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10:58 a.m. - August 17, 2006
I'm A Baseball Geek, And I'm Proud Of It
Let it be known that I am a geek. But you all knew that.

One thing that I am NOT, though, is a video game geek.

Oh, sure, back in my youth I was always at the arcade. I remember playing pong back in 1972. I got really good at this submarine game where I had to fire at boats and avoid depth charges. I was a master at Defender, the Wizard of Wor and Asteroids. I even had an Atari Pinball / Breakout game that I played for a while.

The games got better and better and I spent more quarters on Pole Position and Punch Out.

My senior year of college, Sid was my roommate and he had a Commodore 64 (Ooooh!) and a boatload of games. We played a hockey game, a baseball game (Hardball, I think), we elected a president, and the best was this game called Pirates where you would sail around the Caribbean Sea pilfering and plundering. Yo-ho-ho!

But after I got my own place, I didnít get a video game system. When I roomed with Moose for a while, he had a computer, but my attention was more on filling my music collection and buying books on baseball and music than playing video games.

So when Nintendo came out, and Xbox, and Playstation I was left in the dust. I have no idea how to really work those infernal controllers, as I was used to the simple joysticks with one button.

Besides, I really preferred games where you think, like Scrabble.

During college we played a baseball simulation game called APBA. We had a league and drafted teams and then acted like the managers in playing the season. We had 12 people in the league and most of us were pretty hardcore about it. Later, I was intrigued by a game called Pursue the Pennant, which was a more sophisticated baseball simulation, using 10 sided dice.

Later, I got into Rotisserie baseball, and still to this day am in a few leagues, but no longer for money. Well, except for my Fantasy Football team.

When I got my computer, I bought a Madden game and a hockey game, but I preferred in Madden to be the coach and not play, just call plays and defenses, really. In the hockey game, my years away from the joystick hampered me a bit.

But I still yearned to play baseball, like APBA or Pursue The Pennant, on the computer, where the computer would keep stats and save results, so I could easily replay a season without having to file massive binders away. I had one computer baseball game, but it was pretty rudimentary, and there were some data issues that I found, and some realism issues that made me squirm a bit.

Then I found, on the internet, the game I was waiting for.

Itís called Diamond Mind baseball.

Itís much like Pursue the Pennant, yet itís computerized and even more realistic. It has accurate ratings for fielding, speed, and platoon advantages, and offers the user a variety of options for game play.

I took to it immediately.

Back in my youth, I had a couple of baseball games, featuring the 1971 and 1976 seasons, so I ordered the discs for those. I also received the then-previous season (1999) when I purchased the game.

I had the game loaded on my home PC, but I really wanted to replay a season. Thatís where you play every game in a baseball season, and compare the results to what happened.

My boss, Diamond, scoffs at this, ďYou already KNOW who won.Ē

Yes, I say, but they didnít have ME as a manager, did they?

I started replaying the 1999 season at home, when Katie was a couple of months old. I set the rosters on each team to what they were on August 1, 1999, took off the injury factor, and started to play.

I brought players up from the minors and sent them down. I juggled starting rotations how I saw fit. I managed each team like I would manage it, realizing of course that I couldnít undo all of the decisions the manager made in real time, but I tried to limit the damage done by boneheaded decisions. This means that teams that had a player hurt for some part of the year didnít have to lose that player Ė I kept them playing Ė just to see what would happen IF that player didnít get hurt. But if a player had limited action, then I didnít really play that player except when the rosters expanded in September, unless I had no other choice due to ineptitude or fatigue.

Every so often, I would play two to three to four games a night at my computer. Sometimes, Iíd play every night. Sometimes, Iíd let it sit for a while. During baseball season, I played more than I did in the winter. But I kept playing it.

Do you know how many games there are in a baseball season? Each team plays 162 games, and there are 30 teams.

Thatís a lot of games to play. And needless to say, since I tried to have a life (no laughing) I wasnít constantly playing games to finish the season.

Some players put in amazing performances. Pedro Martinez would have set a post 1900 strikeout record for a pitcher. Larry Walker would have hit a tad over .400. Manny Ramirez would have set the record for RBI. (I did rest players on occasion if they warranted a rest, and I could only pitch Pedro when he wasnít tired, so itís not like I padded stats here.)

Some players did a lot better than they did during the year, and some a lot worse. That can be attributed to the luck of the polynomial randomization equation, and the fact that I tried to use players in a way that they would succeed the most (or I had no choice to use them in a bad situation due to other factors). Many of them were pretty much dead on with their projections.

But I did finish the season. And it was completed when the 1999 Houston Astros swept the 1999 New York Yankees in my World Series. And yes, the 1999 Boston Red Sox lost in the playoffs to the Yankees in semi-heartbreaking style. With that, I was done.

So, the replay I started two months after Katie was born I finished in July. Of this year. Sheís 4 Ĺ now, as you recall.

Thatís a long time. But again, there are a lot of games.

Yeah, I think replaying a baseball season on the computer at home clinches my nomination for the Geek Hall of Fame.

But Iím not resting on my laurels. Iíve now started the replay of the 1971 season at home; as that was the first season I ever had a baseball simulation game for. And when thatís done, I think Iím going to get 1993, as I had that season for one of the inferior computer games.

So yeah, Iím a mega baseball nerd burger geek. But I have a job, wife, kids and a social life somewhat.

PsstÖat work, I have the 1976 season loaded and am replaying during breaks and downtime. But thatís our secret, OK?

 

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