Being a former radio disc-jockey, I've always been partial to "top ten countdowns." For the last few years, I've prepared "Top Ten" lists for games, card sets, and newsletter downloads. (The downloads list is especially great: links to the ten most-downloaded newsletter freebies of the entire year, all in one place!) PLUS, this year. I've added a NEW category: "Top Ten LIVE Event Moments of 2016!"
Last year's ranking (where applicable) is in parentheses. For LIVE Events, I included any get-together, in person or online. Without further ado, let's get on with the countdown!...Cue the jingle singers: "number TENNNNN..."
Top Ten Games
- HISTORY MAKER BASEBALL (1)
- SECOND SEASON (2)
- RED WHITE & BLUE RACIN' (5)
- SOCCER BLAST (4)
- HOCKEY BLAST (3)
- FACE TO THE MAT (6)
- BOWL-O-RAMA (9)
- ROLLER RUMBLE (7)
- COLD SNAP (9)
- LACROSSE BLAST (10)
Not a whole lot of change here, most games were within a notch of where there were in 2015. Red White & Blue Racin' had its best year since its debut in 2012, finishing in third place. Hockey Blast had a big year in 2015 with its new 4.0 game materials, which explains its two-position dip. Roller Rumble and Bowl-O-Rama seem to swap positions every year. I'm expecting Cold Snap to make a comeback once its new game materials are finished and available. History Maker Golf will most likely top the 2017 list.
Top Ten Card Sets
- 2015 Pro Season, Second Season (1)
- All-Time Franchise Great Teams (Founding Era), Second Season (—)
- 2016 Baseball America, History Maker Baseball (2)
- 2016 Pro In-Season, History Maker Baseball (4)
- 2015 Pro Season, History Maker Baseball (5)
- 2015 Pro Season, Red White & Blue Racin' (7)
- All-Time Franchise Great Teams Collection, Series THREE, History Maker Baseball (8)
- 2016 SCRAM Season, Red White & Blue Racin' (3)
- 1970s Stars, Red White & Blue Racin’ (—)
- All-Time Franchise Great Teams (Expansion Era), Second Season (—)
For "current" seasons, the number in (parentheses) represents last year's rank of the same release. I think it's remarkable the stability of the list from last year's results. Three new releases made the list, same as last year, but other than that the regular releases of the new pro and fictional seasons continue to hold their ground. Note that of the top ten card set releases, seven are either football or baseball. That tells you where the main interest in the hobby is!
Top Ten Newsletter Downloads
- 2014-15 Division Three College Hockey Teams for HOCKEY BLAST (January, Andy Lewis)
- 2016 Italian Championship Wrestling cards for FACE TO THE MAT (February, Davide Brambillia)
- 2016 Euro League cards for SOCCER BLAST (July, Bob Maver)
- 2014-15 Major College Hockey Teams for HOCKEY BLAST (January, Andy Lewis)
- 1940s Patriot League cards for HISTORY MAKER BASEBALL (May, Joe Cronin)
- ROLLER RUMBLE Vintage/Euro Game Boards (September, Chris Schmidt)
- "End of Game Chaos" and "Hail Mary" Plays for SECOND SEASON (February, Keith Avallone)
- 1976 International League cards for HISTORY MAKER BASEBALL (March, CWSFN)
- “Field of Dreams” cards for HISTORY MAKER BASEBALL (July, Brian Giesel)
- 2016 All-Star Game cards for HISTORY MAKER BASEBALL (June, Keith Avallone)
Collectively, 2015's newsletters again saw over 10,000 downloads of freebie! Well, these are some amazing freebies, for sure! In fact, with the exception of the baseball All-Star Game and maybe the Euro League soccer cards, these downloads allow for tabletop sports fun that you just can’t find anywhere else. Special mention to Andy Lewis' college hockey cards (I mean, seriously—almost 150 college hockey teams!), which I inadvertantly identified on the file with the wrong year--they are based on 2014-15 results. Thanks to Davide Brambilla for getting permission for us to create the officially-sanctioned ICW wrestling cards with wrestler images and official logos. If you're a football fan, you MUST download the "End-of-Game Chaos" and "Hail Mary" plays for SECOND SEASON! Also happy to get the "Field of Dreams" cards properly credited to Brian Geisel. Noteworthy that Joe Cronin's Patriot League was also one of the most-downloaded sets of 2015!
