Love versus Hate

March 11, 2008

Pregame notes: When I was a kid I was always looking for a way to dissolve into made-up worlds. That I never tried “Play Ball,” which was part of the back of each 1978 Topps baseball card, doesn’t reflect well on the game. If an isolated, day-dreaming, baseball-loving, baseball-card-collecting kid didn’t play the game, who the hell would?

But in retrospect I applaud the inclusion of the game, as it suggested that the cards were not to be sealed under protective plastic—a trend that took hold on a widespread basis after my years of collecting—but to be touched and handled and played with.

So I’ll play. Thirty years later, I’ll play.

Below are the rules, courtesy of one of the 1978 cards previously profiled on Cardboard Gods. (Pregame Trivia Question: Can you name the player featured on the rule-giving card?)


I will be breaking the primary rule (“Played by two”) by playing solitaire. I will also ignore the coin toss rule. I know which of my imaginary teams is the home team and don’t need a coin toss to tell me.

I will describe the action in a running line-score below. The outcome of each at-bat is followed by the parenthetical listing of the player whose card provided the outcome. I think it’s important to keep in mind when perusing the results below that the players listed are not participants in the imagined game but the gods that determine the path of that game. The cards are all 1978 cards that have been profiled on Cardboard Gods; the earlier cards have been jostled from their chronological order and appear randomly (some time ago when I was leafing through my stack of written-about cards I dropped them and they scattered all over the floor), while the more recent ones were pulled from the pile in the order they appeared on this site.

Now, with all that out of the way, please rise for the singing of This Land Is Your Land.

Thank you. Play Ball!

Top of First, Hate Batting, Tied 0-0
1. Base on Balls (Wilbur Wood), runner on first.
2. Strikeout (Willie Stargell)
3. Single (Jim Rice), runners on first and second.
4. Ground Out (George Foster), double play.
0 run, 1 hit, 0 errors, 1 LOB. Hate 0, Love 0.

Bottom of First, Love Batting, Tied 0-0
1. Triple (Pete LaCock)
2. Double (Lenny Randle), run scores
3. Fly Out (Bo McLaughlin)
4. Single (Bill Buckner), run scores
5. Strikeout (Rich Dauer)
6. Ground Out (Dale Murray)
2 runs, 3 hits, 0 errors, 1 LOB. Hate 0, Love 2.

First inning notes: I want to talk about the team names, but first let me say how pleased I am that the trio of gods delivering the first runs of the game for Love are Pete LaCock, Lenny Randle, and Bill Buckner. Who better? Anyway, when I was a kid my made-up games often involved the development of entire leagues populated by teams filled with individual personalities. But occasionally I kept it simpler. I once spent hours playing handball in our living room with a balloon, and I never developed the imagined entities in opposition to one another beyond “left hand versus right hand.” I based the naming of the two teams battling it out in my enactment of “Play Ball” on that lackluster afternoon’s battle between hands and on the memorable monologues on the very same battle by the Robert Mitchum character in Night of the Hunter and Radio Raheem in Do the Right Thing. Here’s the latter character’s version of the speech:

Let me tell you the story of “Right Hand, Left Hand.” It’s a tale of good and evil. Hate: It was with this hand that Cain iced his brother. Love: These five fingers, they go straight to the soul of man. The right hand: the hand of love. The story of life is this: Static. One hand is always fighting the other hand; and the left hand is kicking much ass. I mean, it looks like the right hand, Love, is finished. But, hold on, stop the presses, the right hand is coming back. Yeah, he got the left hand on the ropes, now, that’s right. Ooh, it’s the devastating right and Hate is hurt, he’s down. Left-Hand Hate K.O.ed by Love.

Top of Second, Hate Batting, Behind 0-2
5. Single (Bobby Bonds), runner on first
6. Home run (Garry Templeton), two runs score
7. Fly Out (J.R. Richard)
8. Fly Out (Lyman Bostock)
9. Fly Out (Mario Guerrerro)
2 runs, 2 hits, 0 errors, 0 LOB. Hate 2, Love 2.

