Learnings From A Rollercoaster Replay

I enjoy writing, but often struggle to find the right topic to unpack. Back when I wrote about soccer, I had a standing commitment to produce an article a week. That wasn’t for me. There are times I have a bag full of ideas, and others where it’s empty. Of course, when you’re producing a half-dozen videos per week about tabletop sports, a lot of those ideas get teased out on camera.

But it’s impossible to avoid writing a final few words on Tenacious Earl’s 2008 Phillies Super-Advanced As-Played Replay (could I have added any modifiers? Delicious? Exquisite? Over the top much?). Again, some of these thoughts were tossed around on the YouTube machine between March 29, 2017 until now. I don’t want to harp on this. Yet, I think it helps me to drop a post in here as a kind of time capsule to reference someday when I want to remember this project.

  1. Single-team replays aren’t my thing. There are members of our community who have done some excellent work replaying a full season for a single team (Tribefan first comes to mind). The monotony of trotting out largely the same lineup day in and day out wore on me. Some of the same guys I remembered from 2008 (Jimmy Rollins most of all, but also Carlos Ruiz, Brett Myers, and Pedro Feliz) as being super-influential fell short on many occasions, and having little variation from game-to-game was tough.
  2. As-Played replays aren’t my thing. A great part of my joy in the original TBL (2015 ed.) was managing the teams the way I saw fit. As-played gives you the feeling that you’re going to try and do better than the real manager. You quickly realize, however, that situations can’t be recreated, and any thought you had to using the same pitching changes, pinch-hitters, and defensive replacements in every game goes right out the window. Score affects player usage. If you’re ahead by 10 runs, why should you force yourself into using your closer because Charlie Manuel did?
  3. Replays of my favorite team aren’t my thing. You’re probably sensing a theme…we’ll move on from it shortly, I promise. I think stirring together the two previous points with my propensity to dive deep into the emotion of the situation creates a dangerous cocktail. I’ve harped on this a bit, so I don’t want to overwork these points. But this replay turned into a pressure cooker – exposing the same ingredients in the same ways without variation, plus having those ingredients have some terrible luck just got to me. I’m sure there are lots of other replayers who have vented in worse ways than I did. But I didn’t like it, and likely won’t do it again.
  4. Luck can mean everything. There’s a saying that in baseball you win 60, lose 60, and it’s the other 42 that dictate your record. Both the dice and the StratPC sim of the other teams gives you a great view of that. The Braves didn’t have a whole lot saying that they’d be an 89-win team based on their actual performance in 2008. And the statistics didn’t change a ton (+0.09 OB%, +0.16 SLG%, -0.30 ERA), at least not enough to scream a 17 game turnaround. But aside from analyzing game-by-game – which would only serve to frustrate me more – I think it’s best to chalk it up to luck. A few big hits with RISP, an opposing batter getting nerves and popping out in the big situation, it could have been any or all of that.
  5. There is no shame in canning a project if it’s not fun. I’ve had this complex because I pigeonholed myself into the name, “Tenacious Earl,” due to the league I ran. It’s just a name, but after putting that name on this project, I felt like it would have been a real travesty to abandon the 2008 Phillies replay given that name.But given the fact I completed the replay, to each their own, and I think it’s wise to consider your level of enjoyment when you’re simulating a season, tour, league, or tournament. If you’re not having fun, just discontinue it. Or at the very least, take some time off and play something else. I did the latter several times in the Phillies replay, and it did help.Having said that, another recommendation: if you do abandon a project because it’s not for you, learn from it. Dig down and figure out what characteristic of the project turned you off. Make sure to avoid other projects like that! Don’t put yourself through that again. It’s not fun to walk away from something. I always felt empty thinking that I might not finish this replay, and that drove me to complete it. But it shouldn’t mean forcing yourself to endure a lot of disgust, boredom, disappointment, heartache, frustration, and/or feelings of tedium.
  6. Remember Point #4? The Phillies probably had a lot of that. Don’t get me wrong, the 2008 Phillies were a good team, at least on the top end. They weren’t deep. They were lucky in many ways: they avoided major injuries to their big dogs, Lidge didn’t give up leads, they got some timely contributions from undervalued players (Coste, Dobbs, Kendrick, Moyer), and they had some decent match-ups in the playoffs. Compare that to the teams that came later, who were deeper and more talented across the board, but dealt with more injuries, a weaker bullpen, and went up against much better opposition when it came to the playoffs.

In the end, this project stands for me as a milestone and a memory. I set out wanting to relive the joy I felt on that October night when Lidge struck out Eric Hinske to get the Phillies their second World Series title. I don’t expect I’ll ever get there, even as I embark on a playoff simulation based on the results of this Replay/Simulation. Those expectations were too high.

I would like to remember this project as a way to not get too down in future endeavors. Whether that desired effect becomes reality remains to be seen.

Until then, my plan is to simulate, simulate, simulate. The Tenacious golfing world is a fictitious set of golfers, so that’s pure simulation with no vested interest. My Tenacious-style leagues always promote a level of intrigue that isn’t so much historical as hypothetical. I will also find other ways to eliminate “rooting interests” as much as possible going forward, as my goal is to be a commentator much more than a fan.

Thanks to all who have ridden this rollercoaster replay ride with me. The playoffs & World Series are in the works, but in the meantime, we’ll get some History Maker Golf & maybe a new Second Season project rolling away.

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