The Finals! Alabama vs. California
LOS ANGELES — Well, if the first two games of this best-of-seven championship series between Alabama and California are any indication, this will be the greatest baseball battle since, well, since before Satchel Paige was young.
“I ain’t seen anything like it,” Paige himself said at the end of the day. “And I’ve seen a few things in my day.”
First things first: Let’s give a super-special thank you to great folks at Strat-O-Matic for simulating these games. Just incredible stuff. And they have passed along a special offer if you’d like to play some Strat-O yourself, which of course you will want to do. This series has made me pull out a couple of my old Strat-O-Matic games.
They’re offering 10 percent off all their baseball prospects — computer games, board games, their daily league, everything — if you just go to their website and type in the code POZ10. Can’t beat that.
And now to the championship series:
There were many people predicting that this is where the tournament would end up — with star-studded Alabama (Willie Mays! Henry Aaron! Willie McCovey! Satchel Paige!) facing star-studded California (Ted Williams! Barry Bonds! Joe DiMaggio! Tom Seaver!) for the honor of being the best baseball state in America.
But it wasn’t easy for either of them. In the first round, California just barely edged Nebraska in a tense 2-1 game — it’s never easy beating Bob Gibson — and then beat Ohio in the best-of-three second round with one of the great comebacks in baseball history. The Golden State did have a slightly easier time with Texas in the Final Four, beating them two straight, but again California needed an epic comeback to clinch the series.
Alabama, meanwhile, rolled over Georgia and starter Kevin Brown, and then beat Louisiana behind a legendary performance from pitcher Early Wynn in Game 3 of the second round. And it was Wynn again who proved the difference in the victory over Indiana in the Final Four; he threw a one-hitter in the decisive game.
And right away, in Game 1, we had Satchel Paige vs. Tom Seaver.
Scalper tickets were going for as much as $10,000 for an upper deck seat.
Somehow, Paige got 25% of the gate.