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Summer Love
SOM to Release Six Classic Seasons for Three Sports
 
By Glenn Guzzo

Ya gotta love it.

Fans of the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s will enjoy nostalgia and historic sports milestones with Strat-O-Matic’s summer releases of classic seasons for football, hockey and basketball.

Strat-O-Matic will supplement its 2011 NFL and 2011-12 NBA and NHL offerings with a pair of classic seasons in each sport this summer.

Here’s the lineup and the approximate release dates:

 
Pro Football (due in early August)
1980 NFL

The Oakland Raiders became the first Wild Card team to win the Super Bowl and the Philadelphia Eagles reached the championship game for the first time in a generation. But 1980 also was memorable for Cleveland’s Kardiac Kids, San Diego’s “Air Coryell” offense, Houston’s Earl Campbell and New Orleans’ “Aints.” These are the six-carded teams:

  • Oakland (11-5): The Raiders started 2-3, but finished 9-2, then won four post-season games. QB Jim Plunkett and the offense were at their best in the playoffs. The defense did more to get Oakland there, holding their final nine regular-season foes to 21 or fewer points (only two had more than 17).
  • Philadelphia (12-4): The NFL’s best defense held six foes to seven or fewer points and didn’t yield more than 24 until the final game. QB Ron Jaworski threw 27 TD passes, a third of them to WR Harold Carmichael.
  • San Diego (12-4): Dan Fouts led all passers with 4,715 yards, spreading the ball almost evenly to 1,000-yard receivers John Jefferson, Kellen Winslow and Charlie Joiner.
  • Dallas (12-4): The NFL’s most explosive offense (454 points, twice topping 50) featured QB Danny White (28 TD passes), RB Tony Dorsett (1,185 yards, 11 TDs rushing) and WR Tony Hill (1,055 yards, 18-yard average 8 TDs).
  • Atlanta (12-4): The Falcons enjoyed their best season so far thanks to Steve Bartkowski’s NFL-best 31 TD passes and a stalwart defense that held every foe below 30 points and 10 foes to 17 or fewer.
  • Cleveland (11-5): After a 0-2 start, the Browns were 9-3 in games decided by seven or fewer points, earning the nickname. The AFC’s No. 1-rated passer, Brian Sipe, provided most of the heart-stopping highlights with 30 TD passes, 4,132 yards and 61 percent completions. Mike Pruitt topped 1,000 yards rushing.
The computer-only teams include division winners Buffalo (11-5) and Minnesota (9-7), 11-5 Houston (with Earl Campbell, who led the NFL by running for 1,934 yards, 13 TDs and a 5.2 average), 11-5 LA, 10-6 New England (with the AFC’s top offense) and 1-15 New Orleans, which inspired its fans to wear bags over their heads during an 0-14 start before a one-point victory over the Jets.

1993 NFL

Dallas repeated as Super Bowl winners and Buffalo lost in the Super Bowl for the fourth straight year. In a year of unprecedented free agency, Joe Montana and Marcus Allen took Kansas City deep into the playoffs. With Steve Young at QB, San Francisco made it a record 11 straight seasons with 10+ wins. The Giants returned to the playoffs in Lawrence Taylor’s final season. Miami’s Don Shula passed coaching legend George Halas for all-time wins. These are the six-carded teams:

