So a lot of you are probably sitting there in your cubicles or on your laptops down at The Endless Drip or in some other favorite hovel and thinking, “What the hell is this tabletop game old Buzz Gip is playing, and how does it work?” Actually some of you might not even care, but crap, I’m going to work up a quick tutorial anyway while I’m sitting here outside the trailer park waiting for the Patriot Act Inc. shuttle bus to take me to a nearby park for some exercise, because that’s the kind of guy I am.
First off, you have a card for every player, and they’ve all been figured out with some super-extra-special-secret computer formula so that each player performs pretty damn close to the way his non-cardboard one does in real life. It’s a very reassuring thing.
For the purpose of this lesson I’ll use a couple cards from the ’77 Blue Jays and Mariners, two awful teams not in my league because they were undergoing birth pains that year. The hitter (Figure 1) is Otto Velez, notorious in my head for lining the single in 1976 with the Yankees that triggered Piniella knocking over Fisk at the plate and the full-scale donnybrook that followed and mashed Bill Lee’s shoulder. But I digress. In Figure 2, out on the hill we have lefty pitcher Tom House, famous for catching Hank Aaron’s 715th homer in the bullpen and ending up on the awful Mariners three years later for all the fame that brought him.
Anyway, you take a 6-sided die of one color, two other dice of a different color, and roll the bastards. The one die tells you the column to look at, 1-2-3 meaning batter, or 4-5-6 meaning pitcher. The other two die give you the result inside that column.
Then it all goes hieroglyphic. The hit readings separated by 1-20 numbers require the roll of a fourth, 20-sided die, known in some Strat circles as “the boulder,” though for me “the atom bomb” always worked better. The results in capital letters with little Xs after them mean you have to look at the super-advanced fielding chart, which is so huge and detailed that this blog and your brains might collapse if I pictured it here. The super-advanced fielding chart takes a little getting used to.
Then there’s the cool readings, meaning the fat black diamonds (ballpark/weather home run chart), the little upside down triangles (ballpark/weather singles chart) upside down horseshoes on the hitter cards (Velez, you don’t have any, ya bum ya!) which are the clutch hitting factor, the As, B, and Cs following grounders and flies (runner advancement) and of course, the buffet table of ratings under the batter’s name for stealing chances, fielding range, error capacity and throwing arm, and on the pitcher’s card for balk, wild pitch, fielding, holding runners and endurance.
Finally, there’s the little traps Strat adds to each card designed to do nothing but drive you insane. Look at the column 1, number 9 reading on the left-side of Velez’s card (because he’s facing a lefty). See that dinky fly out to center placed smack between walk, hit and home run chances? That’s what you are guaranteed to roll with the bases loaded and two outs in a tie game in the top of the 9th. Which sometimes leads to Figure 3, or sudden mutilation of a hitter or pitcher card. In my college years of Strat playing I was known as Buzz the Ripper for committing constant card-murder, most of the time to pitchers, except I did change up the routine after a while to include burning, toilet dunking, smashing a glass coffee table I was playing on to pieces or trying to flatten my atom bomb die with a large hammer.
When people stopped wanting to play with me, though I gave up the practice altogether, and now, in the comfort and solitude of my own trailer, an important Strat mission given to me that I can focus on, it’s kind of like I can just let what happens happen. Which leads me to…
Game of the Day
COMISKEY PARK, CHICAGO—Down south I go on the el train, get off at 35th and there’s the big old white and green beast called Comiskey waiting to take me in. I actually went to the new one in 1996 and have little memory of the place except the seat was twenty dollars, the temperature was 36 in the second week of April but felt like 16, and the A’s beat the home team like 10-5 or something in over three frozen hours. So compared to that this is a treat.
The game ain’t bad either. Greaseballer Gaylor Perry’s on the hill for Texas and Ken Kravec for the Chisox and Eric Soderholm puts the good guys ahead 2-1 with a 3rd inning blast in the bleachers. In the 5th, though, Beniquez singles with one out, Humain Rain Delay Hargrove walks, Roberto Alomar’s dad Sandy singles in one, a Harrah grounder gets in another, and Willie Horton’s double plates a third.
Perry used the wrong hair tonic, though, because Soderholm singles, Gamble doubles and Zisk homers and it’s Chicago back on top 5-4. Four 8th inning singles and two more runs finish off Gaylord, and Kravec goes for the CG. Except Alomar singles, Horton homers, and the dreaded Kurt Bevacqua bats for Claudell Washington with two outs. Dreaded lines out to Bannister though to avoid a fourth lead change and give the South Siders the very close 2-1 series win. Na-na-na-na, etc.
