SteveMRyan's Blog

September 11, 2016

My Hall of Famer…

Filed under: Uncategorized — stevemryan @ 4:00 am

In 1997 Keyshawn Johnson had a book published.  In that book, he hoped to explain how he would help turn the Jets from losers into winners.  The title of the book sounds interesting but if I was writing a book, I would change three words in the title to chronicle my drive to work.  I would change the second word from Give to Hang.  I would change the third word from Me to Up.  Then I would change the sixth word from Ball to Phone.

My daily commute on the way home when I work days or to work when I am on the night shift is between 5:30pm until about 6:30pm. I am usually in the minority when I work nights because I am on my way to work when everyone else is on their way home.  People feel they have to be taking advantage of the drive time by communicating with other people.  Hands-Free is the second best way to go.  Just driving is the best way.  Today I was crossing Chickamauga Dam, speed limit 55, and I passed a woman who was in the fast lane.  I was going 40 Mph so she was going 35ish.  But she was doing two things at once, driving and talking on her cell.  Granted, traffic was bumper to bumper but there were close to 200 yds between her car and the car in front of her.

I wish Tennessee had some type of law against cell phone-distracted driving.  Maybe they do.  My wife and I have made a pact with each other not to talk when we are driving unless we can do so using a hands-free device or speaker phone if we are stopped at a red light.  We both feel that anything we have to say to each other is secondary to surviving the journey to our destination.  This is even true if we need to make an extra trip because we might have needed something from the store along the way.

I enjoy listening to books and have a monthly membership to the Audible.com Book Club.  For about $15 I can download one book each month.  I also receive daily specials, usually under $5, that might interest me.  Usually, I get one of those specials about once every three months or so.  A couple of weeks ago I bought a David Baldacci book that was very good.  It was part of a series with the main character who does some type of contract work for a government agency.  In that particular book, the hero saved the President from an assassin.  He also helped a girl who became an orphan.

Lots of kids overcome difficult situations in becoming who they are as adults.  I have been fortunate to have great parents who have guided me and helped me throughout my life.  There have also been other people who have had a lot of influence.  I have been very fortunate.  If I have had much adversity or difficulties to overcome, those situations have been 100% self-inflicted.

One Saturday this past December, my dad came by my house and I remember we had a discussion about installing a motion sensor security light above our garage doors.  He said he could help me and I looked forward to spending time with him as much as installing the light.  My dad is probably the most reliable person I have known in my whole life and I strive to be like him.

I’m still waiting to put up that light.  The Wednesday after that conversation, my Dad had a terrible accident while driving his delivery route.  Our best Christmas Gift was him surviving the crash.  He is still recovering from the injuries he received almost 270 days ago.  That has caused me to think about my dad a lot in the past few months.  He has had a positive outlook and keeps hoping for a full recovery even as he is still walking with a walker or cane and on a feeding tube.

As I grow older I enjoy my technical devices and enjoy being able to ‘Google’ information or watch instructional videos on YouTube.  I understand that technology is a tool and not the be all and end all –  to use a Shakespearean phrase.  (And yes, I googled that.)  I recently acquired some wooden items to assist my enjoyment in my APBA hobby.  I watched some YouTube videos to help me put a coating on the items so they would be protected from the wear and tear of constant use and travel.  I also understand that I could find information using Google or YouTube to put up the light but I’ll wait for Dad.

Rudyard Kipling grew up in India and was sent to a boarding house for his education at the age of five.  The boarding house parents treated him and his sister cruelly.  As a child, he felt it was meant to be and would just get worse if he said something.  Most of his stories revolve around a theme of children needing their fathers.  The Jungle Book is basically about how Mowgli needs his dad.  Most of the statistics indicate that having both parents plays a vital role in how offspring approach and succeed in life.  I couldn’t agree more.

This past Father’s Day, Gillette had a commercial titled, ‘Go Ask Dad.’  Young men were placed in a room with a computer and asked to look up various information such as how to ask a girl out, how to tie a tie or how to cook an egg.  First, the kids tried to perform these tasks using the computer and Google.  Then after a few blundered attempts their father walks in and they ask him.  The dads all understood their sons and enjoyed showing them how to accomplish these seemingly trivial tasks.  At the close of the commercial, the sons all say that their dad was much better at helping them because there is a relationship.

My best source throughout my life has been my dad.  I remember a couple of years ago he was helping me repair my dryer.  We had gotten the broken part out and replaced it with a new part.  We tried it out and it worked well.  As we are packing up our tools and Fix-It Book, my dad told me that he and my mom were buying a new place to live and would be moving.  I was shocked since I didn’t even know they were looking to move.  My mom was having some trouble getting around and was scheduled to have her knee replacement redone.  Having everything on a single level made sense.  A two-story house wasn’t all that practical for two people approaching their mid-seventies.

