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Wednesday 22nd Nov 2017

A few years back, I was out eating dinner with my friends Michele and Leslie. We were going out to eat before heading off to see Yo La Tengo. The three of us wanted noodles, and the Japanese Center is right near the Fillmore. We picked one. There was a wait, however, so I sat down and put our name on a list while Michele and Leslie looked at the shops.

As soon as I sat down, I pulled my iPhone out of my pocket to check messages and play Words With Friends and essentialy kill the time waiting wherein I used to sit and think, or read a book (I always do have a book, but the iPhone is so damn tempting) and noticed the other handful of folks waiting were doing the same.

And that made me think about the time before our hand helds and smart phones, when there was no texting or e-mail and though we somehow survived, well, it is hard to imagine letting the phones go, no? 

I did start playing roto ball before I got a computer: you know, those old giant computers that were not half as powerful as our phones are now? Amazing. Actually, I have played or watched some form of baseball for as far back as I can remember. Made up games with baseball cards, the Cadaco spinner game, APBA, and Strat-O-Matic in the old days with cards (I still play Strat as most of you know).

And, before our phones got too sophisticated, I bought an XBOX trying to figure out baseball and football, but the game that caught us was the Simpsons Game, wherein Diane was Homer and I was Bart. And, as an aside, Diane is a wicked EGames player, having once beat an arcade Pac Man game and currently playing level 1236 at Candy Crush and 832 on Candy Crush Soda, levels I can only imagine.

That is because I generally use my phone to check scores and transactions and teams and play a few games, and though Candy Crush is one, I am hardly the player my mate is.

But, the other day, while surfing and looking at scores or something, a little trial for Tap Sports Baseball '16 which featured a hitter with the user simply trying to hit pitches for an inning. Of course I got nowhere, but I repeated the trial once, then again, and after the third time I somehow wound up downloading the app to my phone.

And, since that fateful download, I have played a total of 65 games (23-42) and I have to admit that Tap Sports Baseball is a pretty good distraction.

Within the game, you only hit: There is a pitcher, but the results of your time on the field is reported to you between at-bats. As with most such games, timing is everything, for if you can judge and time the pitch, you can hit.

The thing that makes Tap Baseball interesting is that you start with a crap team. As in real crap. My initial roster included Jacoby Ellsbury and a rookie Madison Bumgarner, with Stephen Drew as a power source, and then a bunch of dreck a la Jordan Pacheco, Allen Craig, Matt Harrison and Sean Nolan.

Players get star rankings, and aside from the threes Ellsbury and Bumgarner held, the rest of my guys were at best 1.5 stars, meaning not very good. So, if my team faced a three star pitcher, with my squad throwing a one star hurler out there, chances are my tail would be handed to me, and that indeed did occur for the first 20 or so games.

But, with goals, like hitting five doubles in a game, or scoring ten runs, you get points and gold (you can also buy these commodities via the Apple Store) and using these accomplishments, it is possible to upgrade, and thus improve your team. And, with said success, you climb league levels, something I am still awaiting having just started climbing the amateur ranks of the game.

It takes about ten minutes or so to play (and you can pause, and leave the app, and the game will auto save) and, well, once you get started.

I have taken some lumps, as the 42 losses suggest, but ten of my wins have come over my last 12 games. Odder, I have a sudden attachment to Drew (who has hit 33 homers), Ellsbury (who is hitting .297-12-37 with 52 runs scored and 17 steals) and even the guys who seemed like useless toadies such as Christhian Adames (my shortstop) and Zach Walters have worked into a soft spot in my heart.

Of course, since I have been improving and gaining points, the face of my team has improved. I now have Kendall Graveman (three stars!) as one of my starters, and Cesar Hernandez is killing for me at third base. I have some gold savings and a lot of points from winning little low level tourneys.

But, uh, well, I am kind of into it and well, it is a pretty fun time and game and well, if you are reading this, you too probably love baseball and its variations. So, I am just saying.

I mean, I know, I can delete the app any time I like. Right?

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