Wednesday, November 17, 2004

YOU are the manager, YOU call the shots

Screw a funny intro. The subjects of today/s post are Play Book! Baseball vols. 1-2, written by Michael Teitelbaum.


Unless your name happens to be Andrew Fanoe, I would imagine you have never heard of the 2 wondrous books Play Book! Baseball and Play Book! Baseball 2. The books are like a combination of baseball and Choose Your Own Adventure. At a specific juncture you are left with a managerial decision, ie do you have your runner steal or hold, do you have your hitter bunt or swing away, etc. and with each decision you turn to a different page and a different decision, and so on until you win or lose the game. I'll run through a sample game as an example.
The first decision you have to make is which pitcher to start, Bombo Torres or Mark McAndrews. Torres is a fastballer and the team hits fastballers well. McAndrews is a finesse pitcher but he is going on short rest. I choose to start Bombo, because he has a funnier name. That means go to page 10.

I'm the away team, so they are up first. Oh snap, their leadoff hitter Steve Malley got an infield single, and their second hitter is an excellent bunter. Question: Should I have both my first and third basemen charge for the bunt, or have the first basemen hold the runner and risk the bunt single. I choose to hold the runner because Steve Malley is pretty fast...Page 14.

Hey, I got the lead runner on the sacrifice, excellent. They don't get any more runs, so it's my turn. Yo, my leadoff man gets on too! He's pretty fast, so I have to decide if I want to have him steal, or to just do the sacrifice bunt. According to the book "My rookie rightfielder, Guy Diego, is up next. Should I try a steal or a sacrifice? Diego's not a great bunter...but the bunt might catch them by surprise." I'm going for the surprise factor baby, it's sac bunt all the way...Page 24.

Damnit, they got the lead runner. I should have learned from their mistake. Stupid mistake. By the way, the people in this game suck at bunting, sac bunts are not that hard. Double play to end the inning. I think our team got screwed on the call, personally. Wow, this game goes fast, skip all the way to the top of the 6th inning and it's still a scoreless game. Bombo Torres walks the bases loaded with one out and now I have to decide if I want to take him out, or leave him in. In real baseball, you would definitely take him out, but one thing you learn if you read this book is ALWAYS stick with the starter, you almost always lose if you take him out. I trust Bombo on this one...Page 52.

Bombo comes through baby. Soft popup and then he strikes out the pitcher and I'm in, baby. Then, in the bottom of the eighth inning, none other than Bombo Torres comes to bat. According to the book "He is only hitting .138 this year, but he has several clutch RBI's". Looking at the stat page in the book he only has 10 RBI's so obviously he can't be very clutch. BUT WAIT, he hits a solo home run (the first of his career) and we go on to win 1-0. What a hell of a game.

The best rule of thumb in this game is to do the opposite of whatever is the logical strategic move.
Anyways, you can see how this game provides near-endless permutations of fun.
The real story behind these books though, are the characters. All the players on both teams, your team, and the opposition team, have names, and brief descriptions. I'll run through some of the more interesting ones in book 1 and then provide a more in depth analysis of book 2 which is a more interesting book.

Long time readers may recall my post about how I hate Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Longer time readers may recall my post about how I hate bobbing for apples (other people's saliva, dude)...I am here to tell you now, I hate John Neff more than bobbing for apples with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. John Neff is a player on the opposing team who according to the front of the book "has been on a hot streak for 15 games." The sample game was a bad example because Neff was not a factor but in probably about 75% of the games Neff hits a homer to tie up the game or put his team ahead, or makes a clutch play, or gets some clutch hit. In most losses, you can trace that loss right back to John Neff. Screw you Neff.
The most fun player on your team is John Minor, whose description is "just up from the Minors". I know that can't be unintentional, but I don't know why you would do something that damn stupid.
Also there are two pitchers in the book described as having a "blazing fastball"...come up with better adjectives, Michael Teitelbaum.
Before I go on to the second book, I should mention one funny scenario in book one. You are arguing with the umpire, and he pretty much says that he is about to throw you out and your decision is, keep arguing or sit down. Guh? what a stupid scenario...anyways, just so you know you lose the game if you get thrown out...the team is nothing without your brilliant managerial mind.

OKAY, now, the real point of this post was to talk about Play Book! Baseball 2. Unfortunately, I can't find the book, but I will post from what I and especially my little brother remember. Andrew must have played these books a million times b/c he remembers pretty much everything about them. Anyways, the best addition to book 2 is that all the players have nicknames, which makes everything more fun. I'll go down the lineup for your team, pointing out stupidities...