I am in my fifties and my wife is in her forties.  She is my rock and we love being together.  She has been a great help to my parents through their trials in the past few years.  I have no doubt that my parents like her better than me at times.  I don’t blame them.  She is awesome and absolutely my better half.

I am a knucklehead and have made my share of knuckle-headed decisions in my life.  I am responsible for my mistakes and have suffered the consequences in spite of my parents’ best efforts.  I know that I make my own choices and don’t blame others when things turn out badly.  I also know that I must share the credit if by some miracle I can overcome my inefficiencies and things work out well.  My best quality is being able to rely on others and accept guidance and direction when it is available.  If I am left to my own devices, then things will usually turn into a train wreck.  This is part of the aging process and as I get older it seems the more I learn, the less I know.

Currently, I am listening to an audiobook from Sports Illustrated, “Great Football Writing.”  This is a good book but some of the stories don’t really interest me.  Mainly because sports talk radio killed my enjoyment of the sport of football.  Usually, there are two weeks between the NFL Conference Championship Games and the Super Bowl.  I understand ratings drives radio, but in those two weeks, there is talk about football that can barely be classified as talk.  Well, that is if listening is a qualifier for talking.  If a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it…blah, blah, blah.   There are so many sports talk radio shows and so few interesting topics that the hosts of those shows try to turn the color of shoe laces into a riveting conversation.  I cried, “Uncle!”  I stopped listening to talk radio, playing Fantasy Football and in general turned my back on football.  With the Super Bowl being played in the early part of February, there are usually plenty of teams still in the hunt for college basketball conference championships plus even more teams on the proverbial Bracket Bubble.  I won’t even broach the topic of the Hot Stove, my personal favorite.  Football used to be nice distraction between the end of the World Series and Pitchers and Catchers reporting around Valentine’s Day.  When I coached middle school basketball the season fit nicely in the void.

Now in all sports, I generally avoid discussions about the qualifications for Halls of Fame.  The key word to me is Fame.  It falls in the same category as Most Valuable Player with Valuable being the key word.  Classifying the various categories for qualifications is ludicrous and inane.  That said, while listening to this football audiobook there was a name mentioned that aroused my curiosity, Ken Anderson.  I got to looking and he isn’t in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  I looked at his numbers on pro-football-reference.com and I guess he is just below the threshold but I liked him and thought that might be an oversight, but I guess not.

I looking at the HOF Inductee list by schools and only two schools’ inductees took up two lines – Notre Dame (13) and Southern Cal (12).  None of the schools I attended have any inductees but that might change if Terrell Owens gets elected.  Interestingly, the Jimmy Johnson in the Pro Football Hall of Fame went to UCLA and not Arkansas.

I have recently played a few APBA Football Games and it is a lot of fun, even playing solitaire.  I have a friend I used to play various football games with either on the computer or video games.  I am hoping to get together with him when my work schedule returns to normal because I am certain he will enjoy the game.  He was an All-City QB in his town, but that just meant he started on his high school team, the only school in his town.  I take credit for a teammate on my high school soccer team being All-South because he was making up for my mistakes.  Wouldn’t that sort of make me 2nd team All-South?

Life is good and this particular blog has been written over a span of about four calendar days.  I have been working nights for the past eight nights and will return to work for one day after I leave work this morning.  For all the talk about safety in my workplace, fatigue is probably the silent assassin.  I do try to get my sleep and rest but sometimes it is a struggle.  That said, I have been fortunate to have the support and assistance of my wife.  Several nights I was happy to have her bring some supper by work so we could have a little time together.  When I leave work this morning we are planning on going out for a breakfast date.  Nothing fancy, but being with her always make it seem special.  Plus, I am sure my dad would be happy to know I watched him my whole life and I had a great role model for how to treat my wife!

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Sunset September 8, 2016

 

August 22, 2016

Fantasy Football Time again!

Filed under: Uncategorized — stevemryan @ 1:33 pm

…And I won’t play.  I used to play fantasy baseball and it helped me in my understanding of baseball.  Fantasy Football caused me to dislike football.  This year I might try to watch some football games other than the Super Bowl.  I might not.

The last time I played Fantasy Football, my team was named the Harrison Redskins.  I created an offensive logo for my helmet and I believe I let the online league website draft my team.

Redskins

Harrison Redskins

 

 

My biggest problem with Fantasy Football is the injury process.  Some teams, like the New England Patriots, seem to respect the players’ privacy in the aspect of the HIPAA Law of 1996.  My wife has worked in the healthcare field and understands the HIPAA Law much better than I do.  My understanding is that personal healthcare information is a private matter and the injured worker controls the release of that information.  This also applies to work related injuries which are what most Fantasy Football Injuries appear to be.  My dad had a bad wreck last December 16th, 2015 and it is a Worker’s Comp situation.  I hope Football Players don’t have to deal with Liberty Mutual for their claims.  The nicest way to say it is Liberty Mutual’s Worker’s Comp division sucks.

