with five walks in all. Los Angeles scored three runs in the first inning, three more in the sixth, sandwiched around Uribe's solo homer in the fourth. Cain's three-run blast in the ninth closed the gap, but not enough to change the outcome. Los Angeles 7, Kansas City 3.
Game Three, Kansas City (Bob) at Los Angeles (Steve): Both starters (Bolsinger, LA and Young, KC) pitched seven strong innings. Top of the ninth, Kansas City loaded the bases, but Cain's grounder ended the threat. Top of the tenth inning, still scoreless, but Escobar blasts a two-run homer that gives Kansas City the lead. Uribe hits a solo home run for Los Angelesin the bottom of the tenth, but Kendrick struck out and Gonzalez lined out to end the game. Kansas City 2, Los Angeles 1, 10 innings.
Game Four, Kansas City (Al) at Los Angeles (Roger): Two home runs from Grandal keyed the Los Angeles win; a three-run shot in the fourth inning, and a solo HR in the 7th. Los Angeles 6, Kansas City 2.
Game Five, Kansas City (Art) at Los Angeles (Steve): Kansas City's last chance to save the series faded quickly as Greinke produced a pitching gem: a perfect game through seven innings, broken up by Moustakas' single, Greinke settled for a two-hitter. Back to back first-inning home runs from Gordon and Gonzalez and a second-inning homer from Ethier provided more than enough offense. Los Angeles 7, Kansas City 0.
So Los Angeles wins the series four games to one!
Baseball Battle of the Sports Game Video Channel Hosts!...
AFTER the game, we conducted an PLAAY Gamer All-Star game, using cards Al Wilson created for this event. Each of the folks who attended this year's event were carded for the game, as well as PLAAY Gamers from previous live on-location events in Boston, Kansas City, and so on. We decided to let our two guest videographers be the team captains, Steve Tower and Al Wilson. Here's how the teams shaped up as Steve and Al took turns picking players...
HOG Stars: Fran Larkin, Ed Meek, Al Wilson, Michael Owens, Russ Bednarek, Roger Rickmon, Bill Blair, John Lowe, Brian Woytovich, Joe Bryan, Keith Avallone, Joe Petrafassi, Charlie Sachell, Danny McCubbin, Dan Rudolph.
AFR Stars: Art Campana, Wayne Anderson, Steve Tower, Travis Jansen, George Adams, John Howell, David Lipinksi, Bob Hansen, Kevin Schwab, Jack Christensen, Gary Chrosniak, Brien Aronov, Ken Main, Tim Plum, Lenny LaFrance.
The game began as a slug-fest, with the AFR Stars batting around the order in the first inning; Wayne Anderson singled, Travis Jansen drew a walk and George Adams reach first on an error by Fran Larkin that loaded the bases. John Howell drove in two runs with a single, and, after David Lipinski walked, Bob Hansen lined a single that scored two more. Kevin Schwab struck out to end the inning, but the AFR Stars had a fast 4-0 lead. The HOG Stars responded with a single from Roger Rickmon to open the second inning, followed by a two-run HR from Bill Blair that made it 4-2.
From then on, though, pitchers Jack Christensen and Joe Bryan found their respective grooves and no more runs were scored until the bottom of the eighth innning, when John Howell slammed a solo homer that made it 5-2. But the HOG Stars weren't done, loading the bases In the top of the ninth with one out. Brien Aronov was brought in as a reliever, but gave up a sharp single from Ed Meek that scored two runs, making it 5-4. At that point, Brien was sent to the showers and Ken Main was called on to close it out--and, indeed he did, striking out Al Wilson and Michael Owens to end the game!
Download the cards here and you can re-play the game on YOUR tabletop--or, draft your own line-ups! Or, play these guys against real pro teams. Thanks, Al, for investing the time in this, it was fun!