It’s time to look back at all the fun and silly things I tried during the long off-season. Here are the highlights, including some of the things I learned along the way.
When COVID restrictions cruelled my baseball club’s winter baseball season, there was some appetite for players to still be able to meet up to play catch or do something more competitive.
This lead to the creation of Basebolf, a combination of golf and baseball that can be played practically anywhere.
After putting together the creative, the website and the rules, I created some example courses based at different baseball fields in South-East Melbourne and posted them on Basebolf social media accounts.
While the players who tested it out thought it was fun, we couldn’t get much buy-in as players wanted something as close to an actual game of baseball (or baseball training) as possible. It also felt like it was going against the spirit of the COVID restrictions in Victoria, so it fell away.
I think it still has potential as an off-season activity, or as an activity for those in need of a low-impact sport like golf, but without the price tag or difficulty of golf. Baseball clubs are constantly under pressure to use their grounds more, and this is an activity that (to my understanding) should require very minimal volunteer management.
Retro Bowl live stream
With Victoria’s COVID restrictions becoming progressively tighter, we started focusing on virtual engagement and content, which led me to thinking of a Ducks x Retro Bowl crossover.
Retro Bowl is an 8-bit style Gridiron app that has gained some popularity for its combination of graphic charm and depth of gameplay. We changed all the teams in the NFL to Victorian baseball teams and colours, and then played as the Ducks. After creating a run-sheet with sponsor callouts and competition ideas, we live streamed games with commentary. I also created a graphic style and a couple of videos promoting the streams.
With a young family I had to do the streaming at night at home. This meant streaming from within our car to dampen the noise. To add to this, getting the tech right was a bit tricky, with a combination of mobile screen sharing being combined with microphone audio into a Facebook live stream. The first episode showed promise, but after episode two I found the game itself to be too repetitive and quick for a meaningful stream (from the audience’s perspective). Stopped after episode 2.
Another crossover mini-sport, this time combining Darts and Baseball. This was a fun, interactive opportunity for players to play at home against others over Zoom. The basic idea is as follows: Player 1 throws a dart at the board, which is the pitch location. Player 2 then throws their dart which is their swing location, and if they are close to the pitch location, then they throw another dart to indicate the power level of their hit. Depending on the outcome of the ‘power level dart’, Player 1 may be allowed to throw another dart to indicate what their fielders did. Scoring was done via Gamechanger.
Dartball only reached the playtesting stage, however it seemed like it had potential as a clubhouse game for winter or late nights.
The last of our initiatives was the Pinball League. We created a four-week league based on the high scores of free phone-based pinball games with Uber Eats and Sporting Globe vouchers as prizes. At this stage the 5km radius restriction was in place, so The Uber Eats voucher was important to widen the geographic sphere of potential engagement.
The Pinball League generated a little bit of engagement outside of the playing group, and even some of the players who weren’t that keen ended up spending a huge amount of time trying to post the highest score for the week. The numbers fell away towards the end as it became clear there were a few standout pinballers (or people who had more time on their hands) in the league.
It was a little tricky to get the players to the right apps, as most only include one table in their app.
Out of all the initiatives, the two that I was proudest of were Basebolf and the Pinball League. While Basebolf didn’t really take off, it was the creation of a new mini-sport and I was happy with what I put together.
On top of all that, I was able to find the time to create v3 of the Mordy Ducks website and redesign things like the uniforms and more.
The main things I took from all this are to keep trying new things and to take notes about why things didn’t work. But it’s important to stay resilient and realistic – people will forget those little things that didn’t resonate, so don’t be too hard on yourself.