Glenn Guzzo

THE TALK SHOW

 

Host: Glenn Guzzo

 

You can submit your question or insight on any Strat-O-Matic game to SOMTalkShow@aol.com. When you do, kindly include your name and town. Other gamers like to see that. And the display format below works better that way.

 

 

VERSION 9 BASEBALL NEARLY HERE

 

Could you please describe the new updated computerized baseball upgrade program features for version 9.0?

 William Clark DeLashmutt, Farmville, VA

 

            Your timing is excellent. See the recently posted article on Strat-O-Sphere for more detail, but soon we’ll have extensive encyclopedia ability, an evaluator to judge the run-scoring/run-prevention effects of making changes to our lineups, ability to add player photos to our game and notebook screens, “web-gem” defensive highlights in the box scores, one-touch links between the game and the Internet, player nicknames in the play-by-play, and more. Years ago, when Draft-O-Matic was added, I spent some fun days just playing around with that. I think that many gamers will do the same with several of the Version 9 features.

 

I have been playing computer Strat since 1989.  I started with the cards in 1966.  My computer problem is that I have been running various replays and computer projects for many seasons.  One of my encyclopedias is a total of everything.  For instance, Mantle and Mays each have more than 800 career home runs.  Whitey Ford has more than 400 wins and many pitchers are approaching 300.  It is a great database, but since there are thousands of players in it, with thousands of lesser stats, I do not get to compare or rank them with each other the way the data is displayed. Any chance that the encyclopedia function will be updated to help manipulate the data in a type of form such as the relatively new "reports" section?  If not, can something be done so that we can see more of the data in the leaders sections of the same encyclopedia that exists now?

Jerry Gryguc, Plainville, CT

 

            Wish granted, Jerry. The data-base-building function in Version 9 swiftly assembles lists of career leaders, single-season leaders, alphabetized player listings, team-by-team lists and much more. For leaders in categories based on averages and percentages, you can tell the computer to list only the leaders with at least this many at-bats or innings pitched. And, if you can run Microsoft Access, you can export the data there, where you can manipulate it as you please.

 

 

 

THE PROBLEM WITH COLLEGE SPORTS

 

The middle of the college football bowl season made me look for my old college football games, and, after looking through some of the teams, I was wondering: Is there any chance SOM will make a computer college football game?  I know they printed two card sets in the late ‘80's in a more updated format than the old games from the ‘70's, and I also know they had a college basketball tourney disk from the mid-‘90's, so I was hoping that it could be considered down the road.  Even if they took the last two seasons they printed and put it onto a disk I'd be happy.

Henry Roman

 

          Actually, Strat-O-Matic printed three 48-team college football card sets (including all of the AP Top 20 teams) for the 1986-88 seasons. As you note, it was SOM’s second try at board-game college football and there was one short-lived attempt at computer college basketball.

 

            The inability to produce a college game that is successful in the marketplace has vexed game companies for decades. I fervently hope there is a way to succeed, but the obstacles are many, foremost the vast number of teams. Let’s start with football:

 

            Remembering that most gamers like to play stock teams, a successful game would have the teams necessary for a gamer to replay his favorite team’s complete schedule. At minimum, the football set ought to include the six BCS conferences – Big East, ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-10 just to get the major bowl teams and their conference foes. That’s 62 teams. In 2003, those 62 teams played 78 outsiders, including all 14 MAC teams, all 11 Conference USA teams, all eight Mountain West teams, all 10 WAC teams, all eight Sun Belt teams and four independents (Notre Dame, Navy, Connecticut, Troy State). Exclude smaller schools that appear on only one team’s schedule (Sacramento State, et al), and we’ve still got 117 teams with significant presence on the BCS schedules. That includes Connecticut (six times), Middle Tennessee (four) and Louisiana-Monroe (three). A brutal paring of the list would leave us with 62 BCS conference teams, nationally ranked Bowling Green, Miami of Ohio and Boise State, plus Notre Dame and the three service academies. That’s 69.

 

            NCAA basketball, with more Division I schools, schedules more than twice the size of the football schools and so many small-conference teams in the NCAA tournament, would be a much higher number.

 

            Result: Major research and production, which could be justified only by major sales. In card form, a set too large to be reasonably priced if it contained the individual player cards of the NFL and NBA games. Think at least twice the size of Strat-O-Matic’s NFL set and at least three times the size of the NBA set. $60 card sets (conservatively)? That’s not likely to bring major sales. Break the college sets into subsets by conference? That has never worked for any game company before – we’d still have to buy them all just to play the Big Ten conference fully. Drop the Big East and ACC for football? That would discourage sales from the major SOM customer base on the East Coast. The smaller customer bases are in SEC and Big 12 country. But if SOM dropped them, why would it bother with NCAA sports? The computer is the only true option.

 

 

THE VOTES FOR 2005 ARE COMING IN

 

When SOM decides to recreate a season, what criteria do they use? A few suggestions: The great 1949 pennant race, the 1951 season and 1971-73 due to how difficult it is for gamers to get the extra cards.

Martin Hixson, Brighton, MI

 

            Different criteria at different times. Once, Strat-O-Matic was determined to complete converting its basic-only seasons from the 1960s to advanced form. At other times, it wanted to reach as far back as it could (e.g. 1911 this year, 1920 before that) to bring vintage players (Walter Johnson, Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker) to life in advanced form for the first time. In many cases, the company has been guided by strength of customer sentiment, often through polls conducted in the old Strat-O-Matic Review or STRAT FAN, and online.

 

I've been playing Strat about 40 years and really enjoy past-season replays, having finished 1959 (Yanks over Giants in Series), 1941 (Red Sox-! Over Brooklyn) and '64 (Chisox over Philly), and currently taking my time rotating between 1934, 1955, 1920 and 1965.  Next, 1948 seems to me a perfect season to put out in super-advanced format.  Incredible three-team race in the AL with DiMaggio, Williams, Boudreau, etc.  Boston Braves win the NL in an upset.  Musial hits .376.  Also, there are no super-advanced past seasons between 1941 and 1955 even available!

Jeff Polman

 

 

            Jeff, you and Martin (above) are in tune with the majority of past-season baseball fans I hear from. They cite the wider gap between 1941 and 1950 than any other two consecutive Strat-O-Matic seasons. That will change slightly when 1911 appears this year, creating an equal gap between 1911 and 1920. It’s not hard to make the case for each of the seasons 1946-49 and 1951. You’ve already done it for 1948, so here are the others:

 

1946: Back from World War II, many stars produce a great season, including the first playoff (St. Louis over the Dodgers) and a famous World Series capped by Enos Slaughter’s “mad dash” to score the winning run of Game 7 from first on a single. The Cardinals’ Harry Brecheen, who died this month, was the first lefty to win three games in a World Series. It’s also a season, like 1948, without the typical Yankees-Dodgers World Series (’47, ’49, ’52, ’53, ’55, ’56) over the next decade. In the AL, the Red Sox won their first pennant since 1918, thanks to Ted Williams (.342-38-123), who finished second in the Triple Crown categories and was the league MVP. Bob Feller returned from the war to win 26 games and post a 2.18 ERA. Hal Newhouser proved that his previous dominance was not a war-era fluke. He went 26-9 with a majors-best 1.94 ERA. And Musial hit .365 with 50 doubles and 20 triples.

 

1947: The most historic season not yet captured by Strat-O-Matic, this one is known to all as the year Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, was the NL rookie of the year and led the Dodgers to the pennant. The Dodgers were five games better than the Cardinals, eight better than the Braves (who had twin 21-game winners Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain – the year the phrase “Spahn, Sain and two days of rain” was coined) and 13 better than the Giants, who hit a then-record 221 homers (Johnny Mize hit 51 of them). Young Ewell “The Whip” Blackwell led the NL in wins (22-8, 2.47) for fifth-place Cincinnati. In the AL, Ted Williams won his second Triple Crown (.343-32-114) but his Red Sox finished in third, 14 games behind the Yankees, whose Joe DiMaggio was MVP. And in the World Series, the Dodgers’ Al Gionfriddo made his famous homer-robbing catch of DiMaggio’s drive in Game 6 to force the series to a seventh game before the Yankees won.

 

1949: Popularized by David Halberstam’s book, “Summer of ’49,” this season featured two pennant races decided by a single game each. In Casey Stengel’s first year as manager, the Yankees beat the Red Sox on the last two days of the season to edge Boston by a single game. Ted Williams won the MVP award with a .343-43-159 season in which he shared league RBI honors with teammate Vern Stephens, who also slugged 39 homers. A strong Cleveland club settled for third, 8 games back. In the NL, the Dodgers won in extra innings on the final day to finish one game ahead of the Cardinals. Jackie Robinson led the league in batting and was MVP (.342-16-124, 122 runs, 36 doubles, 12 triples and a league-best 37 stolen bases), despite an awesome year by the Cards’ Musial (.338-36-123, 128 runs, 41 doubles, 13 triples, 107 walks). Pittsburgh’s Ralph Kiner led the NL in homers (54), RBIs (127), slugging (.658) and walks (117).

 

1951: Second (among remaining eligible seasons) only to 1947 for historical fame, this is the season of Bobby Thomson’s home run that decided a three-game playoff and capped the Giants’ miraculous comeback to win the pennant over the Dodgers. The Giants had trailed the Dodgers by 13 ½ games on Aug. 12, then won 16 straight and 39 of 47 to force the playoff. The Giants had a pair of 23-game winners, Sal Maglie and Larry Jansen, Monte Irvin’s finest season (.312-24-121) and rookie-of-the-year Willie Mays. The Dodgers had lefty Preacher Roe (22-3), Roy Campanella’s first huge season (.325-33-108) and Gil Hodges’ 40 homers. Musial (.355-32-108) and Kiner (.309-42-109) were monstrous once again. The Yankees won their third straight World Series (in a streak of five), during the rookie year of Mickey Mantle and the swan song of DiMaggio. But the Yankees’ stars were the Big Three of Ed Lopat (21-9), Vic Raschi (21-10) and Allie Reynolds (17-8, two no-hitters). They had to be that good to keep the Yankees five games ahead of second-place Cleveland, who had a trio of 20-game winners – Bob Feller, Mike Garcia and Early Wynn, plus 17-game winner Bob Lemon, as well as slugging Luke Easter, Al Rosen and Larry Doby. … A bit of trivia: Mantle was not the AL rookie of the year. His roommate, Gil McDougald, was.

 

 

THE QUEST FOR ALL-TIME GREATS

 

I have been a Strat-O-Matic game owner (baseball) since 1964. My dream is to have Strat create an all-time team for each franchise based on the player's best all-around season.  The cards would look like they do now (both basic and advanced) and you would combine teams such as the NEW YORK-SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS , BOSTON-MILWAUKEE-ATLANTA BRAVES as an example. Imagine having a Yankees team with the 1921 Babe Ruth, 1956 Mickey Mantle and 1978 Ron Guidry together! Add another 29 teams (I could understand if you would not include Tampa Bay in this set) and I think this would be a big sell. I hope Strat-O-Matic would give this strong consideration, and act on this soon.

 Phil Solimine, Passaic, NJ

 

            This set would be a dream-come-true for many of us. But “act on this soon” is the key phrase. For Strat-O-Matic to do any player in advanced form requires it to compute the statistical norms for every team in that player’s season. And in the case of pitchers, the hits on the card are calculated after his teammates’ defensive ranges are determined. In other words, if the company is going to do 1921 Babe Ruth, it has to do much of the research for an entire season. The set you describe would include all, or nearly all, of the pre-1959 seasons Strat-O-Matic has yet to produce in advanced form. That’s 49 seasons from the 20th Century alone. This is a major reason why the game company has preferred to release full seasons. Another is that all of the customer feedback (to the game company, to STRAT FAN, etc. indicates that most baseball gamers play stock teams more than they do fantasy teams). For now, you could use your ’20 Ruth, ’56 Mantle and ’78 Guidry – with ’41 Joe DiMaggio, ’27 Lou Gehrig, ’50 Yogi Berra and more recent-vintage Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Goose Gossage, among others. Yes, it would be somewhat tougher to assemble the best St. Louis Browns for that Browns/Orioles franchise.

 

 

I started a thread on the Strat-O-Matic Forum some time ago: Accepting the lack of some stats and three-pointers pre-1980, why not a basic, Hall of Fame, basketball card set? I can't be the only one looking to put Russell, Cousy, West and Chamberlain up against the modern players.

Neil M. Greenberg, Brooklyn, NY

 

            Earlier installments of The Talk Show prove that you are not the only one. A previous Talk Show also pointed out that Strat-O-Matic doesn’t go backward in game development – that is, once it gets beyond a basic game, it doesn’t produce basic-only sets. Although the basic games are a staple for introducing new Strat players, experienced players overwhelming graduate to the advanced versions and don’t go back, except occasionally. Finally, there is the issue mentioned above about the inefficiency of producing advanced cards for isolated players.

 

                                                              

 

PLAYING TIPS IN THE MAKING

 

We have had a 16-team computer football league for the past two years.  In both years, the home-field advantage is not very evident. I hate to suggest more penalties as there seems to be plenty of penalties. I suggest "home-field dice"....  if the Home Field indicator comes up, the ratings of a player required to determine the outcome would be affected -- the home team’s player would be increased by one, the visiting team’s player rating would be decreased by one.

Tom Murch, Eagle Bend, MN

 

            If your league has been keeping data on this, you ought to send it to Strat-O-Matic. An interesting idea, but I suspect it would need considerable play-testing. Odds-makers generally allow three points for the home team, which can be decisive, but isn’t a very visible edge in a computer game. While a draft league could tolerate a standard home-advantage factor, a new rule ought to work whenever the computer is used, and that means stock teams, too. Then, we might want to consider a stronger home-field edge for teams with the sharpest home-road differential. If this were also a board-game option, I’d have some other questions: A fifth die would make quite a handful, wouldn’t it? Would that be one side in six to activate the advantage, or more often? Would skill-players’ cards be affected, or just the blockers and defenders? Would you also move up one line or down one line for place kickers and punters?

 

 

Two minor suggestions for the computer game:


(1) I don't mind injuries, but I hate to see stars or high draft picks miss extended periods via freakish circumstances. Why not have an injury option that states "rest of game only," which would still allow for some substitutions and missed time, but not ruin seasons for players, or more importantly, managers.

 

(2) Many players play in all-star-style leagues with teams based all over the world. Wouldn't it be sort of neat to add the Japanese, Cuban and Puerto Rican national anthems to the American and Canadian options? Variety is the spice of life, I say!


Mike Hudak, North Canton, OH

 

            (1) This option also would work well for draft-leagues that already monitor player usage, but don’t want to do away with injuries altogether.

 

            (2) With the Expos playing so many games in Puerto Rico and a few games each year in Japan, maybe this is not so far-fetched, so to speak.

 

 

 

 

 

RULES, RULES

 

Two questions concerning the situation when the batter misses the pitch on a suicide squeeze or safety squeeze attempt, and the runner on third is forced to try to steal home (in super advanced play):

(1)  Is the minimum safe range 1, or will the runner be automatically out if
his safe range is calculated to be zero or a negative number?

(2) What happens to the trail runner(s)?

Dave Feldman, New York, NY

 

(1)  

The minimum safe chance is 1.

(2)  

Unless it’s a double or triple steal, they stay put.

 

 

In the November Talk Show, there was an inquiry regarding brittle pitchers.  You stated that in the Super-Advanced rules, a pitcher may be injured on any 6-12 roll.  I must have an old version of the rules (I only purchase the computer game nowadays), because I do not see this rule.  But I have noticed while playing the computer game that this does not seem to be the case.  It seems the only time a pitcher can get injured (while using the DH rule) is if the DH is up.  Can you shed some light on this?

 

Also, I once sent an e-mail to SOM suggesting that (in the computer game) it might make sense for a pitcher's injury to be dependant on how tired he is.  For instance, any 6-12 roll could be a possible injury based on the pitcher's fatigue level.  You would subtract the fatigue level from 10 to give a % chance that the pitcher gets injured.  Example:  at level 9 (full strength) it would be a 10% chance of an injury; at level 0 (pitcher is spent) it would be 100 % (automatic injury on a 6-12 roll). 

Greg Pahren, Lexington, VA

 

 

            To activate the more-frequent pitcher injuries, click the SADV Injury option under the Rules for the league you are playing. It’s not a default setting. You’ve got to set it yourself. If, then, pitchers were being injured too often, your playing tip could be excellent.

