There are three things the average man thinks he can do better than anyone else: build a fire, run a hotel, and manage a baseball team. -Rocky Bridges
My love of baseball started, as many things do, in childhood. I remember on many occasions bringing a mattress downstairs to the living room (the only air-conditioned room in the house except for my parents’ bedroom), brushing my teeth, getting ready for “bed”, then begging for the television to stay on a little longer so I could watch the ending of the Royals game. It was a treat in those “pre-cable television” days. One time, I recall my dad taking a group of boys (a scouting event, I think) to Royals stadium. As I was sitting down with the other boys, I looked back and saw my dad two rows back. I went over to sit and watch the game with him. After all, he looked so lonely chaperoning the event, and if it hadn’t been for my dad knocking high fly balls for me to track down, I never would have earned that particular merit badge. It was the best game I ever went to.
About a year and a half ago, I discovered something called a “sim league.” I was looking for a new computer game after finding out that my favorite one, High Heat, was out of business. What I ended up discovering was a group of close to thirty people spread across the country who used High Heat as a basis for simulating games and seasons, with themselves acting as owners and general managers. It looked like a steep commitment; rosters due every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; off-season rookie drafts, free agent protection lists and signings. I studied over the rules, emailed back and forth with the fellow in the league who posted the openings (who also happened to be the commissioner), and decided I could at least give it two seasons.
Of the two or three teams open, one caught my eye. It was the very worst franchise; it had the losingest record in the history of the league. The team actually went 36-126 one season! It had NEVER had a winning season. It had never even had a .500 season in its 15 seasons of existence. In other words, the franchise had my name written all over it. I signed up and renamed the team. I took complete reigns of the Manatees at the start of the 2016 season.
After a year and a half of being constantly humbled by the skill of some very talented general managers, I’ve been able to eek out a record of 876-744 (.541). The culmination of my work came a few days ago when I qualified for my fifth Rockies League West Pennant and managed to go from there all of the way to winning the League Championship Series!
I know it’s only a game, a virtual game at that, but for a little while my winter transformed into a pleasant summer on the baseball diamond; exploding into blinding postseason color, imprinting vivid memories that will carry me through the wintertime gloom until spring.