Mea Copa Overfloweth

Somebody somewhere decided November is “Gratitude Month” and that sounds good to me.  It is the month of Thanksgiving, after all.  In the spirit of giving thanks, here is a list of things on Earth, in no particular order, that I’m grateful for right at this very second:

  • a wife who loves me
  • healthy and happy children
  • an extended family all over the world that loves me and my wife and children
  • friends who I love and who love me like family
  • sobriety, second chances
  • youth, health, opportunity
  • a job, a roof, a car, a full belly, clean water, new-ish clothes
  • access to 21st century technology and all the information I’ll ever need
  • a few extra bucks to spend on fun stuff once in a while (like a World Cup quick-play from Time Travel Games called Mea Copa that I just received in the mail over the weekend.  More on this later.)
I’ve been trying to live by the motto that all I have to do at any given moment is whatever is “the next indicated right thing.”  I do believe that there is an ordinance placed within me that, like a compass, steers me right.  When I succumb to my own will – which is by definition an act of selfishness – I often find myself wandering away from that right direction.  And I feel it, literally, physically feel it when that happens.  It makes me ill, anxious, wired, unhappy and thirsty.  For a drink.

I’m meditating on the following passage today, and praying only that through me God’s will may be done.  I pray that my confidence in Him grows to such that I shouldn’t feel a need to beg for confidence in myself.

 

1 Peter – Chapter 5:

5All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

1985 NL Cy Young Race – Nolan Ryan One-Hitter!

This is the first post of my replay of the 1985 National League Cy Young Award Race.  I’m replaying (using as played lineups) the starts of Fernando Valenzuela, John Tudor, and Dwight Gooden.  I’m playing Strat-o-Matic Cards & Dice and then entering the results into the computer game (I have version 10) afterward.  I’ve never used the computer game to keep stats in this way before, so this is new to me.  Also, I’m autoplaying every NL game that doesn’t have one of these 3 pitching.  I hope to see a couple of good races.  I plan on playing the NLCS when it’s all said and done, too.

I doubt that I’ll post every boxscore here, probably just the interesting ones.  So, with that said, let’s go on to a very interesting result in the very first game of the race!

April 9, 1985

LOS ANGELES DODGERS (Valenzuela) vs. HOUSTON ASTROS (Ryan)

Fernando Valenzuela versus Nolan Ryan on opening day in the Astrodome.  I’m playing this replay for the excitement of Valenzuela, Tudor, and Gooden’s starts, but it was a pleasant surprise to see this gem come from the great Ryan Express.  I’ve never had a no-hitter in my thousands of Strat games, and only a handful of one-hitters.  Add Nolan Ryan to the list of one-hitters:

Nolan Ryan one-hits Fernando Valenzuela and the Dodgers on Opening Day

2010 MLS – Game 3

GAME THREE:  COLUMBUS CREW v. SEATTLE SOUNDERS

COLUMBUS CREW 1 - 1 SEATTLE SOUNDERS

MATCH HIGHLIGHTS:

11′ :  Fredy Montero bends a Direct Free Kick over the wall from just outside the penalty area.  Ball dips into upper far corner for a goal to put the Sounders up 1-0.  For his part in drawing the foul that led to the DFK, Freddie Ljungberg gets credited with an assist.

32′:  James Riley is taken down with a vicious tackle after clearly winning the ball from Robbie Rogers in the Sounders Area E.  No foul is called and Kasey Keller is livid!  The veteran spares no words when he confronts the referee, but the ref doesn’t hesitate for a second.  Keller is booked.  Barros Schelotto hopes to sneak one past Keller on the ensuing DFK, but it’s off target.  The keeper does get a finger on it before it goes out though, which leads to a corner.  Steven Lenhart ends up with a shot after the corner, but it’s harmless and Seattle regains possession.

45’+2′:  A Brad Evans corner kick finds Steve Zakuani unmarked and close enough to get a header off toward the goal, but a bit offline.  Will Hesmer makes a confident and cool catch and the half time whistle blows.

54′:  Steve Lenhart steals a Jeff Parke mistake and makes a break down the wing.  As he tries to get around Ozzie Alonso, the Cuban midfielder makes a reckless challenge, and again, no hesitation from the referee, he goes straight to his pocket.  Alonso is booked.   Barros Schelotto decides to shoot on the DFK, but it’s well over the net for a goal kick.

