THE REPLAY ZONE
By Jeff Polman
July ruminations from your trusty Strat-O-Matic replay addict. Check out all four of my season replay-inspired baseball novels on Amazon.
‘Til Dice Do Us Part
I imagine most of you reading this column are married to your game table—or at the very least, enjoy an occasional exciting rendezvous with your Strat dice in a basement or attic getaway. If you’re one of the lucky few to be in a romantic relationship with a Strat-playing partner, however, that’s even better!
It just so happens that I’m not. My wife is a saint and loves baseball when she’s in the mood, but I think I’ve only managed to coax her into rolling a game with me once in our 25 married years. On the other hand, when we did a remodel on our house and added a den, she did design an extension on the corner desk solely for my Strat-rolling, so I guess that’s the next best thing.
Then you have Laurie Berry and Will Kolodzie, down in Burleson, TX. Laurie and Will run a fabulous Facebook group called Strat-O-Matic World, have known each other since high school, where in Will’s words, “Laurie ignored me because I was in the algebra club.” Now they play cards and dice games together an average of three or four times a week. “All of us at Somworld are doing BB Daily,” says Will, “So we kind of look forward to the end of the work day where we can roll random games.”
They roll “a lot of Hall of Fame and Negro pickup games”, and like to play with childhood favorites from the ‘60s and ‘70s. “Laurie is more cutthroat, and doesn’t like to lose.” Will admits, although Laurie retorts, “I do take it very seriously and hate to lose. He’s a trooper though. Lets me cuss and throw things. He also sits back and lets me roll for both sides when I get aggravated.”
Tim Lemke, a Strat fanatic living in Odenton,MD, has a more unusual tradition with his wife Rebekah. Once a year on his birthday they play her Orioles against his Phillies. This year, they opted for the 2014 cards, and the Phils won 6-4, helped by a grand slam by Marlon Byrd. Rebekah rallied for three runs in the 9th and had the tying run on base, but fell short. “This was revenge for the year the 2008 Orioles somehow topped the World Champion Phillies behind a 1-0 shutout by Jeremy Guthrie,” says Tim. He also says Rebekah is a wonderful person and loves baseball, but “generally only tolerates my Strat-O-Matic hobby.” A once-a -year Orioles/Phillies match seems more than tolerable in my book.
Then you have Strat players like Bill Vasili Zentefis, who says “I couldn’t pay my wife to play a single game. Even on my birthday.”
“Britton Sukys” has an entirely different take: “I play Strat with my wife on occasion. She tends to play the Giants and makes a point to talk to the players like they aren’t just paper representations. I’m even starting to wonder if her relationship with Buster Posey’s card is above board. She likes the idea of controlling 25 men, I think. Makes me think Strat should introduce an all- women’s team/set full of softball and baseball legends.”
The best Strat marriage story I’ve heard lately, though, goes to Mike Livingston of Westerville, OH…
“Many years ago (October 1978) my wife and I were expecting our first child. One late nite/early morning she woke me because she had some discomfort, but not yet ready to go to hospital. I sat up with her for a while, but needed a distraction to stay awake. I talked her into a game of Strat baseball just to have something for her to focus on beside her pain, and to help me stay awake.
“I set it all up. She only rolled, and I kept track of everything. She beat me. We changed teams, and she beat me again. Two more new teams. Beat me again. She hasn’t played since, but always reminds me she is undefeated.”
Now that’s a lifelong commitment!
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In my last column, I mentioned that the Robert Johnsons and Nine Stooges seemed headed for the World Series in our 1934 Freaks League. Well, the Stooges have since fumbled away what was once an eleven-game lead, and in the month of September have gone a ghastly 4-18 to fall out of first place, a half game behind Carl Hubbell and the Top Deck Steinbecks with just a week left to play! I’ve been rolling Strat baseball forever, and have never seen a collapse as dramatic and extended as this one. With Earl Averill, Leon Trosky, Waite Hoyt, and the third place Tokyo Barnstormers also now just one game out, it’s could be a crazy finish. Stay tuned…