 

 

The way it is now, NL pitchers only get injured when they're batting and AL pitchers only get injured when their team's DH is hitting, is neither equal nor accurate. Pitchers tend to get injured more when they're pitching, and thus I wonder why Strat-O-Matic simply doesn't put injury possibilities on a pitcher's pitching card. With this change, I think also the current way the AL pitchers get injured should be eliminated (because it's completely inaccurate), but the manner in which NL pitchers currently get hurt should be left. After all, NL pitchers play in the game more than AL pitchers do.

 

And, what is the exact formula for how bunting for a base hit works?

Matt Byrom, Danville, CA

 

            Though it’s not a board-game rule, you could adopt the SADV computer rule for pitcher injuries: Make any 6-12 roll for a man at bat an injury to the pitcher in the field.

 

            On bunting for hits, Strat-O-Matic doesn’t divulge its formulas. It’s hidden in the computer game. The board game has no such rule, but bunters trying to sacrifice can get a hit when the SPEED rating comes up. The percentage chance depends on his speed. 

 

 

MAN VS. MACHINE

 

            Recently it was announced that Strat was going to eliminate their floppy disks and replace them with CDs. This is great for those just now buying past season disks and for future seasons. However, what is Strat doing to find a solution for those gamers like myself who have already purchased many past season disks in baseball and football and who worry that in the future their disks will become useless when floppy disks can no longer be used on computers? Mac users were able to trade in their disks for IBM copies; will gamers be able to trade in their floppy disks for the CD version?

Dan Gault, Ancienne-Lorette, QC, Canada

           

So far, the change is only for computer basketball. Even there, the past-season floppy disks still work. So there’s no need for a trade-in policy.

 

 

In the current SOM computer baseball game, base runners are picked off base an unrealistic number of times.  It also appears to have no regard for who the base runner is or who the pitcher is.  Is this something that can be addressed in the future?

 Mike Belay, Erial, NJ

 

            Actually, it has everything to do with who is on base. The runner’s chance of getting back is determined by his second steal-success number. And pitcher’s hold ratings are influenced by their real-life pickoffs. As for frequency, SOM’s Bob Winberry replies, “While we don’t rate pitchers or base runners individually for pickoffs, our game does reproduce the approximate league totals for a major-league season.” After hearing your question, Winberry ran an autoplay of the 2003 season, which produced 156 pickoffs (that information is in Report Writer). According to The Bill James Handbook, the real 2003 major-league season had 152 pickoffs.

 

 

Just finished replaying the 2002 football season and was disappointed to find out that the "form playoff league" function imported the teams but not their offensive or defensive plays. When the company fixes this bug do you think you could get them to include an automatic playoff scenario, including playoff scheduling and standings, based on tie-breakers instead of the alphabet? Playing a historical league with stock teams ought to have a built-in playoff format don't you think?

Mike, Phoenix (Strat since 1968)

           

Winberry reports that the computer-manager import bug will be fixed in the next version. Until then, we can export the CM from a regular-season league and import it into our playoffs leagues. However, Winberry said, a full-featured playoff schedule is not likely because the NFL’s tie-breaking rules are complex and have frequently changed over the past two decades. “We could do a (simpler) system, but if it doesn’t duplicate the actual system, it’s half a feature,” Winberry said. So it’s up to the gamer to pick the playoff teams. Setting up a playoff league with those teams takes no more than a couple of minutes.

 

 

We have an e-mail football league that has several owners in different states.  It would be very nice if another person could join into an existing game as a "spectator." Is this feasible?

 Tom Murch, Eagle Bend, MN

 

This is the type of question that doesn’t have an answer, because Strat-O-Matic doesn’t divulge its new-product plans until it is sure it can deliver. To do otherwise can create false hope or give too much notice to competitors. 

 

 

There seems to be a growing problem with more and more people using various high-speed providers and setting up home networks, that people are unable to host NetPlay sessions because the IP address they are assigned is not visible from the Internet.  Is SOM doing anything about this?  Several people from the leagues I am in have inquired about this and I'm sure we're not the only ones.  Being somewhat computer savvy, I understand the issue.  But one simple solution would be to drop the requirement that the home team must be the host. Of course, the problem would still occur if both participants had the same issue.  An alternate would be to have a server set up where both teams would connect.  This could be a last resort for people since there could be availability issues and/or performance issues due to the number of people connecting.  But it would be better than having two teams in a league that could never play each other.

Greg Pahren

 

Winberry replies: “There is no influx of bug reports in this area. Some very small percentage of people have trouble. Industry-wide, 2 percent of computers have trouble connecting any given computer game for Internet play.  Our game is no different.  These problems relate to hardware, software and network configurations on individual systems, and are largely outside of a game publisher's control. Technically, we cannot drop the home-host requirement without re-writing NetPlay from scratch, and that is not a simple solution. One day, Strat-O-Matic hopes to rewrite the baseball NetPlay to be more like the system in football, but that is a major project.”

 

LONG LIVE THE CARDS

 

I have been a faithful SOM customer for over 20 years. I particularly enjoy
playing the board hockey game. With the advent of the computer games, what are the chances that Strat-O-Matic will 'force' everyone to begin buying their computer games because it's easier to duplicate CDs than print cards? I, for one, hope the printed cards never go away.

Mike Butts, St. Louis

 

            Like the paperless office and the end of newspapers, the demise of Strat-O-Matic cards in the face of computer options has long been forecast. Presumably, all of these things could happen someday. Because of the setup costs, printing demands volume to keep the printed product reasonably priced. If the critical mass is lost, then printing becomes too costly. But computers don’t have that issue. So, even today, we see some additional players for the computer only. And some past season disks in the non-baseball sports for the computer only. Strat-O-Matic’s Hal Richman has been very astute about this, and about doing everything he can to keep Strat-O-Matic in card form. It’s the heritage and the soul of the company – holding a card and looking at the format creates an unmatched bond between gamer and product. The computer must compensate in other ways. By selling card sets inexpensively to gamers buying the computer game at the same time, Strat-O-Matic keeps the print order up high enough to keep the prices for cards reasonable. And Strat’s latest experiment with “six-packs” of best teams from football and hockey past seasons (at the same time full-season disks are created) is another demonstration of the company’s devotion to cards.


   

RETROSHEET TO THE RESCUE

 

The Big Book Of Baseball Lineups I mentioned does not have actual day to day lineups but rather some great ideas for use with the Career Historical Disks. The book did lead me to a web site with all of the day to day box scores from the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s. called http://www.retrosheet.org/ . This should help

R.E. Boaz

 

 

In response to the request for lineup information, why not try www.retrosheet.org, which has complete box score listings dating back to 1972, plus selected seasons from the '60s.

 Leith Dunick, Thunder Bay, ONT

 

 

            Thanks, guys. I should have thought of Retrosheet. After all, I know its creators, led by Dave Smith, who have toiled selflessly with the goal of assembling the play-by-play of every game in baseball history. Amazingly, a large amount of that work has been accomplished. Retrosheet, used by Strat-O-Matic to assist its past-season research, can answer lineup questions and much, much more. For instance, what is this player’s career statistics against left-handers, or against that pitcher, or when he bats in this place in the order? And that’s just scratching the surface of what Retrosheet can provide – and it’s all free..

 

 

THE FURTHER AWAY THEY GET, THE BETTER THEY LOOK

 

I love The Talk Show,” especially the statement on the last installment from Charlie Lord. He laments that pitching was tougher in the ‘50s and ‘60s compared to today. This is true. But pitching back in Babe Ruth's era was tougher than the ‘50's and ‘60s. I know that Lord wasn’t going that far back, but the Babe was far superior to anyone in that era. In 1927 he hit 14 percent of all the home runs in baseball. No one else has ever or will ever come close to matching that.

Steve Napoli

 

            While other Ruth records have fallen in time, this one will outlive us. Some of the reasons why pitching was so tough in Ruth’s time: the spitball, using one ball for a whole game, games that went into twilight with no lights, deeper (or non-existent) outfield fences and a small-ball culture that acknowledged these facts and encouraged batters to bunt, hit-and-run and chop at the ball much more often.

 

 

ESSAY OF THE MONTH: BOOMER HEAVEN

 

I enjoyed your reply to the Wish List of Past Season requests. I have ordered almost everything SOM has to offer since 1965, and I have enjoyed them all. The computer games have been a god-send, tabulating stats and offering an opposing manager, especially in football.

 

I am a Baby Boomer, and growing up in the ‘60s, I have come to the conclusion that the ‘60s and early ‘70s were the Golden Age of Sports. The ‘60s had the Celtics, Packers, and UCLA (continued into the ‘70s) dynasties; Starr, Unitas, Brown, Sayers and OJ at USC; Mays, Mantle, Aaron, Koufax, and Gibson; Wilt, Russell, the Big O, and Mr. Clutch; Maris and 61, McLain with 31, UCLA's 47 game winning streak, and Wilt's 100; Alcindor-Hayes-Maravich, Wilt-Russell; the '67 Sixers going 68-13; the Ice Bowl, Namath and the Upset; SC-Notre Dame; the Fearsome Foursome, Doomsday Defense, and the Purple People Eaters. The College Basketball Game of the Century featuring ‘67-68 UCLA-Houston.

 

The early ‘70s had UCLA's 88-game winning streak, The ‘71-72 Lakers’ 33-game winning streak, and the Dolphins’ 17-0; OJ and 2,003; Wilt-Reed-Kareem; The
College Football Game of The Century featuring '71 Oklahoma-Nebraska.

 

The teams and players of that era were mythical, and the games legendary. I realize that today's athletes are bigger, stronger, faster, better-trained, etc, but something seems to have been lost. When New England upsets the Rams in the Super Bowl, it is just that, an upset. When the Jets beat the Colts, it was monumental. I was a bit young when Maris broke the Babe's home run record, but it was probably the most talked-about record in baseball until McGwire broke it in '98. When Bonds broke McGwire's record, it was certainly an achievement, but it almost seemed ho-hum. When 14-0 Ohio State beat Miami in the BCS Championship game last year, it was certainly a great game, but a few years from now, I suspect very few people will remember it. However, when Nebraska edged Oklahoma in a reg-season game in '71, it has remained the Game of the Century. How many fights match Ali-Frazier, or Ali-Foreman, today?


Certainly the younger generation will argue the Celtics-Lakers-76ers of the ‘80s, with Magic vs. Bird; obviously McGwire-Sosa in '98. Pedro, Maddux, and even Gagne have pitched probably even better than Koufax and Gibson did, when you compare the league offensive stats of the eras, but they still don't have that mythical quality that Koufax did. Koufax and Jim Brown quit while still in their primes, and for some reason, my generation believes they could still be playing. Wilt retired prematurely, and was pursued into the ‘80s by many NBA teams. Jordan probably should have stayed retired. His Bulls teams will go down in history as a dynasty, but there was very little competition for them. The team that went 72-10 played a schedule against a diluted league, and only played the much stronger Western Conference teams twice that year (one game at home, the other on the road). In contrast, the ‘71-72 Lakers that went 69-13 played the 51-31 Warriors six times, and the 63-19 Bucks five times. The ‘66-67 76ers that went 68-13 played the 60-21 Celtics 10 times!

 

So, here is my Wish List: (all of these are computer products ... if cards are issued as well, great):

Any NFL seasons from 1960-76, but here are my favorites in order: 1967, 1969, 1970, 1973, 1971, 1963.

Any NBA seasons from 1960-61 thru 1975-76. Favorites are 1966-67, ‘71-72, ‘61-62, ‘72-73, ‘67-68.


Any college football or basketball seasons from the ‘60s to early ‘70s. Favorites:
Basketball:  1966-67, 67-68, 71-72, 73-74 … Football: 1967, 1971, 1972, 1968, 1966


I'm sure there are a large number of Boomers who would at least partially agree with me. You mentioned that we, as consumers, need to buy the SOM products, and I concur. As I stated earlier, I have purchased almost everything they have made. I even have the ‘72-73 basketball card game, the ‘77 college football game, the ‘87 and ‘88 college football games, as well as the ‘95 college basketball computer disks. In addition I purchased all of the STRAT FAN teams that you and Ron Brammer collaborated on. If they will make it, I will buy it.

Jeff Lauber, Galt, CA

 

 

THE TALK SHOW

 

Host: Glenn Guzzo

 

You can submit your question or insight on any Strat-O-Matic game to SOMTalkShow@aol.com. When you do, kindly include your name and town. Other gamers like to see that. And the display format below works better that way.

 

UPCOMING PATCH UPDATES

 

            I see that a new patch was just released for Version 1.0 Basketball, any word on new updates for Football, Hockey or Baseball?

                                                                                                                       

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Craig Thompson, Phoenix

 

            According to Bob Winberry, no further patches are planned for the computer Football game.

A patch for the hockey game is being worked on. It will cover a number of items reported as bugs. However, some of the penalty related problems will require a major overhaul which cannot be addressed until Version 4.0.

            Strat-O-Matic is aware of certain problems with the new encyclopedia feature in Version 9.0 Baseball and they are working to correct those. SOM is also aware of a problem that is affecting a small percentage of Windows XP users. At this point they have not been able to determine the cause but are continuing to research the problem.

 

            At this time, there is no ETA for the release of either the Hockey or Baseball patch.

 

 

FROM 1911 TO 1948 IN ONE YEAR

 

Just read your announcement on 1948.  WOO-HOO!!  Don't know how I'm gonna wait a year.  Make do with 1911 in the meantime, I guess. 

Jeff Polman

 

            As welcome as 1948 will be, you can make do VERY nicely with 1911. The baseball from that era was so different, in so many ways, from today’s game that the1911 set should entertain for a long time. From Joe Jackson’s first full season to Cy Young’s last, 1911 brings to life many of the famous and infamous characters of baseball history and demands different strategy to be a successful manager. Look for my long analysis of the 1911 release on Strat-O-Sphere soon. I spent a couple of days digging deep into the cards and into my baseball reference works and came away itching to get started with the games.

 

 

DON’T FORGET ‘57

 

Has there been interest from gamers to reproduce the 1957 baseball season? I'm sure there are a good number of Milwaukee Braves fans who would delight in having their only world championship team. Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Frank Robinson, Ted Williams and other stars had great years in ‘57. Aaron won the MVP (.322 with 44 HR),  Mays hit .333 with 35 HR, 26 doubles, 20 triples, and 39 SB. Mantle hit .365. Robinson batted .322, and old man Williams batted .388 at age 39!

Also: will Strat reprint the 1962 season (with blue type and light screen as opposed to the one shade of blue)? I'm sure this has to be one of the most popular seasons in Strat history.

Phil Solimine, Passaic, NJ

 

            Yes, 1957 received strong support in the latest sampling of opinion on-line. But more gamers wanted a season (1948 most of all) from 1946-49. The game company has not been reprinting advanced seasons that have sold out. Nor has it updated any advanced seasons into super-advanced format since doing so for 1975 and 1978 quite a few years ago.

            The temporary consolation for Braves fans is that 1948 marked the first pennant (but no World Series title) for the Braves since 1914. Of course, these were the Boston Braves, not Milwaukee. And the only player in common with the ’57 Braves on the ’48 squad was Warren Spahn.

 

 

Really enjoy the game.  Have been in a face-to-face league, with pretty much the same faces, for more than 10 years. It is a keeper, all-time all-star league.  I first saw and played the game in 1967. About the cards and paper:  I work with computers all day.  I enjoy the feel of the cards. I like the computer game, but face-to-face with dice is more fun. I don't think the end of paper is a foregone conclusion.  If you look at Las Vegas, the paste boards and dice are not going away.  They remain viable choices. Different venue, more money there, sure.  But a lot of machinery and the older games are still 'non-virtual.' On the Web, if you look at sites like those that sell digital photography, they allow you to click on an image, inspect it, and download it for a fee.

 

I was wondering why Strat-O-Matic doesn't use some sort of feature like that for cards that they do not expect to print, like the 1968s.  Strat-O-Matic could even sell the appropriate paper (or a link to a vendor who does), so folks could print on the correct stock.  Price the images or sets of images as you see fit, under whatever legal restrictions you think need to be honored. This way the choice would always be there, at least for cards that have already been created.  And it would be a source of income. It became an issue for our league when the post office lost 500 vintage cards, 1968 Denny McLain among them.