Bottom of Second, Love Batting, Tied 2-2
7. Fly Out (Bob Bailor)
8. Strikeout (Grant Jackson)
9. Double (Dave Johnson), runner on second
1. Base on Balls (Rollie Fingers), runners on first and second
2. Fly Out (Paul Lindblad)
0 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 2 LOB. Hate 2, Love 2.

Second inning notes: One of the problems you notice immediately with “Play Ball” is that there is no guidance on even the most simple shadings of the game of baseball. For example, if there is a runner on first and the next card displays “Ground Out,” is the “Ground Out” a double play? Similarly, if there is a runner on first and the next card is a “Single,” does the runner on first advance to second or to third? I briefly considered introducing some sort of random-choice device into the game to decide on these matters, but nowhere in the rules of “Play Ball” does it suggest that such alterations be made. Besides, if the playing of this game is in part a tribute to all the many hours I spent as a kid playing made-up games, I should just handle this issue the way I would have handled it then—by nudging every close call toward the team I wanted to win. In my favorite game, backyard roofball, this practice manifested itself on certain long ricochets of the tennis ball off the ridged roof. If the “player” pursuing the drive was a member of the team I wanted to win (generally a collection of gutty, limping has-beens and never-weres who were staging an improbable last-chance drive toward glory) I would run as hard as possible and even dive; if the “player” was on the opposition (generally a conglomerate of chiseled automatons with a collective history of monotonous and featureless league domination) I’d maybe hope the ball would tick off my fingers for a thrilling, game-changing triple. The funny thing is, I probably made as many if not more tough catches when I wasn’t trying than when I was, and anyway I never wanted to push things too far in favor of one imaginary team, knowing that in doing so I’d strip the whole time-consuming pursuit of the illusion of drama, and hence meaning. But for “Play Ball” I decided to keep it simple and make one rule to turn all gray areas black and white. At the risk of sounding trite, here it is: When in doubt, go with Love.

Top of Third, Hate Batting, Tied 2-2
1. Double (Davey Lopes), runner on second
2. Base on Balls (Johnny Oates), runners on first and second
3. Fly Out (Champ Summers)
4. Single (Sparky Lyle), runners on first, second, and third
5. Single (Darrell Evans), run scores
6. Fly Out (Tom Burgmeier)
7. Fly Out (Bob Stanley)
1 runs, 3 hits, 0 errors, 3 LOB. Hate 3, Love 2.

Bottom of Third, Love Batting, Behind 2-3
3. Strikeout (Sixto Lezcano)
4. Base on Balls (Skip Jutze)
5. Single (Greg Minton), runner on first
6. Fly Out (Mike Paxton)
7. Fly Out (Von Joshua)
0 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 1 LOB. Hate 3, Love 2.

Third inning notes: So Hate takes the lead, despite my rule making Hate into a plodding station-to-station team incapable of scoring from second on a single or from third on a flyout (or, as in the first inning, from avoiding the double play). Hate might win! But I’m already running out of previously profiled 1978 cards, and for some reason this actually makes me sort of hopeful. I’ve been writing about these cards for a year and a half, and the game isn’t even official. There’s plenty of Ball left to Play. Anything can happen. And maybe Love will get a hand from Gene Pentz, whose card provided the inspiration for this whole endeavor. Only a few more cards to go until I get to his card, the one card whose outcome I already know, Pentz ready to provide that node of offensive attack that is as vitally important as it is mundane. The walk! As we head to the fourth inning, let us pray for Pentz to plant the seeds of a rally for Love.