  • Dallas (12-4): The trio of QB Troy Aikman (69% complete, NFL-best 1.5% INTs), RB Emmitt Smith (NFL-best 1,486 yards rushing) and WR Michael Irvin (88 catches, 1,330 yards) led the franchise to its fourth Super Bowl, tying Pittsburgh and San Francisco.
  • Buffalo (12-4): Thurman Thomas led the AFC with 1,315 yards rushing and DE Bruce Smith was Defensive Player of the Year with 13.5 sacks.
  • Houston (12-4): While Warren Moon passed for 3,485 yards to six capable receivers and HB Gary Brown ran for 1,002 at an NFL-best 5.1 per carry, the defense kept 12 foes below 20 points.
  • Kansas City (11-5): Free agents Montana (AFC’s 2nd-ranked passer) and Allen (15 rushing TDs) led the Chiefs to their finest season since its 1969-Super Bowl champ team, winning the AFC West and two playoff games. DE Neil Smith led the NFL with 15 sacks.
  • New York Giants (11-5): With new coach Dan Reeves, the Giants held 14 foes to 17 or fewer points. QB Phil Simms completed 61.8% of his passes and Rodney Hampton ran for 1,077 yards. Only a final-game overtime loss to Dallas kept the Giants from winning the NFC East. 
  • San Francisco (10-6): Young (29 TD passes) was the NFC’s No. 1-rated passer and the 49ers had the NFL’s top offense by far, scoring 473 points while reaching 34+ eight times. WR Jerry Rice had 98 catches for NFL bests of 1,550 yards and 15 TDs.
The computer-only teams include division winner Detroit (10-6 with 1,100-yard runner Barry Sanders) and playoff teams Los Angeles Raiders (10-6), Denver (9-7 with the AFC’s No. 1 offense and John Elway, the AFC’s No. 1 passer), Green Bay (9-7) and Minnesota (9-7). 
 

Hockey (due in late September)

1958-59 NHL

Montreal dominated the regular season and the playoffs to win its fourth straight Stanley Cup in its historic run of five straight.

Dickie Moore (41 goals, 96 points) and Jean Beliveau (45 goals, 91 points) were the league’s top two in points and goals. Eight Canadiens teammates had double-figure goals, including Bernie Geoffrion (22) and Henri Richard (21). Jacques Plante won his fourth straight Vezina Trophy and defenseman Tom Johnson won the Norris Trophy, unseating teammate Doug Harvey, who had won four straight.

Don McKenny scored 32 goals to lead Boston to second place, its best finish in a decade. Chicago, with Ed Litzenberger (33 goals) and Todd Sloan (27), plus developing young stars Bobby Hull, Glenn Hall and Pierre Pilote, finished third, reaching the playoffs for just the second time in 13 years. Then the Blackhawks made Montreal work for it in the first round of the playoffs by winning a pair of games in Chicago.

Toronto
won its final five games to edge New York, which lost six of its last seven, for the final playoff spot. The Leafs, with six 20-goal men led by Dick Duff (29) and three other future Hall of Famers (Frank Mahovlich, George Armstrong, Bob Pulford), then reached the Stanley Cup finals, where they managed only a Game Three overtime victory. New York’s historic collapse followed a brilliant season by Andy Bathgate (40 goals, 88 points).

Detroit
, a force throughout the ‘50s, fell to last despite Gordie Howe’s 32 goals and 78 points.

1980-81 NHL

The New York Islanders were the best in the regular season and then won their second straight Stanley Cup in a year notable for its record-setting offense, including a then-record dozen 100-point men. These are the six carded teams:

  • Islanders (110 points): Mike Bossy scored 50 goals in his first 50 games and finished with an NHL-best 68. Bryan Trottier added 31 goals and 103 points and three other Isles had at least 33 goals.
  • St. Louis (107 points): Bernie Federko’s 31 goals and 104 points and Wayne Babych’s 54 goals led the surprising Blues to the Smythe Division title with a 352-goal offense that was only three short of the No. 1 Islanders’ offense.
  • Montreal (103 points): The most balanced team in the league had 14 double-figure goal scorers, the NHL’s top defense and the best goals differential (+100).
  • Buffalo (99 points): Danny Gare scored 46 goals, Don Edwards led the NHL with a 2.96 goals-against average and the Sabres were the class of the Adams Division.
  • Los Angeles (99 points): The Kings’ 25-point jump made them a threat to overtake Montreal in the Norris Division as their Triple Crown Line of Marcel Dionne (58 goals, 135 points), Charlie Simmer (56 goals, 105 points) and Dave Taylor (47 goals, 112 points) was unstoppable. Goalie Mario Lessard’s 35 wins topped the NHL.
  • Philadelphia (97 points): The Flyers had the league’s second-best defense while Bill Barber (42 goals), Rick Macleish (38) and Reggie Leach (34) led 12 double-figure goal scorers

The computer only teams include Stanley Cup finalist Minnesota (despite only 87 points) and six of the league’s dozen 100-point men. Edmonton had a losing record, but Wayne Gretzky won the second of his eight straight MVP awards and the first of his seven straight scoring titles with 164 points, 12 better than Phil Esposito’s record. That included 109 assists, seven better than Bobby Orr’s record … Quebec’s Peter Stastny set a rookie scoring record with 109 points, but Jacques Richard led the Nordiques with 52 goals … Kent Nilsson’s second NHL season was his finest – 49 goals, 131 points for 92-point Calgary.