76′:  Alonso has a beautiful solo performance tarnished when he steals a ball from Eddie Moffat deep in the corner then makes a run the length of the field to find himself one on one with Andy Iro.  In frustration with Iro’s physical challenge,  Alonso earns a second yellow card for an elbow to Iro’s nose.  The Sounders protest, but to no avail.  Still up 1-0 with 14 minutes to play but playing a man short, the Sounders have to go to a 3-5-1 formation.

90′ +5: The Sounders are playing an unfamiliar formation a man down, and they look out of sorts.  In the last play of the game, Brian Carroll sends a long pass in towards goal.  Seattle’s defense chart lets them down and the deflection lands at the feet of Steven Lenhart in Area B.  Lenhart shoots on target and Kasey Keller has no chance since the deflection left him out of position for the Lenhart shot.  It’s an equalizer!  The whistle blows immediately, and euphoria erupts in the stands as Columbus has rescued a point from Seattle in their season opener.

MAN OF THE MATCH:  STEVEN LENHART

ANALYSIS:

House Rules played a big part in the final result of this game, as the shot that Steven Lenhart made at the end of the game was a result found on a home-brew Defense Chart.  Also, I believe this was the first game where I started playing with a rule designed to give an incentive for substitutions.  In this game, every substitution increased a team’s rating for the next 10 minutes.  Which meant that basically from 76′ to the finish, Columbus was playing with a +2 team rating and at full strength, while Seattle struggled a man down.  I’ve since gone to using the rule exactly as Bobby5960 uses it, which is, in Bobby’s words:

 If you put in a forward for a mid or defender, you get a +1 bump on team rating for 10 time segments.  Same for a mid in for a defender.  Defender in for mid or forward, +1 bump in D rating, etc.  This is in additional to any changes do to modifications based on total Defensive points.

This post by Bobby in the APBA – Between the Lines forum includes a chart of House Rules that he has been using.  The only chart in that pdf that I’m currently using is the “Defensive Chart (modified)” on page 4 of the pdf, though I’m considering using the Rebound Chart and I kind of like the Time Management charts, too.  I haven’t tried either of those out yet, though.

You’ll also notice some changes to the scoresheet pictured above, when compared to Game Two.  I continue to make changes to it, and still don’t feel like it’s perfect.

This was a fun match to play.  In real life, I’m a Sounders fan.  I went to 7 matches in 2011 including the US Open Cup final and the semi-final second leg against Real Salt Lake, and I hope to make it to many more in 2012.  This mini-season replay draw was a heartbreaker!

APBA Soccer for Kids & Strat-o-Matic Baseball Express

I recently was able to ask John Herson a few questions about the future of APBA Soccer over on the APBA – Between the Lines forum.  I was lucky enough to get this response:

Soccer game: I’m glad you like the game. We do follow the comments of the community. We are testing several of the suggestions right now. We will be offer older seasons in 2012. We also plan to offer All Time Great Teams. We will be offering the MILS season after their playoffs conclude. We have plans for an internet version of the game. Right now we are focusing on APBA soccer. We are play testing a very quick version of APBA soccer for ages 4 to 7.

Thank you for your support of APBA soccer.  As I’ve said before I’m committed to soccer.  My goal is to have baseball, football and soccer  each be 25% of APBA’s sales.  This goal includes growing the baseball sales.

There’s a lot of tasty info in that little blurb, but APBA Soccer for kids jumped out at me as something I wasn’t expecting.  Especially that it’s not only something that “we plan to offer” but, apparently, the game itself is already in the play-testing phase.

I am a father of two, a 4-year-old and a 3-year-old, both little girls.  They both play soccer and I’d love to find a game like this that could draw their interest at some point in the next couple of years. 

Finding a niche audience within the youngest generation strikes me as the paramount issue for tabletop sports sims at this time, and both APBA and Strat-o-Matic seem to be recognizing it.

Strat-o-Matic released their “Baseball Express” product earlier this year through an exclusive distribution deal with Toys ‘r Us.  Anecdotally, it appears to be a success.  Reports are that the game has sold out in many TRU locations, and due to the limited availability, the game was recently selling on ebay for twice it’s retail value (until Toysrus.com began to stock it).

The Baseball Express product is a perfect initiation to the Strat-o-Matic game engine.  It plays just like the Basic version of the game, except with very few charts.  I would have LOVED the game as a kid.  I can imagine that these cards would’ve been more precious than gold to me at age ten or so.  As I said over on StratFanForum, I wish I could go back in time and give this set to my 10-year-old self, and that is the absolute truth.

