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Doug Wolter: No dice -- Bonds comes up short in APBA

I believe it was Joe Garagiola who once said, "Baseball is a funny game." He was talking about real baseball, of course, but he could just as well have been talking about statistical simulation baseball of the kind played by grown-up kids like me...

I believe it was Joe Garagiola who once said, “Baseball is a funny game.”

He was talking about real baseball, of course, but he could just as well have been talking about statistical simulation baseball of the kind played by grown-up kids like me and my friends at The Globe.

Myself and three other Globeites -- editor Ryan McGaughey, reporter Karl Evers-Hillstrom and part-time sports writer Aaron Hagen -- are in our second season of something called APBA Baseball, a card and dice game that combines a little luck with the actual statistical tendencies of major league ballplayers.

In our first season, which amounted to six games for every player, Ryan was the champion and Aaron wound up in last place.

In our league, the champion gets no reward other than the satisfaction of winning and the enmity of everyone else who didn’t. On the other hand, nobody wants to finish last, because the last-place player buys the pizza at the end of the season.

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It tasted great, by the way, Aaron.

The first season was so much fun that we drafted again for a second time. We decided that we’d institute a serpentine draft for Season Two, but only for two rounds. The remainder of our teams were filled in at random from a pool of players of our own choosing.

Ryan had the first pick. He took Ted Williams in one of Williams’ best years. That allowed Karl to take the player he’d wanted all along -- Barry Bonds in the year he hit 73 home runs. I went with pitching, taking Greg Maddux in one of his monster years. Aaron chose Ernie Banks, thinking it was wisest to grab the best-hitting shortstop among a group of mostly poor-hitting shortstops.

We’re halfway through the season.

Players with the best cards typically perform the best. But the roll of the dice can cause surprising things to occur.

I remember, for instance, when in the first year I had a great Babe Ruth card. But Ruth played poorly game after game until finally, in the fifth game, he hit a grand slam home run just as I was threatening to bench him. I remember a couple of years earlier, the first time we played this four-person league (with two other Globeites who have since moved on), one of our guys possessed a great Joe DiMaggio card, but DiMaggio only hit about. 235 for him and his owner threatened to send The Yankee Clipper down to Toledo.

Ironically, Karl is having similar problems with Bonds, whose card is amazing but whose performance is woeful due to consistently bad rolls of the dice. In fact, Bonds currently has just one hit (a single) in 12 at bats and has struck out seven times.

Karl is confused. He repeatedly looks at Bonds’ card and expresses a sad mixture of shock and dismay.

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“He literally only has three numbers (among a possible 36) where he strikes out,” he tells us.

Indeed. Bonds’ card is so good, it’s a wonder any time he doesn’t either walk or hit a home run.

In part because of this, Karl has won just one game out of his first four. Ryan, Aaron and I are thinking pepperoni with extra cheese.

Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at dwolter@dglobe.com.
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