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DID YOU STRAT TODAY? I’M ALL IN

By Glenn Guzzo

            Often asked how much Strat-O-Matic I play, my answer keeps changing. I’ve never been one to stick to routines, even during a 35-year career of daily deadlines as a newsman.
            When asked at Strat-O-Matic’s 50th Anniversary convention, I replied that I played about 1,000 baseball games a year, and that answer sent a buzz through the crowd. But a better answer would be more detailed, though less precise:
 
BASEBALL: 500 to 1,000 games a year, depending on how well I do completing a replay of 8-10 teams. I finished my 1956 American League replay in a few months. My 1951 NL replay took a few months more than that. My 1959 AL replay took more than a year. But an eight-team season is 616 games, played solo on the computer. Other replays involved the 1930 NL, the 1961 AL and the 1962 NL.

Sometimes, a special project subs for the replay. Like my eight-team Hall of Fame 2000 season, or my eight-team project that combined the 1964 and 1965 rosters for the non-expansion AL teams. Each of those was 616 games.

I’m often involved in a competitive online league, where I play 162 games or more. That used to be latest-season keeper leagues, but once I began doing Strat-O-Matic’s ratings for current players, I dropped out of those leagues as a conflict of interest. I’ve been in retro leagues with 1930, 1959, 1964 and a franchise league for the era 1976-85. For ’64, I had the Cardinals and the Tigers and auto-played the games between the “un-owned” teams, maybe 500 games in all, but usually this is just a one-team gig, so figure that takes me to 778 so far (616 + 162).

As a eye-relief from the computer, and as a treat when Florida’s summer lightning makes me shut down the PC for a couple hours, I usually have a single-team replay going with my first love, the board game, aided by my Baseball Replay Guides. Sometimes this is basic game (1964 Reds), sometimes advanced (1961 Reds). This is an easy 162 games. That brings me up to 940 games.

Small board-game projects – like replaying a couple World Series, or introducing SOM to a new gamer, add a few games. A very few times, I have spent a weekend in a STAR Tournament, playing 18 games or more
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I always have some “evergreen” project with no deadline for completion. Right now, that’s a loose league of teams created by combining the Hall of Fame 2010, Baseball Heroes and Negro League sets. This is a 22-team monstrosity that was mega fun to construct and those teams are always fun to play. I have quite a few more evergreens in mind, such as era leagues (best teams, or combining players from franchises for a series of years, such as 1948-60, or 1961-68, or 1969-76).
 
BASKETBALL. I love SOM’s game more than the NBA, so I try to start with one game per team from each new-season card set, played with the board game. That’s only 15 games, but gives me a feel for each team. From time to time I add a great-teams evergreen project on the computer. I also enjoy firing up random games with older computer-only NBA or ABA seasons.

PRO FOOTBALL. Again, one game each with the new teams, but this time on the computer. Usually a couple board games each with the teams in that year’s release of “six-pack” teams in SOM’s classic seasons. And some sort of special project – like the “Super Bowls That Never Were” I shared with web site readers. Or playing home-and-home matchups with teams in one division. Or best teams from the 1950s. In all, maybe 30 games a year. My evergreen now is a replay of the entire 1967 NFL.
 
COLLEGE FOOTBALL. Typically, 15 games a year on the computer. It can be a 16-team NCAA Tournament. Or a six-team division from one conference playing a round-robin. Or taking most of the Greatest Teams set out for a spin.
 
HOCKEY. One game each with the new teams played with the board game. When I am more ambitious, I turn to the computer for a full replay of an Original Six season (1961-62 in progress now), but those 210 games usually take me more than a year to complete. I’ve had great fun with a variety of special projects involving the Hall of Fame set, or with combined franchise rosters from the Original Six era, or by playing one current team’s season. In years when I don’t get far advancing a full-season replay, I’m playing maybe 40 games a year.
 
            If this is more than you, well, in my 50th year of playing Strat-O-Matic (I began in 1963), I’m playing faster than most gamers I know. And it’s my job to keep up with all of Strat-O-Matic’s games, so I keep at it. At about an hour a game for the non-baseball sports and 10-30 minutes per game for baseball (depending on whether it’s computer or board, basic or super-advanced), I’m “Strat-ing” 8-10 hours per week on average, with some weeks much more and some weeks zero (yes, I do have a life).
            If I ever retire, I’ll Strat more. As it is, I spend a couple hours a week tinkering with dream projects that I may never get to play. There’s a baseball Rookie League matching the rookies from each season against each other. The Only One League, where all fielders are 1s. Or the Beautiful Loser league of baseball teams that won 100 or reached a playoff, but not the World Series. NFL or NBA projects would have teams made up of players from the same college conference. An NHL league would have three teams from Canada (Quebec, Ontario, Western junior heritage), two from the U.S. (Eastern and Western) and one each from Sweden, Finland/Norway, Russia/Eastern Europe and Czech/Slovak.
            But, with all the stories I still want to write and all the entrepreneurial projects I’d love to launch, retirement is more of a fantasy than playing Strat-O-Matic.