Final cuts

April 30, 2022

I made a few last cuts to my 1977 Strat-O-Matic team. The pitching staff after Mark Fidrych is even weaker than it had been, but the offense and fielding is a little better, I think, increasing the chances for every fifth game to end with the Bird bounding off the mound like a happy kid, a vision at the center of my reasons for venturing into this simulation in the first place. I have other reasons. Maybe one of those can be seen in the biggest of my final cuts: dropping Fisk for Munson. The kid I was in 1977 would never have done this. Never. He loved Fisk and hated all Yankees. But I have my reasons. For one, the Start-O-Matic game has an $80 million dollar salary cap, and Munson fit into that a little more easily than the very expensive Fisk, and Munson is still very good at everything. For another, I remember Munson grousing about Fidrych’s mound antics in 1976, and I like thinking about him growing to respect the Bird, his passion, his fire. And I’ve got some things to work out with Munson, which you may know about if you read my Cardboard Gods book. Finally, I feel like this whole fantasy I’m embarking on might be about the tangle of joy and death.

Last night my older son couldn’t sleep because he was worrying about death. He’s a little older than I was when Lyman Bostock died, a little younger than I was when Munson died. I told him I knew how he felt, that I felt that way too, that my brother read me Star Trek books in the middle of the night to keep me from freaking out. I told him things always seem better in the morning. In the morning he’ll have his Lego figures, his Star Wars books, just like in the morning when I was a kid I had my baseball cards, my Strat-O-Matic scorecards and dice.

So the season starts tomorrow. I’ll be letting you know how it goes. I’ll also be reading a lot about that era and these players. My reading list thus far: Stars and Strikes and The Captain and Me, authored and, respectively, co-authored (along with Ron Blomberg) by my friend Dan Epstein (who will figure into an upcoming post on why I’ve set the Bird’s return in Shea Stadium); Singled Out by Andrew Maraniss (who wrote a great book on basketball at the 1936 Olympics); South Side Hitmen, by Dan Helpingstine; The Negro Leagues Are Major Leagues, edited by Sean Forman and Amy Tan (I’m looking for insight into the experiences of, among others, the fathers of three players on my team: Luis Tiant Sr, Lyman Bostock Sr., and Sam Hairston), Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Burning, by Jonathan Mahler; and, for the billionth time, The Wrong Stuff, by the great Bill Lee.

What else should I read?


  1. How about The Machine by Joe Posnanski & Beyond the Sixth Game by Gammons? You’ve got a lot of Sox & Reds…

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPad

  2. No Big Deal by Mark Fidrych and Tom Clark. Essential.

  3. Enjoyed Arnold Hano’s, A Day In The Bleachers and me too, never dull reading Lee’s Wrong Stuff a second and third time My copy is a small paperback so it’s easy to stuff in my work pants, and sneak away to a bathroom stall and read. Makes the work day less boring.

    I wanted to ask if the new on-line strat-o uses park effects?

  4. Read the Bronx Zoo by Sparky Lyle and Peter Gollenbock(i think). I had this book and bill lee’s spaceman…..I threw them out in a fit of DECLUTTER rage and trying to give my middle finger to pro sports……I always thought i could get them from the library if i wanted to reread….alas, the library is nothing but a tax funded money laundering machine, forced to buy LOTS of copies of new books by politicians, celebrities etc. Those best sellers lists are the 100 copies of a book they are forced to buy…..
    I went to my library, they did not want my books.
    A subtle form of book burning and destroying the past.

    Had you started your endeavor earlier I would have gladly sent it to you for the cause.

    My friend at the same i was reading the bronx zoo, circa 1980….read Ball Four by Jim Bouton. At that time i didn’t know who he was so I passed…..but as years roll on, my passion for baseball goes backwards not forward……I know who he is now and even saw a clip of him on letterman on YT.

    I know EVERY person in your lineup….etched into my head from dice rolling and transistor radio listening….EXCEPT R Jackson at first? Reggie being converted? Salary seems to low to be RJ.

  5. Thanks for the recommendations so far. I’ll definitely add Beyond the Sixth Game and will reread The Machine. Time to finally reread The Bronx Zoo, which made me cry with laughter and got me started writing as a 12-year-old. I’ve got No Big Deal on my list too.

    Yes, Strat online has park effects. One reason for me picking Shea.

    That’s Ron Jackson on my bench. In box scores of yore, he was RoJackson, so as not to be confused with ReJackson.

  6. Can your league please ban non stop fist pumping and endzone celebration like events?
    Just saw an ad for MLB and it was over the top, loud, wwf like, with every cut having piped in sound as if the beatles just landed.

    I don’t think this bothers me because i am older…..i have felt this way for 20 years.
    I guess i am just an ed brinkman (BRINK) caught in an in your face, obnoxious dimension.

    Please coax Ed Brinkman out of retirement for your league

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