Time, the Avenger

When I was a kid, I had a lot of baseball simulation games.  Most people who had one had APBA Baseball; even actual baseball players would play that one.  (I seem to recall Lenny Dykstra of the Phillies mentioning at one point after a home run, “The last time I hit one like that was in APBA.”)

I was a Statis-Pro Baseball guy.  I would stage numerous games on my bed with my cards all laid out, under the close supervision of my otherwise-complete-antisocial cat, who no doubt looked upon this activity as good reason that he should continue shunning most of humanity.  There were some leagues back then, too, including the 1982 Ocean City Surf, a sorry team of losers that I entered into a league run by my journalism teacher and track coach.  I was forced to recruit the Surf from the pool of leftovers after missing the draft due to misremembering the date of our family trip to Ocean City.  The rest of my friends nicknamed them “the Smurfs”…just another of those lovely humiliating episodes of my high school career.

The trouble with APBA, Statis-Pro, Pursue the Pennant, and the numerous similar tabletop games was that they simulated baseball one solitary game at a time, and a baseball season is 162 games long.  The companies involves always used to tout that you could play out an entire season, which you theoretically could do — but given that there were 26 teams back then, that would require 2106 different games to play, so that particular bit of ad copy always struck me as somewhat disingenuous.

As a result, one of my favorite solo exercises with Statis-Pro was to put together a completely made-up team composed of my friends and a few made-up or TV character names and players and “barnstorm” them against Major League teams.  Basically I’d take the kids I knew on the sandlot and just exaggerate their abilities to the point that they were competant major leaguers.  There was also a little bit of dramatic license involved, of course – or, in my case, a huge mucking dollop of dramatic license; as much as I love it, I was and am still a pretty dismal ballplayer, but I made a pretty good base-stealing .300-hitting second baseman for my local barnstormers.

Fast forward to the modern day, however, and well, we have computers to do all that now.  Games like EA Sports Baseball, Out of the Park, and my personal fave, Baseball Mogul, are designed to simulate an entire season with a few mouse clicks if so desired, and the potential for customization is much greater.  It would be possible to recreate my barnstorming team of my youth if I had the time and inclination to piece it together from memory (as I have done with the ’82 Surf, which became an interesting creative writing project which I’ve been promising myself I would return to some day).

Of course, doing so involves facing a depressing reality: if I were to input myself as a player at this point, given all of that great detail built in, I would have to also enter my age.  This would result in the simulation immediately causing my player to retire and likely seek a job as a bench coach.  This is more reality than I wish to deal with.  And yes, Jamie Moyer is the exception that pretty much proves the rule.

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