Dicecasts and FaceTime with Strat (Replay Zone – September 2014)

By Jeff Polman
September ruminations from your trusty Strat-O-Matic replay addict. Check out “Ball Nuts”, my latest “fictionalized” replay book, which used the 1977 season.
Ever since I broadcasted the play-by-play of a Milwaukee Braves/Houston Colt 45s Strat game into my dad’s reel-to-reel tape recorder back in 1965, I’ve always thought about ways to make a replayed contest “come alive.” It’s one thing to play solitaire leagues and keep the results to yourself, quite another to add an extra dimension to the game’s realism.
These days, it’s hard for me to conduct a full season replay without generating some form of “live” excitement. For years now this has come in the shape of what I call live dicecasts, or online play-by-play, whether on the Strat Fan Forum—where I first did them—on Twitter, or currently, on my Facebook ’73 Freaks League page. Occasionally if I’m time constrained, I’ll roll the entire game before “dicecasting” it on the Web, but most of the time I bounce back and forth between the dice table and keyboard in half-inning increments. Like this one I did the other day between the ’73 One for Five Dotcoms and the Ghost of Horace Clarke:
Baylor flies to center…Bumbry grounds to second…Johnson DOUBLES to center…McCovey whiffs. NO RUNS, ONE HIT
If the people reading your dicecast are familiar with Strat, it’s fun to add little dice details to the action, like this:
Monday DOUBLES to left center…Santo flies deep to left (rolls 12 on a 1-10 HR chance)…Concepcion SINGLES to left, Monday to third…Coggins flies to left (rolls a 16 on a 1-15 double shot; uh-oh) NO RUNS, TWO HITS
I also add a running line score at the end of each full inning:
After two innings:
HCR 20 – 2 5 0
DOT 00 – 0 3 0
Doing a dicecast can get a little nerve-wracking sometimes, especially during extended innings. You don’t want to leave the audience on the other end sitting too long, so I’ll often post a partial play-by-play when a pitching change is made, just to keep the readers from tuning out:
Metzger TRIPLES to deep center…Carew WALKS…Harper WALKS, loading the bases…Fairly SINGLES to right, scoring Metzger and Carew…Smith SINGLES to right, scoring Harper, Fairly to third…Holt whiffs…Lowenstein SINGLES to right, scoring Fairly, Smith to third…Rader WALKS, loading the bases…Baney replacing shellshocked Acosta…

This gives you time to get a soda, roll the rest of the inning, and jump back in without feeling rushed.
As I said, I post my dicecasts on the Web, but heck, you can always email your best Strat friend or people in your league one of these for a big game. They’re simple to write and lots of fun to read. If you get to critical moments in the narrative, especially in the final inning, it’s also fun to stretch the action out batter-by-batter.
Recently, though, I’ve tried a new digital way of replaying a game: using Facetime on my iPad. General managers Paul Dylan (Dotcoms) and Michael Dane (Great Danes) also have the ’73 cards, and have both connected with me through their iPad and laptop to roll games from their homes in Seattle and Minneapolis, respectively. Besides the fun of having the visual of your opponent, it’s great if someone rolls something outlandish with their 20-sider and you feel compelled to check the “video evidence.” I’m sure the technology is here to have three or four people doing this at once (a live Strat-inar?), but I haven’t taken the time to look into that yet.
The ECBA draft league I’ve been in for about five years often rolls its long-distance postseason games without visuals over a speaker phone. This method is also fine, but obviously requires a total honor system—something the ECBA has always been proud of in its 40-year existence.
When it comes to Strat, nothing beats face-to-face play, but with constant innovations in digital technology, I’m always looking for new formats to make my solitaire games come alive. There are a lot more kinds of realism out there than merely statistical. 
Coming next month: Wrap-up of the ’73 Freaks League season, and all the details for
entering my Best of 2013 Tournament!