Saturday, April 15, 2017


     It was a wild season-opening week in our APBA Football League. Some games went exactly as expected (Cincy over NE, 35-3; Dallas over Philly by 22), others were surprising. Not so much for the outcome but for how they came about.
     Let's have a look at the week's results and then we'll move on to the highlights, including your Games of the Week.

     Some of the highlights from week 1: A late kickoff return by St. Louis' Ahmad Rashad propels the Cards over the Colts. Daryl Lamonica and Marv Hubbard lead the Raiders over the Steelers, despite a late comback bid. Scott Hunter to Leland Glass was the combo of the day as the Pack edged the Browns. And John Brodie is nearly perfect as the Niners smother San Diego.

     Now for your Games of the Week. The first pits the New York Giants against the Detroit Lions at Tiger Stadium in Detroit.

Bob Tucker catches 6 Norm Snead passes for 202 yards and 2 TDs.
     Let's pick up the action in the 4th quarter. The Lions have just taken the lead on an Altie Taylor run, 27-23. On their ensuing possession, the Giants face a 3rd and 12 from their own 18.
     (Snead drops back... He looks around... Here comes the rush... He delivers...Tucker has it! He crosses the 50...the 40...One man to beat...TOUCHDOWN!!)
     With 9 minutes left, the Giants are up 30-27. But three plays later, from their own 8 yard-line...
     (Landry back to pass...He has Sanders slanting over the middle...It's picked off! Linebacker Jim Files has it! He spins out of one tackle and is pushed out of bounds at the one. First and goal Giants!)
     Fullback Charlie Evans takes it in from there. 37-27, Giants. 7 minutes left.
     Detroit then drives the ball from their own 20. Four Greg Landry scrambles and a 29 yard pass to Charlie Sanders has the Lions in field goal range with 3:45 left. Errol Mann makes the kick and it's now 37-30.
Landry takes the snap for the Lions...
     A long kickoff return has the Giants start their next drive near midfield. After picking up a first down they find themselves in field goal range. 3 Ron Johnson runs put them at 4th-and-5 at the Lions 30.
     (Pete Gogolak is on to attempt the field goal. Just over a minute remains....Here's the snap...This one will ice it...The kick is up...It's NO GOOD! NO GOOD! Oh, Gogolak must be sick!)
     The Lions take over at their own 20, no time-outs. Two incomplete passes brings up a third-and-10. Then Landry hits Mel Farr out of the backfield. He runs for 22 and wisely steps out of bounds with less than a minute left. Then:
     (Landry drops back...He's looking deep...But NO! It's a screen. Taylor has it with a convoy of blockers in front of him...He has to get out of bounds...He's down at the 25...The clock is running...Landry hurries to the line...19...18...17...Landry's back....He fires over the middle. It's Sanders at the 10! He has it...TOUCHDOWN!! With only 15 seconds left on the clock!)

Sander hauls in the tying pass!
     Final score: Lions 37, Giants 37. This was hand's down THE GAME OF THE WEEK -- until the Monday Nighter, that is.... (Right after this commercial break...)

Lions-Giants get the season started with a bang!

Thursday, April 6, 2017


     I guess I'm sort of a tool.
     Back in my teen years, I was a yuge (we live in the Age of Trump!) baseball fan. I loved the Pittsburgh Pirates. But I haven't really paid much attention to the sport lately. Not since 1990 really, when the Pirates had Bonds, Bonilla and Van Slyke. Remember that?
     This year's World Series -- with the perennial underdog Cubs winning -- has re-energized my enthusiasm. Yeah, me and about 40 million other people. I think we all agree: awesome series!
     Anyway, that spurred me to pick up a wonderful text-based baseball computer simulation from Steam called "Out of the Park Baseball 17."
     This game allows you to run an entire baseball organization in every imaginable way, from managing its farm teams to negotiating trades and player salaries and drafting players out of high school.
     That's a bit much for me, though. Fortunately, it also allows more casual fans, like me, to just manage a season. That is, I'm simply playing the games one-by-one and making all on-field decisions. I select offensive batting and defensive fielding strategies, pitching decisions and make all substitutions during each game.
     I'm starting with the 2015 Pirates season. I watched a fair number of their games last year (we get all the Chicago games where I live, and the Pirates and Cubs are in the same division, so they're on TV a lot here) and I really liked the team. Baseball is weird in that you can't really enjoy the game until you bond with the players, and the Pirates had some pretty likeable guys. I loved McCutcheon, for example. Also Neil Walker and Marte. I really rooted for these guys. I loved Cervelli, for some reason. Plus, they had excellent pitching, led by Gerrit Cole.

Pirates defeat the Arizona Diamondbacks! Cervelli has broken out of his slump. So has Marte. McCutcheon homered, but he's still up-and-down. Neil Walker has cooled off, but he's the team leader. You really become attached to your team in this game.
     OOTP17 comes with every team from 1871 to the present. The real reason I bought it is because I wanted to replay the Pirates 1975 season. Stargell, Parker, Sanguillen, Zisk etc. What an offensive powerhouse they were! Lots of fun. It'll be tough to beat the Reds, though. The Big Red Machine. Man, they were good! Looking forward to taking them on.
     Why 1975? Because that was the year I was playing a boardgame called APBA. Each player had a distinct card. Roll the dice (one red, one white) and consult the card and cross-reference with the results card. Ah, good memories! You used to have to keep stats for yourself. With OOTP17, the computer does all that. Amazing the trouble we used to go through in pre-computer days, isn't it?

APBA cards. All you over-50 guys know what I'm talking about! This game still exists, too. I'm tempted to get a copy just for the nostalgia of it. IIRC, a "61" is a base hit!