My other problem with an injury situation, as it relates to Fantasy Football, is the waiver player pickup process.  Most pickups are the first-come-first-serve variety for people actually watching games and trolling the waiver wire looking for available players.  This is particularly advantageous when a starting QB or RB experiences a season-ending injury and an obvious replacement is waiting in the wings.

That is just another reason I love APBA Games.  Last week, I played a football game.  I rolled play results that would have been injuries for key players but I chose to ignore those results.

Den-Car Scoresheet 081516

 I do the same when I play APBA Baseball using cards and dice.  When I play Baseball for Windows, I let injuries stand since ignoring them isn’t an option.

White Sox Baseball

This morning I rolled a game between the 1965 Twins and the 1965 Cardinals.  Jim Kaat won the game for the Twins beating Bob Gibson’s Cardinals 4-2.  No players were injured in the rolling of this game and an angel got their wings.

65 SLN @ 65 MIN 082216v

65 SLN @ 65 MIN 082216h

65MIN @ 65 SLN 082216

I am still playing my 1965 Tournament and am halfway through Group C with the 1965 Cincinnati Reds and the 1965 Milwaukee Braves advancing to the Knockout Round from Groups A & B respectively.  It has been a fun tournament and I am sure I won’t be done until all of the available Fantasy Football Leagues have drafted and teams are claimed.

August 9, 2016

The Bronx was Burning

Filed under: Uncategorized — stevemryan @ 10:50 pm

In the Summer of 1977, I was 12 years old and between sixth and seventh grades.  I remember following Spiderman in the comics.  And every day I checked the standings for the National League West.  My Reds seemed to be facing an uphill battle as they tried to win their third World Series in a row.  The Reds had the best player in the game in my opinion as George Foster slugged 52 homers.  Cincinnati was in 2nd place, 6 1/2 games back of the Dodgers on June 18th.  The Dodgers would end up winning the division by 10 games but lose the World Series to the Yankees.

On June 18, 1977 the Yankees were in Fenway Park playing the Red Sox.  In the bottom of six, Jim Rice hit a check-swing blooper to right field that Reggie Jackson played into a double.  Yankees manager Billy Martin visited the mound to change pitchers and sent Paul Blair to right field for what he perceived as lollygagging on Jackson’s part.  That is basically the opening scene in the ESPN presentation of The Bronx is Burning.

This is a well-made show chronicling the Summer of ’77 as the Yankees pursued the AL Pennant and World Series along with the serial killer Son of Sam.  New York was in the midst of electing a new mayor and enduring a heatwave that precipitated blackouts due to the demands of air conditioning on the city power grid.

The ESPN story uses what appear to be actual clips from network broadcasts in their telling of the story.  My family didn’t have cable in 1977 so the Game of the Week was a weekly event and my best chance to watch baseball.  I believe that was the summer we got central heat and air.  Even in mid-June, the afternoons were especially hot and we wanted to stay in the air conditioning.  I recall watching the game when Blair was sent to right for Jackson.  I remember the ensuing blowup in the dugout.  It was definitely a zoo in the Bronx.

I didn’t discover APBA until the Spring of 1980.  Ads populated the pages of Baseball Digest and The Sporting News.  I ordered the game after writing several companies for brochures or information about their games.  The brochure I received from the APBA Game Company was pure literature (plus a sample card).  Any person studying Marketing should read the APBA brochures to get an idea how to sell a product.  I ordered the APBA Baseball game with some money I received for my birthday.  When I got home from school I checked the mailbox and front porch every day until the game arrived.  My game came with the 1979 Season card set.  The first two past seasons I ordered were the 1976 and 1977 sets. 

I love the 1976 set because my Reds were awesome.  I love the 1977 set because of the possibilities.  I swapped Dan Driessen with Rod Carew because the Reds needed a better first-baseman.  The Reds let Tony Perez go to the Expos in a trade with Will McEnaney for Woodie Fryman and Dale Murray.  Driessen was better than the aging Tony Perez but Carew was the MVP of the American League after hitting .388 with a .449 OBP and .570 SLG for an OPS of 1.019 to lead the Major Leagues.

When I used my 1977 Reds, I didn’t play a set schedule.  I pitted the Reds against most of the other teams.  I enjoyed learning about other teams and players and usually I followed the suggested lineups on the APBA Roster sheet.  The Reds won a lot of games and I seem to recall playing some tournaments and they won their fair share.

I played APBA in the mid-afternoon.  The mornings were spent playing tennis because it was cooler in the morning and I could be outside.  Later in the afternoon was cooler when the sun was behind the taller trees to the west of the basketball court across the street.  Tennis, APBA & basketball.  What a Summer!

I played Dizzy Dean Baseball but had broken my toe at school after the third game and limped through the rest of the season.  The season ended about the same time the cast came off, a week or so after summer break began.  My team didn’t make the playoffs and I was by no stretch an all-star.  In Dizzy Dean, all-stars were picked to play on league teams that qualified for district then state playoffs.  The previous year, my team had won our district, finished second in the state and gone to the Southern Region Tournament but I skipped all of that to go to camp with my cousin.  I didn’t have a good experience with that team.  It is a testament to my love for baseball that my passion for the game survived.  

