Saturday Single No. 288

I’ve written here numerous times about the springtime tabletop hockey tournaments that I host for my pals Rick, Rob and Dan (also known as Schultz). They’d been annual affairs until last year, when schedules and commitments kept us from finding a springtime Saturday when we could all get together.

And that made us determined to get together this spring and play some hockey. So I sent out emails in early April, targeting today for our get-together. Well, we’ll be here today, but we won’t be playing table-top hockey.

A couple of weeks ago, Rob and I met on a Sunday morning in the little burg of Big Lake – about thirty miles from both our places – and took the Northstar Line train to Minneapolis for a Minnesota Twins baseball game. Along the way, we talked about the upcoming get-together. I observed that our autumn gatherings, when we play Strat-O-Matic baseball, were more fun and wondered why.

“Because we’re talking more,” he said. “When we play hockey, all four of us – the two players, the scorer and the timekeeper – are focused on the game. It’s more competitive and not as social.”

I nodded, and then he went on. “And the other thing is: We can’t beat Schultz.”

He was right about that, too. I think – without digging back into the notebook that’s in the closet – that Rick won the first hockey tournament we played since the event was revived sometime after the Texas Gal and I moved to St. Cloud in 2002. But since then – seven years in a row or so – it’s been Dan’s Boston Bruins atop our tabletop world.

I tossed out the idea of playing baseball in both the spring and fall, a two-part tournament, and Rob was interested. So were Rick and Dan. (Dan was amused when I told him that one of the reasons for the shift was that he’s invincible on the rink.) So we’re getting together today to play Strat-O-Matic baseball, the first of two parts of a sixteen-team tournament, with the second to take place next autumn.

That means that in a couple of hours, four middle-aged men will revert – for a few hours anyway – into laughing, story-telling boys and the Texas Gal will gather up her textbooks and her laptop and flee the house here on the East Side, heading to the local library to study in peace. And our laughter and games – along with the Texas Gal’s indulgence – will make this one of the best days of the year for me (and, I hope, for the other guys, too).

Our teams for this spring portion of the two-part event? Rick brings back last year’s champs, the 1954 Indians, and adds the 2010 Phillies. Rob will play the 1920 Indians and the 1988 Mets. Dan’s choices are the 1927 Yankees and the 2010 Rangers. Me? In search of my first title, I’m directing the 1930 Athletics and the 1941 Yankees.

And not many tunes fit better for our twice-a-year gatherings than a certain tune by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. In 1968, Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66  put together a sweet cover of “With A Little Help From My Friends.” And it’s today’s Saturday Single.

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3 Responses to “Saturday Single No. 288”

  1. jb says:

    I am torn between a desire to witness this spectacle and the suspicion that the Texas Gal may have the right idea. I expect the beer is tasty, regardless. Enjoy the day.

  2. Steve E. says:

    You’re the only one of the four participants who didn’t pick a team from the past 25 years, but you’re also the only one who picked two World Series champions. I can’t recall if you’ve said what level of SOM you play — basic, advanced or super-advanced.

  3. whiteray says:

    @jb: The spectacle was in fact loud and fun, and the beer was excellent. Rob brought several IPAs, we had some Firebrick and a few other tasty brews, and I indulged in one Black Butte porter.

    @ Steve: Well, we play basic, but we’ve made some of our own modifications over the years, dealing with things like pitcher fatigue, outfielders’ ratings inhibiting runners taking extra bases, catchers’ ratings inhibiting stolen bases and a few other things. Both of my teams went out in the first round, with the ’30 A’s being shut out by Waite Hoyt of the 1927 Yankees (Jimmie Foxx struck out with the bases loaded when the game was scoreless), and the 1941 Yankees were clobbered by the 2010 Rangers. The 1920 Indians won it all.

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