1. The leadoff hitter is LF Aaron "Flash" Parker. Nothing funny about him except he has a lot of steals and is named after a goofy superhero.
2. Second hitter, 1B "Smilin' " Lee Balzano. Smilin' is a funny nickname in my opinion. You would have to smile a lot to get that nickname. From now on, I propose we call Steve Saul "Smilin' Steve" (fun fact about Steve Saul...Scrabble playable words containing all the letters in Steve Saul: Lucrativeness, superlatives, unassertively, universalities, vesicularities, vesiculates).
3. Third Hitter, RF "Sky King" Cunningham. Why would you nickname a person "Sky King"? According to the book, it's because he hits the ball so high and hard. Okay that still makes no sense to me. Anyways, in one of the scenarios I remember, Sky King saves the game by robbing a homer, so maybe I should complain. Sky King is the best player on the team...not quite Barry Bonds maybe, but perhaps the equivalent of Vlad Guerrero or Manny Ramirez. In one scenario though, he comes up with runners on base, and you have to make him drop a surprise bunt or you lose the game. If you swing away he hits into a double play and you lose. The bunt results in a single and the win. Never mind you would NEVER have a star player bunt with runners on base...who cares because these books are absolutely insane when it comes to strategy.
4. Fourth Hitter, SS Graham "Shakespeare" Hatcher. Another bizarre nickname. What possible line of nickname reasoning, you may ask, could have the end result of you calling a professional baseball player "Shakespeare"? Was he a Shakespeare major in college? Is he a playwright? Nope, according to the book, it's because when he fields a grounder, it's like Shakespeare. I don't think I need to add to that.
5. Fifth Hitter, 2B Bo "The Bopper" Brooks. The Bopper (not to be confused with The Big Bopper) rocks. My favorite The Bopper scenario is where he is being intentionally walked and you have to choose whether to have him reach out and swing at one of the pitches or take the walk. Again, if you have him swing he hits a homer and you win. If he takes the walk you lose.
6. Sixth Hitter, 3B Pete "Mac" McKenzie. One of the few sensible nicknames in this game. This guy is an aging veteran but still a fan favorite.
7. Seventh Hitter, CF Web "Spiderman" Lawrence. Yup, his real first name is Web. I guess you could say he is yclept Web. Also there are two people in this game nicknamed after superheroes. Spiderman is pretty cool, he's a good defensive outfielder. He does have a funny name though. Yo, what's going on Web, you wanna hang out.
8. Eighth Hitter, C (?) Neither my brother or I remember this guys name or anything about him.
9. Pitcher slot. The two pitchers are just like before one finesse artist, one fireballer. The fireballer is named "Wildcat" Berry.
Also, as the manager, you are nicknamed "Mr. Wizard".

We don't remember nearly as much about the other team, but there is an equivalent of Neff in this book, the opposing team's star player "Hollywood" Horka. I don't hate him as much as Neff though because he has a hilarious name.

The tagline of this book is "YOU are the manager, YOU call the shots", which is a funny tagline in my opinion. According to the back of the book they make a book called "Play Book! Football: YOU are the quarterback, YOU call the shots".

There's one other funny thing in this book I would be remiss to not mention, and that is the lineup cards. The beginning of the book is the lineup cards, that's where it has all the information about the players that I've been spouting.
There are 3 blanks at the top of the card though, I thought I should quote:
"YOUR TEAM (You choose the name!): _______________" not quite sure that merits the italics or the exclamation point, it's just the name of a team.
"MANAGER (Fill in your name or the name of your favorite manager): ________" You know, my brother and I never did fill out these blanks. This next one is long winded so buckle up.
"THE ANNOUNCER (Pick the name of your favorite announcer--from TV, radio, or even your own neighborhood. Whenever you read the annoucer's words in Play Book! Baseball imagine the announcer you picked saying them): ______" Actually that sounds like a stupid idea to me. OOOH BURNED. Take that Teitelbaum!

Okay fellows, that's all for now, Play Book! Baseball, OUT

Saturday, November 06, 2004

What in the world?

Hello all.

I have not given up on the blog, the past few weeks were just very busy. I'm always hoping I'll get to the point where I make a post once or twice a week, but we'll see I guess. ENOUGH EXCUSES, ON TO THE CONTENT!

Words in Scrabble:

Okay, so I've made fewer than 10 posts on this blog, and I already have one on Scrabble (well, actually Clabbers), so do I really need another one? Well, I spend a surprisingly high amount of my free time lately playing Scrabble, so yes it is.

One of the very best parts of playing Scrabble is the hilarious words you learn. By flipping through the Scrabble dictionary and watching others play, here are some great words my brother and I have come across...

"Out" words:
There are a lot of hilarious words in Scrabble which begin with the prefix out-. I will list a sampling of a few of them. Remember, all of these words mean "to surpass in ___" for example outgnaw means "to surpass in gnawing"
outbeam (to surpass in beaming?)
outhomer (to surpass in hitting home runs)
outdrag (to surpass in drag racing)
outecho (can't really come up with a good context to use this one..."Wow, this cavern sure outechos the last cavern we went to")
outfumble (don't know how you would use this word. Like you are better at fumbling, or fumble more often or something?)
I could go on and on because there are literally hundreds of "out" words in scrabble and most of them are hilarious.