Basketball (Windows products due in late October)
Two computer-only seasons feature a pair of the NBA’s most beloved champions. The 1969-70 New York Knicks earned the crown long held by the Boston Celtics. The 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers finally won a title for themselves and for legendary star Jerry West, with ample support from Wilt Chamberlain.
 
1969-70 NBA
The Knicks, with MVP Willis Reed, Walt Frazier and a deep squad that emphasized team play, ascended in the year when the Celtics bowed after the retirements of Bill Russell and Sam Jones.

It took 60 wins, best in the NBA, for New York to prevail in the highly competitive Eastern Division, and seven games to whip Los Angeles in the playoff finals.

Rookie Lew Alcindor and fellow rookie Bobby Dandridge took Milwaukee from last to second in the East, with 56 wins, second best in the NBA. Alcindor’s 28.8 points per game trailed only West’s 31.2 and Alcindor’s 14.5 rebounds per game trailed only Elvin Hayes of San Diego (16.9) and Wes Unseld of Baltimore (16.7). Hayes also scored 27.5 ppg, third in the league.

Another rookie with unusual skill and unusual circumstances electrified the league. Phoenix’ Connie Hawkins scored 24.6 ppg, sixth best in the NBA – eight years after he had been barred from the league for not reporting a bribe offer while in college at Iowa. While suing the NBA for admission, Hawkins had starred in the American Basketball Association.

Baltimore, with Unseld, Gus Johnson (13.9 rpg) and Earl Monroe (23.4 ppg) was the league’s other 50-win team. Atlanta, with 48 wins, 25.4 ppg from Lou Hudson and 14.4 rpg from Bill Bridges, won the West, two games better than LA.

[What-if for Strat-O-Matic players: Milwaukee won the rights to draft Alcindor in a coin flip with Phoenix. What if Phoenix had Alcindor and Hawkins?]    
       

  
1971-72 NBA

The Jerry West-Wilt Chamberlain Lakers had lost seven-game finals in both 1968-69 and 1969-70. This time, they left nothing to chance, winning an NBA-record 69 games that included a record-shattering 33 straight wins in mid-season. Then the Lakers went 12-3 in the playoffs, including four straight after losing Game 1 of the Finals to New York.

As had happened with his 1966-67 Philadelphia squad, Chamberlain won a championship by sacrificing his scoring and by dominating in other ways – this time, with a league-leading 19.2 rebounds per game. Even after Elgin Baylor’s retirement, these Lakers did not lack for scoring power, despite Chamberlain’s mere 14.8 ppg. Gail Goodrich noted 25.9 ppg and West had 25.8 to finish in the NBA’s top six. West led the league with 9.7 assists per game.

Milwaukee’s dominant center changed his name from Lew Alcindor to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, won the scoring title easily with 34.8 ppg, was third in rebounding (16.6 rpg) and won the MVP award. The defending-champion Bucks had set the NBA record the previous year with a 20-game win streak and they were the ones to halt LA’s 33-game streak in January. A 63-19 record would have dominated most seasons, but not this year.

Boston returned to the top of the Eastern Conference with 56 wins as John Havlicek was third in scoring (27.5 ppg) and fifth in assists (7.5 apg), and Dave Cowens was fifth in rebounding (15.2 rpg).

Chicago won 57 games to pressure Milwaukee in the Midwest Division as Bob Love averaged 25.8 ppg. Other stars included Portland Rookie of the Year Sidney Wicks, first-team all-stars Spencer Haywood of Seattle (26.2 ppg) and Walt Frazier of New York (23.2 ppg, 5.8 apg) and Cincinnati’s Nate Archibald, who was second in scoring and third in assists (28.2 ppg, 9.2 apg).