R Koehler, Chicago

 

            While on one hand the system you describe would be a god-send for some of us, the game company has not reprinted sets that take many years to sell out because the demand isn’t there. If demand has diminished to a trickle, it’s probably not worth it to SOM to have the card images professionally digitized and to otherwise divert attention from other projects. Nonetheless, innovative ideas like yours are very welcome at Strat-O-Matic. In my experience, even when there’s a serious roadblock in front of a promising idea, the idea prompts the folks at SOM to find their own creative solutions to help satisfy gamer needs.

 

 

JUMPING THROUGH HOOPS

 

The SOM Windows Basketball game has been a great success and has renewed interest in SOM hoops. I just hope that in this renaissance period of Strat basketball that the board game is not forgotten. It would really be great to see cards issued for those older seasons (the Celtics Years and so forth), even if the stats had to be fudged a little because of less accurate methods of tracking in those early NBA years!

Andrew Huffman, Lowell, MA

 

            None of Strat-O-Matic’s computer games have decreased the number of cards. Rather, we’ve seen more extra players and more past seasons represented on cards as well as the computer. 

 

I like to say that Strat-O-Matic’s computer basketball game is so good that it is better than the real thing – today’s NBA. A game of SOM basketball is always fun, which is more than I can say for the walk-it-up style employed by so many NBA teams for the sole purpose of keeping the score closer (lower) by reducing possessions. Low scores are fine when they are the result of tenacious defense, but not if they are caused by a team that doesn’t even look for a shot until it has to settle for whatever shot it can find in the final six seconds of the shot clock. Possessions are down something like 41 per game in the past 10 years. But SOM computer basketball always keeps you in the game by forcing decisions that pay off or fail very quickly and that show up on the stat sheets.

 

In this way, I’m sure you are right – the Windows basketball game will renew many gamers’ interest in basketball. That applies to the current-season NBA, but Strat-O-Matic has numerous others seasons available dating back to 1970-71.

 

NET LOSS AT HOME

 

I was just reading your latest Talk Show transcripts and saw a question concerning problems some players are having in not being able to host a netplay game. Bob Winberry's reply implied there haven't been any widespread reports of bugs in this area. I think the question wasn't referring to "bugs," but instead was suggesting that many people these days have high speed internet connections and home networks, meaning they have routers (between their computers and the internet) that make their IP address not visible from the internet. And that means home netplay games are not possible.

 

Mike Gullo, Painesville, Ohio

 

            Winberry reports that many people have been able to play home netplay games despite routers, but it requires ingenuity – hard-wiring around the router and/or software solutions (especially if a firewall is present). “We’re set up to operate on a public port. The people who choose to have a router in their homes, will have to explore the options particular to their setup. Strat-O-Matic can’t account for all the different hardware setups out there – everyone’s is different. In the meantime, there is no way to allow the visiting team to host the game, because that would require an extensive rewrite of the software.”

 

TOO LATE FOR ’68?

I think the idea of printing vintage football cards (1965, etc.) is an excellent idea. Is there any possibility of printing cards from the 1968 season? I am very interested in purchasing them. I am a big proponent of the cards over the computer. Further, will SOM print eight teams instead of six? This would seem to make more sense so you could have two divisions of four teams and a championship between the divisions. I would also like to suggest the teams based on records.

1 - Baltimore 13-1
2 - Dallas 12-2
3 - Oakland 12-2
4 - Kansas City 12-2
5 - New York Jets 11-3
6 - Los Angeles 10-3-1
7 - Cleveland 10-4
8 - St. Louis 9-4-1 (my favorite)

This was the year of Joe Namath and it would be exciting to roll the dice to see if the Jets would do it again. The teams I suggested above would also cover a wide geographic area and I believe would be a big seller. I plan to buy the 1965 cards soon but hope that SOM will consider printing the above teams in the near future.

David Dollins, Paducah, KY

            Unknown, David. But I’d expect that it’s more likely we’ll see cards that accompany newer computer disks. I think these sets would have to sell very well to persuade Strat-O-Matic to issue a cards-only set, which is what the 1968 cards would be at this point.

 

ADVANCE KNOWLEDGE

 

Currently the only way to advance a runner from 2nd to 3rd on a fly ball out to centerfield is on the 'X' charts.  Read result F2.  The league I play in honors the rule as presented, however I see far more runners advancing in the majors and am of the opinion that there should be more chances to advance the runner from 2nd to 3rd on a fly ball to centerfield.  Prior to our most recent season I proposed using a rule that would allow the possibility of a runner advancing from 2nd to 3rd on a fly cf(b).  My proposal was as follows:

 

On a fly ball to centerfield the runner from 2nd can advance to 3rd using the running speed +/- the centerfielder's arm to compute the safe chance.  Ex:  Running speed 14, centerfielder's arm -1.  Safe chance 1-13, return 14-19, out on 20.  On a fly ball to right field we add 2 to the safe chance.  On a fly ball to center field we would not add or subtract anything from the calculation that I proposed.  There is also the possibility of adding this for fly ball to lf(b) by subtracting 2 from the safe chance.

  Is there any reason why this situation cannot be added to the regular Strat rules?

Elemer Jerkovits, Regina, Saskatchewan

 

            This rule already is in force for fly(rf)B – see rule 14.3 on page 6 of the rule book. Over the years, many gamers have added their own options to each of Strat-O-Matic’s games. You are not the first to use this rule – we did the same in a small league I played in during the 1980s (except without the return chance). Strat-O-Matic has altered its super-advanced rules from time to time to reflect the way the sport is changing and its current rule is one of those improvements.

 

 

 

EXPANDED ENCYLOPEDIA

 

Did SOM include team-vs.-team lifetime W-L stats in the encyclopedia?  If not, is this feature going to be in any future versions?

 Larry Brody, Bayside, NY

 

            Not yet. There’s no telling, this soon after the release of Version 9, what will be in Version 10 and beyond. Gamers surely will be giving SOM feedback on what it likes and still wants from the vastly expanded encyclopedia function.

 

 

A SPORTING NEWS EXCLUSIVE

 

I've really enjoyed playing Strat-O-Matic Baseball All-Time Greats on the internet.  Now that The Sporting News is preparing to launch a new version of ATG, are there any plans by SOM to offer a disk of the current ATG game for the PC? It should require only minimal effort by SOM to create a disk for it since they've already got the data and I think there would be a decent demand for it by SOM gamers.

Matt Schmidt, Des Moines, IA

 

            No such plans. Strat-O-Matic and The Sporting News have agreements to provide certain exclusive online services. In that way, both organizations benefit for the long haul.

 

 

HOW ‘BOUT THEM CUBS?

 

What a wonderful sample of articles. It goes to show the great interest of us gray heads. Yes, if you make it we will buy it. In regard to future past seasons, how about the 1908 season? The year of the “boner” by the Giants Fred Merkle against the Cubs. I have a local interest as Johnny Evers of Cubs fame was from Troy, NY. He had a sporting goods store in Albany for many years. I had the pleasure of getting to hold one of his bats in my own hands. This was at a local re-created game from the 1890s period with local players. The teams were Worchester and Troy. His grandson was showing off his grandfather’s bats and balls. It was a thrill of a lifetime to hold a true hall of famer's bat. That fueled my interest in dead-ball baseball history. Also, how about 1914 with Babe Ruth of Boston Red Sox fame as a pitcher?

To the fan who wanted all-time franchise lineups: We did that with the Strat cards a couple of years ago, using the basic format that was on the old card sets. Sammy Sosa hit 64 homers to win the NL crown. And Babe Ruth edged out Roger Maris for the team lead at 68 homers to 65 homers. Walter Johnson won 32 games and Christy Mathewson won 35. The Yankees won the Series over the Giants in seven games. Try it, it was a labor of love. Also tell all the employees at SOM that their wonderful work is appreciated. All those hours burning the midnight oil are worth it.

Alan L. Dehn, Scotia, NY

 

            Gray heads? Some of us would gladly settle for gray hair. But it’s not like we actually saw the Dead Ball seasons live. Hal Richman has said that, he won’t do a season older than 1911 without much better information than has been compiled for Dead Ball seasons. The lack of information in the 1911 box scores required Richman and SOM’s past-season research expert, Steve Barkan, to do more work than ever to re-create that season.

 

 

THE FABULOUS FIFTIES, NFL-STYLE

 

I want to join the chorus requesting more football seasons from the ‘60s and ‘70s and add another verse. The 1949 Eagles, 1950 and 1951 Rams and Browns, the 1952 and 1953 Lions and Browns, 1956 Bears and Giants, 1957 49ers, 1958 and 1959 Colts and Giants, and others from the 1949-1959 era had some of the greatest players and played some of the greatest games in NFL history - Van Buren, Graham, Motley, Lavelli, Van Brocklin, Waterfield, Hirsch, Fears, Layne, Tittle, and many more. 1950 and another season or two from that period would fill a huge void – there is no game with a playable version of these teams or seasons – and open up a fascinating new era for gamers to explore and relive.

John Hoffman, Mill Valley, CA

 

            The Talk Show chorus must be pretty close by now to calling for every season in baseball history, and every post-war season in football, hockey and basketball. What is Strat-O-Matic waiting for? Seriously, there’s something about the power of Strat-O-Matic cards to transport us that make us want more and more – way more than we’ll ever get to play with. Just seeing the cards ignites the imagination.

As for your list – all great teams. And you are right – there are many more outstanding players from that era – not the least of which are Johnny Unitas, Alan Ameche, Lenny Moore and Raymond Berry of the 1957-59 Colts. Tittle had Hugh McElhenny and Joe “The Jet” Perry in his backfield at San Francisco. The Giants had Frank Gifford and Kyle Rote. On and on – and those are just the offensive “skill” players. It’s an era of power running, deep passing and some rock-hard defenses led by legendary tough guys.                

THE TALK SHOW

 

Host: Glenn Guzzo

 

You can submit your question or insight on any Strat-O-Matic game to SOMTalkShow@aol.com. When you do, kindly include your name and town. Other gamers like to see that. And the display format below works better that way.

 

 

DOUG GLANVILLE, ONE OF US

I loved Doug Glanville's article. I am proud to say that I Glanville was on my
team for my 1997 face-to-face draft league. Have you met other major leaguer's who are Strat fans?

Rod Jerred, Stat player since 1967

I thank Doug Glanville for sharing his story of Strat. I was instantly taken back to my "glory days" of Wiffle ball all day, Strat-O-Matic all night. It was weird reading your story – I didn’t know if he was telling me his memories or mine, minus the pro-ballplayer stuff. With the computer game, and being older, I had almost forgotten how important those cards really were. I remember a lot of the ‘84 football cards got mildewed in my friend’s basement. It was a catastrophe of Biblical proportions. Thanks for bringing back some great memories. If there is anyway to get Doug to drop a few paragraphs here and there during the season to let us know what goes on in the life of a Strat-O-Matic big leaguer during the season, that would be very interesting.

Steve Treiber, Canton, OH

            Check elsewhere on Strat-O-Sphere for Doug Glanville’s replies to various gamer questions. You can tell, both from his first article and these replies, that he’s enjoyed the exchange with other Strat players, too.

 

MORE CELEBRITY STRAT TALES

I work in a supermarket in northern New Jersey and have gotten to know Mark Jackson, formerly of the Knicks and some other NBA teams. When I finally got up the nerve, I asked him to autograph his rookie (of the year) Strat card and I gave it to my good friend (and fellow Strat nut) Jeff Smith. Mark is Jeff's all-time favorite Knick player, and I thought it would be a nice gift. After signing it, Mark asked what it was. After explaining it to him, he told me that it was cool and thanked me. He is always gracious with fans and never have I seen him turn down an autograph request. One of the truly classy guys in sports, and I got to tell him about Strat Basketball.

Andrew Lehman, Cliffside Park, NJ

            As Doug Glanville has told us, most Major League baseball players have at least heard of Strat-O-Matic. Good job, Andrew, spreading the word to an NBA player.

           

BALLPARKS, NOW AND THEN

 

Admittedly, I hadn't gotten yearly updates to the baseball game for a while, so maybe I missed something. Looking at the ballpark ratings for the New York teams, SOM has Shea Stadium as a much better park for lefty HR hitters and Yankee Stadium as even for both lefty and righty hitters.  I've been watching baseball for 30-plus years and last I checked it's Yankee Stadium with the short right field fence. OK, if the weather's bad the wind often comes in from LF at Shea, but I would never call Shea a hitter’s paradise for anybody, even in good weather. So has Strat gotten its parks mixed up, or are they basing their numbers on something I'm missing?

P. Stein, Flushing, NY

 

SOM’s Steve Barkan replies:

Those ratings are correct. 

In Shea, in less than ideal weather, it is almost impossible for right-handed batters to hit homers.  The wind comes in from left center and swirls around towards right.  It was very noticeable the last two years, when we had fairly bad summers in New York.

Yankee Stadium sees virtually the same percentage of homers both ways.  In the last few years, the Yanks have had right-handed batters, noticeably Soriano, go the other way (there's a wind tunnel to right-center) that skews the number, making it basically even for righties and lefties, even though the distances are slightly deeper to left and left center.

 

Having different stadiums (Wrigley Field, Camden Yards) available as game boards this year was a great idea. Any plans on creating them for the rest of the parks or any old-time parks?

Shamus, Chicago

 

Will Strat produce the ballparks for 1911? It would add to the history.

John Trent

 

            Like everything else new, future expansion depends on how popular they become. Hal Richman says that no additions are yet planned to the lineup of seven color ballpark game boards that debuted last year. They are the Polo Grounds, Wrigley Field, Shea Stadium, Camden Yards, Anaheim’s Edison Field, Houston’s Minute Maid Park and Pittsburgh’s PNC Park. They sell for $4 each.

 

 

IN PRAISE OF THE “MANUAL” COMPUTER

 

In the computer version of the baseball game you can input dice readings to get the results of the play.  Is there a way you SOM could add this feature to the computer versions of football and basketball?

Barry Allen, West Palm Beach, FL

 

            The answer to nearly all of the computer wish-list questions is: Yes, it’s physically possible. No, Strat-O-Matic can’t say yet whether a particular request is going to make it into the lineup of improvements. Those decisions are made closer to release dates. But, as always, SOM adds these requests to its list of possible upgrades and evaluates them based on demand volume and programming time.

 

 

 

ONE BAD LEAD DESERVES ANOTHER (CHANCE)

 

I have noticed for several years now the following scenario:

A base runner reaches first, then attempts to obtain a good lead and fails. A relief pitcher comes in. The runner is not even allowed to try again to obtain a good lead, even though the new pitcher may have a poor hold rating (i.e. > +1). Is this something that might be addressed in the future?

Tom, Macedon, NY

 

            That’s the official rule, Tom: One attempt at a lead. But some board-game leagues have decided that if the defense changes the situation, the offense can react – in this case, by getting another attempt at the lead. That does add something to the strategy of whether to bring in a reliever.

 

 

WEARY OF WAITING

 

When do you think the company will address the remaining flaws in the original games? Most of us long-time gamers have invented two-minute clocks, pulling-the-goalie rules, etc. to correct major problems with realism. With the switch to computers, we are stuck with many of the original flaws because we have to play the computer as programmed. In my opinion the priority should be to correct basic flaws before spending assets on encyclopedias, bells, whistles etc. After all, realistic replays with stock teams are the main idea – agree?

Mike, Phoenix

 

            Strat-O-Matic’s games always have been created first as faithful replay games. They were also created with equal fidelity to accuracy/realism and ease of play. Many of Strat-O-Matic’s defunct competitors cared deeply about the former at the expense of the latter. Their attention to detail was remarkable, but playing them gave you a headache managing all the computations, charts and multi-step plays. Almost literally, by the time a gamer finished a series, the game was off the market

Over the years, Strat-O-Matic has expanded its play options significantly, with advanced rules, super-advanced options and with computer-only features. No matter how frequent and dramatic the changes – innovative Strat gamers with a willingness to endure longer, more complex contests have always come up with their own playing tips. Strat-O-Matic has adopted many of their customers’ innovations as official options.

            Expect that progress to continue. But also understand that many of those “bells and whistles” have been as much or more in demand as anything else gamers have come up with.

 

 

ENCYLOPEDIA QUESTIONS

 

I have two questions about the new encyclopedia for version 9.0.

