In a weekend filled with less-than-upbeat news, I thought I might try to brighten things up a bit by pointing out a fun new toy available on the internets. I first saw the site Back to Baseball linked over on Tom Tango's blog and then by Rob Neyer over at SB Nation, but it's something that may have been easy to miss for many people.
Back to Baseball is simply a baseball replay site, but the interface makes it fun to play with. Using data from Retrosheet games, the site gives you a visual replay of any game you want, even showing the players round the bases after home runs. Here, for example, is the first game I ever saw in Seattle, which included a grand slam from a young Alex Rodriguez. If you enjoy reliving games that you were at, or even seeing classic games play out in front of you, Back to Baseball is worth checking out.
And, since I can't seem to write a post these days without revealing just how big of a dork I am, here's a snippet of dialogue from an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation that I can't help thinking about every time I describe how Back to Baseball works:
Dr. Paul Stubbs: Do you know baseball?
Wesley Crusher: Yes, my father taught it to me when I was young.
Dr. Paul Stubbs: Once, centuries ago, it was the beloved national pastime of the Americas, Wesley. Abandoned by a society that prized fast food and faster games. Lost to impatience. But I have seen the great players make the great plays.
Wesley Crusher: Do you recreate them on the holodeck?
Dr. Paul Stubbs: No! [taps his forehead] In here. With the knowledge of statistics, runs, hits and errors, times at bat, box scores. Men like us do not need holodecks, Wesley. I have played seasons in my mind. It was my reward to myself. For patience. Knowing my turn would come. Call your shot. Point to a star. One great blast and the crowd rises. A brand-new era in astrophysics – postponed 196 years… on account of rain.
Great speech. And even if Dr. Stubbs might find using Back to Baseball to be a bit of a cheat, I still think it's worth checking out. It can only help the weekend get better, after all.