I never played for a better team but I had more fun and played for better coaches in other seasons.  But once I discovered APBA I entered my own world where I was the coach.  My players’ cards were treated fairly and without bias. The cards are still treated fairly.

I am currently playing a World Cup style tournament with the 1965 MLB teams.  I have four groups with five teams.  Each group plays ten round robin games, four games per team.  Each team plays the other teams in their division once.  I have completed two groups with the Cincinnati Reds and the Milwaukee Braves advancing.  I could play twenty tournaments and probably get ten different winners.  I love playing the games though and it is very relaxing.

APBA has been a constant for the last 35+ years.  I score the games using Ballscore instead of by hand.  I have all of the teams from 1901 to the latest set.  Mostly I play eight-team, single elimination tournaments but I play other types of tournaments as well.  I have played the APBA Golf, Saddle Racing, Basketball, and Football.  Through the years, I always come back to baseball.  APBA Baseball pleases me.

 

July 17, 2016

The things you learn…

Filed under: Uncategorized — stevemryan @ 8:24 pm

I jumped off the pop culture train in the late 1980s.  Ask me a question about music or most popular TV shows (Seinfeld, Friends…etc) and I draw a blank.  I have always followed baseball, but I lost track of the NBA, most of the NFL and I never really kept up with the NHL.

The Internet has helped some.  I was working today and looking at a variety of blogs.  One was referring to a game company’s Negro League card set for use with their game.  The blog was several years old and said the set was still available.  Being the curious type, I clicked on the link and discovered the set was available either with a full game or as an individual purchase.

I clicked around on the site and saw something else very intriguing.  The company has a basketball game card set available for the 2001-02  NBA Season.  One of the points of interest was the fact that the Nets made the NBA Finals.  Somehow I had totally missed that.  I love Sports-reference.com and the related sites.  I looked on basketball-reference.com and sure enough, the Nets were swept by the Lakers.  Who knew?

Friday I was surfing the internet at work and was reading about the many satellite APBA tournaments popping up mainly in the upper-Midwest.  Several of the tournaments feature divisional round-robin play followed by a single-elimination playoff round.  Baseball is not a game that is good at determining a champion in a single elimination format.  I prefer at least a best-of-three playoff format.

TCABT6

 

There is a tournament in central Minnesota the first weekend in October with the best-of-three playoff format.  Friday when I returned home from work I asked my wife if she would like to make a quick trip to Minnesota.  She said that would be fun.  Last night we found a hotel with a vacancy on those dates and we made a reservation.  There must be something going on that weekend because there weren’t many vacancies at the hotel chains we were familiar with at reasonable prices.

So I will get to play in my first non-APBA Convention tournament and I am excited.  It will be well worth the 30-hour round trip drive.  The team selection is a bit less restrictive than the APBA Convention so I will still use the 1998 Atlanta Braves Great Teams of the Past edition.  The hitting numbers are rearranged but for the most part, they are the same.  There is a small bump for better strikeout ratings and one reliever is an A* up from a B*.  Other teams get the same advantage I am sure so it will all even out.

98 Braves

Yes, I have three versions of the same team.

 

With a new guy being hired at work the overtime should be reduced significantly.  Hopefully, we should be back to working around 48 hours a week with no more than six 12-hour shifts in a row.  The new hire is younger by 20+ years than the guy he is replacing so there shouldn’t be as many sick call-outs and the newbie probably won’t have as many vacation days.  Work should be a less stressful atmosphere.

That is probably why my wife agreed to the quick trip.  Last month I had some vacation days but other than that, I was only off work for two days.  This month I may have four total off days.  I am in the midst of 11 straight days at work.    I tend to lose track of days.

So the APBA Tournament will be great.  Win or lose I will have a blast.  I will know a few people there from the APBA Convention in Alpharetta but I will also meet new friends.  Plus, I will get to be with lots of people playing my favorite game.  I am excited!

 

July 3, 2016

Happy Birthday America!

Filed under: Uncategorized — stevemryan @ 10:54 pm

Almost nine years from turning 250 and I hope we make it.  We won’t find our hope in either Hilary or Trump but there is hope.

I was able to play another game in my tourney using the teams from the 1965 Season.  I captured it with time-lapse photography and figured out how to turn it into a stop motion video on youtube.  Enjoy!

I dragged 200+ photos into the slideshow maker on youtube and then added some public domain music.  My method needs work, but it is a start.

June 27, 2016

Let’s Roll!

Filed under: Uncategorized — stevemryan @ 7:49 am

Todd Beamer lived in Stoneycreek Township in Pennsylvania.  It appears to me that he was obviously an APBA Player.  This past weekend was the 2016 APBA Convention in Alpharetta, GA.