  1. I have 13 years of data for a league that started with the first version of the computer, then SOMBB.  I have kept all the roster and stat files but when I create a database for the new version, a couple of the years start to create but then a message saying "no records" but I hit enter key and it continues and creates a database.  After creating the encyclopedia, I search for a player (e.g. Helton) and it shows him but when I click on him, it says no record.  Some players it works for and other it doesn't.  I don't understand why it would bring up their name if it didn't have good data.
  2. A couple of my seasons have player replay data but the league says "hasn't started".  It seems that the line score file isn't there.  I thought this was the *.lsc file.  Is there another file that also might be missing and if so how can I get around it?

Rick Dean

 

Love your Talk Show, and it is as informative as ever.  I would not miss it.  Congratulations on another great job.

 

I am having a very hard time with Version 9 collating my old baseball database in the new encyclopedia format.  I have no problems with stock leagues, but get many "cannot find player(s)" and "no current record(s)" when I try to merge custom leagues into the database.  All my players come from SOM disks, except fringe players created to fill out older 20-man teams. My old leagues come from as far back as 1990, so there may be some codes I am missing, which SOM failed to mention that I need.

 

Have you had any problems?  Have others had problems?  I have tried the tech support.  I wrote five e-mails and got one response. The response was of absolutely no help and seemed to indicate a lack of knowledge about my issue. Please respond with any ideas you may have.  I do not wish to abandon my 15-year-old totals.  I would probably have to return to Version 8.

Jerry Gryguc, Plainville, CT

 

 

The Version 9.01 patch did clear up many encyclopedia problems. Bob Winberry offers this additional advice: “After installing the patch you should delete all existing encyclopedias and encyclopedia databases and rebuild them.  If you are still experiencing problems, then you'll need to send your data over to Strat-O-Matic along with a detailed explanation of the problem.  The best way to do this is to use the League/Backup League feature of the program to backup all of your leagues to .lzp file.  If you have just a few seasons you can email them to Strat-O-Matic along with the problem description.  If you have many seasons, burning them on a CD-ROM and mailing them to Strat-O-Matic might work best.”

 

 

 

 

Version 9 with maximum rules, less than two outs with man on third, or second and third, with first base open.  Infield playing back, groundball B to the pitcher. Why does the runner on third get thrown out trying to score?  Old gbB rules said that if no runners are forced, runners hold.  I can understand an occasional rock-head play, but this happens every time.  Is there any way I can force the man to stay at third?

 

           On another note: Sports Illustrated has a story on the new stats baseball GMs are using.  I think they should have given credit to Strat-O-Matic, because we were looking at those stats long before Billy Beane thought of them!

Joe Smith, Phillipston, MA

 

            Even with the infield playing back, the pitcher is considered to be playing in. So the traditional rule applies – the man on third is out on a groundball B with the infield in. As well, a groundball(p)B occurs so infrequently that it might be considered a rare play. Picking the 2003 Phillies at random, this result doesn’t come up on a single pitcher’s card and only on three of the eight cards for the lineup regulars. Those three – Marlon Byrd (3-2 vs. righties), Jimmy Rollins (3-3 vs. righties) and Placido Polanco (1-6 vs. righties) account for less than 1 percent of possible dice rolls on the batter cards of Phillies regulars. When you take only those groundball(p)B results that occur with less than two out and then only with a runner at third or second and third -- the frequency is certainly rare enough to consider the outs as bone-head plays, or dashes for the plate on balls hit not straight back at the pitcher, but to his right or left.

 

            Still, gamers who want more control would love to have the option of playing safe. That could be accomplished with a rule similar to the one in place now that gives the offensive coach an option of trying for third base, or staying put, on a groundball to the left side.

 

            The reaction among Strat-O-Matic players to the team-building concepts “divulged” in Moneyball about Billy Beane’s Oakland A’s has been universal: Gee, I’ve always know the value of a walk and built my teams, and my lineups, based on on-base chances. This is a prime example of how playing Strat-O-Matic makes a fan far more aware of player talents, game strategy and the elements of success in professional sports.

 

 

THE TALK SHOW

 

Host: Glenn Guzzo

 

You can submit your question or insight on any Strat-O-Matic game to SOMTalkShow@aol.com. When you do, kindly include your name and town. Other gamers like to see that. And the display format below works better that way.

 

 

SEEING DOUBLE

I was kind of disappointed that Brooks Kieschnick got two separate cards in SOM. This is great for honest board game players, but I see four potential problems with the computer version: 

 

1. In baseball, Kieschnick could be in left field, switch positions with the pitcher to get a tough lefty out, then trot back out to the pasture with the original pitcher returning to the mound. This wouldn't be possible in SOM.

 

2. Although he gets a solid 8N rating, his batting stats as a "pitcher" will not add to those accumulated as a "batter."

 

3. With 25-man rosters, Kieschnick's resourcefulness is wasted if one man takes up two spots!

 

4. And, the weirdest one – he can be in two places at once; throwing a pitch, then catching it in left field. This guy is going to get tired!

 

With Kieschnick assuming his dual role again this season and David McCarty toying with the idea in Boston, are there any plans for SOM to introduce an innovation for this type of player?

Nathan White, Fredericton, NB

 

            No. 4 is the tough one when the pair of Kieschnick cards is turned over to HAL, the computer manager. No. 1 has happened so seldom with Kieschnick that we could live without that ability. Relievers come to bat so seldom that No. 2 shouldn’t have much impact. There’s a couple work-arounds for No. 3 – in one, just de-activate tomorrow’s starting pitcher and you’re back to 25 men on the computer roster. The only thing I’ve come up with so far for No. 4 is for the league manager with Kieschnick to be able to use both cards for manual play, but to send only one with his CM. Not ideal, but this is a guy who had only 70 at-bats. Maybe other gamers would like to share what’s working well for them.

 

 

 

 

ONE FOR THE AGES

Is it possible to put the age of the player on his card along with his stats? You don’t know how nice that would be for drafting and trading purposes. Just missing that small detail is all, if you guys added that it would make my day. Thanks and keep up the great Job!

John DeVita Manteca, Ca 

 

            That would be a nice touch, not only for “keeper” leagues, but for Draft-O-Matic to consider future value. And it would assist gamers who like to assemble novelty teams. Birth date, which would take more space on the card and therefore might be unwieldy, would be more precise than age, which would require SOM to pick an arbitrary cutoff date (end of last season? Jan. 1? April 1? July 1?). While your suggestion will get added to SOM’s wish list, a “nice touch” might have a difficult time getting to the top of the list unless it is very easy to implement.

 

 

THE JOYS OF SPRING

This past week I had a lazy vacation and introduced my 9-year-old to Strat about the same age I was. We played the computer game and after one hour the interest faded. The excitement and feel is just not there. When we got home, I found I was missing the cards. I broke them out with some customized charts for stealing and a few other things and started rolling the dice. He came down stairs and started playing a bit. Three hours later I was putting him to bed an hour late. We have played almost every day since.

 

The computer game offers awesome replay ability and league play but nothing compares to looking at cards as you roll the dice and have the excitement of a great hit or the frustration of Jeff Bagwell's 1994 card making an out versus lefties. The human touch to making it happen is what made it great to play the game. I have not played much the past five or so years but we are setting up a season and I am looking forward to rolling them again.

Tom Hannon, Amesbury, MA

 

            Well said, Tom. The board game is a great way to learn Strat-O-Matic – the cards, the dice chances, the strategy charts and the managing moves. And for us older kids, the board game is a wonderful way to re-connect with our youth, when the board game was the only option. Once that connection is made, the computer game is tough to beat, with its speed, unique features and versatility. Gamers who know both the board and computer games enjoy the best of both worlds.

 

                       

ONCE AROUND THE TRACK

Don't make fun of me; I’m a huge Strat fan. I think Strat fans know the greatest baseball team of all-time, football team and hockey team, but think about Strat-O-Matic Horse Racing.  A one-time deal: Several different tracks, several great horses, weather conditions and maybe a way to work in odds. Come on, think about it – Smarty Jones against Man-O-War, Seattle Slew, Seabiscuit, Citation, and Secretariat.  Could any of these horses beat the others and win the Triple Crown?  Thanks to Hal we know the great teams, but will we ever know which pony was the greatest?

Oh yea, and golf … Tiger, Hogan, Palmer and Nicklaus teeing it up in the Masters.

Nic "the Phillie" Mattioni 

            Those are fun to think about and probably fun to play, at least once or twice. But the various game companies who have tried their hand at both of these sports have abandoned them pretty quickly. Of course, we believe Strat-O-Matic would do these best, but the SOM audience is a statistics-conscious, strategy-conscious group. Those are the things that make gamers want to keep playing, to complete entire seasons and to play different seasons. Horse racing and golf have their stats, but not many fans can cite them. The strategy for most single-performer sports tends to have much less of the risk-reward elements that capture the fascination in team sports. Your notion of a “one-time deal” probably would be the way to go. A lot of us would buy anything Strat-O-Matic produces, knowing it will be good. And SOM wouldn’t be tied down maintaining a game that might not bring a high percentage of us back for more. Still, the game company knows it would hear demands for updates when the next Smarty Jones or Tiger Woods comes along, or when the newer computers can’t run the old software.

 

 

Would Strat-O-Matic consider revising some of its deluxe past seasons in terms of additional players? In 1961, for example, teams such as the Angels, Senators and A’s went through many roster changes, especially with pitchers. I know that one can obtain additional players at no charge on one of the web sites. Nevertheless, I think that having only 23 or 24 players per roster is unlikely to produce an accurate replay. Congratulations on a great forum.

Paul Dunn

 

            Thanks, Paul. When Strat-O-Matic has updated a previously released season to super-advanced form (e.g. 1965 and 1963), it has added players to the card sets and included all players on the computer. So the question is whether we’ll ever see seasons like 1961 and 1962 ever re-released in super-advanced form. Some of those card sets are lacking players with more than 100 at-bats or more than 60 innings pitched. While SOM traditionally done a careful job of printing the most representative players, and the team stats turn out well, redistributing all those missing AB and IP can throw off the individuals who absorb them to their regular load. That does affect final replay stats. The answer for super-advanced versions depends on demand. When SOM re-released 1975 and 1978 in super-advanced form (the only two that were upgraded from advanced, rather than basic), the gaming public didn’t overwhelm the company with orders. Those were popular seasons, too. The feeling among most gamers seems to be that it’s worth playing a basic-only season over when things like lefty-righty ratings, pitcher endurance and throwing arms are added. But there’s less urgency to take a season with all those things and play it again just to add supplemental stealing, clutch and ballpark effects.

 

 

SCHEDULING HELP

Hi.  I was wondering when SOM was going to add a feature to automatically
create a schedule based on information we give it about our particular
league?

Tom Martens, Rock Island,  IL

 

            Gamers ask for a more capable computer scheduler fairly often. However, Bob Winberry reports, programming an excellent schedule-maker is one of the biggest jobs he could tackle. The logic can be very complicated and, to this day, the big leagues use humans to do the task. Computers help but don’t finish the job. Even for simpler, balanced schedules of eight or ten teams, it can get pretty hairy when trying to dictate a certain number of off days and double-headers – and to have those things done on a staggered schedule so that the same opposing pitchers aren’t matched up against each other all season.

 

 

SOME MISTAKES LIVE FOREVER

What's up with the 1975 Super Advanced Weather effects having night games for the Cubs? They didn't start playing under the lights until 1988. Also, Al Hrabosky throwing "righty" in 1975? I Don't mean to be too critical, as I love your baseball game. I guess I just have very high standards for your product.

Mike Morley

 

            These are previously documented errors, Mike. Many season sets have a few of them. In this case, they are very easy to spot and correct.

 

 

 

 

FIELDS OF DREAMS

Will SOM add the ballparks of 1911-1920 to the ballpark disk to add to the enjoyment and history of the game?

Robert J. Trent

            Bob Winberry says there are no plans for that. However, there are free downloads of stadium images from some Internet sites.

 

WILD THROWS

The computer game provides the option of outfielders making an error on a throw to a base.  Since errors also occur on "FLY-X" plays, doesn't this mean that the overall total of outfielder errors is going to increase?  Or does the computer game somehow compensate by not letting as many errors occur on "FLY-X" plays?  I've avoided using this option because I didn't want errors to get out of hand.

 

P. Sean Bramble, Fukuoka, Japan

 

            The super-advanced error ratings, and the Super-Advanced Fielding Chart, which are in the computer game, take into account the wild-throw potential. Using that feature should improve your accuracy, not distort it.

 

 

WORLD CUP BASEBALL

I know there is a good chance there will be a Baseball World Cup hopefully next year.  Are there any talks of making a season of cards or a computer game following the tournament?

Frank Giles

 

            No. Except in very rare circumstances (the 1980 U.S. Olympics hockey team, for instance), the excitement for these events doesn’t last long once they are over. And the statistical achievements are based on too few games to be represented well. Gamers who crave these sets tend to put their own together. For instance, Rene Silva in Miami has put together rosters of baseball players to emulate the Caribbean World Series. Several hockey fans have assembled World Cup rosters for Canada, the U.S., Russia, Sweden, Finland and Czechoslovakia.

 

 

OLDIES BUT GOODIES

I am just getting back into SOM (particularly baseball) after years of "altered focus."  I really am getting a kick of reading old STRAT FAN issues I have picked up over E-Bay.  I must say again that they are terrific!  I just read the April 1992 issue featuring Dan Patrick, Gary Miller, and Jon Miller and their love for SOM. Even though it is 12 years later, those were (are) great articles!  Jon Miller's article was tremendous as I laughed out loud several times, especially at the reference to his mother’s comments.  I am having a great time playing the 1963 original cards with my favorite team of all time, the 1963 Yankees.  I am dying to get started on the original 1964, 1965 and 1962 seasons.  And I want to learn about the hockey and basketball games, too.  I noticed that you still sell back issues of your annual replay guides which sound very intriguing.  For a Stuck-in-the-60's basic game "replayer" who manages teams "my way" do you think these guides would still be of value to someone like myself?

Charlie Lord

 

            Warning: Shameless plug ahead. Disclosure: Charlie is no relation. The Baseball Replay Guides I have been creating for almost 20 years are intended to be ideal for replayers, whether you replay one team or an entire league. They contain the exact as-played schedule and actual starting pitchers for each game. They contain comprehensive roster moves for each team. And unique, team-by-team lineup guides that distribute at-bats realistically. These features work together or separately, so no matter how sophisticated your league is, the Replay Guides apply. Many who use them say they love being able to do “guilt-free” replays because the Guides can dictate when star players – yours or your opponent’s – have to sit and which subs will play. Going against the actual starting pitchers also helps the standings and the individual stats come out right.

            All of the ‘60s seasons are available. The complete list: 1911, 1920, 1927, 1930, 1934, 1941, 1950, 1953-56, 1959-70, 1978, 1985-99, 2001, 2002. I’m hoping to have 1948, 1984 and 2003 available in January. Cost: $15 per season, two for $28, three for $39. Check or money order (U.S. funds) to: Glenn Guzzo, 1608 Inkberry Lane, Jacksonville, FL 32259.

 

 

 

CHEER OF THE MONTH

 

Hi, SOM Players,

 

         I just bought the 2003 season last month. The last time I played the game was in 1988 with the ’87 teams – some classic players. I can remember the team to beat was Oakland. What a powerhouse team – they had it all. I went in the basement of my parent’s house and found the game still in the box. I played ’87 Oakland against the ’03 Yanks. Final score: Oakland 8, New York 1. What a powerhouse. Nothing beats being on the deck with some Phillies baseball on the radio and SOM on the table. Thanks a million.

Joe. D. 

 

(editor’s note: We’re pretty sure this did not come from Joe DiMaggio)

 

 

CORRECTION

Alert gamers Chris Palermo of Oakdale, NY and John McGuire of Edwardsville, IL correct us on an answer we supplied in the April Talk Show:

 

           Tom, from Macedon, NY, asked why the game wouldn't allow a base runner to attempt another lead, if the first attempt failed, and the defense brought in a reliever with a worse hold rating. Here is the text from the Strat-O-Matic rulebook, which also can be found in the file boardgame.txt in the CDROMBB folder:

The baserunner may make only one attempt for a good lead while he occupies the same base, unless

           1.  If a runner being held on base attempts and fails to achieve a good lead, he may try for the good lead once more if the defensive manager later decides to cease holding the runner on base.

            2.  If the defensive manager changes to a pitcher with a worse hold rating or a catcher with a worse arm, a runner who has previously attempted and failed to achieve a good lead may try for the good lead once more.