Top of Fourth, Hate Batting, Ahead 3-2
8. Ground Out (Joe Niekro)
9. Ground Out (Carl Yastrzemski)
1. Single (Stan Bahnsen), runner on first
2. Single (Ron Schueler), runners on first and second
3. Single (Brian Downing), run scores (note: even a Hate-handicapped station-to-station team will generally score from second on a two-out single), runners on first and third
4. Ground Out (Steve Garvey)
1 run, 3 hits, 2 LOB. Hate 4, Love 2

Bottom of Fourth, Love Batting, Behind 2-4
8. Base on Balls (Gene Pentz), runner on first
9. Foul Out (Barry Bonnell)
1. Base on Balls (Ivan DeJesus), runners on first and second
2. Ground Out (Jack Clark), runners on second and third
3. Home run (Jim Colborn), three runs score
4. Triple (Jerry Koosman), runner on third
5. Base on Balls (Brian Asselstine), runners on first and third
6. Fly Out (Chris Speier)
3 runs, 2 hits, 2 LOB. Love 5, Hate 4

Top of Fifth, Hate Batting, Behind 4-5
5. Foul Out (Steve Dunning)
6. Double (John Scott), runner on second
7. Fly Out (Lee Mazzilli), runner on second
8. Fly Out (Oscar Gamble)
0 runs, 1 hit, 1 LOB. Love 5, Hate 4

Bottom of Fifth, Love Batting, Ahead 5-4
7. Strikeout (Johnnie LeMaster)
8. Single (Bill Plummer), runner on first
9. Fly Out (Greg Gross), runner on first
1. Single (Freddie Patek), runners on first and second
2. Strikeout (Jerry Royster)
0 runs, 2 hits, 2 LOB. Love 5, Hate 4

Top of Sixth, Hate Batting, Behind 4-5
9. Ground Out (Tom Seaver)
1. Home run (Alan Ashby), one run scores
2. Foul Out (Lou Brock)
3. Ground out (George Brett)
1 run, 1 hit, 0 LOB. Love 5, Hate 5

Bottom of Sixth, Love Batting, Tied 5-5
3. Fly Out (Terry Bulling)
4. Single (Dave Skaggs), runner on first
5. Ground Out (Ed Figueroa), fielder’s choice, runner on second
6. Fly Out (Tommy Boggs)
0 runs, 1 hit, 1 LOB, Love 5, Hate 5

Top of Seventh, Hate Batting, Tied 5-5
4. Strikeout (Gary Beare)
5. Single (Ruppert Jones), runner on first
6. Fly Out (Lee Lacy), runner on first
7. Fly Out (Steve Staggs)
0 runs, 1 hit, 1 LOB, Love 5, Hate 5

Bottom of Seventh, Love Batting, Tied 5-5
7. Ground Out (Pete Redfern)
8. Fly Out (Bill Bonham)
9. Fly Out (Dave Cash)
0 runs, o hits, o LOB, Love 5, Hate 5

Top of Eighth, Hate Batting, Tied 5-5
8. Fly Out (Jim Dwyer)
9. Ground Out (Mario Soto)
1. Single (Jim Fregosi), runner on first
2. Base on Balls (Doug DeCinces), runners on first and second
3. Ground Out (Tom Veryzer)
0 runs, 1 hit, 2 LOB, Love 5, Hate 5

Bottom of Eight, Love Batting, Tied 5-5
1. Single (Enos Cabell), runner on first
2. Strikeout (Gil Flores), runner on first 
3. Single (Phil Niekro), runners on first and second.
4. Foul Out (Dick Ruthven), runners on first and second.
5. Fly Out (Jeff Burroughs)
0 runs, 2 hits, 2 LOB, Love 5, Hate 5

Top of Ninth, Hate Batting, Tied 5-5
4. Ground Out (Andy Messersmith)
5. Base on Balls (Rod Gilbreath), runner on first
6. Single (Jamie Easterly), runners on first and second
7. Single (Biff Pocoroba), runners on first, second, and third
8. Single (Tom Paciorek), two runs score, runners on first and third
9. Foul Out (Rick Camp)
1. Base on Balls (Dave Campbell), runners on first, second, and third
2. Fly Out (Darrel Chaney)
2 runs, 3 hits, 3 LOB. Hate 7, Love 5

Bottom of Ninth, Love Batting, behind 5-7
6. Fly Out (Pat Rockett)
7. Double (Vic Correll), runner on second
8. Base On Balls (Buzz Capra), runners on first and second
9. Fly Out (Joe Nolan), runners on first and second
1. Strikeout (Rob Belloir), runners on first and second
0 runs, 1 hit, 2 LOB. Love 5, Hate 7


  1. 1.  The card shown is for Tommy John.

