2017 wasn’t the year of the Indians but boy it was fun

A surging Cleveland Indians and podcasts like Short Hops and Rotowire Sports led me to a fresh passion for baseball over the past six months or so. Everything is so much easier for foreign fans now with the internet and MLB.TV

Somewhat nervously I decided to give fantasy baseball another go after an 11 year break. Only after the season finished I went back to an old post and found I had won my league back in the day. This time around I tried both an old fasioned Rotosserie league and at the last minute, a Head to Head league.

As per the screenshots below, I came 5th in both these 12 team leagues. In hindsight the head to head was a lot more fun and I had some genuinely nailbiting moments on the Monday mornings which ended each week.

I won my final consolation playoff game 10-0 but I blame a midseason slump where I forgot to keep aggressively trading for in-form players and had some bad luck too.

Next time I will avoid dual catcher leagues (it’s hard enough finding a single catcher who plays 90% of games, let alone two). I’d also be very happy to skip on Saves for Saves and Holds…I missed a lot points that way.

I really have no idea why I did so terribly in ERA and WHIP (in both leagues really) and put it down to picking pitchers with high strikeout numbers instead and choosing in- form players over more seasoned types who play themselves into form as the season progresses.

I still had a blast, but it took up a fair bit of time on the tram. I missed out on the fun of having someone to talk about it with, so I might try joining a social league next year if they exist. Ultimately I would like to attend a live draft but I need to know the players a lot better first. I’d love to watch a few games again in person oneday.

Sometimes little things make you boil with rage

It’s quite simple. I wanted to buy a $1.99 game on the Google Play store for my phone, to replace the wonderful Ingress. Purchase failed: Error Code blah blah etc…

I look it up, and it turns out my Google Wallet account is apparently suspended, pending verification that my credit card is actually mine.


Only, what they want me to do is scan my drivers license, AND a utility bill and attach them to an online form, and then wait 5 days for a response. Online I read of plenty of people saying that this was not enough and that its taken months of generic template replies and guff, and they are no closer to being able to purchase anything.

So, goodbye Google Wallet – I refuse to give you more than I need give any other vendor in the online market place. From a customer who’s never once failed to make a payment, or had anything less than a perfect financial history of bill paying etc.

I am astounded and angry. I guess Ebay and PayPal are the winners, but I still don’t get my game. Oh well.





I defeated Cynthia after 67 hours

Well, Pokemon Diamond was a longer undertaking than I ever expected and I can thank the bed and tram-friendly Nintendo DS because I never would have finished it on the couch. This was my first (and probably last) Pokemon game. I gave up most book reading to “get it done” and I feel a sense of exhaustion that it’s now over. Looking at the other 21 games that Ash loaded on the D4 card when loaning it to me, I also feel exhausted. Does anyone else look at all the games on the market now on the various platforms and think – THERE ARE TOO MANY GAMES? If I look at those 22 games, I could easily play for a couple of years without picking up a newspaper or book again. If you’re looking for something different, you might also be interested in exploring games like Drift Hunters. For more gaming insights, don’t forget to check out Japan-101.com’s review of Casino Secret. And for enthusiasts of Casino Classic slots, it’s worth giving them a spin. Also, consider the latest bingo bonuses provided by CybersGuards. For those looking for the best online gambling sites, you can check here for more insights. Additionally, if you want to learn more about online gambling, feel free to visit website for information on the bingo sites. If you’re specifically interested in real money online casinos in Canada, there are several reputable options available.

Yes I bought this guide, and wore the pages out.

As for Pokemon – It is surprisingly grindy when played in single-player mode, because when you come up against the “Final Four”, it’s somehow expected that you have gained 10-15 levels on each Pokmon since the end of the story. The only way I could really grind these levels was just to repeatedly practise on the final four, as they gave the most XP. That got a bit old. These were the Pokemon I used to beat the Final Four and Cynthia (highest pokemon of hers is 66) – they fights have to be done back to back, so you need lots of reagents (26 Pokemon to beat in a row).

Crobat – Level 50

Dialga – Level 56

Empoleon – Level 57

Luxray – Level 53

Staravia – Level 56

Rapidash – Level 52

My greatest weakness was not having any Pokemon who were mostly immune to Ground attacks, so when I got a couple of Earthquakes I nearly lost both Dialga and Empoleon which would have been curtains, but thankfully some well timed health potions got me through them.

Now, is it Band Hero on the PS3, is it the PSP with Patchwork Heroes, or some Lord of the Rings Online on the PC? Answer: A book first for my sanity.

A Pokemon journey

You may ask yourself what brings a person in their 40s without children to expose themself to possible public ridicule by confessing to playing a kids game. Part of it is attention seeking, but another bit is wanting to break a stereotype. Which is weird because I don’t feel the need to do the same with books. Or maybe I’m just afraid that if I do, I will end up raving about Harry Potter or the Twilight series or something.

On the otherwise mature RPG-focused podcast Active Time Babble a few months back, one of the female panel hosts confessed to previously wanting to be a hard-core semi-professional Pokemon fighter/trainer. My mouth fell open at this point, as I had no idea you could do that. Nor did I realise that it could be an enormously complex game, where breeding Pokemon could pretty occupy people’s thoughts for months on end. I always got Pokemon and Tamagotchi‘s mixed up in my head somehow.

