Mission Enjoyable (The Replay Zone – July 2012)

By Jeff Polman
July ruminations from your trusty Strat-O-Matic replay addict. Follow my Mystery Ball ’58 blog three times a week!
My mission, and I had already accepted it, was to report to Marriott Center Minneapolis at 2030 hours on June 30th for a clandestine dice-rolling operation with Brett Carow and Sam Hennemann, code names Guinness-1 and Guinness-2.
I was nervous. Even though Brett and Sam’s recent 61-hour Strat-playing marathon in New York wouldn’t be officially revised and confirmed by the Guinness World Record police for another few months, I knew these men could be shifty-eyed, tabletop forces of nature. The fact I was rolling Strat dice long before these 20-sider assassins put on their first diapers was meaningless. I was prepared for anything.
So were my men. The 1965 Twins and 2003 Marlins and Cubs were securely rubber-banded in my backpack. All the players had been briefed on the operation. Josh Beckett would be stripped of his golf clubs, and Moises Alou could not under any circumstance throw a temper tantrum if he was not allowed to catch a ball in the stands.
I had suggested Minneapolis for the operation because I was attending the SABR convention (Society for American Baseball Research), a yearly gathering of historical soldiers and statistical rebels, in the very same hotel. A Strat Fan Forum colleague named John Graf (Forum Dog-1) was instrumental in arranging the rendezvous, so when I finally received his cellular word message (“Room 2703”), I shouldered my pack, punched the lift button, and waited to ascend.
Brett and Sam had arrived before me—my first miscalculation. We shook hands, and I suggested I face off against Mr. Carow right away, because time was a factor. Brett, in the midst of a 1941 replay at his nearby home, chose the Brooklyn Dodgers from that year, while I had no choice but to take the ’65 Twins. That morning at SABR, I had stealthily acquired the autograph of ex-Twin Frank Quilici on his actual Strat card, and intended to use the Quilicinator as my secret defensive weapon.
Unfortunately, offense is what I really needed. Whit Wyatt toyed with the Twins like a cat with a wounded sparrow, and all I could manage were four scratch singles, losing 3-0. Mr. Hennemann awaited his turn. I’d already seen his full collection of score sheets from the marathon, 116 paper-thin bodies strewn on the bed, and now he was jotting down his speed-crazy 1911 A’s lineup to go against my Marlins. At least I had Josh Beckett and his… +9 hold rating? Uh-oh.
Suddenly there was a knock at the door, and my writer friend Peter Schilling entered. Peter, author of a fine historical novel called The End of Baseball, had never played a game of Strat but had eagerly asked if he could be an observer—sort of a war correspondent. I had an even better idea. Because Mr. Graf had very little experience playing the super advanced game, I soon asked if he would square off against Mr. Schilling using the basic version while I finished my skirmish with Mr. Hennemann, because it’s always wiser to throw a first-time Strat player into the heat of battle.
As you’d probably guess, Peter the Rookie’s ’53 Dodgers beat the ’57 Braves 5-3 while I was getting snuffed 5-1 by Philadelphia, outhit 14-5 in the process. And Mr. Hennemann hadn’t even procured Rube Oldring’s autograph at the convention!
With my ego bruised and my cardboard men needing to regroup, I still found comfort in the fact that with Forum Dog-1’s help, I had managed to pull off a memorable secret mission I won’t soon forget. One day later, Mr. Schilling admitted that his first Strat game was “great fun”, and while resting in his local compound I suddenly heard an odd clicking sound. He was on his laptop, placing an order for his very first set of Strat cards.
My work was done there.

Carow and Polman in the heat of battle.

The grisly evidence of Carow and Hennemann’s marathon deeds.