TC-1

Roy even has my cards memorized and waits patiently for me to read my card result

Roy Langhans, an APBA Hall of Famer, won the Tournament with the 1985 St Louis Cardinals.  Roy Langhans has tried to win the tournament since the maiden convention in 1973.

2016 Trophy

2016 APBA Convention Tourney Runner-Up Trophy

There were 50 players participating in the tournament.  The tournament consists of seven divisions with six teams and one division with eight teams.  The Division winners won with records ranging from 8-2 to 6-4.  There was also a team that lost a tie-breaker with an 8-2 record.  After the first round of the playoffs the only survivors were players who had never won the tournament.

HRD-1

2016 Home Run Derby

The competitions began Thursday evening with the first Football Tournament Semi-final between APBA HOFer Greg Wells and Ray Dunlap.  Friday morning saw the second Football Semi-final between Greg Barath and Mike Harlow.  The Hockey Tournament also continued with a best-of-three Final between APBA HOFer Steve Skoff and Chuck Sorce.  Friday was busy with the Home Run Derby in the afternoon before dinner.

HRD-Champ-3

Roy even has my cards memorized and waits patiently for me to read my card result

Personally, I feel the Home Run Derby Trophy is the best trophy.  This year the Derby victor was a first-time attendee.  Steve Skoff dominated the Hockey Tournament winning the Finals two games to one.  Wells and Barath advanced to the Football Finals.  Greg Wells won with the 2015 New England Patriots over Barath’s 2015 Carolina Panthers.

HOF-1

Greg Wells introducing the 2016 Hall of Fame Inductees

After dinner the Hall of Fame Inductions were held.  Greg Wells introduced the new inductees.  Last year Greg’s son, Brian Wells – also a HOFer, introduced the inductees.

HOF-2

Ray Dunlap

Ray Dunlap was the first inductee and he has contributed many innovations and ideas for the football game.  Ray lives in the Atlanta area and his wife was able to join him for the ceremony.

HOF-3

Greg Barath

The second inductee was Greg Barath.  Greg is legendary for his solo replays using the Football Game.  He has several videos on youtube.com and on his blog site (oguard62.com) has even more helpful Excel and Powerpoint files.  Greg assured us all that rolling dice was a masculine pursuit.

HOF-4

John Herson (right)

John Herson was the third inductee of the evening.  John is the current owner of the Game company.  He has seen all the baseball seasons carded since the 1901 season and introduced the popular Soccer game.

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2016 Baseball Tournament Games

Games began at 9 a.m. Saturday morning and the sound of APBA Players rolling dice is music to our ears!

CT-4

The 1962 Mets saw action at the Tourney

The ’62 Mets won two games and beat one of the Semi-Finalist in the division part of the tournament.  One of the teams the Mets beat tied for their division lead but swept two head-to-head games against the other division leader to decide the tie-breaker.

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Action continues…

There youngest player was ten years old and the oldest player was an octogenarian.  There were men as well as women.  Fun is had by all!

CT-1

Former APBA Journal Editor Eric Naftaly (left)

APBA convention attendees come from as far west as California and as far north as upstate New York and as far south as Florida as well as up and down the East Coast.  There is some talk about naming Tournament Divisions for APBA Players who no longer attend the Convention, such as Jim Sce.

The APBA Convention is the highlight of my year.  I plan my vacation around the Convention and while the Tournament is fun, seeing friends and sharing stories is what the Convention is all about.

APBA trip

Roy even has my cards memorized and waits patiently for me to read my card result

The other highlight of the convention is the trip to the store and an opportunity to save shipping costs, usually $10-20.

$300+ for a hotel

$50 on gas

$120 fee for the Convention itself

APBA Convention weekend – Priceless!

Seems like a wise investment.  Just ask any APBA Player!

June 18, 2016

Picking a team for a tournament

Filed under: Uncategorized — stevemryan @ 4:42 am
Me (Braves Cap), Randy Coryer (Expos Cap) & Skeet Carr at the 2015 APBA Convention

Me (Braves Cap), Randy Coryer (Expos Cap) & Skeet Carr at the 2015 APBA Convention

I enjoy playing APBA Baseball and the highlight of my year for the past few years has been the APBA Convention in Alpharetta Georgia.  The rules are fairly simple and have changed slightly over the years but the goal for most of the players is to have fun while meeting old and new friends.  The game company posts the rules (here are the 2016 rules) well before the tournament so no surprises.  The only two changes I can think of are player limits (50AB or more for position players & 20IP or more for pitchers) and team pool (select from the 1950 season to the current past completed season, 2015 for this year) but those rules seem a bit redundant to me.  As Major League Baseball has grown more players play.  The length and value of contracts dictate the player’s health be considered in the long-term instead of the short-term.  So teams from the modern era don’t have a problem filling the 20 card roster used in the tournament.  Teams and players used in previous tournaments are eligible as long as they meet the minimum requirements unless they won a championship.  The company provides dice.  Many players bring lucky dice shakers or dice towers.  Some even wear lucky clothing as long as it smells fresh.

