Diamond Follies

Now that the semester is just about finished (I’m administering two finals today, one tomorrow, to be quickly followed by mucho grading), I’m starting to feel like I can relax just a little. As it happens, I’ll be filling some of my near-term downtime with a couple of baseball-related pursuits.

Tonight, I’ll be participating in my first ever Strat-o-Matic draft. Grad school pal Toby has been playing Strat for several years now, and over the winter he convinced me to give the league he plays in a try. I got my cards back in February, and soon spent a couple of hours punching them out and doing some sorting. Toby and I scrimmaged via Skype (he lives in the Bay Area) a few times back in the first half of March. Originally I planned to participate in the April monthly tournament, but the move to online classes scotched that. Now, though…

There are five ten-team divisions in this month’s tourney; I’ll be playing four games head-to-head against the other nine folks in my division over the next three-plus weeks. The top three from each division advance to the playoffs (best record overall gets a first-round bye). I’ll be pleased enough if I finish with close to a .500 record and don’t make anyone mad with my slow play (I’m working on getting up to speed on the rules).

I’ve done fantasy baseball off-and-on over the years but I can tell this will be a different sort of experience. I may not be the only newbie tonight–I’ve seen reports in the last week or so about substantial increases in Strat-o-Matic sales during these quarantining times.

In a different vein: recently, friend-of-the-blog Kurt Blumenau posted about a box of junk wax (a previously unopened box of 1988 Fleer baseball cards) he purchased not long ago. He’s opening the packs one at a time, and seems to be about one-sixth of the way through the box now. I was reminded that I have the opportunity to do something similar: some large number of years ago, I picked up a sealed box of 1993 Topps Series 1 cards, marked down to $6 from $15. Exactly when, where, and why? Got me; I suspect it sounded like a possibly good investment. Plus, I’ve long been a sucker for baseball cards.

And guess what? Maybe it wasn’t a total waste of money. A quick trip to eBay this afternoon revealed a box just like mine bid up to $125, with nine hours still to go. Hmmm…

I was pretty surprised that something from that era would command such interest; then I found out about Derek Jeter’s rookie card, #98, the only truly valuable piece in the whole 825-card set. Does the possibility of realizing a return tempt me? Maybe a little, but duplicating Kurt’s pleasure in opening the packs myself is just too attractive. Getting a Jeter (or even a Ken Griffey, Jr.) would simply be icing on the cake. Perhaps I’ll reward myself with a pack for each set of final grades I submit?

Look for a different sort of post on baseball in two weeks.

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