There are also some funny "anti-" words like antipolice and antiboss ("opposed to the police" and "opposed to bosses".) Jim is a good worker but he seems a little, you know, antiboss.

"Oh come on, that's a word?" words

There are lots of examples of these, words which we use in normal conversation but would not guess are words in scrabble.
Aargh, aarrgh, and aarrghh are all words, but not argh or any other variation.
phooey is a word, and so is the alternate spelling pfui.
brr and brr ("used to indicate that one is cold") are words but not br
hmm and hm
sh, but not shh
Gee, and jee
doggone is a word, and it's actually a verb so doggoned and doggoning are words..."I'll get to that when I'm through doggoning this thing"
okeydokey and okeydoke are both words.
luv is a word (it means "a sweetheart").
Again, tons of examples of these, any words like "um" or "uh" or anything that you would use, is probably a playable word in Scrabble.

Words that sound funny

Are you sick of, when people asking your name, saying things like "I am named Greg Fanoe" (or whatever your real name is). Well look no further than Scrabble which offers two alternative words that mean the same thing as named, "yclept" and "benempted". "Benempted" is a weird past tense of the verb "to bename" which has the definition of "to name". Don't ask me why you would take an existing word, like "name", pop the prefix "be-" in front of it, and have it mean the exact same thing. "I am yclept Greg Fanoe, how about you?"
Have you ever found that something was suggestive of a cow, but been unable to find the exactly correct word to describe it? Well, look no further than Scrabble which offers up the word "cowy" meaning "suggestive of a cow".
What about if you have an entire satchel filled with something and somebody asks you how much you have? Confused as to what to tell them? No problem! Just inform them you have a satchelful.
What's the most difficult 7-letter word to play in Scrabble? Well, obviously there's no one correct answer, but my good money goes on zyzzyva which requires you have the only "z", both of the y's (there are only 2 in scrabble), both blanks, and one of the two v's to play.
Next time you see Steve, maybe you can ask him if he saw any rasbora, which is a kind of tropical fish.
My house just got a new "woodbin", which is a place for storing firewood. It's a nice "subpart" of the home (aka "a subdivision of a part" whatever that means).
I might need to go ask my dentist to check out my "dogtooth" which is "a cuspid"
The word "ylem" means "a hypothetical matter from which all substances were developed"...perhaps some philosophy major can help me out on that one.
"yobbo" is another funny word which means, poetically enough, "yob". In case you are curious "yob" means "a hoodlum"
Next time you see somebody wearing a robe, instead of sounding like a dumb schmo and saying he's wearing a robe, now you can sound like a chic genius and say that he is "berobed"
"Wow, man, I'm okay with you making lewd comments, but that was just overlewd"

Funny plurals
This is the last class of funny Scrabble words I will talk about.

Here's a possible awkward situation averted by Scrabble. If you are ever talking about saliva, but you are, you know, talking about more than one saliva, the plural is "salivas". This is a funny one to try and put in context.
"bigs" is a word, because apparently big can be used as a noun to mean "an individual or thing of importance". Man, that Mike Lee is sure a big.
"whens", "hows", "heres", all of these kinds of words are plurals. I can't imagine when you would need to pluralize "when" but there it is, in case you ever need it.
I bet you thought that the plural of "deer" is just "deer". Well, you're only half right because "deers" is also an acceptable plural.

Okay that's enough of that.

Some fun Scrabble facts: Most consecutive bingos (remember a bingo is when you use all your letters) to start a game? 7.
Highest possible word score? 392 for mezquite or caziques across 2 triple word scores and with the q on the double letter score. That ignores possible hooks from the other letters in your word.

Personal Scrabble update:

My new rating is 1113, which is a personal best. I know that holds no context for you all, but 1600 is considered an "expert", 1113 is an intermediate, it's probably about average. My brother and I have both already memorized all the 2 letter words and are now working on the 3 letter words.
Highest score in one game: 460
Highest score for one move: 95 for "pomading"
What if you don't count bingos?: 72 for zeal.
My little brother beats me out in one category, as he scored 110 points for "aquifers" and 105 for "examine"

Fun fact about Greg Fanoe:
I'm watching Kiki's Delivery Service in the background while writing this post. This makes me want to write a post on my absolute favorite movies of all time. No promises this time, I've already broken enough blog-promises to make another foolish one.

And one last Scrabble note.
Some funny Scrabble non-words:
Realtor (apparently it's capitalized, although you are allowed to play Realtor in British Scrabble)
"untimed" is not a word in Scrabble.
Neither is "internet"
"bingoed" and "bingoing" are not words although they are used by Scrabble players all the time
And lastly, "scrabble" and "clabbers" are both playable.