Friday, April 29, 2016

The Game Never Really Leaves Us

Sometimes you leave the game.

But the game never really leaves you.

On Aug. 16, I began rolling my 1991 baseball season replay with the APBA dice and cards game. A week later, I made the phone call to my Illinois girl that changed a lot of things. I've written about all that here before. The point is, the game took a back seat to life; since September, I've made the 554-mile trip to her northern Illinois town 11 times. I'm headed there again tomorrow and will probably go there each weekend in May. It doesn't leave much time for replaying the games.

In the seven months and a day since making the call, I've played 297 games in that 1991 replay for an average of about 1.3 games a day. I used to play four to five games a day in previous replays. At this rate of just over a game a day, I'll finish the 1991 season in about four and a half years. And, as evidenced by this blog, I've not had much time to even write. This is the first posting in over a month.

That's okay. Obviously, I'd much rather be with my Illinois girl than rolling games all day.

The APBA game works that way. It waits for us to have a life and then welcomes us back when we return, either for a brief visit or for the respite we need when life changes yet again. I think that's what draws us to this game.

Most of us became acquainted with the game as youngsters. It replaced the more “childish” games that included spinners or playing cards or, in the case of the newer generations, the video sports games — I'm not talking about those games now that look like you're watching the action on television, but those old Mattel electronic handheld sports games that beeped and booped while we pushed buttons. The move to the APBA game, which features a more statistically-based concept using cards that replicate players' seasons and dice, was a step closer to adulthood.

So, we played those games, rolling dice late into the night, recording games and recreating seasons. But life stepped in and we put the game aside. Maybe it was a girl in high school, maybe it was college, maybe a job. Most of us, I dare to venture, took a break from the game for some time.

But those of us who came back later understood the concept of the game and its lasting.

And now, after playing the games at a rapid pace for years, life has come to me.

And I only roll 1.3 games a day on average, and that's only because I may toss four to five games at a time when I find myself at the table with the cards in front of me.

But on occasion, we find ourselves back at the table and we realize why the game never leaves us. The other day I sat at the table and played several games of my 1991 replay in a row and found that magic again. I got back momentarily in the groove of the season, remembering the players and how the teams are faring in this replay.

For example, Lloyd Moseby of the Detroit Tigers struck out each of the six times he was at bat against Kansas City. The Royals won the game, 10-8, and are challenging the Twins for first place in the American League West Division.

Montreal continued to lose, dropping a contest to the Los Angeles Dodgers, 6-2, after taking a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Marquis Grissom, the second batter of the Expos' frame, clouted a two-run home run.

Cincinnati beat Pittsburgh in the tenth inning when Chris Sabo hit a game-winning single and drove in Paul O'Neill. Names from the past. Names we remember watching when we were younger.

Life came back. Work beckoned and I've spent a lot of time on the phone with my Illinois girl. And, early tomorrow, before the sun even wakes, I'm off on my journey again to her town for a few days. The game will remain here, waiting as it always does for life to slow down and then the games will roll on again.