Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Boys of Summer are back...

For those of you that don't know, I'm a big baseball fan, hell, I'm a HUGE baseball fan.  Every winter in mid-February I start to feel reborn.  Spring Training is starting.  The season is full of promise (or in my favorite team's case, the Royals, the season is full of hopes ready to be dashed, but whatever).  I love it.  Then, every October, well early November nowadays, after the last out of the World Series I go dormant, waiting for the arrival of spring. 

A few years ago I picked up a copy of Strat-O-Matic Baseball.  This is a baseball game played with either dice and cards with charts depicting ballplayers, or in a computer game set-up.  While I own a copy of both ways to play the game, I vastly prefer chugging dice.  It's just a more visceral feeling.  It does an amazing job of simulating play.  Plus, you can easily play a full 9 inning game in about a half hour.  This is a game that many pro ballplayers have even played and credited to teaching them fundamental tactics. 

After getting the hang of the game, which doesn't take long at all, I ordered the special edition Hall of Fame so I could have cards of my favorite ballplayers like Nolan Ryan, Cal Ripken, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, and my personal hero, the incomparable George Brett, without having to buy a bunch of team sets from seasons past.  Once I had that set in my hands, my brother, who is an even bigger baseball geek than myself, spent an entire day (starting around 10 AM and ending around 1AM) drafting 40 teams from across my sets to form my Super League.  After a break to sleep, we started in on playing through the schedule I had set up in an Excel spreadsheet. 

I got about a quarter of the way through the schedule when life got in way.  My wife was pregnant with our son, we were house hunting and then packing up and moving and then shortly after that our son was born.  With Donovan here, Stat-O, along with just about all gaming, took a back seat to feedings and changing diapers.  I haven't rolled up a game in about 2 years.  Wow.  It staggers me to see that typed out.  Now that my son is a precocious 16 month old, who is becoming more and more of his own person everyday, and he's FINALLY sleeping through the nights, I find myself in the position to roll up a game every now and then.  I had to refresh myself on the rules, but it was practically like riding a bike.  I've missed it so much. 

Strat-O holds a strong place in my heart not only for being a great baseball game, and an all-around awesome game as well, but it also was a way for my brothers and I to spend time together and bond.  My brothers and I all have divergent interests, but we all love baseball.  That's one thing we can always agree to spend time together on.  Whether it's rolling a game of Strat-O or going to game, baseball is the great equalizer.  We may argue about so-and-so being better in clutch situations or the what the Royals should do to get out of this monstrous funk they're in, but as long as we're talking about "the game" it's all good.  I've had a lot of fun sitting around the kitchen table rolling game after game with my brothers.  It's time that I'll always cherish and I look forward to bonding with my son over games of Strat-O in the coming years.  If for nothing else, that is why Strat-O will forever trump all other gaming as my favorite game. 

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