 

Just to be sure, I tried some situations with the computer game and it adhered to this rule. Players who had failed to get a lead against the first pitcher were permitted to try again when a reliever entered.

 

THE TALK SHOW

Host: Glenn Guzzo

 

You can submit your question or insight on any Strat-O-Matic game to SOMTalkShow@aol.com. When you do, kindly include your name and town. Other gamers like to see that. And the display format below works better that way.

 

 

Reminder: Send us your “Great Moments in Strat” – your playing experiences that you just have to share.

 

The Next Super-Advanced Season (Hopefully!)

      Strat-O-Matic recently announced that the Yankees’ championship season of 1977 will be the next super-advanced season to be produced.  While I look forward to it, may I make a suggestion for the season to be produced after that?

      Since super-advanced first appeared with the 1985 season, there have been 21 recreated super-advanced seasons (1911, 1920, 1924, 1927, 1934, 1941, 1948, 1951, 1954, 1955, 1957, 1959, 1960, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1971, 1975, and 1978).  To put it another way, of the last 98 years of MLB (1911-2008), there is never more than an eight-year gap between super-advanced seasons.  Here are the largest gaps:

·         Eight years (1912-1919)

·         Six years (1928-1933; 1935-1940; 1942-1947; and 1979-1984)

·         Three years (1921-1923; 1968-1970; and 1972-1974)

      SOM has covered some eras very well; you may be a fan of the Boys of Summer, but if the 1953 Dodgers aren’t available in super-advanced, you could put together a pretty good squad of Dodgers from ‘48, ‘51, ‘54, and ‘55.  But I am mildly surprised that, of the top five gaps in super-advanced seasons, one of them is very likely a large part of so many customers’ memories: 1979 to 1984.

      Even ruling out the strike season of 1981 (I would wager the company would rather recreate the Taiwan Little League before it touched 1981), there are still five worthwhile seasons left untouched.  I sat down and listed all of the great and good players who I felt posted, not just good seasons, but their BEST seasons ever during this period:

·         1979 – Dave Winfield, Keith Hernandez, Davey Lopes, Darrell Porter, Dave Kingman, Don Baylor, Gorman Thomas, Fred Lynn, Sixto Lezcano, Kent Tekulve, J.R. Richard, Mike Flanagan, Jim Kern, Tommy John, Garry Templeton, Ron Cey

·         1980 – George Brett, Cecil Cooper, Willie Randolph, Ben Oglivie, Bob Horner, Al Bumbry, Willie Wilson, Tony Armas, Mike Hargrove, Rick Cerone, Steve Stone, Mike Norris, Jerry Reuss, Tug McGraw

·         1982 – Robin Yount, Steve Rogers, Bill Buckner, Gary Carter, Pedro Guerrero, Al Oliver, Mario Soto, Doug DeCinces, Andre Thornton, Brian Downing, Joaquin Andujar, Jeff Reardon, Joe Niekro, Bob Stanley, Lance Parrish

·         1983 – Eddie Murray, Jack Morris, Dan Quisenberry, Lou Whitaker, Dale Murphy, Dickie Thon, George Hendrick, John Denny, Scott McGregor, Jesse Orosco

·         1984 – Cal Ripken Jr., Jose Cruz, Rick Sutcliffe, Willie Hernandez, Harold Baines, Chet Lemon, Ryne Sandberg, Mike Boddicker, Kent Hrbek

      That’s an awful lot of memories for an awful lot of customers, I bet.  I would even wager that there are some customers, like me, who would be happy with 1981, just to see the updated version of Mike Schmidt’s best card ever – not to mention the best cards of Fernando Valenzuela, Rick Burleson, Nolan Ryan, Goose Gossage, Andre Dawson, Dave Concepcion, Bill Madlock, Carney Lansford, Dwight Evans, Buddy Bell, Bobby Grich, and Rollie Fingers – and Jeff Leonard!

      But this period is not only notable for great player seasons – there’s also great pennant races, too: 1979 NL East (Pittsburgh vs. Montreal); 1980 NL East (Philadelphia vs. Montreal) and 1980 NL West (1-game playoff between Houston and LA); 1982 AL East (final game between Milwaukee and Baltimore) and 1982 NL West (final-day decision between Atlanta vs. LA); and 1984 NL East (Chicago vs. NY).

      Want interesting super-advanced effects?  Look no further than the pitching-friendly park effects of the Astrodome, where George Foster in 1979 hit more homers there than any Astros player.  Or the Launching Pad in Atlanta.  The 1982 Brewers blasted 216 homers, yet County Stadium was not a good park for home runs.  How awesome would that lineup be in a neutral park?  And I think you really can’t appreciate how good the 1982 Cardinals were unless you put them in a field with park effects.  Or pitchers hold ratings: Dwight Gooden and J.R. Richard were fireballers with (presumably) poor hold ratings; how would you manage them in the late innings?  Rickey Henderson, Ron LeFlore, Tim Raines, and Omar Moreno were all AAA stealers before advanced stealing was fully defined; what would their steal ratings be?

      I will admit to a selfish motivation here: I am an Orioles fan, and I wish that Earl Weaver’s great platoon teams of this period were well-represented with SOM’s excellent left-right cards.  But I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting to see one of these six seasons recreated in super-advanced.  Perhaps it’s a case where, because these seasons are recent compared to other seasons long gone, they are like the trees that block your view of the distant forest … one can easily forget what marvelous specimens they are right near you.

P. Sean Bramble, Dazaifu, Japan

      Always great to hear from you, Sean, and to know the hobby is alive and well so far away. Your letter is a great reference for gamers, and covers the sort of ground I like to provide for the audience at The Talk Show. With so many historic seasons already covered, it seems to me the job yet to be done can be divided this way: Pre-World War II seasons, post-War/pre-1970s, and the reprint era of 1972-forward. A logical marketing approach might alternate seasons in these three groups.

 

      There are not many seasons left in the middle group: 1946, 1947, 1949, 1952, 1953 and 1958. That last one has been promised, as the missing link for SOM’s consecutive run from 1954-present. In the reprint era, we’re missing 1972-74, 1976 and 1979 to complete the ‘70s. For the sake of it, let’s add 1980 to make it six seasons to match the six in the post-War era. If we assume six pre-World War II seasons in rotation, then SOM is covered for the next 18 years.

 

      Now let’s imagine a bit more. By then, if not sooner during this commitment to reprints, SOM decides to update 1961, 1962 and 1968 with super-advanced features. That makes room in rotation for 1982-84 and three more pre-War seasons. This omits (or at least pushes to the back of the line 1981 and the 1942-45 War years). Now SOM is covered for 27 years.

 

      If we want to keep speculating about pre-War seasons, and we get to pick nine of them, pretty interesting cases can be made for 1901 (first AL season), 1908 (two great pennant races), 1919 (Black Sox), 1936 (Gehrig MVP and DiMaggio rookie), another from the 1937-39 Yankees powerhouses and 1940. We should add at least one of those Cubs pennant winners in 1929 (awesome Cubs hitting, plus first of three great A’s pennant winners), 1932 (year of Ruth’s “called-shot” World Series homer), 1935 (great NL race) and 1938 (Gabby Hartnett’s homer in the “gloamin’ “ ). Otherwise, 1916 once was on SOM’s candidate list, and several others have historical significance.

 

 

The Gator is Missing

 

      I am strictly a board game player, and I like to try to play one team through their “as played” schedule.  Thanks to Retrosheet, I also now try to play the “as played” schedule with the actual line ups and batting orders.  If the card set does not include them, I am not overly concerned with pinch runners, pinch hitters, relievers who pitch to just a few batters, but it bothers me when there is a player who may have started 20 or so games who does not have a card.

 

      Recent example: I am playing the 1967 Tigers, trying to gain that one extra victory the real team was short, and notice that throughout the entire month of April, Gates Brown was the starting left fielder.  But there is no Gates Brown card in the set.  He had 91 ABs that year, which is usually enough to be included in a set of player cards.

 

      That is just one example. Was there ever any thought to releasing “extra extra” players for certain seasons so that every player who played in a game would have their own card?  I am thinking there might be a market for that, unless it would be much more expensive for the company to do this.

 

Tim Monaghan

 

      Gradually, Strat-O-Matic has increased the number of cards in a set, and the number of additional players it offers, though the latter group is only for current-season releases. When the company updated 1967 in two-sided card format, it offered 24-25 players per team. Contrast that to this year’s release of 1971, and its 27 players per team. The computer game reached the point where it offered every player from a season, even those with 1 AB or 1 IP. You can get them all for 1967 that way.

 

      When I published STRAT FAN, we published “extra-extra” players in various sports. We once produced 144 such cards for 1987 and that included more than a few batters with 100+ AB, plus a bunch of pitchers with more than a handful of starts each. But we found demand low for the ‘87s, and I’m sure that’s because, at any given moment, there’s no critical mass replaying any one past season. There might be many thousands using past seasons today, but they’ve got 64 to choose from. So I can’t see SOM printing an inventory of “extra-extra” ‘67s and other years.

 

      The work-arounds aren’t very satisfying, but these are the most common:

n     

Find the computer card image for ’67 Brown and make your own card.

n     

Use SOM’s Nameless Player cards (they are two-sided) and assign them to Brown and others according to their talents.

n     

Give Gates Brown’s ABs to other outfielders in proportion to their playing time.

n     

Give Brown’s ABs to the Tiger whose stats are closest to his.

n     

Take the player (preferably a Tiger if you can because the team’s statistical norms are different than for other teams) with stats closest to Brown, use his card but credit the game stats to the missing Brown.

 

 

Dealing with the Ballpark Baby Boom

 

      With new stadiums going up in New York and others planned in the near future, there will be fewer double digit codes available in the baseball game.  I try to match the ballpark to the era so I use some of the oldtime ballparks from sites like Brian’s Ballparks.  Will the game code function be expanded to three digits so as to accommodate the expanding number of ballparks that can be used? 

 

Tom Nelson, Cincinnati

 

      Strat-O-Matic’s Bob Winberry indicates that expanding the ballpark codes to support three digits is high on the priority list.

 

 

Becoming Your Own Printer

 

      I will be ordering a few past seasons of SOM hockey that include 6 teams and a print file for the remaining teams. In your opinion what is the best type of paper to use to print the remaining teams on. I have been playing SOM faithfully since 1978 but I have never ordered past season cards with a print file. SOM has been such a big part of my life and many others as well, SOM should be proud of itself!

 

Rick Bettini, Matthews, NC

 

      I use 90-pound index, which suits me fine. It also suits my ink-jet printer fine. If you think your cards will have heavy use, you could go to 110-pound, but the sturdier the stock, the less flexible it is. So make sure your printer can process those sheets efficiently.

 

 

Cheaper by the Three Dozen

 

      In regards to Ryan Morris’ recent Talk Show question asking about reissuing 1980s

sets, I wonder if the company has considered one similar to the 36-team set of ‘60s and ‘70s teams it now offers, going from the late ‘70s to early ‘90s.

 

      Another generation has grown up on Strat-O-Matic, and many of the players and teams they remember could be replayed in a similar fashion to how we’ve used the older

36-team set. To me, this concept would steer clear of what we are accustomed to seeing on eBay, while giving gamers more of an opportunity to play with dynasties, as well as the teams that only made a short-term (but memorable) impact.

 

Ed Gross, Parma Heights, Ohio

 

 

      The first 36-team set stopped with the 1976 season. The teams were attractive, but did not necessarily offer the pennant winners from the seasons included. I don’t see why SOM could not do that again especially for its sold-out pre-2000 seasons. Like most other things, it’s a matter of priorities and demand. Your suggestion will be read and perhaps others will adopt your request.        

 

 

 

Keeping Current

 

      Do you think that Strat will ever issue a projection disk to use with the computer baseball game so one could play in-season games?


Kevin Hennessy, St. Paul, MN

     

      Strat-O-Matic’s online-gaming efforts, both with The Sporting News, and at SIKids, reach out to fantasy-game players. A logical extension of that initiative is a projection disk, and/or in-season updates, for the purpose you mention.  Though that’s consistent with current trends, none at the game company has made public comments that suggest it’s a product we’ll see soon or even inevitably.

 

 

THE TALK SHOW

 

Host: Glenn Guzzo

 

You can submit your question or insight on any Strat-O-Matic game to SOMTalkShow@aol.com. When you do, kindly include your name and town. Other gamers like to see that. And the display format below works better that way.

 

 

THE ULTIMATE HOCKEY WISH-LIST ITEM

 

Great Talk Show!  I also want to heartily endorse your Baseball Replay Guides. Great fun and great work.

 

My question is whether or not the computer hockey game will have an “actual as-played lineups” feature in the future.  I am one of those dinosaurs who continues to duplicate actual lineups for my replays, and it is a real tedious task to get all the accurate info. Is there a plan or time frame for such a feature?

Phil Ledesma, Wellington, KS 

 

            I share your pain on assembling game-by-game lineups. The Hockey News, which once was the paper-of-record for hockey, first dropped the lineup info from the game summaries, then dropped the summaries altogether. This once-invaluable source now has less essential information than ever. The current editors seem to prefer feature material that, with the THN deadlines, is about two weeks behind NHL events. The online sources for game information are tedious to navigate. And NHL transactions are very messy to track – with several days off between games, teams will send little-used players to the minors to play, and then bring them back before the next NHL game – two moves and no real roster change from game to game. And with a roster limit (23) larger than the maximum number of players eligible for a game (20), most teams’ roster sizes fluctuate all season long, so it’s tough for a researcher to spot when a transaction is missing from his database. Strat-O-Matic would need to obtain this information somewhere, but there are many fewer sources for comprehensive hockey data than there are for baseball.

 

 

NET PLAY IS THE ANSWER

 

What would be your suggestion for playing a Strat-O-Matic baseball game online? Can two players in different locations play the game over the internet in a private league setting? We currently have the card version of the game. How would the online game work, would both players need a CD-ROM version of the game?

Ev A., Amarillo, TX

 

            Strat gamers are finding partners across the country and across the oceans using the Net Play feature of the CD-ROM game. It’s the next best thing to rolling the dice together at the same table. Both players need the same version of the CD-ROM game and there are some challenges to hosting a game if you have firewall software, but otherwise the game is easy and fun to play. Both players see the same results on their screens and have chat capability, too.

 

 

FIGHTING WORDS

 

Our 12-team league has utilized an interesting rule for years that is pretty realistic.  If there are three HBP's in a game, a bench clearing brawl ensues, and the pitcher and batter are both ejected.  Any additional HBP (beyond three) results in additional ejections of both batter and pitcher involved.  It happens about as often as it does in real life (a handful of times per season).  And in any given game where you've had two HBP's, there is definitely some tension between the managers.  Thought I'd throw it out there for folks to try!

Steve Willnus, Farmington Hills, MI

 

            Thanks for sharing your playing tip, Steve. Gamers love to know about innovations others have developed. I can imagine this scenario: Randy Johnson throwing a shutout. After two HBPs, the losing team trots out an F.P. Santangelo-type player – lots of HBPs on his card, but an expendable player – in hopes that he can get Johnson out of the game. I can just see Santangelo hanging over the plate, ready to take one for the team, and Johnson scowling at him. The manager with Johnson either has to walk Santangelo intentionally or just hope for the best on the dice roll.  

 

 

 

HOW TO DE-MYSTIFY THE FIELDING RATINGS

 

This is an excerpt from SOMWORLD'S (long-ago) interview with Steve Barkan.

 

Barkan:   People don’t realize that a majority of players fall in-between the range designations. 

 

Somworld:  Does this include Derek Jeter?

 

Barkan:  It includes many, many players like Jeter.  We ranked him as falling between a 2 and a 3 over the past years.  He was closer to a 2, and that's why he got the rating.

 

Somworld:  A-Rod?

 

Barkan:  Alex Rodriguez may have been a 1.6 last season, or something like that.  He was close to falling into the “1” category but his score rounded back to a 2.

 

I thought long ago and said so that the game could easily double the range ratings, and the simplicity of it is mind boggling. Just make guys 1A and 1B, 2A and 2B, etc. If you remember the fielding chart, each time an infielder went up (got worse) in range, his hit X-chances went up by 10 percent, so how hard is it to make the 1B guys, for example, go up to only 5 percent? Is this not more accurate? I can certainly understand if they don't wish to include that in the board game, adding charts, but would that have been terribly hard in the computer game? I can't imagine it would skew the stats so much, but it certainly would have meant the true Gold Glover super gloves would be the only 1A players, and would therefore increase in value. Similar breakdowns could be done to the outfielders as well.

