This was back when I used to tout Strat-O-Matic as some kind of high-brow, computer-enhanced intellectual undertaking, rather than simply some kitchen-table board game. Just as we fretted about having our maturity questioned if we collected baseball cards past the age of puberty, it also seemed prudent to gussy up Strato so that it sounded a bit more cerebral.
Anyway, I held the historic “series” at the local Eagles club at a dark corner table that we had to jury rig to get some additional illumination in order to read the cards. As we drank 10-cent draft beers with increasing enthusiasm as the series wore on, half the fun was watching the bewildered old geezers who couldn’t quite understand what was going on. They understood 10-cent draft beer, baseball and even the dice end of it, but the convergence of all three and the elaborate Strat-O-Matic results charts were just too much for them.
The point of all this is that I expected the Hall of Famers to win every game, and win each game handily. I was all of 18 years old and my black-and-white understanding of the world didn’t fathom how Jay Hook and Co. might even for one game best Christy Mathewson, Babe Ruth, et. al.
Turns out, there were seven or eight thrashings, but the dice got nutty and finally Al Jackson cooled off the immortals and the Mets won one. I was stunnned, but it was instructive in the larger sense.
I thought of that silly series this past weekend when I read about a Texas high school girls team beating an opponent 100-0. The coach of the Covenant School of Dallas team was fired on Sunday after he sent an e-mail to a newspaper declining to apologize for the lopsided score on Jan. 13.
The ESPN.com story said the losing squad from Dallas Academy has only eight girls on the roster out of 20 or so in the high school.
I’ll concede we’re wading into murky waters when deciding precisely when one opponent should ease off a bit on another, but I’d be willing to bet that a 59-0 halftime cushion ought to be a good starting point for the discussion.
In any event, all of the criticism seemed to be aimed at the coach, with nary a mention of why such a game would have been on the schedule at all. The Dallas Academy gals hadn’t won a game in four years.
When I sent my hapless Mets out against the Hall of Famers, they at least had a chance at victory, as it turns out. And I accepted complete responsibility for scheduling the epic mismatch in the first place.
P.S. – For those readers who understand the Strat-O-Matic end of things, I didn’t just use the Hall of Famers based on the lifetime stats, I used the other side of their cards, which featured their best seasons. I wasn’t content to have Ty Cobb’s paltry .367 average be the basis for the dice rolls, I wanted that .420 season to prevail.
And still they lost!