Me (Braves Cap) talking to the Great George Hines!

Two-time Champion and APBA Hall-of-Famer Brian Wells has written a very detailed article (available here) as well as an Excel Spreadsheet (also available here) detailing his proven process.  Who can argue with a two-time champion and Hall-of-Famer?  The purpose of this article is to describe how I like to pick my team because it works for me and I thought others might be interested.

Two-time Champion and APBA Hall of Famer Brian Wells

Two-time Champion and APBA Hall of Famer Brian Wells

My first point will be explaining why and how I like to play.  I have been a baseball fan since I watched my first baseball game or played in my first T-ball league when I was six or seven years old.  My first memories are of the 1972 World Series between the Oakland Athletics and the Cincinnati Reds.  I liked the Reds since then because they won that particular game and they were clean-cut like my dad.  Oakland had long hair and mustaches and gaudy green and gold uniforms with white shoes.  My first T-ball team was the Beetles and we had orange shirts with black letters and I had black cleats just like the Reds.  I have been a Reds fan ever since.  I grew up reading all the baseball history & biography books I could get my hands on and eventually ‘graduated’ to books that took a more analytical approach.  I learned the strategies that increased the chances of scoring and the strategies that reduced scoring opportunities.  So when I pick a team, I try to pick a team that suits my playing style.  For example, I don’t care much for stealing bases or the Hit & Run play so the 1985 Cardinals don’t really work for me but they are a very good team.

Steve Skoff and John Duke being inducted into the APBA Hall of Fame

Steve Skoff and John Duke being inducted into the APBA Hall of Fame

Next I look at how I construct my roster.  Tournament teams consists of 20 cards.  That means I have a ten player lineup (starting pitcher and eight positions plus designated hitter) and a ten player bench.  Most tournaments seem to prefer a three-man starting rotation so that leaves eight bench players.  Rules also dictate that injuries aren’t used and under no circumstances should a pitcher come to bat.  Therefore if a pinch-hitter enters the game then a defensive substitute becomes necessary.  I like to have a long reliever who would normally be the fourth starter for when a starters gets reduced and needs replacing.  Short relievers can only pitch one inning per game so I try to have at least three.  After the tenth inning all pitchers become a Grade C pitcher with no control letters and a fielding rating of one.  Since short relievers get a grade bump against their first batter (in the middle of an inning – if the batter hits from the same side from which the pitcher throws) one left-handed reliever helps but isn’t necessary.  I prefer to have at least two (one right-handed and one left-handed) pinch-hitters for my weakest hitters with defensive replacements.  I tend to use the strongest hitting lineup so defensive replacements are important for late innings.

Understand that APBA is not real baseball but a tabletop game using cards and dice.  Dice usage means there is chance or luck but the best strategy is to increase probabilities for success.  There are real baseball strategies that work.  Scoring runs increases the chances for winning and purposefully making outs decreases the chances for victory.  That said, if you play for one run or small ball then be satisfied to score one run or less.  I prefer the philosophy of Joe Sheehan (of the Joe Sheehan Newsletter) as he preaches, “Ball go far…team go far!”  A single roll of 66 with a Printed Result Number (PRN) of One – A Home Run – is a lot easier than stringing together a bunch of singles and doubles.  According to the Tango on Baseball website (Run Expectancy Matrix) sacrificing – if successful – reduces the chances for scoring as well as the expected runs so I abhor sacrificing.  I also trust the Game to produce realistic results so I make decisions based on real-life stats more than reading the cards.  While I haven’t won any tournaments, I have fun and my method works for me.

Games being played!

Games being played!

The same goes for stealing bases.  Since APBA Baseball Basic game handles stolen bases in the game engine I don’t worry about having a few speedsters over sluggers.  I try to remember to ‘Play it Safe” with my slow runners.  I prefer fast runners to slow but don’t change my roster to accommodate speed.  I do feel unless players steal bases at a rate of 85% or higher it is counter-productive to success.

I base my rosters and lineups on On-base Plus Slugging Pct (OPS).  Several years ago I took a WebEx course called Sabermetrics 101 through Boston University.  One of our assignments determined the correlation between various stats and winning baseball teams.  There were a few exceptions. but OPS was the most closely related stat to winning for successful teams.  As a result of that, I tend to order my lineups from top-to-bottom (for the most part) in order of OPS from highest to lowest.  I have gotten comments in the past about having power hitters at the top of my lineups but every time through the lineup will get that hitter up one more time and increase my chances of rolling a 66!

Defending 2014 Champion Paul Trinkle (Twins Jersey).  He secretly enjoyed when I genuflected in his presence.

Defending 2014 Champion Paul Trinkle (Twins Jersey). He secretly enjoyed when I genuflected in his presence.