  2. 2.  1 : Lord, that was fast. I feel as if I just tried to hit a tennis ball past a net-hanging Roger Federer. What gave it away for you?

  3. 3.  Indians, 1961

  4. 4.  I used to cheat in my made-up baseball games too. I played an entire season on a dice game, using two teams of players from 1985-ish Topps cards. My favorite player, Harold Baines, hit well over .700 with a couple hundred home runs, while Ryne Sandberg hit around .020 with a lot of strikeouts. I batted both of them lead-off so I could reward Baines and punish Sandberg as much as possible. All the other hitters were a little better than their real-life numbers.

  5. 5.  Am I not looking at the right place on the card for the rules? Is each card assigned a certain “hit” or “out?” Where is this assignment on the card? I have a feeling that I am going to feel dumb in a minute.

  6. 6.  5 There’s no hit or out on the card at the top of this entry, but look at the Pentz card from the last entry: http://cardboardgods.baseballtoaster.com/archives/920777.html

  7. 7.  5 I should have reposted a picture of the back of Gene Pentz’s card. If you look at the back of his card (there’s a link to it at the top of the post), you’ll see the “Base on Balls” in the box on the right. Every other card I mentioned has a similar box on the back, each with its own outcome. For example, Pete Lacock’s card has a Triple in the place where Gene Pentz’s card has a Base on Balls. If you had some 1978 cards and were playing a game of your own, you’d just flip over the cards one at a time and see what they said, e.g, Triple (LaCock), Double (Len Randle), Flyout (Bo McLaughlin). Unfortunately, except for the Pentz card, I’ve kept all the backs of the cards to myself, so you can’t really check out the results for yourself unless you own the cards.

  8. 8.  What a douche I am, I should have just read the post more carefully. I figured it was how you guys explained it. Thanks dudes.

  9. 9.  I looked at the back of the Gene Pentz card quite a bit today and for some reason the “base on balls” assignment eluded me until someone pointed it out. Sorry gents.

  10. 10.  Pentz with the lead off walk!!! god, the suspense is killing me.

    when i was a kid I remember playing baseball with a deck of cards, like a regular deck, but it had baseball results on it…walk, strikeout, double, home run, flyout…that kind of thing. It was apparently marketed by the same company that also sold the packs of Old Maid and Mother Goose and other kids card games and they were all displayed together. I lost that card game when I was maybe 10 or 11 years old and when I go to Toys R Us or KayBee Toys or Target or Walmart or some mom and pop shop, i still look for that card game. it’s like i’m looking for my youth….

    hmmmm, maybe i should try e-Bay. You can buy anything there…..why not your youth?

    Go Love!!!


  11. 11.  10 : “hmmmm, maybe i should try e-Bay. You can buy anything there…..why not your youth?”

    There’s actually a blog linked in the sidebar (gotta scroll down a bit; it’s with the “The World Is Wide” links) called “I found my childhood on ebay.”

  12. 12.  Josh, I really enjoy your writing and card nostalgia. This site is a daily must read!

    Earlier this year, I bought (via eBay) a 1974 Topps Traded set (sample card here: http://tinyurl.com/2tkgwk) for my older brother’s birthday. 1974 was the first year of cards I “inherited” from my older brothers when I was a kid (the cards were from 1974-1980). I love that era of cards.

    I stopped collecting in 1992, and over the last few years I got rid of nearly all my cards. This site is a daily reminder of why I shouldn’t have done that.

    Anyway, when I bought the 1974 set for my brother — I was inspired by this wonderful story: http://tinyurl.com/yopc5q — I wanted to get a binder and some plastic sheets in which to put the cards, so I strolled down to my local baseball card shop. While in the shop, I made the impulsive decision to start collecting again.

    I am sticking strictly to Topps, and mostly the regular cards (not all of this insert, specialty crap that helped drive me away years ago).

