Some may think rolling dice, checking numbers on players' cards, writing down the results and recreating games from the past is silly, child's play and a waste of time.
But, aside from the fact that those of who play the game enjoy sports and love recreating games played by the heroes of our youth and of historical seasons of long ago, the game also provides some soothing, familiar ground in an otherwise whacked world. Maybe it's the control of a replay world that brings things together and provides the proverbial oasis in a sea of troubling life.
That became pretty evident the other day when, within an hour, I felt things spinning out of hand and needed the safety net the game provides.
I work as a newspaper reporter, meeting daily deadlines, so the day was already tight and by evening I had achieved my normal stress-headache when two telephone calls sent me over. First, I called the Internal Revenue Service about a $23 mistake I made on my taxes in 2008. The fine folks there didn't want to bother me with the small amount back then, so they waited until they could accrue interest. I received notice that they would charge $147 in interest for the six years they held onto the error.
So, I called them to discuss where I would sent the payment. “Oh,” the agent said. “I thought you were calling about 2009. That's a bigger issue.”
When an IRS representative agent says something like that, it's time to stockpile the food, barricade yourself in a bunker and work up some hope.
Seems like I made a mistake in 2009 as well. I failed to properly include mortgage interest on my returns. Hey, I'm a newspaper writer, not a math whiz. The frustration built when I tried to find my income statements for that year on the IRS' website. When the website failed, I called the number provided on that site for help. The first advice provided on the automated phone service? “Check the website.” Thanks, IRS.
Then, I called my doctor's office to refill a prescription for my pain medication. I have a deteriorated C-5 disc in my neck that wreaks havoc. I can only take one prescription; other medications either don't work, make me sick or make me groggy. I can't be medically altered, what with this job and having to figure out math and spar with an IRS agent.
The nurse told me my doctor would no longer prescribe me Vicodin, fearing addiction would occur, and instead said I had to go to a pain specialist. (I didn't help my cause when I made the inane statement to the nurse, “I've been on Vicodin for 15 years. I'm not addicted.” The nurse actually laughed.) We've had changes in our company's insurance and the deductible has risen greatly. I don't want to pay 100 percent of a $700 fee for a pain specialist to wiggle my head and suggest not turning my neck much. I just want the medication so I can continue on.
The nurse refused. It's policy, she said. I don't know how this will play out.
Within that hour, I felt the day slide down the pipe. I was frustrated, angry and hurting.
But when I got home, I sat at my APBA table and rolled a few games of the 1950 baseball season I'm playing. The issues of the day faded as New York Giants' pitcher Sal Maglie shut out Brooklyn for six innings before the Dodgers scored three runs in the seventh — one on Jackie Robinson's stealing of home that was pretty cool. But then in the ninth inning, Bobby Thomson hit a double and started a rally, leading the Giants to a 5-3 victory. Joe DiMaggio hit yet another home run to lead his Yankees over the Washington Senators, 14-2, and the hapless Philadelphia Phillies finally (phinally?) put a solid game together and beat the Boston Braves.
Chid's play? Maybe. But as I rolled these games, the IRS agent and the stubborn nurse were far away, and for a time the only concern I had was watching how these games turned out. The problems will exist; there will always be something out there to create angst and Fear. The game, though, takes a bit of the edge off of it.
I'll do the math for my 2009 taxes and I'll probably end up at a pain specialist and beg for Vicodin. But first, I need to roll a few more APBA games. On days like those, even pointless clashes like the St. Louis Browns hosting the Philadelphia As take on meaning.