When selecting teams strong pitching is a must.  In APBA stronger pitchers mainly cut the number of singles and walks.  Also baserunners don’t advance when a batter strikes out so I am not afraid of favorable strikeout ratings (KXY).  I try to select starters with good control (Z or ZZ) but I will choose an A over a BZ every time.  Choosing a B over a CZZ is a tougher choice because a ZZ reduces the bases empty walk.  So I choose the higher Pitching Grade, from A to D, and more favorable strikeout and control ratings (KXY, Z & ZZ over R & W) for my starters.  For my bullpen I also use the same priorities but if I have a W rated pitcher I focus on not using him with the bases loaded if at all.

I try to pick teams with decent rated fielders so the Team Fielding totals a One or close.  The APBA Convention Tournament uses the Advanced Fielding Option which rewards higher rated fielders.  Since all teams have a weakness I want a team strong in two-out-of three areas, Pitching and Hitting.  I don’t ignore defense but it isn’t a high priority.  Defense is between 5-15% of the action so I hope I don’t have a lot of bad luck on defense with error numbers.  As I said earlier, where available, I try to keep defensive substitutes available for weaker fielders late in the game.

The 2014 Finals with Sub-Manager Brian Wells v Skeet Carr

So once I choose my team, pick the players for my roster and set my lineup, I am ready to play.  I will pinch-hit toward the end of a close game or in a key spot if a big hit can blow a game open since I have defensive subs available.  I don’t Hit & Run or use the sacrifice strategy at all.  I just roll the dice and wait for good results.

In close games or if my pitcher’s Grade drops then I have to use my bullpen.  Usually I hope for complete games from my starting pitchers.  I will use my higher rated relievers against the better hitters which is usually toward the top of the order.  If I relieve toward the bottom of the order and the weaker hitters, then I will save my higher rated relievers for what I consider higher leverage spots.  If I have a starter get to the 25th out or later and he hits the showers then I will go straight to my best reliever.  I tend to view the opposite lineups in thirds and try to put my relievers in place to succeed.  I will try to relieve in spots where I can get favorable lefty-righty matchups.  But my main pitching strategy is to hope for a complete game from my starter.

1975 APBA Baseball Brochure

1989 APBA Baseball Brochure

I have a couple of tools I use to select my team.  My biggest tool is Excel.  I keep my Season Card Inventory on a spreadsheet.  When I use a team, instead of just having an ‘x’ marking a team I have, I will put the Grades and ratings of the top three starters for that team.  Also, in the Sabr101 class I learned a bit about MySQL.  I was able to set up a spreadsheet with all the players with 50 or more ABs and 20 or more IPed.  I have sorted this according to the last team a player played for because that is how APBA puts players on teams.  I have received some help the past couple of years updating my spreadsheet when Sean Lahman releases his DB.  I have forgotten some of the skills I had learned.  Once you display a skill, it isn’t necessarily yours to keep – Use it or lose it!

So that is how I pick my team for the APBA Convention.  Another key point – my wife is a Braves fan so I have used the 1998 Braves for the last three years.  I am a Reds Fan(!) but the Braves are one of my top four or five favorite teams so this isn’t a struggle.  I will be using the 1998 Braves again.  The Tournament is in Alpharetta (a suburb of north Atlanta) so maybe I can get a bit of a home-field advantage!

bball-box

My Favorite Game

June 11, 2016

My APBA Area

Filed under: Uncategorized — stevemryan @ 12:05 pm

I  don’t remember the last time I posted my APBA playing area.  I have also included a picture of one of my storage cabinets.  If my latest tourney post has been read, the second picture my dice tower will be fully understood.

I could rotate the pic, but the area can be seen clearly.

I could rotate the pic, but the area can be seen clearly.

Storage cabinet with mostly baseball sets.

Storage cabinet with mostly baseball sets.

To keep dice from wondering onto the floor, under the table and into hidden crevices, I taped an index card to the side.

To keep dice from wondering onto the floor, under the table and into hidden crevices, I taped an index card to the side.

I painted the tower to a nice shade of green.  Hopefully it is a shade with will welcome the dice, especially the little tiny white die.

May 28, 2016

2016 Memorial Stakes

Filed under: Uncategorized — stevemryan @ 12:29 pm
2016 MS 1st Move

2016 Memorial Stakes 1st Move

2016 Memorial Stakes 1st Move

2016 Memorial Stakes Scoresheet

As you can see, the favorites did not get good jumps out of the gate.  Alydar (Red) started from the rail and kept up the pace for the whole race.

2016 MS 2nd Move

Board Picture 2nd Move

2016 Memorial Stakes 2nd Move

Scoresheet 2nd move

At this point several horses are keeping pace but need to get to the rail for the turns.

2016 MS 3rd Move

Board Picture 3rd Move

2016 Memorial Stakes 3rd Move

Scoresheet 3rd Move

Heading into the first turn horses are moving toward the rail and the pack is being established.