    I still have a bunch of Eddie Murray cards, so in the honor of this game, I looked at the back of his card. Alas, it is a strikeout. I have two of these rookie cards — the other is at my desk at work — so I’ll check the back of that tomorrow. Was the back of each player consistent, I wonder, or was each player stuck with his outcome?

    I must say, opening the packs is still as cool and exhilarating at 31 as it was at 9 years old! I love being “back”, and I wish I never left.

  13. 13.  12 : I love those 1974 “Traded” cards. I have a few and have been meaning to write about one of them for a while. I also really liked that Shysterball story you linked to.

    “Was the back of each player consistent…?”

    My guess is yeah. I must have some 1978 doubles, though, so I’ll check and see if they had different Play Ball results for the same player.

  14. 14.  12 ,13
    I just checked my 2nd 1978 Topps Eddie Murray and it seems the promising rookie’s fate is resigned to a stirkeout.

  15. 15.  I believe, quite firmly, that if I were playing this game in 1978, I would adopt a station-to-station assumption for both teams. I think it has to do with the fact that most early games I knew of seemed to make the same assumption. Perhaps Strat didn’t, but Intellivision’s baseball game did.

  16. 16.  15 : Strat-O-Matic addressed (and addresses) the gray areas by more clearly defining each game occurrence and occasionally channeling the action to a 1 in 20 chances “decider” (I think a deck was included in the game, but we used a 20-sided die from an unused Dungeons and Dragons game); e.g., if you were on offense, a “single (cf)” outcome with a runner on second would allow you to choose whether to send the runner home, and depending on his speed and the centerfielder’s arm you could have from a 5 in 20 (Greg Luzinski running on Andre Dawson) to a 19 in 20 (Omar Moreno running on Bake McBride [or vice versa]) chance that they’d score. I think the game now also factors in the catcher’s ability to block the plate.

  17. 17.  Late to the game. God, I love this.

    I used to play imaginary baseball games in my backyard, pitching a tennis baseball at our brick chimney. I’d pitch for both teams, one of which was always the Dodgers, and outcomes of at-bats, er, plate appearances, were totally at my sole discretion. Sometimes I let the count run out to its inevitable conclusion, often hitter’s counts were put into play, and woe to any batter that got behind. I never pitched a no-hitter, but the Dodgers also went undefeated.

    Since I was apparently quite lonely but not lacking idle time, I also held an imaginary placekickers contest, a single-elimination tournament, involving a tee, nerf-football (the yard was small enough to require a limited-flight ball), a reasonably small field goal target, and me kicking with either foot and in either style (there were still straight-ahead kickers in those days) to match the real-life kicker being emulated. I think each round was best of ten, ties played out until there was a miss. To pad out a 32-man field, a few college kickers of the day were thrown in, which was where the only left-footed, straight-ahead kicker came from.

    If I was growing up today, I’d probably be a hopeless sports video-game addict.

  18. 18.  12 13 I remember my friends and I seeing the 1974 traded cards and being amazed as they were simply the coolest, freshest idea we could imagine.

  19. 19.  It is too bad that Chris Speier was an out. Hate was just itching to roar out of the dugout and have Love called out for batting out of order (John Wockenfuss skipped his turn at bat)!

  20. 20.  19 : Keen observation, but Wockenfuss was actually ineligible to swing the lumber for Love (the back of his card has, instead of an at-bat result, one of the rule explanations shown at the top of this post).

  21. 21.  … Believe it or not, I actually DID play this game quite a few times in 1978-1979.

    In trying to be as “realistic” as possible, what I used for rules is that if say, Davey Lopes’ card (which was a double) was played, I would assume that was Davey on second base. So if there was a single after that, I would figure that Lopes would score. But if the man on base came from a pitcher’s card or Johnny Oates’ card, then that runner would be one base at a time.

    Also, to show you how much of a geek I was, I owned more than 400 cards from 1978 … so I had far more cards than what was needed for batting results. So, I would take the cards that weren’t used for batting, and actually pick out a “defense” consisting of the first catcher I would randomly find, the first shortstop, and so on.

