Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Cardboard And Board Card Games

The closer Cardboard Gods gets to being a daily check-in spot for me, the more you're going to read writing here that's inspired by it. Just a warning.... (If you grew up collecting baseball cards in any era, please check out the site.)

But much like how I'm inspired to write about the most random things just from watching the same Red Sox game everybody else did, the mere sight of a baseball card is likely to spin me off in a completely different direction than that of the post it appeared in.

So, inspired by this post, I'd like to mention two things:

1. I remember on the back of Topps' cards, there would always be a little asterisk preceded by a letter of the alphabet, near the copyright date. "A" through "F", maybe. It seemed to be a random thing. But, of course, every, say, Britt Burns card of a certain year would have the same letter. So each guy would have his own meaningless letter every year. Was it truly random, or did it have to do with the team, or the number of the card in the set? Were the manufacturers secretly "grading" the players? "Wayne Tolleson--F!" Was each guy assigned a letter his rookie year and kept it throughout his career? If they come up with a way to make people immortal (how about it, science?), I'm definitely spending a year figuring this out, if not just compiling huge lists of each player's letter for each year. I just checked a few cards from my Gedman collection (if you're new, I've been collecting every Gedman card ever made--I think I'm close to triple-digits--and someday I'm gonna showcase the whole thing, watch for that with b. breath), and his '82 was an E, as was his '86. Then he went to an F in '87, but was back up (down?) to a C in '89. The "same letter every year for each guy" theory has been shot to hell.

Another interesting thing a lot of people probably never realized about the Topps sets was how they'd give the "round numbers" to the stars. The rounder the number, the bigger the star. 100, 200, etc., these were reserved for superstars. 50, 150, 250, etc., were for the next rung down, and so on and so forth. If you were card number 473, you could just about call it a career.

2. Everyone always (not really) talks about Strat-o-Matic Baseball. There's even some website replaying a season using it now. (There was something about it I wasn't into--like, it wasn't truly using the old game itself, and contestants didn't have to actually do anything, they just have a team and let someone else do the work. Something like that.) Anyway, I liked and played S-o-M, but how come nobody talks about Statis Pro? (As I type that for the first time as an adult, the pun finally hits me.) SP was made by Sports Illustrated, and was more complicated than Strat-o-Matic. I remember the key to the game was the FAC (fast action card). And that's about all I remember. Except for the fact that the cover of the box had a Yankee pitcher facing away from the camera, and I put a hole in the cardboard and then would shove a pencil in there so it looked like the guy was taking a massive dump right through his uniform pants.

Oh wait, I do remember something else. There were weird and wacky plays that came up rarely. You'd read from a separate chart to find out what happened. In one, a player says to the umpire, "not me, blind one," and is ejected from the game.

Then later you had Pursue the Pennant, with its flashy stadiums and colorful ten-sided die. Then the internet arrived, then the school shootings, the anorexia, the Macarena, 9/11, and on to today. And that's what happened.

Nerd that I am I pick a nit:

Anorexia and school shooting pre-dated the universally used internet that we obsess on today.

Sadly. We can't blame EVERYTHING on Al Gore's creation. ;)
Yes, surely there were anorexics before the internet. Wasn't blaming stuff on the internet, just listing a bunch of stuff. I guess.

If anything, I was blaming Pursue the Pennant's extravagant lifestyle for the ills of society:)

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Location: Rhode Island, United States