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Peanuts, Crackerjack and D&D?

Nick Hanzlik



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I want to start off this entry by saying that I am no writer. I joined Twins Daily so that I could follow the blog of a life-long friend of mine, who is much more talented than I. Shout out to Alex Boxwell, former Gopher outfielder and the next Ernest Hemmingway (follow his blog and become enlightened).

Maybe it’s the holidays being around the corner or the fact that I am snowed in and bored, but after what is appearing to be the mundane end to what could have (and should have?) been a historic FA signing period for the Minnesota Twins, I felt the need to find some positives and reflect on why I should continue to give my time to a team I follow with a passion. As well as why I should keep up with a sport that appears to be dying.

The answer is a seemingly strange one and stems from the origins of how I became interested in baseball as a kid. Growing up I was super into all the nerdy things. Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, comic books, video games, you name it. Then I received MVP Baseball 2005 (Manny cover) as a gift on my 10th birthday. I had zero interest in sports at this time, but my best friend (RIP Brandyn) insisted that I try it so I caved and began to play. It was the greatest gift a nerd could receive. The in-depth simulation, the statistics, the attention to detail, stadium creation, owner mode, everything about that game kept me glued to my computer screen. That game is literally how I became interested in baseball. I was horribly unathletic but I decided to sign up for Little League the following Spring. I was terrible, I mean TERRIBLE, unwatchable even for an 11-year-old. Each year I managed to get a bit better and through sheer love of the game I willed myself onto the varsity baseball team my junior year of High School (as a PO obviously, hitting is hard). As I began to spend more time with skilled athletes, the personalities of the people I spent my time with changed drastically, and the true beauty of baseball revealed itself. It became a wonderful bridge between nerdom and sports culture.

As I have gotten older, I have realized I am far from alone in experiencing this ‘world between worlds,’ something about baseball fascinates nerds unlike any other sport. Maybe it’s the heavy influence of statistics, maybe it’s the fact that you don’t need to be a world class athlete to play it, who knows, but there is no denying that nerds love baseball. Just look at Dungeons and Dragons, an amazing game I suggest everyone tries at least once in their life. That game, which I think most people would consider to be the first game that used character stat sheets and involved freedom of choice, came out in 1974. Strat-O-Matic, a baseball simulation game using character sheets, statistics and dice rolling like that of D&D, came out in 1961. That is 13 years prior...

I have played D&D almost every Tuesday for the last 6 years and I can tell you that anyone watching such a game without having played, is going to fall asleep. However, that does not mean there isn’t anything going on. It’s just a heavily nuanced world filled with strategy, branching narratives, statistics, probability and larger than life characters.

Look at baseball now, every moment has nuance and complexity that leads to anticipation of 1000 different outcomes. I understand there aren’t seven-foot-tall specimens flying around dunking on each other, or 250-pound dudes colliding in full pads, but the game is more complex than that. A matchup between the likes of Bryce Harper and Max Scherzer is beyond interesting. Every pitch something changes. What pitch was thrown? Where was it thrown? How has the hitter been approached by the league? How has the hitter been approached by the specific pitcher? Are there runners on base? What’s the score? What inning is it? All of this can change with every pitch and the mental warfare between hitter and pitcher is absolutely fascinating.

I read an article a while back that made a similar connection between D&D, nerdom and baseball. They made the point that it would be amazing to bring together a D&D party in full cosplay and a group of hardcore baseball fans in team attire, face paint, foam fingers and all. I found this to be hilarious, and I imagine the look on their faces when they realize how remarkably similar they are, would be priceless.

At the end of the day, I will always follow the Minnesota Twins and baseball as a whole. It is a beautifully complex game that bridges two wonderfully unique yet similar worlds. At times it feels like David vs Goliath for both the franchise among the league, and baseball among the other major sports, which are often seen as more action oriented and ‘exciting.’ Hopefully MLB can find a way to market the game to the next generation better so it doesn’t go belly up. It’s scary to think of the 11-year-old kid who almost never got to experience the immersive culture and beauty of baseball. It would have been a damn shame if the game had never reached me. Friendships that would never have been made, memories lost and a passion left undiscovered. With the game in its current state, that may have been my reality.



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Awesome perspective here, dude! Everyone who loves the game can relate to this on some level or another. Baseball is such a wonderful mix of nerdiness and athleticism.

I think the game will correct itself eventually. It is a delicate balance of the application of analytics and "old school" baseball where you experience baseball at its best. Hard to coach the human element of the game with a spreadsheet and an iPad.

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I am a lapsed D&D player, and I think it's no coincidence that me getting really into baseball happened around the same time that family obligations started making it impossible for me to keep a regular D&D campaign going.

I have a lot of friends who are sports fans, and I was hoping that getting into baseball would give me something to talk to them about, but it turns out that the ones who like baseball are all nerds who I already had plenty of common interests with.

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MVP 05 is the best graphical baseball he ever made!! I had it for the Xbox. Literally every game mode was worth playing. There's apparently still a big community still playing, someone has actually created custom updates every year so you can play with updates players and teams.

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On 12/28/2022 at 10:27 AM, MMMordabito said:

Best thing I've read on TD, since RiverBrian's "Confessions ...."

I’m glad you enjoyed it! I’ll have to look up these confessions haha

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