    I would even form them into a diamond on the carpet with the infielders, and put the outfielders behind them, as they would be positioned on a field. And that would help with figuring out ground ball and fly ball results. If, say, Ozzie Smith or Mark Belanger was the shortstop, double plays would be turned. If an average defensive shortstop, like Bill Russell, was on the field, then I would look at how fast the runner was. If Dave Parker was in right field, everyone would be station to station, including Lopes. Ridiculous?? Sure. Hey, I was a bored kid who loved baseball.

    I think my Dad heard me in my room giving the play-by-play to one of those “games”, because that Christmas, I pulled off the wrapping paper and found myself face-to-face with Strat-O-Matic baseball. Needless to say, I almost would have been content if all future Christmases had somehow been abolished — I had the game of all games. And, of course, I still play baseball sims today to an unhealthy degree. It all started with little games with baseball cards, like “PLAY BALL. Played by Two.”

  22. 22.  21 : That’s awesome. Thanks for sharing that, JT. I’ll try to adopt your baserunning parameters for the rest of the game.

  23. 23.  This is fantastic. I played Sports Illustrated Baseball when I was a kid, and loved it.

  24. When I was growing up, I had a buddy who lived across the street who also collected baseball cards and we would talk baseball for hours. We played a made-up game as well. We would use the plastic tubes from golf bags and plastic golf balls (You could really throw a breaking ball with those!), a smaller version of whiffle ball I guess. We would then randomly pull a boxscore from the paper, choose a team, and then run through the lineup for 9 innings, batting LH or RH based on the player. We had spots designated in the backyard for singles, doubles, etc and a HR was a shot over the garage. *grin* Don’t think it will ever end up on a Wii. 😉

  25. Just stumbled onto this from a google search… as for some unknown reason this old “Play Ball” game popped into my head.

    While I was too young to have collected ’78 Topps directly, my first wax packs were purchased with allowance money in 1979 when I was five years old, there were a ton of 78 Topps in our closed little baseball card collecting circle. Most were handed down from older brothers… and if I had to guess, we had probably 300-400 of the things… and the “Play Ball” values on the back were the only thing anybody really cared about.

    Over time everybody got there little share of the 78 Topps collective, based on trading newer ’79 thru ’82 cards… Of course, being aged 5 to 8 or so at the time… our little circle wasn’t really advanced enough to play the game per the rules. For us, we just made it a simple game of “baseball war”… You’d take your pile, shuffle them up, and each guy would flip one over… just like the game “war” using conventional playing cards… While every other set of this era was collected by us kids based on favorite player, or cool photos, or hometown bias (Detroit Tigers)… those ’78 cards only mattered for those silly “Play Ball” values… and we didn’t even play the game the right way… Ahh… the good old days

  26. There was a type on the Tony Armas card from this year. It read “Strike ut.”
    To this day, my younger brother and I call him that. And when Tony Armas the younger turned up, he became “Strike Ut Junior.”

  27. and by “type” I meant “typo.”

  28. phismi: That’s great. I checked for this card and was happy to find that I had a ’78 Tony Armas, complete with “Strike ut”

    I’m going to have to open up the possibility that this card will enter the mix for the ongoing game in this post. It seems very ripe for completely derailing the game, at least as much as the typo “Moops” wreaked havoc on a certain Trivial Pursuit game in Seinfeld.

  29. Wow, great post.

    I don’t remember anybody actually playing the “Play Ball” game when I was a kid. I think it was because there wasn’t any strategy it was all just random luck. I remember playing the card game Walbers talked about and that was much more fun.

    It’s interesting to note how baseball lends itself to much more imaginary solitary games than football, basketball, hockey, soccer, etc. ever did. I created my own game when not playing wiffle ball with the neighborhood kids.

    We had a cement sidewalk that went around the perimeter of our house. There was a section of the back of the house that had a huge cement wall with no windows. I would throw rubber-coated baseball against the wall hitting the cement sidewalk replicating a ground ball. I drew a batter’s box out of crayon to replicate a batter’s box. I would throw the ball against the wall and start counting. I had 5 seconds to field the ball and hit the box on the return throw for an out. 4 seconds if it was Omar Moreno, 6 seconds if it was Willie Stargell etc.

