Reflecting Back On Draft Day And The First 70 Games Have Me Thinking

What Was I Thinking?

Inner reflection by Steve Swinea

I remember my Uncle Joe and I drafting 2 teams back in 1981. He got to choose from the Senior Circuit. I got to choose from the Junior Circuit. We had so many millions (I think $40 million) to assign on ballplayers in the other league (unbeknownst to the opposing manager). We were limited to fielding a lineup of up to $9 million at any time during a contest.

As I quickly assigned dollar values to National League ballplayers before my uncle announced his draft selections, I ran into a dilemma. I found I was overspending my allotted dollar amounts on his talent pool and didn't have enough to place on his possible selections of third sackers.

I had a hunch he wanted Schmidt, Salazar, Brooks, and Madlock (remember in '81, Brooks and Salazar were promising hot corner prospects) and only $8 million allocated towards these 4 possible selections.

My thought process was to place $2 million on each of these 4 prospects and "force" my uncle to pay-to-play anyone of them. In actuality, I made the choice very easy for my uncle. If they all have the same dollar cost associated with them, play the best one. Mike Schmidt terrorized me all summer. I learned from that mistake, but evidently not enough.

The APBA computer baseball game is not real baseball. Our game plays with the real ballplayers and their abilities, but the process they go through is much different than in real baseball. For every pitching/batting matchup in real baseball, there are endless possibilities. Our game places (and this assuming the computer game is an electronic extension of the advanced APBA board game) 36 possibilities into a finite set of probabilities.

While we all play under these same rules, the managers and teams who excel are the ones who understand and manipulate (and I mean that in a competitive, good way) this understanding into a competitive advantage for their ballclub. In real life, in a real baseball game, aren't the Mystic Rhythm evenly matched against the Shakopee Schlitz (using our league's two won/lost extremes)? Perhaps they have different strengths and weaknesses in comparison to one another, but in the end aren't they even as far as talent?

What separates these two fine organizations is Keith's application of his knowledge about APBA computer baseball and Joe transposing his thought process about baseball and the ballplayers onto the game (I'm not trying to single out Keith and Joe here).

Historically, if you look at the cumulative league records, the best ones are owned by those who possess this "knowledge" (Keith, Greg, Ken, Chris) against those who do not (Tommy, Dan). Seasoned manager Jim Frank is perhaps a living testament to this theory as his teams have improved as he continues to draft and field teams.

While I have played APBA's basic board game, I too have gone through this learning curve. I realized most of this knowledge that the other experienced managers knew; I just didn't/don't know how to apply it as a competitive advantage.

a previously unpublished article written by Steve Swinea 70 games into the '97 SL (mid-June 1997)