2016 MS 4th Move

Board Picture 4th Move

2016 Memorial Stakes 4th Move

Scoresheet 4th Move

The pack is bunched in the first three rows near the rail.

2016 MS 5th Move

Board Picture 5th Move

2016 Memorial Stakes 5th Move

Scoresheet 5th Move

The Pack is chasing Alydar out of the first turn.

2016 MS 6th Move

Board Picture 6th Move

2016 Memorial Stakes 6th Move

Scoresheet 6th Move

Alydar seems to be getting some separation from the pack with Bold Forbes in front of the pack from the 10th Gate.  Max Diarmida is taking a chance on the outside in the back stretch.

2016 MS 7th Move

Board Picture 7th Move

2016 Memorial Stakes 7th Move

Scoresheet 7th Move

Max Diarmida missed having the gamble pay off by one tenth of a second but there is still time to recover.

2016 MS 8th Move

Board Picture 8th Move

2016 Memorial Stakes 8th Move

Scoresheet 8th Move

A couple of the horses continue to get bad rolls while some continue to roll along!

2016 MS 9th Move

Board Picture 9th Move

2016 Memorial Stakes 9th Move

Scoresheet 9th Move

It appears that we have a race as Alyday rolls a pedestrian result for the first time in the race.

2016 MS 10th Move

Board Picture 10th Move

2016 Memorial Stakes 10th Move

Scoresheet 10th Move

Just when it looks like a competitive situation we are reminded of the quote by the great philosopher Lee Corso, “Not so fast my friend!”

2016 MS 11th Move

Board Picture 11th Move – End Of Race

2016 Memorial Stakes 11th Move EOR

Scoresheet 11th Move – End Of Race

Alydar pulls away to win the prestigious 2016 Memorial Stakes.  The time was 2:08 2/5ths which annihilated my previous 11 Furlong record of 2:11 3/5th set by 3-year old 1969 Majestic Prince (ridden by W Hartack) in the TN Handicap and 7-year old 1977 Forego (ridden by W Shoemaker) in the TN Memorial.  2nd Place Bold Forbes ran the race in 2:11 and would have also set a new record for my track.

A couple of comments about my method.  The races are very enjoyable and as my wife has walked in and out of the room she has watched a bit and thinks she would enjoy this game.  As for recording my races, the spreadsheet works well for logging moves and stored up points.  The Pictures tell a story, but I think it would work a bit better if I had a method to take a picture after each move and compile a stop-action video.  Not sure I have the patience to do that with my phone so that is a bit of a stumbling block to getting that done.

Doug Reese’s idea for an APBA Saddle Racing Week is a great idea and while it starts Monday.  Due to some extenuating circumstances I will be working parts of all but two days starting this Monday evening until I leave on Wednesday for the APBA Convention.

May 27, 2016

My contribution to APBA Saddle Racing Board Game Week

Filed under: Uncategorized — stevemryan @ 11:23 pm

With a slight change to my schedule at work, I will be able to run a race this weekend.  I am calling my race The 2016 Memorial Stakes with a length of 11 furlongs.  I selected 10 of my favorite horses from races I have run previously.  I narrowed my selection to three year olds from the 1970’s.  When I run races, I usually photocopy my cards so I can write the jockey names above the horse and do my arithmetic on the space below.  I usually do four across on legal paper but now that I have this dandy spreadsheet, I just cut out my horses from earlier race sheets.  Here are the horses with their jockey in parentheses by post number & odds:

1 – 1978 Alydar (J Velasquez) 5-2

2 – 1973 Secretariat (R Turcotte) 2-1

3 – 1978 Mac Diarmida (W Shoemaker) 5-2

4 – 1976 Elocutionist (J Lively) 4-1

5 – 1977 Seattle Slew (J Cruguet) 7-2

6 – 1971 Canonero II (G Avilo) 9-2

7 – 1978 Affirmed (L Pincay Jr) 8-5

8 – 1979 Spectacular Bid (R Franklin) 5-2

9 – 1973 Forego (P Anderson) 7-2

10 – 1976 Bold Forbes (A Cordero Jr) 9-2

The Post Positions were picked randomly.  I hope to post using the similar format I used in my replay of the 2015 Kentucky Derby.  All of the horses will run in Column I.  This should be a formidable field with Affirmed a slight betting favorite over Secretariat.  Canonero II and Bold Forbes are the longshots.  The track conditions are fast and my previous record for 11 furlongs is held by 1969 Majestic Prince (three year old – fast track) ridden by W Hartack and 1977 Forego (seven year old – good track) ridden by W Shoemaker in a time of 2:11 3/5ths.  That record could be challenged based on the strength of this field.

2016 Memorial Stakes Pre-race

2016 Memorial Stakes Pre-Race Spreadsheet

2016 MS Pre-Race

Saddle Racing Board Picture Pre-Race

Enjoy the Race when I post move-by-move results probably Saturday. – Steve

 

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