I haven’t found any hard evidence, but I, for one, would be willing to bet that the median age for Strat-o-Matic or APBA players is well over 35 years-old, and that a significant – if not majority – portion of the demographic is eligible for the senior price on a Denny’s French Toast Slam.   I’d also be willing to bet that players coming to this hobby in adulthood is the exception rather than the rule.  If these assumptions are true, then the future longterm success of these game companies will be dictated by how well they engage the youth today. 

There is a common misconception – especially among that senior demographic – that tabletop sports games are competing for the youth market against the glitz and glam of video games.  That is absolutely false.  Tabletop games fill a different niche, and offer a wholly different gaming experience.  It’s like saying that book publishers compete with film producers.  Not true at all.  I think the misconception comes from the old guys who just don’t get video games – or kids – and think that imagination has disappeared because kids can see action unfolding on screen in front of them in their video games.  That’s ridiculous.  Kids’ sense of imagination today is as great as it ever was.  EA Sports didn’t kill the ability of kids to picture their favorite player hitting a home run – if anything it enhanced their ability to imagine it.

The problem facing APBA and Strat is not that kids won’t love the game if they give it a try.  The problem is we’ve got a bunch of old guys who are the keepers of the hobby today, and they’re yelling “Get off my lawn!” at the neighborhood kids.  Those old guys are responsible for convincing kids to give these games a try.  And they’re pessimistic about those pesky kids.  Consider me in the optimists camp, I’m optimistic that there are more like me out there, who think that this generation will LOVE tabletop gaming once properly exposed to it.

Strat had a great Father’s Day promotion last year where they offered a 50% discount if you took a picture of yourself playing one of their games with your kid and submitted it to their Facebook page.  Brilliant.  Speaking as a member of the over-35 crowd (barely, but still), assuming all is lost with this Call of Duty-playing generation is the worst possible way to ensure the future of the hobby.  Play it, talk it up, have fun with it, and do it with your kids and/or grandkids.  It’s the only way.

I look forward to APBA Soccer for Kids.  I think Strat-o-Matic’s Baseball Express is terrific.  Mostly, I’m happy to see that the fellows in Glen Head, NY and Alpharetta, GA are as concerned as I am with the future of the hobby and are trying to reach out to the next generation of bone-rollers.

 

2010 MLS – Game 2

GAME TWO:  REAL SALT LAKE v. FC DALLAS

scorecard

 MATCH HIGHLIGHTS:

23′:  Alvaro Saborio gets tasked to take a Direct Free Kick from just outside the Penalty Area.  The ref marks off 10 yards and FCDallas’ defenders form a wall.  Saborio’s DFK is a beauty though, and it dips over the wall and just makes it under the bar in the far corner.  GOAL!

23′ – 35′:  In this 12 minute run of play, Alvaro Saborio and RSL dominate possession.  Saborio alone gets off 5 shots in this time – including 4 on goal.  Hartman is able to stop all except the 23rd minute DFK, but these twelve minutes highlight the superior force of the RSL squad. 

86′:  FC Dallas still has designs on stealing a point in Rio Tinto, but Kyle Beckerman and RSL have other ideas.  With a beautiful Corner Kick into the box, Beckerman finds an unmarked Robbie Findley who immediately turns and fires into the net.  Nothing Hartman could’ve done about that one.  It’s the nail in the coffin for FCD at this late point in the match. 

 Man of the MatchALVARO SABORIO

ANALYSIS:

 With this particular game, still very early in the season, I was trying out a different timing method.  In this game, I let every action play out before marking off 30 seconds of time.  For example, on a Corner Kick  I would roll for the corner, roll for the result (shot), roll for the miss/save, roll for the loose ball on the rebound, roll for player control and THEN go to the next time segment.  Though that may be closer to 30 seconds worth of real life play, today I would mark that differently.

Here is how I do it now:

segment 1:  CORNER KICK roll > result:  Header shot by player in Area B  (ROLL for player control – player 3 gets it)

segment 2:  player 3 SHOOTS from Area B

segment 3:  roll and consult player card – SHOT IS ON GOAL! – roll and consult Goalkeeper’s card – SAVED – see result on save chart: Rebound Area C (all rebounds picked up by offense, roll for player control) player 2 gets it

segment 4:  new action, roll and consult player card for player 2

So the way I play now, what was originally a 30 second sequence is now a minute and a half.  I’ve been considering consolidating that segment 2 & 3, but I like the flow of the game the way I’m playing it right now.  I’ll continue to experiment and let you know how it goes.

QUESTION:  Should Kyle Beckerman have been awarded an Assist for his Corner Kick that was blasted into the net by Robbie Findley?  What is the rule on assists from a Corner?