Friday, November 29, 2013

Let It Be ... APBA

Whenever the Beatles found themselves in times of trouble, Mother Mary would come to them.

When I find myself in similar situations, the game I of which I obsess comes to me. Let it be, APBA. (If you sing that like the Beatles' song “Let It Be,” it sort of works. Sort of.)

It happens sometimes like that. I clutch to the concept of the game like a set of worry beads; like a baby with a teething ring, a youngster and his thumb, a security blanket. I found myself doing that again today when work got a little frustrating. I received a message from an unhappy person complaining about a story I had written in the newspaper where I work. He bemoaned about me quoting him, and then he wrote that he had not actually read my story.

Also, I could not get information from a police department about officers' search for someone in connection with a double homicide. You'd think the police would want help in finding the guy. Instead, since it was the day after Thanksgiving, the officers were not at work. A dispatcher said they were all “at the house,” a common phrase uttered in the south meaning they were at their respective homes. But it gave an image that every policeman in the town was in one house together, probably watching the Arkansas vs. LSU football game.

So, it was not a good day at the workplace. But as I muttered bad things about each person who slighted my progress, I also began thinking of my 1942 APBA baseball replay, about future seasons I can do and about what new season I should buy sometime. While a criminal suspected of whacking two people lurked in hiding, I debated about the merits of purchasing the 1967 season or the 2006 season. Both were Cardinals' World Series-winning years. Both seasons fielded Minnesota teams. (As much as I enjoy the 1942 season, I do miss rolling games for the Minnesota Twins — and I know the Washington Senators' team is the forerunner for the Twins, but it's not the same).

I do this often. Once, while waiting for the jury to return on a murder trial I covered, I set up a grid of the National League teams in 1957 and tried to predict how many times each team would beat each other team head-to-head. When I added up all the wins and losses, I created final standings. It was a mindless activity, but it was peaceful in the eye of the storm that would soon turn once the verdict came back and the reporters had to do the post-trial wrap up interviews and then bang out a remote story from the courthouse on a tight deadline. Hack out a 30-inch story on a capital murder in 30 minutes? Hard to do. Figure out the Milwaukee Braves could win 93 games in 1957? Easier.

I've mentioned this a million times here before, but the APBA game is more than just a game. Many of the people who play it are in their middle ages of life or even beyond. It's not just a kid game. There's something about APBA that draws us in at an early age and then holds us. Maybe it's the return to childhood that we grasp. Maybe it's soothingness of it, the memories of more innocent times when we didn't know to be frustrated when the police we needed were “at the house.” Maybe it's the entire concept of baseball, of sports itself.

Whatever it is, it helps. While I stewed over my hate message from the man slighted by his quotes, I thought of the 1942 replay I'm doing. The St. Louis Cardinals are only a half game ahead of the Brooklyn Dodgers on Aug. 18, 1942, in my contest. I thought of the games ahead. The two teams play each other a four-game series beginning on Aug. 24, 1942. While it's not real, it's something to think about. And so is whether I should get that 1967 season, or the 2006. Or maybe the 1911.

Sing with me, “Let it be, APBA.”

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