Bleacher Rat by Joyce Kessel
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Posted by Paul on March 24, 2015 | Short Link

Bleacher Rat
by Joyce Kessel

I grew up a National League fan
of the Pirates, Cards, Reds & Giants,
not even knowing many decades before
my Buffalo Bisons played in the Senior League
well before becoming a minor league stalwart.
So I’d pray for sunny skies over Forbes Field
rather than Cleveland’s “Mistake by the Lake.”
My rare defection to the American League
came when the Orioles gained Frank Robinson
in that lopsided trade and after,
who couldn’t have appreciated Cal Ripken?

My dad & I would troll the minor leagues
where for some reason affiliations
didn’t seem to matter as much,
at least not to me,
who took in the green expanses
beyond dirt as the glowing diamonds
they were meant to be,
even in parks that were bare shadows
to Little League fields today.

In bandbox fields
and open air bleachers
we’d watch players with numbers,
but no names on their uniforms,
trading cards in their future or past
or not at all, their talents raw and wild.

I learned a geography of Rustbelt cities:
Toledo Mudhens, Columbus Clippers,
Rochester Redwings, Syracuse Chiefs,
Geneva Cubs, Oneonta Yankees,
Niagara Falls Rainbows,
a day’s ride away,
hoping they’d play two,
and mastering the geometry
& hieroglyphs of scorecards.


This poem was originally published in Spitball Magazine, the finest baseball-themed literary magazine of which I know. It’s a semi-annual publication. I have a subscription and I hope you will subscribe and support baseball-themed humanities, too.

Joyce Kessel is an editor at Earth’s Daughters, and a professor at Villa Maria College in Buffalo, NY.

Hands-On with Al Wilson: Ultra-Quick College Hoops by Downey Games
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Posted by Paul on March 21, 2015 | Short Link

Kentucky beats Duke in this Pre-Play of the 2015 NCAA National Championship

Football Manager Ruined My Life

Posted by Paul on March 20, 2015 | Short Link

It’s no secret that I have a tendency toward addiction. In Alcoholics Anonymous (referred to by members of AA as “The Big Book”), this inability to control one’s drinking is described – not in a strict medical sense, but more metaphorically – as an “allergy” to alcohol. It’s a shorthand way to describe the fact that alcohol affects the alcoholic brain in an abnormal way.

Back in December, 2011, I wrote the following:

I’m an addict. It’s in my nature to become obsessed and to compulsively engage in behavior that stimulates whatever combination of chemicals it is in my brain – seratonin, dopamine, oxytocin, endorphines, I don’t know – that creates a feeling of euphoria and peace. I crave this stimulation to the point of anxiety, and without a support system and framework in my life that encourages a healthy response to these cravings, I will be tortured and compelled by my own brain to go to any lengths to quell that anxiety.

Without a support system and framework of greater strength than I, I would plot my own destruction to quell the torture of the addiction.

I’ve been sober for over 14 months now (in a row!)[ed. – as of 3-20-15 it’s been almost 4 1/2 years!), but not for a day have I not been an addict.

I want to stay sober, so I try to study and seek the advice of other addicts who have successfully maintained sobriety for long periods of time. This active search for wisdom has provided me with many useful tools and methods to use when the compulsion of addiction is particularly strong.

The tool I use most is prayer. I probably pray a dozen times a day, maybe more.

The tool I use second-most is tabletop-sports gaming.

It’s been over 3 years since I wrote that, but in regard to my addictive tendencies, nothing has changed. Moreover, it’s not likely that anything ever will.

These days I spend – literally – at least 8 hours a day playing, writing about, discussing or generally considering tabletop-sports games. I justify this by proclaiming my intentions to further my career through my work in the hobby. But there is undoubtedly an element of obsession and compulsiveness to it, too. Some might say I’m a work-a-holic, some might say I just love what I’m doing, some might say tabletop-sports are the least of many evils I could be pursuing, some might just say I’m an addict.

Tony Jameson is a stand-up comedian from the UK, in his mid-30’s. He describes his stage show, Football Manager Ruined My Life, as being “about obsession, delusion, and general idiocy from a bloke who should know better.” I might just have to steal that for this site’s tagline.

I like to think we’re enthusiasts who just can’t stop playing, but maybe the addict thing is a possibility as well. – Tony Jameson, from his stage show “Football Manager Ruined My Life”

Buy This Book: MysteryBall ’58
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Posted by Paul on March 18, 2015 | Short Link
MysteryBall '58 is Jeff Polman's noir "whodunit."

MysteryBall ’58 is Jeff Polman’s noir “whodunit.”

Those of us who followed this “season-long whodunit” as it was published in serial fashion on Jeff Polman’s blog a couple years ago (which, by the way, was named 2012 Best Tabletop-Sports Replay of the Year), were treated to a fantastic noir mystery with all the exciting twists and turns you’d expect from the genre. Starring one ‘Snappy Drake,’ former minor league pitcher and current usher at Seals Stadium in 1958 San Francisco, Polman’s story is told in a classic voice reminiscent of the drugstore pulps that were the fashion in that post-WWII, pre-Vietnam era. It’s a murder mystery, and it’s a good one.

For Tabletop-Sports hobby enthusiasts, Jeff’s concept and inspiration may be particularly interesting. From the book’s “Beforewards”:

mystery ball beforewards

I bought a copy of the book to support my friend Jeff, even though I’d already read the story. When the book arrived the other day, however, I picked it up and thumbed through it, just marveling at Bethany Heck‘s cover design (you may remember Heck from her “Eephus League” Scorebook: The Halfliner) and Polman’s page layout, when I suddenly found myself 30 pages into re-reading it. I haven’t been able to put it down since! Even with the knowledge of everything that’s going to happen, the drama and the plot turns in the story have me hooked – again! – and I just keep reading. It’s a really fun book.

If you have ever enjoyed the stories of Raymond Chandler (The Big Sleep, Farewell, My Lovely), or Dashiell Hammett (The Maltese Falcon, The Thin Man), or films like Double Indemnity and Chinatown, you’ll love Mystery Ball ’58.

How Many Games Have You Played?

Posted by Paul on March 17, 2015 | Short Link

According to a recent (absolutely totally not-even a little bit scientific) survey by APBA Games, over 79% of respondents to their newsletter query have rolled over 1000 games of APBA Baseball.

I’d estimate I’ve rolled at least a couple thousand Strat-O-Matic Baseball games, something close to 200 APBA Baseball games and another couple hundred various other baseball games. I can’t even begin to estimate how many games I’ve rolled for other sports.

How many games have you rolled?

APBA Games published this data in an email newsletter today.

APBA Games published this data in an email newsletter today.

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