Art Karpf, Hamden, CT

 

            That should hold up statistically, but the pitcher cards would be adjusted accordingly, so there’s no “accuracy” issue – statistically, at least, involved. The issue becomes the “accuracy” of the subjective statement that a fielding rating makes about each player. In your system, we’d have a clearer distinction between who was a no-doubter 1 (or 2 or 3 or 4) versus a ’tweener. In the bargain, we’d lose the grace, or “poetry” of those ratings. We know what it means to be a 1 versus a 2. And to say that, “he’s a 1” or “he’s a 4” conveys something powerful, more powerful, I think, than to say, “he’s a 1B” or a “4A.” When Strat-O-Matic changes its games, usually it does so to reflect changes on the field (balk-rule changes resulted in more balks and individual balk ratings), in strategy (more platooning led to lefty-righty ratings) or in the accepted wisdom about meaningful statistics (which led to ballpark effects and to pitcher hold ratings). Without those justifications, SOM usually resists adding complexity at the expense of play value.

 

 

BLENDING CARDS, DICE AND COMPUTERS

 

I was taken by your reader’s story about his 9-year-old son playing Strat. Yes, the computer is wonderful for full-season replays. Being a Strat player since 1964, I still love to play the cards and dice also. I am now in the middle of a short season version, 54 games per team of the 1960s All-Stars. I took the best year of a player during that period and put him on that team. In some instances where a player was a star for both the National and American leagues, I put that player on the team that needed him most. Also, if one team ended up with two good players at one position I used his second best card on another team to keep the teams in balance. The computer is nice in that I can input my stats and let it do the record keeping. So to that father, keep rolling those dice! Keep the good times coming, SOM, this gamer loves your product.

Alan L. Dehn , Scotia, NY

 

 

            I guess that means Jim Bunning is with the Phillies, who would really need him, instead of the Tigers, who also had Frank Lary, Don Mossi, Denny McLain, Mickey Lolich and Earl Wilson in the 1960’s. I wonder where you put Rocky Colavito, who had his best season with Detroit in 1961, but would be needed more in Cleveland and needed desperately in Kansas City, where he played one season.

 

 

I love the concept of using the board game in concert with the computer games. Do you ever see the hockey game going in this direction?  This would be an absolute dream come true for me as I am a long time hockey fan and have been playing for over 20 years.  It would be so great to use the hockey cards along with the computer game. SOM has mastered this with the baseball game.....could hockey be far behind?

 

Rollin’ the bones forever.

Rick Bettini, Charlotte NC

 

            You have space enough near your keyboard to display the match-ups of the players on the ice and the lines on the bench? I think that’s the permanent barrier to using the cards with computer play for hockey and basketball. As it is, all of Strat-O-Matic’s computer games are capable of displaying the card images on screen and the board-game information on the results.

 

 

 

THE POWER OF THE CAREER HISTORICAL DISKS

 

Love The Talk Show. I've been playing Strat baseball since 1967. I love the computer game and have read several comments about All-Time Franchise teams.
Most set up Best Player Years, but I went the other way. I thought your
readers might like to see what I've done.

 

Using the Career Historical, I created All-Time Franchises (SF-NY, Bost-Mil-Atl / Wash-Minn) for each of the 16 original franchises, NL & AL. Not wanting to lose the Pre-1900 players, I also set up 4 teams from that era (Boston Beaneaters and Baltimore Orioles in the NL / Louisville and Providence in the AL). The NL and AL leagues are split into 2 - 5 team divisions.  I also set up two Expansion Leagues (AL & NL), which play only against themselves. I'll use a Wild Card for the playoffs. They look like
this:

NL
Expansion Division               Central Division                    Eastern Division

Arizona Diamondbacks Chicago Cubs                           Brooklyn Dodgers   
Colorado Rockies                    Milwaukee Braves                    Boston Beaneaters
Houston Astros                        St.
Louis Cardinals                   New YorkGiants       
Montreal Expos                       Baltimore Orioles                      Philadelphia Phillies 
New York Mets                       Cincinnati Reds                        Pittsburgh Pirates
San Diego Padres                                  

AL
Expansion Division               Central Division                    Eastern Division

California Angels          Chicago White Sox                   Boston Red Sox

Kansas City Royals                  Cleveland Indians                     New York Yankees

Milwaukee Brewers                Detroit Tigers                             Philadelphia A's

Seattle Mariners                      Louisville Sluggers                      Providence Grays

Texas Rangers                          St. Louis Browns                      Washington Senators

Toronto Blue Jays

 

Although I use the Career Historical, I changed the player's e-ratings to correspond to the Career Normalized to eliminate an exhorbitant amount of errors for the Old-Time players up to the 1940s. It took about three weeks to do so, but it's well worth it. Who would want to play Honus Wagner with a 1e88 rating, or even an e54?

 

I'm playing every game, letting HAL manage the visitors after I set up all the lineups, computer manager, etc. I'll massage them through the season, but continue to let HAL manage the games themselves. I love it. Great lineups, Great pitching match-ups, and just like in real baseball, the benches and bullpen will be critical to a team's success – or failure.

 

This is the absolute BEST DREAM SEASON of them all containing every great
player who ever played, from Cap Anson to Alex Rodriquez.

 

Now a question . . . I also love replaying old seasons, and have done so for 1901, 1908, 1911, 1927, 1946, 1953, 1962, 1965 and a couple more recent. Has Strat-O-Matic ever considered setting up seasons (computer generated like the 1901 season) of seasons prior to 1900? The interesting ones that jump out at me are 1894, 1895 and 1897. Great rivalries between the old Baltimore Orioles and the NL Boston Beaneaters with players like Jennings, McGraw, Billy Hamilton, Iron Man McGinnity, Hugh Duffy and many others. I've created Career Historical for some of these teams, but the statistics from
the actual teams would be great.

 

Again, love your work here and hope to see much more of it in the future.

Rick, Gardnerville, NV

 

            I have a fondness for the Career Historical Disks, too, and for the Hall of Fame set that came out in 2002, because the career averages moderate the extreme “All-Star” effect of using a player’s best season. The allure of best-season play is undeniable – What would 1927 Ruth, or 1956 Mantle or 1980 Brett do against the very best from all eras? But a lineup with ’27 Ruth, ’41 DiMaggio, ’56 Mantle, ’27 Gehrig and more isn’t going to involve much strategy beyond pinch-hitting for the pitcher when a team is trailing late.

 

            I think that the so-called “Chevy” disk projects are pretty far down the list of priorities at SOM. But all the 19th Century players you mention above (and more) are in the Hall of Fame set, which normalizes statistics compiled in each player’s best seven seasons. I like that format even better than the CHD. The Hall of Fame set will toss out the stats from a player’s 60-at-bat debut season, his injury-plagued seasons and his swan-song seasons that bear no resemblance to the player he was for so long. I have thought about putting together all-time franchise teams with those Hall of Famers, plus CHD ratings for non-Hall players, which rewards the Hall guys by using only their peak seasons.

 

 

 

I NEED A TIMEOUT!

 

Just wanted to forward a few comments that I had made in a Strato football league for possible inclusion in future software revisions.  It was written just after completion of a game.

 

“I would have to say that one of the biggest deficiencies in Strato, is that you don't have the ability to call a timeout once you come up to the line of scrimmage. The play that resulted in the INT, I was throwing a button-hook to Garner, and Billy had two LB's in that zone. I knew I was in big trouble as soon as I saw his defense, and had the game permitted, would've taken a timeout. Clearly, in the NFL, when the QB comes up to the line of scrimmage and sees the defense, he has the ability to call a timeout. Would be nice if Strato would allow it as well. It's going back a long ways, but it sure seems like you could call a TO with the board game after the defense called their play.

 

“Also, the hurry-up offense should be able to be utilized other than when 2
minutes remain. When you are down 9 points with 4 minutes left, it is flat out retarded that you can't use a hurry-up or spike it until the 2-minute mark.  Perfect example is the comeback that Indy pulled on Tampa this year on Monday Night Football.  No way that could be done in Strato, as Indy's first two scoring drives could not have used a hurry-up offense."

Russell Mayhew

 

            If I understand your request, I guess I’d disagree strongly on the timeout. The computer game already lets you call a timeout at the line of scrimmage after the defense declares its formation (and before you select your offensive play). Board-game rules did not let you call timeout after the defense had moved its players and called “Run” or “Pass.” To be able to call the timeout after you see the final movement of the defenders is an advantage NFL quarterbacks don’t have – defensive teams often stunt, show blitzes that don’t happen and disguise pass-coverage schemes until the final second before the ball is snapped. The equivalent to what you’re asking for is to allow the defense to call timeout after it learns that you are throwing deep to an uncovered receiver in an empty zone when the defense has called “Run.”

 

            Your point about hurry-up has more merit. I recall when the Buffalo Bills had Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas and used the hurry-up as its preferred offense for much of the game. That’s an extreme exception, though.

 

SEEING DOUBLE: WORK-AROUNDS

 

Last month, Nathan White expressed frustration about managing the separate Brooks Kieschnick batter and pitcher cards in the computer game. The call for help brought these two suggestions from Talk Show readers:

 

In NASOMBA, I own Brooks Kieschnick. I only use him in home games, where I can manually manage his appearances. It does mean I change the league settings from 40/25 to Minor Leaguers Ineligible, and as far as the game is concerned I have 26 players active.

K. Larkin

 

 

This is kind of involved, but it would solve the problem. You could do this more
than once if he would happen to bat more than once, although, that would be
really rare.

1. Pinch hit the outfielder for the pitcher, Kieschnick.
2. Get the result of the at bat.
3. Delete the play and then manually put the results in for the pitcher,
Kieschnick.

Steven Pieracini

 

THE TALK SHOW

 

Host: Glenn Guzzo

 

You can submit your question or insight on any Strat-O-Matic game to SOMTalkShow@aol.com. When you do, kindly include your name and town. Other gamers like to see that. And the display format below works better that way.

 

 

BASIC QUESTIONS

How does Strat-O-Matic decide what rules are basic and what rules are advanced when the rules themselves really don't make the game more complex?

Some examples of this is subtracting 10 yards for punts out of bounds (advanced football) and not using the same runner/receiver on two consecutive plays in football (elementary football) and not using the sacrifice chart with runners on 1st and 3rd (basic baseball).

The punt-out-of-bounds rule and no-sacrifice rule take away a basic coaching/managing tactic. The not-using-the-same-runner/receiver-on-consecutive-plays rule limits ability of contemporary teams to run the ball because usually only one player gets all the carries. And all three of these rules require no extra rating or dice roll that could be interpreted as being "advanced."

Now, I do allow runners to carry the ball on two consecutive plays and punters to kick the ball out of bounds when I play the elementary football game. I also permit sacrifices with runners on 1st and 3rd when I play the basic baseball game. But I'm wondering if somehow I'm affecting the accuracy of the games by going against the rule book.

David Solomon, East Brunswick, NJ

            The rules you have adopted will not hurt your statistical accuracy. Many gamers who prefer the ease of play of Basic Strat-O-Matic adopt some Advanced rules and end up playing “modified Basic.” In baseball, some Basic players use the W/N power ratings on the Advanced side, or the individual bunt and hit-and-run ratings. The punt-out-of-bounds rule is a popular add-on for Basic players. Some rules, though easily deployed, are considered Advanced because writing exceptions to a simple rule makes things more complex. Others simply were added a year or more after the Basic rules were written. Basic rules limit consecutive running back/receiver usage because the defense can’t key or double-team in Basic.

 

 

GOALIES BY THE NUMBERS

 

Is there any possibility of NHL seasons prior to 1992-93 being recreated to fit the new format of goalies on dice rolls? I am talking early 1980s to present. I was hoping Version 4 would have dice rolls, but it looks like this option won't come for awhile.

Rich, Winnipeg, MB

 

            Perhaps I misunderstand the question, because the “new format” of adding two dice for Goalie Rating results has been the only system ever used in computer hockey, including Version 4. If you have the card-image option, you can view those cards on screen. The seasons Strat-O-Matic has created this way includes 1981-82 and 1984-85 as well as 10 earlier seasons. Six of those pre-1980 seasons also are available in card form.

 

 

PASSING FANCY

 

I have played Strat Hockey since 1990, and have always wondered if there might be a better way to reflect play making ability, than simply Passing L. 

 

With the current rules, there is only a slight disadvantage to having Zdeno Chara (Passing Rating 3 without any losses) pass the puck instead of Peter Forsberg (Passing Rating 10). The only difference is that Forsberg has a 10 percent chance of getting a 35 percent chance of a breakaway shot for a teammate, and he can pass it to anyone. So in the game, he is about a 3.5 percent better passer. This isn't very realistic.

 

One way to create a greater distinction among the "Pure Passers," is by changing some of the passing results from the split deck to something like this:

 

Lose to Opponent if Passing Rating less than 6

Outside Shot for LW if Passing Rating 6-8

Inside shot for LW if Passing Rating greater than 9

 

I realize that this would require changes to the Split Deck, Action Deck, and the Player Cards, but I was wondering what your opinion of these changes would be.

 Robert Vansickle, Akron, Ohio

 

            One of the most-requested hockey-game improvements over the years has been for more diversity in passing ratings to distinguish the 80-assist men from the 40-assist men. Strat-O-Matic took a small step in this direction when it introduced the numerous Super Advanced rules, as you mention above. SOM would be very reluctant to revamp the player cards, Split Deck and Action Deck just to improve passing. And if the changes you envision would incorporate distinctions for each passing rating from 1-12, many Split Cards would be needed to accomplish the goal.

 

 

 

REPRINTS ON OUR MINDS

 

After years of trying to complete multiple-year runs of Strat Baseball seasons, through the official Website and eBay, I've come up against quite a wall when trying to get the 1962, 1971 and 1972 sets due to extremely high interest creating extremely high prices.  If there was enough interest from fans, would the fine folks at Strat-O-Matic ever consider re-issuing sets like the 1956, 1962 and 1968 seasons that we can no longer purchase on the website?  Also, in regards to the 1971 and 1972 seasons, they would be my votes for Advanced/Super Advanced re-creation.

Chris White, BrunswickMaine

 

 

 

Two questions: 1) Is Strat considering doing the 1957 and 1958 baseball seasons? 2) Will Strat reprint the 1962, 1961 and 1930 baseball seasons with the three-color format on one side, and blue with the light blue screen on the other? 

PS, Passaic, NJ

 

            The 1957 season placed highly in the latest on-line poll of baseball gamers. While Strat-O-Matic has not disclosed its plans for past seasons beyond the release of 1948 next year, 1957 is a good candidate for several reasons: a) The poll, b) ’57 and ’58 are the “missing link” seasons between the 1954-56 seasons and the 1959-present seasons SOM already has produced and c) it’s a chance to get a Milwaukee Braves World Series-winner in Advanced SOM format. In the many tournaments conducted by Strat gamers with the Basic-only old-timer cards, the ’57 Braves often do well.

 

            There is quite a difference between the dozens, or hundreds, of aggressive bidders that constitutes “high interest” on an eBay item and the thousands of gamers that would have to order a reprinted card set to make it worth Strat-O-Matic’s time. No question the seasons mentioned above are the toughest to find – they are the oldest of the original pre-Super Advanced seasons. And they are the oldest because they were the most exciting seasons SOM considered when it began producing two-sided old-timer sets.  But at this point they probably rank behind several never-produced seasons on SOM’s priority list.

 

 

EJECTIONS, REDUX

 

Regarding The Talk Show item about throwing out players after three HBPs: If you really want to be realistic, how about ousting the manager and making his team play by CM the rest of the way!


Dave Scott,
Akron, OH

 

Thanks for joining The Talk Show, Dave!

Yes! We’re building on a great idea here, folks. Maybe next, we add suspensions and injuries.

