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!) Last year, I added a NEW category: "Top Ten LIVE Event Moments!" You'll find all these lists and my thoughts about them, below.
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 of 2017
- History Maker Golf (NA)
- History Maker Baseball (1)
- Second Season (2)
- Hockey Blast (5)
- Soccer Blast (4)
- Red White & Blue Racin' (3)
- Face To The Mat (6)
- Cold Snap (9)
- Bowl-O-Rama (7)
- Roller Rumble (8)
Obviously, the golf game was the BIG story, not surprisingly. Overall game rankings were remarkably stable, really. Red White & Blue Racin' dropped three places, but only after jumping three places in 2016, so it's back to where it typically ranks. Every other game was within one or two positions of 2016's ranking.
Top Ten Card Sets of 2017
- Course Collection ONE, History Maker Golf (NA)
- Course Collection TWO, History Maker Golf (NA)
- All-Time Great Golfers, History Maker Golf (NA)
- 2016 Pro Season, Second Season (1)
- Course Collection FIVE, History Maker Golf (NA)
- 2017 Pro In-Season, History Maker Baseball (4)
- 2016 Pro Season, History Maker Baseball (5)
- Course Collection THREE, History Maker Golf (NA)
- Course Collection FOUR, History Maker Golf (NA)
- Course Collection NINE, History Maker Golf (NA)
Again, it was all about the golf game in 2017, seven of the top ten card sets were golf-themed. Notable outside of the golf madness, the History Maker Baseball Pro In-Season set had its best-ever year, and the 2016 Pro Season for Second Season also did very well, with its best year since 2009.
Top Ten Newsletter Downloads of 2017
- 2017 WBC teams for HISTORY MAKER BASEBALL (Rick Lawes, May)
- 2016 New England-Atlanta SB 51 team sheets for SECOND SEASON (Paul Salzgeber, January)
- 2002 International League teams for HISTORY MAKER BASEBALL (Dave Armstrong, October)
- Legacy Hockey Stars cards for HOCKEY BLAST (Brian Chipney, May)
- 1991 Midwest League cards for HISTORY MAKER BASEBALL (TigerFan93, July)
- 1982 World Cup cards for SOCCER BLAST (zip file) (Phil Passey, May)
- 2017 Big League All-Star Game cards for HISTORY MAKER BASEBALL (PLAAY Games, June)
- No-Dice Fast-Action Cards for HISTORY MAKER BASEBALL (Al Wilson, September)
- Indoor Football variant for SECOND SEASON (Joe Pritchard, March)
- "Sam Snead's Celebrity Golf '60" cards for HISTORY MAKER GOLF (PLAAY Games, October)
Overall, newsletter downloads were down somewhat from 2016's levels, I'm not sure why. Certainly, the quality and value are there, these are some of the best-researched, meticulously-crafted free card sets we've ever posted. It could be that people are just experiencing a back-log of free stuff, the "so many games, so little time" syndrome!
Top Ten PLAAY Games 2017 LIVE Events Moments
Let's list these in reverse order, like Letterman used to do!...
- 10. Checking Facebook with Steve Tower after the All Hallows Eve LIVE webcast and seeing that it reached 13,000+ people! Whaaaa!??
- 9. Extra Innings "Dad vs. Daughter" Game Five, Fall Classic Pre-PLAAY. Ryan Beegle (Washington) faced his daughter Alexandra (Cleveland) in a game-for-the-ages, both starting pitchers (Scherzer and Carrasco) threw scoreless baseball through TWELVE innings! Read how it turned out here.
- 8. Watching Frank Albidone and Michael Owens play head-to-head, B's and Caps, "Hockey Day in Canada." There was so much to love about this event, but seeing THESE two guys get to not only MEET but actually play hockey against each other—awesome.
- 7. Atlanta "Skins Game" golfers donating their PLAAY money winnings to young Bob Surprenant, "the future of tabletop sports games!" Nice.
- 6. Bench-clearing brawl after the opening face-off of the Bruins-Devils "Commissioner's Surprise" game, All Hallow's Eve webcast! (As commissioner, I badly mismanaged this! I should have given all fighters a game misconduct and forced the Bruins and Devils to skate the game with only the players who DIDN'T drop gloves! DOH! Oh well, NEXT time I have a bench-clearing brawl, I'll know what to do!)
- 5. Jumping off a (late) flight at Laguardia, grabbing a cab for Citi Field, and meeting Richard Kaufman for the Mets-Phillies game. We met at the "Home Run Apple" outside the park, easy to find. We got pretty decent seats, mid-level, behind home plate, and enjoyed some authentic "Noo Yawk Bawl-pahk food" and a local beer, I've forgotten the name of it (but not the great flavor!). PLUS we each got a free souvenir Dunkin Donuts Mets #52 Yoenis Cespedes t-shirt! Mets won, as de Grom pitched great, then it was a subway ride back to Manhattan. SUCH a great evening!
- 4. Right in the middle of "Hockey Day in Canada," a Head-to-head COLD SNAP game with David Gambrill—what a finish! Read about it here. Such a treat to be able to play a game with a guy I've known for so many years, but had never met!
- 3. Friday Night "Tailgate Party" at PLAAY HQ, night before the Time Machine Tournament! Burgers, brats, beer, and sports board games—perfect!! I'm trying to figure out how to replicate this for PLAAY-Dot-CON, maybe I can cater the brats and beer?
- 2. An umpire call determines the winner of the Fall Classic Pre-PLAAY! I remember at the very FIRST Fall Classic Pre-PLAAY, in San Diego, Al Wilson and I mused about how great it would be for the series to come down to an umpire call—and sure enough, five years later, it DID!
- 1. Hanging out with Hal Richman before the Games and Simulations Committee presentation at SABR 47. My biggest regret of the entire year was NOT getting a selfie with Hal! (If I had, I would have posted it here!) I was GOING to ask him, but thought, "Naah, that would be unprofessional, he would be uncomfortable," etc. Then maybe fifteen minutes later, I saw one of the conference attendees taking a selfie with Hal! DANG!!
HONORABLE MENTION goes to 1) Kiefer Fairbanks incredibly bad performance at Augusta, streamed live on Facebook video for all the PLAAY World to see!(he had an amazing rebound during the Skins Game!); 2) Steve Heller coaching the Cleveland Spiders to a (gasp!) WIN in the Time Machine Tournament!; 3) my '74 Brewers recording a triple play, playing HMB while waiting at Laguardia for my flight back to Denver after the SABR convention; 4) Post-Hockey Day in Canada, Pizza with the guys with%#8212;what else?—Hockey Night in Canada on the Big Screen TVs!; 5) HMB newcomer Brian Preece managing the '69 Expos to the Time Machine Trophy; 6) Brien Aronov getting the lucky ricochet on Richard Hannah's fictional Mystical Emerald Course, Atlanta; 7) getting to the Rockies game early enough after the Time Machine Tournament so that we ALL got Marvel Hero action figures (gate giveaway to the first 10,000 fans!).
THANKS for an awesome year in 2017! Looking forward to even more fun in 2018!