The New York Times’ Lorne “Very” Manly struggles to identify the enduring appeal of Strat-O-Matic Baseball.

Somehow, in a video-game age in which the landscape is ruled by John Madden, an old-fashioned sports board game stubbornly hangs on. Hundreds of thousands of people still roll the dice and check the cards of their chosen players as they re-create whole seasons or series, pit storied teams against one another, or draft leagues of their own.

The game’s realism accounts for much of its longevity. But the competition and camaraderie it breeds, the social lubricant and taunting opportunities it provides, may be just as important.

“Guys just don’t call up other guys and say, ‘I’m lonely, let’s chat,’ ” said Trip Hawkins, the founder of Electronic Arts, the pre-eminent sports video-game maker, who still regularly plays Strat-O-Matic with friends. “It’s really helpful to have something to talk about.”

Nothing against Strat-O-Matic or its many enthusiasts, but the society will be making a turn for the better when guys start calling each other up saying “I’m lonely, let’s chat” and get rid of all this sports-bonding pretense. And I’m not just saying that as a shareholder in several cell phone companies, I really mean it.

Those receiving the calls, are of course, free to either hang up or take out a restraining order.