TEX 010 030 002 – 6 11 0
CHI 002 030 02x – 7 13 0
W-Kravec L-Perry HRS: Horton, Soderholm, Zisk GWRBI-Zisk
at ORIOLES 3-8-1, RED SOX 2-6-1
As a certain Hooligan predicted here recently, Ross Grimsley=Domination. Mr. Perm gives up a walk and single in the 1st, then gets the next 14 Bosoxers in a row. Singleton’s two-run shot in the 1st holds up until the 8th, when Fisk knocks in a run with a grounder. So a Singleton single, Murray double and DeCinces fly off Cleveland get the run back. So Rice triples to lead off the 9th, Hobson gets him in with a deep fly, Yaz singles, Lynn and Dillard get on to load the bases against Tippy Martinez with two outs—and Burleson flies to center. Dork.
W-Grimsley L-Cleveland SV-Tippy M. HR: none GWRBI-Singleton
at INDIANS 9-17-0, YANKEES 0-4-2
Talk about shock and awe. The immortal Rick Waits (who beat New York to force the Bucky Effin Dent playoff game a year later) mows down the Bombers while Andre Thornton (double, grand slam, five knocked in) leads the carnage against Figueroa, Clay and Tidrow. Looks like the Tribe is far more lethal against righties. At least these. Today.
W-Waits L-Figueroa HR-Thornton GWRBI-Thornton
at ROYALS 6-14-0, TWINS 4-14-0
In what must be some kind of insane record for my Strat table, the Twins leave TWENTY men on base in this one, despite collecting 14 hits and 10 walks off inglorious Royals pitching. A pinch-hit single by Kusick vs. Mingori in the 7th actually gives them a brief 3-2 lead, but KC comes right back with four off Zahn and Schueler, complete with ridiculous Joe Zdeb homer on a 1-5 atom bomb roll. To complete the torture, Borgmann misses a much easier, 3-run homer roll to 13 with two outs in the top of the 9th that ends the game and keeps the Royals one of two undefeated teams.
W-Mingori L-Schueler SV-Littell HR: Zdeb GWRBI-Wathan
PIRATES 8-13-0, at PHILLIES 4-8-0
And here’s the other one. Can you say MVP Bill Robinson? He takes Lonborg out for a grand slam in the 5th to put the game away for Reuss and adds a single later to rub it in. In the three-game annihilation Bill goes 6-for-15 (.400) with 3 dingers, 10 ribbies. Hold on, stop the digital press. Al Oliver is 11-for-16, a tasty .688 clip.
W-Reuss L-Lonborg SV-Tekulve HRS: Parker, Robinson GWRBI-Oliver
at REDS 7-8-1, EXPOS 4-7-0
Schizo-ball on display here. Dawson and Parrish go back-to-back off Norman to stat the game, Perez makes it 3-0 Montreal with another shot, and then the Reds come back from 4-1 in the 6th by putting six of their first seven guys aboard off Twitchell and Atkinson and scoring five times. Bench adds his first blast of the year in the 7th and Cincy’s in the win column.
W-Norman L-Atkinson SV-Borbon HRS: Dawson, Parrish, Perez, Bench GWRBI-Geronimo
ASTROS 6-11-0, at CUBS 1-6-1
Buckner returns from a short injury to see Ontiveros and Morales both go out, but it isn’t the reason the Cubbies lose. Joe the Lesser Niekro smokes them on just six hits, while Jose Cruz is at it again with a single, triple and double.
W-Niekro L-Burris HRS: Ferguson, Watson GWRBI-Puhl
DODGERS 13-17-1, at CARDS 1-5-1
Tommy John returns from his own surgery and apparently recovers nicely. Denny, Urrea, and Dierker are the unfortunate victims of the L.A. murder spree.
W-John L-Denny HR: Monday GWRBI-Smith
HOME OPENERS IN ALL REMAINING PARKS THIS WEEKEND!
Phillies at Expos
Reds at Pirates
Cards at Astros
Cubs at Dodgers
Indians at Red Sox
Orioles at Yankees
White Sox at Twins
Royals at Rangers
American League through Thursday, April 17
National League through Thursday, April 17