It was a bittersweet weekend in Tampa. We are all blessed to be back playing this game face to face on a regular basis. However, we also want to make sure we remember our dear friend Butch D’Agostino. We will no longer have the joy of sharing this experience with him and our hobby is diminished in his absence. For years to come, many of us will continue to share stories of how Butch’s style, both in Strat and in life, appealed to us.
On the tabletop, this was a very competitive tournament. Eight of the ten managers entered their final game with a chance to make the playoffs. Not just their final series, but their final regular season game. Eloy Jimenez’ save in Andrew and Chris’ final game forged a 3-way tie for 1st place in Division A. And, a 3-way tie for 2nd place in Division B was narrowly averted when Mark defeated Randy in their final regular season contest.
When the tiebreaker games shook out, Chris emerged with the number 1 seed in Division A, earning a semifinal home series against Mark. Bruce would take the #2 seed and head to Doug’s home ballpark for Game 1 of their semifinal. Bruce would win a Game 5 Bieber vs. Bauer matchup to land his 2nd consecutive finals appearance. Mark would shut Chris out in Colorado in Game 1 of their series. But, then Chris got on a roll and took the next 3 games.
The Finals would go a full 5 games. Game 1 – Lamet gives up a pair of runs in the 1st, but then settles in. Freeman drives in 4 runs. Chris wins 6-3. Game 2 – Nimmo homers twice for Bruce, but it isn’t enough. Schoop returns the favor with a pair of blasts. Chris wins 6-3. Game 3 – Back home, Bruce scores 4 runs over the first 3 innings, and he never looks back. Chris inched back into it, but couldn’t come up with enough. Bruce wins 4-3. Game 4 – Bieber does his job, allowing just 1 run over 8 innings. Nick Anderson finished it off to even the series. Bruce wins 4-1. Game 5 – Byron Buxton gets a key 2-out single in the 3rd to put Bruce on top. Darvish is on and Chris’s prospects of getting it tied look bleak. But, the dice are working today. With a man on and 1 out, Ozzie Albies commits a 2-base error. An infield groundout brings home a run but the big damage comes when Freddie Freeman connects for a 2-run homer and a 3-1 lead. Tyler Duffey and Anthony Bass would close the deal.