Since yesterday, thanks to THE ZOCH, I have a loan Nintendo DS Lite running the Pokemon Diamond game. First impressions are that compared to an Ipod Touch, the screen is much lower definition. Those Pokemons and the people you talk to are tiny. We’re talking a quarter the size of your pinkie fingernail. so straight away, any appreciation for the characters is muted, and confined to their hair colour or shape.

Nintendo do quite a good job of introducing you to what you have to do, and starting you on a journey. At no stage did I feel abandoned or at a loss. This is good. 

A typical battle - level 23 vs. level 30 = not fair!

Next, there’s the stylus / pen. Half the time your right finger is on the buttons A or B because there’s a ton of text and speech to get through, and all of a sudden you’re in a fight between your Pokemon and another monster. This requires you to click with the pen on your preferred attack. The monster then has an attack, and you alternate slowishly till the monster dies. I am sure that the difficulty will ramp up shortly, as I’m mowing them down right now. Mwahaha.

Turns out, the whole point of the game is to “discover things about yourself” if you listen to Nintendo, and “to collect all 493 Pokemon” if you are like everyone else. So far I have been given 1 Pokemon, and my task is capture the other 492 “in the wild”, which seems to comprise of finding them, injuring them, and then throwing a Pokeball at them to contain them. They then get added into your Pokedex, and you can use any one of yours to fight harder and trickier wild ones in future.

It’s going well. I’m 1 hour in.

Heavy Rain (no spoilers)

The last game I finished would have to be Diablo 2 or maybe even Fallout 2  – so I’m hardly an expert on the subject. I didn’t even finish Portal or Plants vs. Zombies last year, such is my attention span. But last night around midnight (and a little drunk) I finished Heavy Rain on the Playstation 3.

I’ve been unable to think of much else all morning, humming the magnificent soundtrack, and trying to console myself after surely the most depressing gaming ending possible. What makes it worse was that after listening to a few podcasts this morning,  many/most other players had amazingly different endings and it appears that I missed several “classic” or “pivotal” scenes somehow. Even though the 7 hour game is replayable, the cut scenes are not able to be skipped, so I have not a lot of interest in seeing all 22 endings, and I’ve just taken 30 mins to watch Youtube vids of the good bits I missed.

Regardless of the outcome, I thought it was a very clumsy and crude game for the most part – no different to a bad version of a crime show on TV, and I’m amazed that so many gamers see it as a real evolution in gameplay. Is this how little gaming has progressed since I stopped around 2000? The graphics are fabulous, the women are realistically rendered to the point of being sexy, and some of the early exploration and family interaction – although slow, built genuine empathy and feeling.  Worst of all, when the killer was revealed, I (and many others) had a classic Agatha Christie moment of “Wha?” and in hindsight it is a ludicrous choice that is not at all justifiable based on the evidence and thoughts I’d witnessed. A confusing and perplexing game.

Feel free to borrow it from me. There’s still quite a lot to like, and there’s a huge amount of internet discussion still going on about it. I felt a bit cheated. I still don’t know how much of it was my lack of controller skill, or just some bad decisions, and I guess I’ll never know.

The kooky and slightly lonely world of console gaming

Slowly those gaming podcasts wore me down with their talk of Xbox Live, the PSN, the trophies, the exclusive titles and most importantly, the playing on the couch.

I don’t know what it is about gaming on my PC, but I simply can’t do it without getting restless about checking my RSS reader, my guild’s website or thinking about how my auctions are going on WoW. Plus, I pretty much sit on 3 cushions and a phonebook to get myself to the required height, and my arse lets me know about it after a few hours.

It was that damn Ben saying how amazing Uncharted 2 was, and my 43rd birthday which made me flip and convince an unwilling partner that I needed technology for a present this year. And suddenly I feel like a goofy 24 year old minus the beanbag, except I have barely any idea how things work or why I am heading down this path.

That thing below the "ON" in Sony is actually a really important button

First impressions are that the PS3 looks cooler than a Wii or an Xbox. Especially the Slim that I got – things are dull black and minimalist, but the controller (that silly spidery-looking thing you hold) is quite a puzzle. Whoever thought of those dumb symbols X, Triangle, Square and O? And the way to turn the unit on or off, or go to the menu is a little thing in the very centre that I thought was only a decorative sticker. But the wireless stuff was easy to setup and my 32″ TV looks really crisp – a lot better than I feared.

After fluffing around with an on-screen keyboard only slightly less painful than SMS’ing on a mobile phone, I’m now on the Australian Playstation Network with a gamer name of “grenache-dfv”, except all this is fairly useless because the interaction is terribly clunky. I miss the immediacy of Ventrilo, and since my only friend so far “morrie23” – a guy in my WoW guild, hasn’t got any of the games I have, there’s sorta no point.

Water solidifies the lava. The littler miners can be saved!

I’m looking forward to getting a second controller so Kim and I can muck around a bit, but so far Pixeljunk Shooter has been loads of fun, and Heavy Rain is waiting till I have a few solid hours on the weekend to start. And I have 5 PSN trophies already which is worrying because it might turn out like a whole new “WoW achievement” obsession again.

And I now have a gamertag!