Top Ten PLAAY Games LIVE Events Moments
Top Moments of 2016: With Coors Field filling up with fans, Steve Heller (L) sizes up his batting order as manager of the AL all-stars while Keith Avallone gets the score sheet filled in at Coors Field, July 2016. Below, the two pitchers on the mound for the championship game of the Time Machine Tournament in Phoenix, March 2016.
- Playing the All-Star game AT Coors Field with HISTORY MAKER BASEBALL, complete with our own Home Run Derby, and then watching the Rockies/Phillies game with "the guys!"
- Commissioner's Surprise HOCKEY BLAST Tournament II "Vegas Great Eight," six of the seven games were decided in overtime, including the championship game. An amazing, incredible display of playoff hockey on the tabletop!
- Coaching the All-Time Saints to a come-from-behind win over the All-Time Cowboys coached by Steve Tower, Live on AFR! Always fun to beat "America's Team!"
- Championship Game of Time Machine Tournament in Phoenix ends with lousy pitching! As the game between the '71 Pirates and '65 Dodgers stretched into extra innings, the bullpens were depleted, forcing Bob Veale and John Purdin into action to decide the title (see photo at right)!
- IPFC Skype games: Week three win vs. (eventual champion) Halifax was one of the most exciting games I've played. Then, week six, trailing 27-21 vs. Saskatoon with a few seconds left, a pass interference call gives me one last shot from the Meteor 40. I decide to call a long pass rather than a "Hail Mary," and completed it—to the Saskatoon one yard-line!
- Spring Training game in Phoenix, Angles vs. Rockies. A few hours after leaving Denver in a heavy snowstorm with the temperature at 16 degrees, I and a half-dozen other PLAAY Gamers were sitting at Diablo Stadium in Tempe in 80+ degree weather watching baseball! Sweet!
- Coaching the XFL Las Vegas Outlaws, IN Vegas! After I got back to Denver, I found myself googling YouTube for XFL game videos! To me, bad football is good football!
- Chris Dinkins' dice-rolling technique at the New Jersey Fall Classic. Could be described as a combination of mojo, funk and soul. It worked, too—Chris managed the Tribe to a game-seven win in our Fall Classic!
- Dallas/Ft. Worth Reunion with Bobby Scott, Albert Taylor and Gary Brown, January. This wasn't an "official" PLAAY event, but we did play a 1960 CFL game with COLD SNAP (Winnipeg vs. Saskatchewan) and run some ShockWave events with FACE TO THE MAT, among other games and fun! Always great to hang out with my old DFW "runnin' podners!"
- Reaching the Philadelphia airport after getting lost on Jersey Turnpike after the New Jersey event. Long story short, Google maps put me on the NJ Turnpike, and then my phone died. After a series of turnarounds and route changes, there I am at 1AM, nervously pumping gas into my rental car at a run-down convenience store in some horrible neighborhood just north of downtown Philly. Entrance ramp to I-95 just blocks away—I made it out of there, followed the signs to the airport, and lived happily ever after.
Honorable Mention goes to the AFR "Pioneers" roller derby stream, one of many memorable PLAAY moments on AFR in 2016; the Post-Fall Classic Dinner at the Diner in East Windsor, NJ with Joe R, Joe P, Steve, Al, Richard; Denver's fourth quarter comeback to tie Buffalo 24-24 in my 1957 Broncos season project (they finished 4-9-1); Richard Petty rally to win 100-mile "test" race for the '70s Stars set for RWBR.
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