RIP Tony Gwynn
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Posted by Paul on June 16, 2014 | Short Link

Gwynn 1994 Fleer

Gwynn APBA Strat-O-Matic

On Being a Father
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Posted by Paul on June 15, 2014 | Short Link

This post originally ran on June 16, 2012, but it’s no less apt for me today.

My daughter Ruby has a tiny bud of a pea plant growing in a dixie cup, and she’s been carrying it around all morning. She’s gentle with it, as gentle as a five-year-old can be, that is. She calls it “Plantie.”

Plantie is fragile and helpless on her own. She needs water, she needs soft light and, according to Ruby, she needs to be hugged close when it gets too cold. Plantie needs the soft pads of your fingertips lightly brushing her leafs. She needs an encouraging coo and a whisper of a kiss.

Ruby gives these things to Plantie because she has that kind of heart and because to her, this is how one raises, protects and loves a fragile sprout. She is practicing parenthood, and she is becoming a better human for it.

I didn’t have a father like Ruby has. When I was her age I had a drunk, an addict, a schizophrenic, an abuser, a fragile beaten man with exposed raw nerves who cowered from the world in his polluted cave that stunk of his rotting conscience.

Still, I ached for his approval and his love. One day he got on his knees and slurred that he was going to teach me how to box.

Put your fists up, he said and I did. I jabbed immediately and knocked his sunglasses crooked.

He smiled and he was proud of me. I smiled and I was proud of me, too, and I dropped my hands and his fist felt like a brick in a sock as it split my lips. The back of my head, the wall.

I stayed down, sobbing and swallowing blood. I was seven. You gotta keep your guard up, he said.

But still I ached for his approval and his love.

I want to talk about the ways I am better because of him – he taught me to love baseball, for one, and even planted the idea of tabletop sports games in me by showing me a dice baseball game HE had made up as a kid – but mostly the stories where I come out better are the stories where he provides an example of the father and man I don’t want to be.

We learn baseball from our fathers, we learn manhood from our fathers, we learn to be fathers from our fathers.

When I was Ruby’s age I didn’t have the role models and the support she does. I learned to cradle and protect her through thorough introspection and examination of the empty spots in my childhood, and through the want to make sure that her childhood doesn’t lack in the ways mine did.

But, as fathers, it turns out that the difference between me and my dad is something I wouldn’t have guessed.

When Ruby coddles and cares for her fragile sprout, she’s learning important lessons about nurturing and love and what one needs to grow up healthy.

When I coddle and care for my fragile sprout, I’m learning important lessons about nurturing and love and what one needs to live with peace and serenity.

It turns out that it’s in the fathering that we learn to be better humans, and that it’s in the being better humans that we turn out to be better fathers. I learned that from my daughter when I tried to be her father.

There’s the difference. The learning and the trying.
walking down a path

10 Lessons: Creating a Baseball Simulator

Posted by Paul on June 13, 2014 | Short Link

For those of us who are interested in baseball statistics, The Hardball Times (THT) is a consistent source of thought-provoking analysis and commentary on the game.

Of course, we in the hobby know that there is a large segment of hobbyists who remain steadfast in their support of Batting Average and RBI for hitters and Wins and ERA for pitchers. These stalwarts remain unimpressed by the newest, hottest Sabermetric data points, and THT might not always be their cup of tea.

In April, however, Matt Hunter of The Hardball Times wrote an article that any fan of baseball simulations can appreciate.

10 Lessons I Learned from Creating a Baseball Simulator

As anyone who’s ever thought they could do it better than the pros could tell you, designing a baseball game isn’t easy.

From the article:

While making my sim, I quickly realized that each additional variable I included would add a layer of complexity and work, complexity that compounded each time I made a change.

I designed my first game at age 10. It was a very basic simulation. I rated players based on how well I wanted them to do in my league – Kevin Maas was a huge star, if that tells you anything. But I loved the game. I played literally thousands of games with it over the years and my league had a 30 season history, with a Hall of Fame, baseball cards, everything.

I’m curious about the homemade games you played. What are your experiences in designing tabletop-sports simulations? Leave them in the comments, please!

FREE World Cup Tournament Brackets for Excel
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Posted by Paul on June 12, 2014 | Short Link

From The Ultimate World Cup Bracket


Ultimate Chart

Ultimate bracket

For a much simpler bracket, use this one from


exceltemplates bracket

Who are you guys picking? I have Brazil over Argentina 4-3 in one of the all time great matches. I think the USA will surprise many by making it to the Quarterfinals after beating Ghana & Portugal to get out of the Group, and then Belgium in the first stage of the knockout round.

I hope I’m right!

Tribute to Landon Donovan

Posted by Paul on June 11, 2014 | Short Link

Howler Magazine and artist Noah McMillan created this tribute to Major League Soccer and the USMNT’s All-Time Leading Scorer, Landon Donovan

On the eve of the 2014 World Cup, let us pause a moment to consider all that #10 has done for American Soccer this millennium.

Thank you, Landon Donovan. We wouldn’t be where we are today without you.

[gif courtesy of Howler Magazine, which happens to be the best Soccer magazine available in the USA, bar none]

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