    Then I would skip the ball against the sidewalk to make a pop-up. Willie Stargell would hit these bombs that were impossible to catch. Omar Moreno hit little fly balls.

    Then I would pitch. Hit the box it’s a strike, miss it’s a ball. If the pitcher was up I would start the count at 0-2 so I only had to pitch one strike. If it was a guy like Gene Tenace I would start the count at 3-0.

    Then the kids in the neighborhood became morphed with the Professionals. So I imagined the fat kid becoming a mix of himself and Greg Luzinski. The kids I didn’t like became morphed with Pete Rose, Al Hrbosky, etc. I was a mixture of myself and John Stearns.

    We never had a black kid in our neighborhood so I imagined a black family moved in next door and he was a combination of Ahmad from “The Bad News Bears” and Gary Maddox.

    I was friends with a girl across the street who was a little bit like Amanda Wurlitzer. We started having a falling-out when I started to reach puberty so she got morphed with Tom Seaver as if she like Tom Seaver was being “traded” from my imaginary team.

  30. I find myself rooting for Hate.

    I’m new to this blog, but I’m love it already.

    I played a number of tabletop baseball games when I was a kid in the 70s, from the simplistic (remember All-Star Baseball, with the circular player cards and the spinners, and no accounting for pitching or defense?) through Strat-O-Matic to Statis-Pro and then online games. Along the way was a game called Baseball Strategy (an Avalon Hill bookcase game, for those who remember those) that was supposed to focus on managing skills, rather than player skills. What is was was a sophisticated version of rock, paper, scissors: Pitchers could throw up to 7 different pitches (including a pitchout), depending on skill levels. Hitters would expect particular pitches and results would be found by looking up the pitch with the expected pitch on different charts, depending on the players’ skill levels. The thing is, though, that both managers had the exact same set of 25 nameless players, which was very unsatisfying. Eventually I improvised a version using baseball cards, and the statistics on the back. It was hard to play solitaire (as rock, paper, scissors usually is), so I didn’t play it nearly as often as some other games, but it was the only tabletop game I used baseball cards to play. I used to buy (and for Statis-Pro make) player cards for a number of games, but Baseball Strategy was the only one that I could use actual baseball cards, and thus “see the player in action.”

    Next time my tabletop baseball game playing buddy and I get together (which is unfortunately infrequent these days), I may drag out the game and some cards.

  31. Man, this is getting tense. 😉

  32. Josh, why the sudden change of heart with “Hate” – allowing two runs to score on Paciorek’s single. Did the back of the card dictate it was a single with runners advancing two bases, or did Tom’s sweet swing evoke a little sympathy for the scrappy underdogs.

    I have really enjoyed this game!!!

  33. tscastle: That’s a great question. Basically, with all the consecutive singles in the top of the ninth, I started to really feel like I was cheating by so strictly enforcing every single time my arbitrary lead-footed one-base-only rule for Hate. If Love is going to win, it’s going to have to do it fair and square.

  34. I hope this game goes until March 8th, when it will be two years old. (And people think games are too long today.)

    I think I played more baseball simulation than anybody, ever (I still play APBA), including made-up games of a million different varieties, and I never played “Play Ball!” though I did always take a peek at what the various players had. It’s been a long wait to enjoy it.

  35. This saddens me. I’d been hoping Love had something left in the tank.

    I’m going to have to try this now with 1978 OPC to see whether the elimination of 528 cards from the set had any impact on game play.

  36. Fuck.

  37. As a Mets fan, I can’t help but imagine this final K as a nasty, nasty Adam Wainwright curveball to Carlos Bel– I mean, Rob Belloir.

  38. crushing

    The next Brave in the series hits a home run, right?

  39. C’mon Josh, even Bobby Cox in his earliest managerial days woulda pinch hit for Rob Belloir with the game on the line!

    Oh well, wait till next year.

    Thanks for the game.

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