I played two games recently in my APBA replay of the 1981 baseball season that, while probably insignificant in the overall season, really showed why I love this game.
APBA, for those of you who don’t know, is a statistics-based game that features cards for each player of a particular season. The cards include numbers that correspond with dice rolls that then correspond with outcomes of the game. You roll a set of dice, check that number on the player’s card and match the ensuing number with a set of plays that can occur.
There are 36 numbers on a player’s card. If, for example, a player hit .250 in real life that season, more than likely, his card will feature 9 hit numbers (9 out of 36 is 25 percent). If he had a propensity for walks, the card would reflect that with the number 14, a result for bases on balls.
So, it’s a mathematical, statistical, chance-based game.
But then there’s the magic of it all that supersedes the probability of what happens and that’s what draws me to the game.
There are two games that bear this out.
The first was my replay of a May 18, 1981, game with Boston hosting Seattle. The Mariners were 12-24 coming into the game; the Red Sox were 15-18. It wouldn’t have been chosen as NBC’s Game of the Week, what with the two participants.
In my replay, Seattle took a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the ninth and the Red Sox had one out with Carney Lansford on second. Tony Perez drew a walk and then catcher Rich Gedman was at bat.
In real life, Gedman didn’t even play in that game, according to www.baseball-almanac.com. But in my fictional game, he smacked a home run, tying the game at three and sending it into extra innings.
Then, in the bottom of the 11th inning, after Seattle took the lead, 4-3, Gedman came to bat again, this time with one on and two out. He hit another home run and the Red Sox won 5-4. Gedman, in the real 1981 season, hit only five home runs.
The second game came on my replay of the May 20, 1981, game with Kansas City traveling to New York.
The Yankees took a 4-2 lead into the top of the ninth with Tommy John giving up only five hits to the Royals. But then he fell apart. He gave up a single to Frank White to lead off the ninth and George Brett followed with his own single, driving White to third. Brett then stole second and John intentionally walked Willie Aikens. With the bases loaded, Amos Otis hit a grand slam and the Royals held on to win, 5-4.
Two games that never really happened, but to me in my game, in the small spare bedroom I converted into a baseball room, they did. And, while it may be odd to revel in something as inane as this, it helps me. As a reporter, I deal constantly with the truth, and sometimes the truth is overbearing what with the crime and injustice and moral decay we cover on a daily basis.
Something as innocent as a fictional baseball game replayed on a desk top provides an escape that I often need. And the Rich Gedmans and Amos Otis’ help take me there briefly.