 

 

HALL OF FAME SET: THE HITS JUST KEEP ON COMING

 

Too bad about the pre-1900 seasons ... they're great fun. Also, I am presently playing a (HAL) draft league of eight teams from the Hall of Fame set, with me taking one and playing against HAL and the other seven. I enjoy it, however, this is my third season and I find it to be quite a "hitter's set." Very few pitchers end up the season under a 3.00 ERA and many have been slammed beyond recognition . . . including two of my favorites, Walter Johnson and Three Finger Brown. I've set up an Encyclopedia for the Hall of Fame set. Interesting, as I gave teams the different old ballparks: Ebbets, Forbes, Old Fenway, Polo Grounds, etc. I also just convinced HAL to trade me Musial, Waddell and Lindstrom for Kiner, Marichal and Lombardi. What a score!

 

I find the CH with CN for fielding has more realistic end-of-season stats. I tried at one point just doing the All-Time Franchise with only CN, but I played two seasons and it looked like 1968 . . . Bill Terry won the NL batting crown one year with a .297 while Ted Williams won the AL with a .305. That's when I decided to just use the CN for fielding. It's worked out beautifully as I'm now in my second season.

 

Thanks again for the Talk Show.  I look forward to it every month!


Rick Langford,
Gardnerville, NV

 

            You have ANY pitchers below a 3.00 ERA pitching to a full lineup of Hall-of-Fame hitters? In my full season, only five pitchers were below 4.00, and only four of them had enough innings to qualify for the ERA crown. Walter Johnson was the runaway Cy Young winner – he and Pete Alexander led the league with 20 wins and Johnson had by far the best ERA at 3.48 (Bob Gibson was second at 3.73). My league average was .281, with a league slugging average of .451 and an OPS of .798 while the league ERA was 4.93. Let us count the ways the Hall of Fame set SHOULD produce high offense:

 

n     

A pitcher gets his Hall-worthy numbers pitching against the average offenses of his day – some good, some not so good, average overall. But in the HOF set, he’s got to face a lineup of Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Joe Jackson, George Sisler, Eddie Collins and Home Run Baker. Or Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Al Simmons, Lou Gehrig, Charley Gehringer, Bill Dickey, Joe Cronin and Bobby Doerr. Or Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Frank Robinson, Stan Musial, Joe Morgan, Ernie Banks, Mike Schmidt and Roy Campanella. And he sees lineups like these every time out. Holding any of these teams to fewer than five runs is a fine job. Holding these guys to an average of one HR per game – about 36 per year – is a fine job. Now imagine what happens to the stats when the offense dominates just a half dozen times per pitcher.

n     

Less than one-third of all Hall of Famers are pitchers. The seven-man and eight-man staffs in the HOF set mean that some pitchers are going to have to pitch fatigued occasionally, elevating offense even more than the ratings suggest.

n     

 The electors love the hitters – defense not required. So the Hall over-represents sluggers and under-represents great fielders. Both of these outcomes do a lot for offense in the HOF set.

n     

There are so many hitters in this set – 16 or 17 per team – that there’s little need to play the lesser hitters at all. Lou Brock, Phil Rizzuto, Nellie Fox, Brooks Robinson, Rabbit Maranville, Charley Comiskey and others ride the pine all season, even while limiting their teammates to realistic usage.

 

If you want (somewhat) less offense, try this: Give each batter the PERCENTAGE of plate appearances for his team. Then, Earl Averill, Earle Combs and Harry Heilmann have as much a role as teammates Ruth, DiMaggio and Simmons. Then, Brooks Robinson gets as much playing time as George Brett and George Kell. Rabbit Maranville and Dave Bancroft get more than 100 starts between them. And on and on.   

 

I appreciate your decision to use CH hitting and pitching with CN fielding for all-time franchises. The CN hitting and pitching has many merits, but there is a wider range of performance using CH ratings. But it’s very unfair to saddle Dead Ball-era fielders with the CH e-ratings (Honus Wagner, 1e54 with CH, 1e27 with CN).

 

 

HITTING ‘EM WHERE THEY AINT

 

When there is a hit/flyout split in SOM baseball, the card will generally specify whether the flyout is to LF, CF or RF, but will not specify where the hit goes to.  Should the hit be treated as going to center field in all cases, or as going to whichever outfielder is identified in the flyout  portion of the split result?


David Feldman,
New York

 

            The rule is that unspecified locations default to center field.

 

 

ONE CLICK WILL DO

 

I recently wrote Strat about this idea: For manual entry of dice rolls, allow the player to click on the card image for the result. Instead of using the current method of clicking on three spots and then the enter button for one roll. I would think it would be easy to link the dice numbers to the card image numbers.

Will Oast

 

            There’s an additional benefit: If the play was an X-chart chance, the X-chance statistics would be updated as well.

 

STAT-KEEPING

I introduced my boys to the Strat-O-Matic baseball board game. They fell in love with the game and we started a league with a few friends. I keep the stats for the league standings, league leaders etc. but I find it difficult and tedious. Is there a computer program to use that can keep stats for the board game?

Hestin Gibbs, Playing since 1971 

            The Strat-O-Matic computer game is a great option. You can enter each batter’s appearance in the Manual Entry mode to reconstruct the game. Or you can just update each player’s statistics by going to the Statistics Menu and dropping down to either Update Statistics or Update to Primary Statistics. I used to see independent programs advertised more often than I do now, but never tried them because the SOM computer game will compile the stats for everything I needed and give me the option of playing both the board game and computer game if necessary to complete the season.

 

SELL-OUT OVERDUE

 

I can't help but notice that SOM is still advertising the HOF 2000 cards being for sale.  I know this was a limited edition and I bought three sets when they came out as I figured they would sell out that first year!   The cards, as are the players, are great and the finest Strat has produced and in my opinion yield the finest play of any set ever produced. My son asked me recently why I bother to buy any new cards as all he sees me playing with, whether on the tabletop or the computer, is HOF action. I can't believe there are still sets of these cards available!   Is it that everyone purchased the HOF set on disk for the computer game?   Perhaps a good word from you would spur people to pick up these remaining sets before they are gone.

Michael Steinberg, North Versailles PA

 

            I bought even more of these sets than you did, Michael. And I treasure them. I suppose the slower-than-expected sell-out is due to this being a relatively expensive set and gamers’ preference for cards that reflect single great seasons (e.g. Ted Williams’ 1941, Mickey Mantle’s 1956, George Brett’s 1980) over career performances. But even if you never play with it, the HOF set is a true collectible – the finest SOM card quality (color, coating, printing) ever, with nothing but all-time great players reflecting their prime seasons. I think that many SOM gamers now regret not buying some of the Advanced seasons (like 1962 and 1956 mentioned above) when they were new and inexpensive. And I think that will happen again when the HOF sets are gone.

 

THE TALK SHOW

 

Host: Glenn Guzzo

 

You can submit your question or insight on any Strat-O-Matic game to SOMTalkShow@aol.com. When you do, kindly include your name and town. Other gamers like to see that. And the display format below works better that way.

 

 

 

CAN STRAT COME THROUGH IN A PINCH?

 

I am glad to see Strat-O-Matic add new concepts to the baseball (and other) games to make it more and more realistic.  For example, bunting for a base hit when no runners on.  That takes advantage of players like Brett Butler who had speed and could bunt for a hit.  I have a new concept I think could work and would like an opinion on it.

 

It is called PH rating.  It is similar to clutch rating, but used when there are less than two out or with two out and a runner on 1st.  There have been some dynamic pinch hitters, like Lenny Harris, who might hit .230 overall, but somehow manage to hit above .300 as a pinch hitter.  I think SOM baseball is great, but I think this would make it better.  It would give you a chance to use a PH in a non-clutch roll.  And sometimes that is their job – to score runners and keep the inning going.

 

I applaud you for having this forum so we can speak our minds.

Michael Holland, Douglas, GA

 

           

Lenny Harris is one lucky dude. Long after his legs have given out, a singles hitter who can’t run, a utility player who can’t field, gets a multi-hundred-thousand-dollar job in the Big Leagues because he can get 10-15 pinch-hits a year against righty pitchers. It has taken him all five years of this century to hit 9 homers, drive in 75 runs and score 90.

One of the stiffest challenges for any game is to build a system that accounts for the very few players who are exceptions to the rule, without creating a sluggish, overly complicated game. Every Advanced and Super Advanced rule adds some complexity, but Strat-O-Matic has done so for situations that affect many players (lefty-righty, pitcher hold ratings, one-base errors for outfielders, etc.) — things that come up in almost every game. The very, very few players like Lenny Harris who have value as a pinch-hitter far above their other value achieve this in fewer than 30 at-bats per season. Even SOM’s clutch-hitting ratings take into account most of a player’s at-bats in that it is more of an RBI rating than a rating reflecting how a player does in “clutch” situations. Using this frequency guideline, there would be more powerful arguments in favor of “exception” cards for players with extreme splits in home/road, grass/turf or day/night performance.

But if pinch-hitting is the split you care about most, there’s a way for you to handle this. Use the player-creation feature to make a second computer card for Harris (remember to give him an asterisk or a slightly different name) that you will use only when he pinch-hits. You would use only his pinch-hitting stats for this new card. Those stats are available on some Internet sites and in the annual Baseball Guide published by The Sporting News.

 

 

 

TOURNAMENTS TO THE MAX

 

I've been playing Strat baseball since introduced to it by an older brother in 1966.  In recent years I've abandoned the cards and use the computer game exclusively.  My love for baseball has waned (due to the money, the “haves” and “have nots,” etc.) to the point that I only use seasons and players prior to 1993 (the beginning of the softball stats era.)

 

In so doing, I conduct leagues and tournaments covering a multitude of players and teams from 1954+.  When in tournament-mode, I bump into the 30 teams per league restriction.  Seeing that Strat has done such an excellent job of increasing this “max-number-of-teams-per league” over the years, is there any chance they could “up it” to 32?  The impact of these two extra teams is perfect for tournament play ... 32-16-8-4-2-1 ... no byes and all statistics in one summary.

Mark D'Agostino, Bristol, RI

 

 

            You are not the first to ask about this. Tournament play is popular and others would like 32 teams or more for novelty leagues of their creation. Bob Winberry says that while this sounds like a simple change, it is not. Making the game capable of handling 32 teams involves much more than scheduling and standings. Like all other potential improvements, this one is a matter of priorities.  

 

 

THAT TRICKY HAL

 

I was wondering how HAL decides when he's going to throw for a runner and when he's going to cut it off.  Is this programmable at all?  I only notice it when I'm playing the game against someone else's CM, but there doesn't seem to be any pattern.

Paul - San Francisco

 

            There is no feature to govern how HAL, the computer manager, will manage cutoffs for your team. Generally, I have found the CM to be pretty conservative in this area, but the game is programmed so that there is always a percentage chance that HAL will do something different from his norm. That keeps the offense guessing. If the offense knew, for instance, that HAL would NEVER throw on a 1-16 chance in the first five innings, then that 1-16 chance is as good as 1-20.

 

 

 

 

PERCENTAGE BASEBALL – THE SQUEEZE PLAY

 

Is there anyway you can tell me the success rate of a suicide squeeze with two
outs and the game on the line? Or the success rate of the suicide squeeze in
general?

Michael Plummer, Massachussetts

 

            The squeeze play may not be used with two outs. The defense would simply field the bunt and throw out the batter to end the inning. The success rate with 0 or 1 out is the same, and it depends on the quality of the bunter and the infield’s position. Bunters are rated A, B, C or D and their grades decline one if the infield is in or the corners are in. Here are the percentages that show up in the computer game (the percentages in parentheses are the percent of the time that you will be forced to attempt to steal home on a missed bunt:

 

Bunter Rating                Infield back                              Infield In/Corners In

A         suicide              67% (8%)                                53% (14%)

            safety               61%                                         47%

 

B          suicide              53%(14%)                               39% (19%)

            safety               47%                                         33%

 

C         suicide              39% (19%)                              22% (31%)     

            Safety               33%                                         17%

 

D         suicide              22%(31%)                               14% (42%)

            safety               17%                                         8%

 

 

 

SUPER SAVERS AREN’T WHAT THEY USED TO BE

 

I've been thinking about a baseball replay from the 1940's or 1950's and in my research of past seasons, I discovered a lot of starting pitchers had ten or more relief appearances. A few of those pitchers even led their team in saves. If I use Super Advanced rules, how do I compensate for fatigue so the pitcher appearances resemble what they are historically?

Unsigned

 

            The computer manager manages innings, not relief appearances. You can strongly influence when and how pitchers are used with at least three settings: 1) The team-designated setup men and closer; 2) the individual settings limiting when a pitcher will relieve and for how long; 3) the Super Hal settings that prioritize the reliever choices based on inning, score and opposing batters. The first two work very well together. The third will see to it that a pitcher is bypassed if he is fatigued.

 

If you are playing the games manually and using the actual schedule with actual starting pitchers, you’ll be able to manage without much contrivance. I’ve found that, with some exceptions, there are periods when frequent starters did not start for a stretch or three, giving them their relief opportunities without undue stress. Back then, “led their teams in saves” could be 1-5 saves. Here’s a glance at the usage issues in each of Strat-O-Matic’s season sets from the 1940’s and ‘50’s.

 

n                         

1941: 10 teams had saves leaders who had 1-5 saves each. Only one team had a man with double-figure saves – and that man, the Yankees’ Johnny Murphy, did not start.

n                         

The forthcoming 1948: Eight teams had leaders with no more than 5 saves. The pitcher who would require the most careful handling is Detroit’s Art Houtteman (20 starts, 23 relief appearances, 10 saves). The other guys with more than a handful of saves started very infrequently.

n                         

1950: Only five pitchers with more than 5 saves started more than three times – Ellis Kinder (9 saves, 23 starts), Lou Brissie (8 saves, 31 starts), Bill Werle (8 saves, 22 starts), Ralph Branca (7 saves, 15 starts) and Al Brazle (6 saves, 12 starts).

n                         

1954: The number of pitchers with both more than a handful of saves and a handful of starts – two (Allie Reynolds had 7 saves and 18 starts, and Don Johnson had 7 saves and 16 starts).

n                         

1955: Only one pitcher with double-digit starts also had as many as 5 saves. And that man, Elroy Face (5 saves, 10 starts), barely qualified.

n                         

1956: Again, only one man (Tom Sturdivant, 17 starts and 5 saves) had double-digit starts and as many as 5 saves.

n                         

1959:  Game-finishing relievers are becoming specialists. Only three pitchers with more than 7 saves also started. Lindy McDaniel (15 saves) had 7 starts, Stu Miller (8 saves) had 9 starts, and Brooks Lawrence (10 saves) had 14 starts. They have long stretches when they don’t start at all.   

 

            Thus, in this era, the men who had saves should have plenty of opportunities to get them. Where a heavy starter leads a team with 1-4 saves, it’s not inconceivable that this ace starter relieved when fatigued and still had what it took to get a final 1-3 outs.

 

            Finally, remember that saves were not an official statistic during most of this period and that the save stats above and in the encyclopedias were assigned years after the fact. You might consider turning the Closer Rules off and simply letting the save stats alert you to the guys who were most likely to make their relief appearances late in games.

 

 

 

 

 

 

THEY ALL LOOK ALIKE TO ME

 

Please help!  Bought the 9.0 computer baseball but am not computer literate enough to correctly get individual pictures to show up on the player cards.  Can someone email us the step-by-step commands?  Help a fellow gamer, group, would ya?

 

So far we have the game installed … pics saved as 90 x 135 and named (example) Sarah_Hughes.jpg in the batter file … but unless you save it to default it won’t show up on the player card, but saving it to default changes the card for ever batter in the league to the same pic ... what am I doing wrong? Please help!!

Jason Edgarjasonedgar0109@msn.com   

 

            Gamers to the rescue! Please e-mail Jason directly.

 

            In the meantime, Jason, you could get help by posting your query to the Strat-O-Matic Forum. And there’s this from the Strat-O-Matic baseball game help file:

 

“To assign a player picture you simply need to place his picture in the appropriate folder:

 

“For batters - put the pictures in Player\Batters folder (located inside the game folder). “For pitchers - put the pictures in the Player\Pitchers folder.

 

“The file name should have an underscore between the first and last name.  For example, a  picture for Alex Rodriguez could have the name: `Alex_Rodriguez.jpg

 

“The player image must be 90 wide by 135 high.  The file format and extension name should be .jpg or .bmp.  We recommend jpg format because this will save space on your hard drive,  especially if you are using a large number of player pictures.”

 

 

LONGING FOR NEGRO LEAGUE STARS

 

Has Strat-O-Matic considered reviving the Negroes Leagues project or recreating a past season or all-time great teams? I know it would be difficult with the lack of available stats but I think it would be well received.


