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Monday, July 15, 2013

NYT: Before Football, Jets’ Ryan Mastered Table Baseball

“I love coaching football, don’t get me wrong,” Ryan said. “But I just love baseball.” Dig it!

“I have sets, literally, of almost every single year of Strat-O-Matic baseball,” Ryan said. “That’s how huge I was into it.”

This revelation — that he engaged in a hobby he would call “a bit egghead-ish” — does not square easily with Ryan’s public image as the brash and swaggering coach of the Jets. The same guy who encouraged cheap shots while playing football with his two brothers and who recently ran with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, would also jockey to draft Manny Mota, a Strat-O-Matic superstar. By day, Ryan would plot aggressive schemes as one of the N.F.L.’s more creative defensive coaches. By night, in his slivers of spare time, he would scour the Internet for player-card sets that had eluded his collection.

It was bound to happen, what with being a head coach and all, but his obsession has waned. Neither of his sons was that interested. Names aren’t as familiar — certainly there is no more Saenz, who retired in 2008. Until our three-inning duel on a rainy afternoon last month, it had been a while since Ryan’s last Strat-O-Matic game. Perhaps not since his days at Southwestern Oklahoma State, where he and Rob would stay up late drinking beer, playing full seasons and keeping stats. They created their own scoresheets.

“Instead of studying,” Ryan said, “we were doing this stuff.”

...We shook hands and talked for a few minutes. He lamented some of the enhancements that Strat-O-Matic has made over the years, introducing advanced fielding charts, ballpark factors and updated base-stealing options. They took away from his enjoyment, he said.

“When all these things came up, I stopped playing it,” Ryan said. “I think the quality went down. Even the quality of the cards isn’t nearly the same. I never wanted to turn to this sheet or that sheet or whatever. Just the feel of it, it’s not the same to me.”

For the first time in our 45 minutes together, Ryan had turned wistful. But when I mentioned how those enhancements had not stopped him from whipping me after a hiatus of nearly three decades, he laughed.

“It doesn’t mean,” Ryan said, “that I forgot how to play.”



Repoz Posted: July 15, 2013 at 08:56 AM | 4 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: f-football, strat-o-matic

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   1. Ray (RDP) Posted: July 15, 2013 at 10:01 AM (#4494499)
Maybe he'd be a better baseball manager than he is a football coach?

He has no clue how to run/oversee an offense in the 2010s era NFL.
   2. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: July 15, 2013 at 11:07 AM (#4494566)
Yeah, probably not, if he considers Manny Mota a Strat-O-Matic superstar. Mota had a couple nice seasons, but a d3/d4 LF with a noodle arm and a 120 OPS+ is pretty far from superstardom.
   3. stratosaur Posted: July 15, 2013 at 07:46 PM (#4495184)
#2, he's probably referring to Mota's 1977 card that was based upon his 38 AB, .395/.521/.500 season. A lot of people did not limit a player's usage back then. Ringers ruled!
   4. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: July 15, 2013 at 07:56 PM (#4495187)
Yeah, I guess that would be a superstar. Point taken.

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