Monza – Then and Now
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Posted by Paul Dylan on September 6, 2014 | Short Link

Movie poster imageIt’s a wonderful perk of living in the modern age that we can queue up videos like the one below – for free! – anytime we’d like. It’s akin to having a little window into the past in your pocket all the time. Imagine what someone a hundred years ago would have thought if you would have given him the magical ability to watch scenes from 1866 in living color, in the palm of his hand? We live in an age of miracles, my friends.

The video embedded below is a shot-by-shot comparison between Italy’s Formula 1 track Audiodromo Nazionale Monza, as filmed in 1966 for James Garner’s epic film Grand Prix, against a the circuit as filmed in 2007.

If you jump to about 4:00 in the video, you’ll see a split screen where you can watch a trip around the track in 1966 on top, and in 2007 on the bottom.

I haven’t had much time to play Classic Formula One lately, but this video has inspired me to make some room again on my tabletop for this game soon. Being able to go back in time, to experience the thrill and drama of competition between the great drivers on the great tracks, and great athletes in the great forums of the past is what keeps me coming back to this hobby. To recreate a race at Monza on my tabletop and in the theater of my mind is another amazing perk of modern life.

An age of miracles it is, indeed.

h/t to WTF1 – The Alternative F1 Blog, for this video and for all the great F1 content published there.

Football Outsiders Takes on the Tabletop
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Posted by Paul Dylan on September 5, 2014 | Short Link

With the tagline “Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis” Football Outsiders (FO) would probably agree if one were to compare the site to the seminal site for baseball intelligentsia, Baseball Prospectus. Topics covered in the “Football Outsiders Basics” page include:

  • You run when you win, not win when you run.
  • Standard team rankings based on total yardage are inherently flawed
  • Field-goal percentage is almost entirely random from season to season, while kickoff distance is one of the most consistent statistics in football.
  • Recovery of a fumble, despite being the product of hard work, is almost entirely random.
  • For the statistically (some may say “Sabermetrically”) inclined, this type of counterintuitive analysis is the stuff that provides countless hours of bar-stool banter and debate that is the food of their life.

    In research for the upcoming Issue Two of OneForFive.com Print Edition (which will be focused on tabletop football games), I was diving through some of Football Outsiders’ archived stuff when I came across an article by Mike Tanier published July 23, 2009, called “Walkthrough – Openly Gamer.”

    A quote:

    Long ago, when computer power was measured in kilobytes and John Madden was just another color commentator, football gaming didn’t require a console, computer, or controller. It required a sturdy tabletop and dice.

    The football games of that era had odd, retro-techie names: Strat-o-Matic, APBA, Statis Pro. They were highly complex, though they were oversimplifications of the sport, and though they had childlike elements they attracted an adult following. Each game had its own elaborate rules, quirky codes, arcane charts. Gamers called plays, rolled dice, referred to cards and charts, sometimes rolled again, interpreted play results, then moved cardboard football and down markers across a gridiron-shaped field. Football teams were bundled into rubber-banded piles or small manila pouches. Gaming sessions lasted for hours around the dining room table, opponents cross-checking each other’s cards and arguing rules while being careful not to spill soda, Eric Dickerson’s 1984 card still brown-stained and blurry from someone’s clumsiness.

    There was no Madden video game back then, no high-def graphics, no fantasy football Web sites with up-to-the-second information. Those games were all we had. They were immersive. They were awesome.

    And they are still with us.

    The piece goes on to describe the evolution of tabletop-sports, starting with Dick Seitz and APBA Baseball. In the end, the author offers a “Gamers Guide” that describes Strat-O-Matic, APBA, and Statis Pro.

    Though not comprehensive by any means, it’s interesting to get the “outsider’s” perspective on our hobby, especially if you scroll down and read the comments of some who have played these games but are, by no means, the aficionados that typically visit OneForFive.com.

    It got me thinking…how do you describe tabletop-sports to those who ask you about your hobby? What if you were at a party and someone asked you to explain “those dice football games you play”? What do you say?

    Q: What’s a Mosquito’s Favorite Sport?
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    Posted by Paul Dylan on August 31, 2014 | Short Link

    A: Skin-diving!

    Love, Life, and APBA’s Kenneth Heard heard a buzzing as a billion biting mosquitoes made a meal of his body the other night. Heard’s 1950 APBA Baseball replay had to be put on hold while he battled them, Wile E. Coyote style.

    Joba Chamberlain can relate:

    Joba Chamberlain is beseiged by bugs in this photo from the 2007 playoff series vs. Cleveland [photo credit:  Paul J. Bereswill/Newsday/MCT]

    Joba Chamberlain is beseiged by bugs in this photo from the 2007 playoff series vs. Cleveland [photo credit: Paul J. Bereswill/Newsday/MCT]

    “Stormin’” Norman Marsh (1952 – 2014)
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    Posted by Paul Dylan on August 30, 2014 | Short Link

    In September, 2004 I read an article in the Honolulu Advertiser about the Oahu Adult Baseball League, that featured a team called the Oahu Ravens. At the time, I’d been living on Oahu for almost a year and hadn’t made any real friends and didn’t feel particularly connected to a community yet.

