FROM WHERE WE PARTED?
Mmmm, it has been a long time ago! We were younger, lighter in body fat, but still willing to play (maybe a little bit less than now, but a very little bit).
It was the time when SPORTS CENTER, the now mythical (I'm speaking for myself) "first newsletter about Table-top Sports games written in Italian", and as I said many times to the few sportsgamers which survived in Italy, we are actually a sort of Iguanas in the boardgaming panorama, or if you prefer the survivors of the dinasaurs era of cards, dice and charts. But as it happens in the wildlife only the strongest remains, so let's try to start again and have some fun.
BTW, if yo are under some sort of duress with the phone fares like
we are in sunny Italy thanks to the Telecom Italia monopoly,
I encourage you to download this file and read it easily off line.
If you do not have this type of problem, you are living in a better
country than mine...
WHAT HAVE WE MISSED MEANWHILE?
If I should list all the things we lost from the last issue of SPORTS CENTER to date, the web space I have may not be enough. Let's say we lost lots of fine games we enjoyed toying with, something new arrived, more on that later, and something else was discovered (Indiana Jones' aura is always upon us
In the end with all the losses we had the only ones still thanking us are our wallet and the always thin bank account...
Anyway with the games we were left with contibuted, for sure, in losing a few Tv movies and prize filled infomercials, but we have gained valuale spiritual freedom especially if with our last two dice rolls we turned to our favor a decisive home game in our PBM league (the ultimate true hidden lustfulness for us TTS gamers).
We have lost (or are going to lose) few fanzines or newletters officially sanctioned, some of it are sorely missed, but slowly the Web is giving us back what the printed world pulled away, so now we can hope the keep our small flame alive.
We lost SUMO from Mike Siggins, for well known reasons, we lost THE LETTER from Ellis Simpson, for personal reasons, we lost MAJOR LEAGUE from Mike Clifford for reason that probably shall never be explained even from the next Royal House manteinance crew, shall I have mentioned GAME WORLD from Bob Valvano? The worst printed fanzine west of Sports Center, but absolutely one of the most opinionated, we lost SPORTS CENTER (and you know already why) which at least was written in Italian, and the original SOM REVIEW which anticipated by more than 10 years the "
Let's make a quick calculation: we lost on the average about 20 pages per months on sports boargaming.
HOW ARE WE DOING NOWADAYS?
It may sounds weird, but nowadays we're not that bad.
The APBA Journal keeps printing masterpieces issues and the next step shall be re-name itself as "APBA2 - the New game Company". Producing new sets of golf cards (and I know it all too well), along with bowling, ice hockey, horse racing and boxing, the next step may be to start to forget the 1001 Millersville Road address... And on top of it prints monster interviews by Scott Lehotsky o APBA related people (top novelist Alison Gordon for one), need more evidences? Eric Neftaly is the owner of 4 coronary by-passes, but with what he's doing we should start making kudos anytime he strolls around this planet!
Who's losing ground with no mercy (and not so much mysteriously) is STRAT FAN, the natural inheritor of the SOM REVIEW, published by Glenn Guzzo. The thing is IMHO curious. I know gamers from the Padua area already heckling towards me when I start talking about a game firm with only three peculiar letters, but it is my belief that an APBA gamer is radically different from StratO gamer. The APBA devotee is the ultimate person which loves to talk and write about his favored game, sometimes with a religious fervor which borders the integralistic fanaticism, while the StratO gamer is looking only for more cards, and fast action cards to flip and has no need to spend time on reading printed pages.
This two different approaches gives a final score of 3-to-1 ratio in peoples which attended last summer the two conventions organized in less than a month in confining states of Ohio and Pennsylvania (talk about esoteric coincedences?).
BTW I am glad to have attended the SF con, even if I realized I was the only non North-American there... But I digress.
As I said, it is weird to me to see Strat Fan folding this summer and turn in some sort of Web page/e-mailed digest for updates on SOM activities. Weird since Glenn Guzzo is a professional journalist and has written tons of excellent Strat-related articles and features, has backed up innovative ideas (I loved the magazine/card set combo), but gamers likely apathy to spend time in the couch with a swift designed journal with no figures and many printed words in huge fonts have sealed the fate (one more coincedence: the AJ uses small fonts, while SF used the big ones...
As a side note may be notes that historically SOM oriented fanzine always carried a "light" approach if compared to the APBA ones (even if in the past reading the APBA Journal looked like reading the soviet Pravda daily newspaper, when it was strictly prohibited even vaguely to mentions other games).
If Glenn is reading me free-wheeling mumblings I'd love to read and host his opinion (and BTW Glenn, isn't about time to start planning a summer vacation in Italy?).
ISN'T IT FANCY MEETING YOU AGAIN?
WHAT'S NEW IN BALTIMORE (Frank Zappa's is still hoverin' upon here).
How else can you describe the return of REPLAY BASEBALL?
Pete Ventura rolled the dice, just because it happened he lives nearby Carmichaels, PA, where John Brodak used to print and mail good ol'Replay card sets.
After months of discreet assaults to the former Replay owner, and lots of good ol' reverse engineering, we got the game back in book format along with a solid binder (and a cheerful kiss-it-goodbye to MLBPA eagerness) and here we go again, black and white dice rolling even if with no pitching card rotation when tireness comes along.
Talk about old pals: EXTRA INNINGS is also in full steam in the comeback trail!
Ron Bernier has set up a web page at http://members.xoom.com/extrainnings/ where you'll get all you need to pick up Jack Kavanaugh masterpiece, for free which is always a nice thing.
STATIS-PRO HOCKEY is another one coming out of nowhere. Sadly the access to this web site and downloading the stuff is like winning the state lottery, so the URL until things are straighten out shall be taken hostage...
And while we talks about born-again games, do you sthink Bob Valvano's going to knock again something other than basketball's referees locker room doors for explanations? (Just kidding, Bob!)
His comet cameo appearance in Sports Gaming Digest created some heatwave, and then likely more light-years in the dark...
Just in case you missed: apparentely Harold Richman (Strat-O-Matic founding father) prefer the company of hordes of lawyers rather than testing the latest sets of baseball cards. If I have correctly understood the news, apparenetely a former Cincinnati Reds not so great player, probably short of cash these days, is trying to squeeze a few grands from Railroad Plaza in Glen Head, NY, just beacuse SOM is reissuing a past set where this player was not exactly an everyday ball-player.
Let me hear from you boys'n'girls!
That's it for now, let me go to shake a few hundreds dice rolls!
Until next time.
Sports Desk is written on the ice, and current June's temperature here in Venice is not the reason.
It may be the reminiscence of an old venetian commercial motto,
which may be roughly translated in English like: "Sign it on ice, pal".