All-State Tournament: No. 5 Texas vs. No. 12 Illinois
Previously on the All-State Tournament …
On Monday, we got our first massive upset of the tournament, when 14th-seeded Louisiana — behind the awe-inspiring pitching of Ron Guidry — shocked Babe Ruth, Cal Ripken Jr. and all of Maryland, 1-0. There have been calls throughout Maryland for making the tournament a double-elimination event.
Next time, maybe.
So far in the Elite Eight, we have California, Pennsylvania, Louisiana … and you may wonder: Who won that New York-Arkansas game? See below! Thanks as always to the amazing people at Strat-O-Matic, who are simulating these games and pumping out the box scores. And thanks to all of you for following along with this goofy little idea that keeps taking on a life of its own.
Preview: No. 5 Texas vs. No. 12 Illinois
Seed: No. 5
Population: 29.1 million
Hall of Famers: 15
OK, so the way this tournament works is … the first round is a one-and-done. But the second and third rounds are a best-of-three, and the championship will be a best-of-seven.
In other words, pitching depth will matter more the deeper you go into the Battle of the States Tournament.
Or, in even other words, Texas becomes more dangerous the longer the Longhorn State can stay alive in the tournament.
Texas has three starting pitchers who would be the envy of just about every other state — Greg Maddux, Nolan Ryan and Clayton Kershaw. They also have THREE Negro Leagues Hall of Fame pitchers in Smoky Joe Williams, Hilton Smith and Bill Foster. In a best-of-21, Texas could certainly match up with anybody.
But they have to get through Game 1. The middle of the Texas lineup is excellent, in large part because two of the 25 greatest players in baseball history, Joe Morgan and Frank Robinson — who both grew up in Oakland and considered California home — were actually BORN in Texas. And, as you know, this tournament is all about where you were born.
The Texas lineup allowed me to do something fun — Texas has who I think many would consider the two best second basemen in MLB history: Joe Morgan and Rogers Hornsby. And one of baseball’s eternal questions would be: If you had them both, who would you start?