    Though I hadn’t played on an organized baseball team since I was 14, on Monday, September 21, 2004 (my 29th birthday), I called the league, signed up, and was placed on the roster of the Oahu Ravens – the same team profiled in the above-linked article.

    RIP Stormin' Norman Marsh (1952-2014); Norm was a North Shore surfing legend and a great friend

    RIP Stormin’ Norman Marsh (1952-2014); Norm was a North Shore surfing legend and a great friend (photo by Sik Photography)

    One of the first guys I met was Norm Marsh. Stormin’ Norman, as we called him, was a 51-year-old surfer dude. He stood about 6’1″ maybe 6’2″, with long limbs, sun-bleached hair, and a tan that seemed to go down to his bones. He had light blue – almost grey – eyes and an easy, genuine smile. He had a dog, a teenaged German Shepard named Mako, that was his ever-present sidekick.

    Norm was athletic and handsome, ego-less but cool. He walked with a smooth, confident gait, like a champion racehorse, and his confidence was contagious. When you were hanging with Norm, you felt cool and athletic and handsome.

    As a vocation, Norm shaped surfboards. As a lifestyle, he rode waves and played baseball. Norm lived on the North Shore of the island and didn’t spend much time indoors. He didn’t have an email address, certainly didn’t have Facebook account and didn’t own a cellphone. If you wanted to contact Norm, you called his shop. If he didn’t answer, you called back later. He was a throwback to an earlier era in Hawaii. It wouldn’t have surprised me at all if we found out someday that Norm was a time-traveler from the 1950′s.

    Norm didn’t play baseball in high school. As a Freshman in the late 1960′s Norm was a talented athlete, but when the school’s coach instituted a rule banning long hair on the team, Norm decided that he’d rather maintain his independence than conform. He didn’t play ball again until his 40′s. With the Oahu Ravens, he usually played second and third base. He had good patience at the plate and when he got ahold of one, he had decent power to the gaps.

    Norm had an easy, natural charisma that made me feel welcome to the Ravens at a time when I was still trying to feel comfortable in my new community. That same easy, friendly manner that made me feel welcome was what made Norm universally liked and respected in the Oahu Adult Baseball League and on the North Shore. Norm was a local fixture charging big waves up there, so much so that the Hawaii Surf News Network called him “an underground legend.”

    In June of this year Norm was diagnosed with Stage 4 Prostate Cancer. Stormin’ Norman passed away on Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at age 61. He will be missed by everyone he ever shared a lineup with, be it on the baseball diamond or out on the waves.

    Wherever you are today, Norm, they’re lucky to have you.

    The Oahu Ravens lineup isn't the same without you, Norm.

    The Oahu Ravens lineup isn’t the same without you, Norm.

    Don Drysdale and “The Good Face”
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    Posted by Paul Dylan on August 25, 2014 | Short Link

    Contrary to popular opinion, the book Moneyball by Michael Lewis is not about how Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s prefer to take walks rather than put the ball in play.

    Branch Rickey liked this face.

    Branch Rickey liked this face.

    The book is about market inefficiency, and how small-market teams must compete by getting the most production out of their ballplayers for the least amount of money. In 2002, the Oakland A’s found that batters who scored low in many traditional scouting measures but were still able to post a high on-base percentage were being under-valued by most MLB teams. General Manager Billy Beane was able to use that knowledge to build a winning team on the cheap.

    One of the central themes of the book was that traditional scouting at that time relied too heavily on subjective, unquantifiable opinions of prospects rather than hard data. This is best illustrated in the following passage from the book. Recounting the scouting opinion of young Billy Beane, who in 1980 was a first-round draft pick by the New York Mets, Lewis writes:

    [Beane]encouraged strong feelings in the older men who were paid to imagine what kind of pro ballplayer a young man might become. The boy had a body you could dream on. Ramrod-straight and lean but not so lean you couldn’t imagine him filling out. And that face! Beneath an unruly mop of dark brown hair the boy had the sharp features the scouts loved. Some of the scouts still believed they could tell by the structure of a young man’s face not only his character but his future in pro ball. They had a phrase they used: “the Good Face.” Billy had the Good Face.

    The best example of this “good face” scouting assessment that I’ve ever seen has to be Branch Rickey’s 1954 scouting report of an 18-year-old pitcher from southern California, Don Drysdale. Drysdale, of course, would go on to be a Hall of Famer for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He also made appearances on The Rifleman, The Flying Nun, and The Brady Bunch before a long and distinguished career as a baseball broadcaster, so that “good face” did turn out to serve him well.

    In 1954, Branch Rickey described an 18-year-old Don Drysdale as having an "Intelligent face and manner, [that] shows good breeding."

    In 1954, Branch Rickey described an 18-year-old Don Drysdale as having an “Intelligent face and manner, [that] shows good breeding.”


    Thanks to Major League Baseball’s Official Historian, John Thorn, who posted to his Facebook feed this scan of Rickey’s report on Drysdale.

    Related: 1965 Don Drysdale Strat-O-Matic Pitcher’s Hitting Card

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