Fred Sauger,
Colver, PA

 

            Nothing has changed since this was addressed here at length in the December 2003 Talk Show. Strat-O-Matic awaits research that is in the works by others to expand the statistical record of the Negro Leagues and its players. If and when the research on Negro Leagues stats improves to the point where Strat-O-Matic can produce a credible set, it would like to do so. Then, I’d expect we’d see all-time greats, perhaps to complement the existing Hall of Fame 2000 set, rather than actual Negro League teams. I base that on the many comments from gamers who are less interested in recreating Negro League pennant races than they are in seeing how Josh Gibson, Cool Papa Bell, Oscar Charleston, Satchel Paige, Rube Foster, et al would do among the Major Leaguers they never got to join. This also would be a perfect opportunity for Strat-O-Matic to update the Hall of Fame 2000 set with recently elected Hall of Famers.

 

ROLL ‘EM, KEYBOARD

Will we ever see the dice mode for the computer football game? The excitement of rolling the dice is such a big part of the board game that is missing in the computer football. Why is it available in baseball and not football?

Dave Jenks, Wake Forest, NC

Bob Winberry says that this feature is on the (long) list of improvements he’d like to add to the game. Although the football game has expanded rapidly each season, Winberry asks for some patience. Computer baseball has been evolving for nearly 20 years. For football, it’s four. At this point, there are many features in SOM computer baseball that aren’t in the newer computer games.

 

PC FOOTBALL WISH LIST

Suggestions for the PC football game...

 

1) Allow for a squib kickoff. This is really needed!

            2) Ability to turn off the "delete last play"....  make this a rule option for your league.

3) Long Pass empty zone: Treat the LP zone like the Flat Pass zone.  That is, if the zone is empty, then it is considered a wrong call by the defense. I would think this would be an appropriate option to have as an election.

Tom Murch, Eagle Bend, MN

 

            The squib-kick option probably would be used in most games, as it is in the NFL. Bob Winberry says he has added this feature to the wish list for future improvements. An option to turn off “delete last play” would be an attempt to discourage cheating in leagues, but, alas, nothing would prevent a cheater from simply reverting to the previous auto-save.

While your Long Pass suggestion would be consistent with the Flat Pass rule, consider that a) the Flat Pass rule has been amended to an optional rule because it wasn’t a widely popular rule, and b) it would encourage more offensive Long Pass and Short Pass calls, which the newer rules are trying to discourage. SOM’s newer rules want more Flat Pass calls to increase completion percentages to accurate levels and to simulate the modern NFL game.

 

 

 

HOCKEY: OF MORE THAN PASSING INTEREST

 

Suggestions to improve hockey passing:

 

1)  Add a small chart to the game to reflect Passing L along with what we could call a goal scorer's rating. You would have columns to indicate passer rating and rows to indicate scorer rating....depending on the passing and scoring rating, high combinations of the two could result in an automatic goalie rating.  All that would have to be done would be to slightly decrease the percentage of goal readings on the goalie cards to balance it out.  No changes would be needed for split or action decks. 

 

2)  Instead of just Passing L, use assist ratings to reflect Passing J,K,L with changes to the likelihood of outside, inside and breakaway/reb shots according to passing rating.  Say Forsberg gets Passing J...you might have the chance for a reb/bkwy shot be 1-10 from the Split Deck but for somebody rated a 3 or 4 it might be 1-2.  No changes would be needed in the Split or Action Deck.  Goalie cards would require slight adjustment to balance out the difference.

Unsigned

 

            For many years, hockey gamers have wished for more dramatic ways to distinguish between the 40-assist man and the 80-assist man. There have probably been more gamer-created playing tips on this subject than another in hockey. But it is safe to say that we can rule out anything from Strat-O-Matic that BOTH adds charts AND changes card formats unless there will be a significant overhaul of the game to address many more things than passing. I don’t see it happening any year soon.

 

THE TALK SHOW

 

Host: Glenn Guzzo

 

You can submit your question or insight on any Strat-O-Matic game to SOMTalkShow@aol.com. When you do, kindly include your name and town. Other gamers like to see that. And the display format below works better that way.

 

 

 

EXPORTING STATS, CELEBRATING SOX

 

I am wondering is there a way to export rosters into Excel. It would be much easier when you play various types of seasons to sort players. Is this possible? I know you can export to Word, but that does not help me.

 

I think that after a 10-year absence, I might go to Opening Day just to get the first set in my life time with the Boston Red Sox as World Champs! We are season-ticket holders and I have gone to all playoff games the past two years except Game 4 vs. the Yankees. I watched at home so I could turn it off when the Sox lost – except they never did lose again. What a ride! There should be some interesting cards on that team. Ortiz, Belhorn, Manny should all be real good. Foulke – the Sox with a closer! Still basking in my afterglow :-)


Thomas P. Hannon, Jr.

           

            Tom, once you’ve exported to a word-processing file, you can convert that file into spreadsheets. Here’s the citation from the Help file:

 

            EXPORT PLAYER STATS TO TEXT FILE (Located in the Statistics menu)

This function lets you export your player statistics to an ASCII, comma delimited file.  The resulting files (one for batters and another for pitchers) can be imported into most spread sheet and database programs.  This allows you to take statistics and manipulate them any way you choose. You will find these files in the Export directory.  The files are given the league name followed by ".ex1" for batters' stats and ".ex2" for pitchers' stats.”

 

In my forthcoming book on Strat-O-Matic (shameless plug!), there is a quote by a 40-year-plus gamer from New England that says, “If you want the Red Sox to win the World Series, you have to play Strat-O-Matic.” Now we expect thousands of Strat gamers to replay the season in order to prove to themselves that it wasn’t all a dream.

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT HOCKEY?

 

Does SOM alternative plans for next years cards and disks for hockey just in case the NHL lockout cancels the entire 2004-05 season, such as all-star or best of teams?

 

Rick Bettini, Matthews NC

 

            It’s too soon to know. While hoping for resumption of the season in time to save at least half of it, Strat-O-Matic is considering all the options, including the possibility of no hockey set at all. Historical seasons are marginal sellers. A Hall of Fame set offers some original appeal. Current Strat-O-Matic leagues might prefer a set of current players based on career stats – that would allow the leagues to continue without disruption.

 

 

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE PISTONS’ “D”?

 

Being a great fan of all Strat-O-Matic games, and the World Champion Detroit Pistons, I was shocked when I saw the Basic defense card for one of the best defensive teams in history.  The only miss on the Basic Defense card for the Detroit Pistons (other than the standard 5, 7,8) is 11 and a split decision if you roll a 2.  Meanwhile, the offensive, but not defensive, Dallas Mavericks have misses on their Basic defense card on 2,4,11, and 12.  Did our beloved company confuse Detroit and Dallas?

 

Looking for a defense,

Bob Riggs, Sunbury, Ohio

 

            Bob, the first thing Strat-O-Matic does is assign individual defense. If a team has great individual ratings, more of the points it surrenders must show up on the team defense card. In any card set, it’s actually common to see a weaker team defense card for at least one good defensive team than for at least one average defensive team. I don’t play the Basic game, but this year’s Pistons have uncommonly strong individual defense cards, Basic and Advanced.

 

In Advanced, all 12 Pistons are 2-5, 11 (33 percent shooting) or better in the columns they will use most often when playing their usual positions. That’s amazing – even more amazing when you see that 38-minute man Ben Wallace yields no baskets inside and on the fast break and 35-minute guard Chauncey Billups yields nothing on penetration and fast break. There’s another 88 minutes from Rasheed Wallace, Tayshaun Prince and Lindsey Hunter who yield only 17 percent shooting in their primary columns. Add it all up and the collective individual defense is yielding only about 17 percent shooting (against their best columns).

 

While the real Pistons yielded a miserly .413 shooting average, to get the Strat team average there, the team-defense card has to yield 53 percent shooting while being used two-thirds of the time in order to balance out the 17 percent shooting being used the other one-third of the time. Then adjust again (downward) for the fact that opposing offenses will average more than .413 on their own cards. Combined with the individual ratings, including Ben Wallace’s 1-16 block rating as the Inside Man, the Advanced Team Defense looks suffocating.

 

I’m less sure of the math in the Basic game. But the two Wallaces and Billups yield nothing on shot results 16-25, while Prince, Richard Hamilton and Hunter yield only 20 percent each. The Basic Team Defense yields 56 percent shooting (plus some Open shots) on 2-pointers and only 22 percent on 3-pointers. Overall, it looks like a very potent defense to me.

 

 

HEAD-HUNTERS AND DREADED BUNTERS

 

My annual plea about not having HBPs on the pitchers cards:  This year's
example is Carlos Zambrano, who is an excellent pitcher but I don't see how we can just ignore his 19 HBPs this past season.

 

Also, I've been wondering for awhile about the sacrifice bunt ratings.  Is
it just me, or does it seem like players in general are much more inept than the SOM ratings? It seems like, intuitively, many average or worse bunters (most Cs and all Ds) should be dropped one rating level to better equate to their true ability.  Might I suggest that even with Infield Back, most of these bunters are still worse than the As/Bs/some Cs are with the Corners In.

Ed Grant, Atlanta

 

            I’m inclined to agree that if a pitcher plunks more batters than he’s likely to record in SOM just from the batters’ cards, then it would be realistic to add an HBP to that pitcher’s card. Beyond from the statistical accuracy, I’d like to see that “personality” show up on the card. But then you have the matter of the many batters with no HBP who would get them off Zambrano, et al. Then what? A “y” rating for those hitters, akin to the “w” rating for low-wattage power hitters? It’s a play-value issue. It’s worth noting that HBPs – unlike balks and wild pitches – are in the dice columns. And Strat-O-Matic has made the decision not to cut it that fine on something that occurs as infrequently as HBPs.

 

            I think it’s generally accepted that many of today’s Major Leaguers are poor bunters. Some of that is due to the shrinkage of one-run strategies in the face of research that says that’s losing-baseball until the very late innings. There are limits to how low the ratings go in many areas of Strat. No ratings below a 5 fielder, an E stealer, a 1-8 runner, etc. Do your league stats show too many sacrifices? If not, then the ratings must be getting the desired results. Generous ratings aren’t generous if they aren’t overused. If SOM changed Manny Ramirez, Todd Helton and Vladimir Guerrero from D bunters into A bunters it probably wouldn’t result in more sacrifices for them. Making them E’s probably won’t get them any fewer.

 

 

NEW PITCHING FATIGUE RULE NEEDED

 

Baseball has changed significantly from the beginning of "Strat time," but many of the rules have not changed to reflect current starting pitcher usage. I have a simple suggestion I would like to see incorporated into the rules. Currently starters and relievers become dotted when they reach their point of weakness during or after their effective usage inning (dot inning). This is an effective system for mediocre pitchers, but it is much more difficult to dot the better starting pitchers. Current trends in major league pitching have very few starters pitching beyond seven innings in any case. How can we make this more realistic? Simple – keep the current system but add the following: Effective the second inning after the dot inning all starters are automatically dotted. For example, a six inning pitcher would become dotted after he completes seven innings as he starts his eighth inning of work. There would be one exception to this rule. Any starting pitcher who has not given up a run would not become dotted until the first run scores. Adopting these two simple rules will greatly improve the realistic usage of starting pitching. Half of the 42 complete games in the Major Leagues during 2004 were due to shutouts. Note that 42 complete games is less than two per team. These changes would encourage more managers to go to that pen.

Richard Deyerle, Glen Allen, VA
Richmond Strat-O-Matic Baseball League

 

            Actually, there were 150 complete games and 69 shutouts by starters in the 2004 Major Leagues (according to stats published in USA Today Sports Weekly), but that doesn’t change your point. I like the rule because it is in the spirit of the official rule saying no starter (even one with 9 endurance) may pitch more than 11 innings without fatigue. It’s also in the spirit of the computer pitch-count system, which allows a pitcher to exceed his count without fatigue if he is pitching exceedingly well. Citing the official 11-inning limit, some gamers might want a more lenient change than you propose – say, two innings after the rated point of weakness, so that a 7-rated pitcher may pitch 9 innings. Or they may want to expand the exception for shutouts to one for no earned runs, or for a pitcher who has allowed no more than five base runners.

 

 

WOULDN’T NEGRO LEAGUES TEAMS SELL?

 

You say there is only interest in individual players (for Negro Leagues). But I beg to differ with you. Yes, you would not want to do a whole Negro American or National league. But if you did selected teams like the famous Pittsburgh Crawfords or Kansas City Monarchs. I think this would go over very well.

Alan L. Dehn Scotia, NY

 

            I’d add the Homestead Grays to that short list, maybe even the Chicago American Giants of the Dead Ball era. But after we take a look at the greatest teams in Negro League history, we might prefer to simply group the all-time great players into the top few franchises rather than pick teams from individual seasons. The glitziest single-season Negro Leagues team is undoubtedly the 1935 Crawfords, with catcher Josh Gibson, first baseman Oscar Charleston, third baseman Judy Johnson, center fielder Cool Papa Bell and outfielder Sam Bankhead. Leroy Matlock is the ace pitcher on an otherwise non-descript staff. The 1931 Grays had Gibson, Charleston, Satchel Paige and pitcher Willie Foster, plus lesser seasons by important Negro League pitchers Smokey Joe Williams and Double Duty Radcliffe. The Monarchs are more troublesome. Paige, Bullet Joe Rogan, first baseman Buck O’Neil, Jackie Robinson (one season) and Ernie Banks (one season) played for them. But seldom together. Most of the greatest Negro League teams consisted of a couple Hall of Fame-caliber players, two or three other notables and a dozen or so minor league-caliber players. Think of it this way: How often would we play a team with Roger Clemens, Roy Oswalt, Jeff Bagwell, Jeff Kent and a lot of minor leaguers? How about keeping Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe Dugan and Urban Shocker from the 1927 Yankees, but dropping Earle Combs, Bob Meusel, Tony Lazzeri, Waite Hoyt, Herb Pennock, Wilcy Moore and the others?

 

            And those great ’35 Crawfords? We’d have Bell’s 157 at-bat season, with his .331 average, 1 homer and 7 stolen bases. We’d have a .263 season for Charleston, with 4 homers and 1 stolen base in 129 at-bats. The mighty Gibson hit .333 with 11 homers in 129 at-bats. Johnson hit .285 with 2 homers and 3 stolen bases in 179 at-bats and Bankhead hit .327 with 1 homer and 7 steals in 171 at-bats. Matlock was an astonishing 18-0, yielding just 77 hits and 7 walks (with 29 strikeouts) in 159 innings. I can’t help you with RBIs and ERA’s – those stats aren’t known for that or most Negro League seasons. Neither are runs, walks and strikeouts for batters. Even without adjusting the stats above for the mostly minor league-caliber competition they were compiled against, this team would not be favored against many of the better 1920’s and 1930’s teams we have from Strat-O-Matic, let alone the better teams in Major League history.

 

            I see such Negro League teams as novelty items. But I see something wonderful in an all-time greats set that will show each of these stars in their primes (settling for a .263 season from Charleston would be painful). Then, too, we’d get Buck Leonard, Martin DiHigo, Pop Lloyd, Willie Wells, Ray Dandridge, Mule Suttles, Biz Mackey, Leon Day, Rube Foster, Ray Brown and others without the AAA-caliber clubs that often surrounded them and without seeing only a 150 at-bat or 100-inning glimpse of them.

 

 

A SHOCKING FOOTBALL PLAY

 

I had a game recently were a punt was blocked and recovered by the kicking team and returned 60-some yards. Isn't the rule in the NFL that the kicking team can not advance a blocked punt?

Jim Perkins, Mantua NJ

 

No. Here is the language from the Digest of Rules at supernfl.com: “Any punt that is blocked and does not cross the line of scrimmage can be recovered and advanced by either team. However, if offensive team recovers it must make the yardage necessary for its first down to retain possession if punt was on fourth down.” Hope you feel better about an extremely rare play that should be among your season highlights (I haven’t seen one of those yet).

 

 

NOTHING SPECIAL

 

I’ve noticed that Strat-O-Matic doesn't include all of the special-teams players who played the regular season in computer football. Strat includes all players for baseball, basketball and hockey. Why don't they do it for football? How can statistics be accurate for teams that used more than one kicker/punter or several kick returners during the season?

 

Strat-O-Matic incorporates the stats from those secondary players into the ratings of the other players. The vast majority of the time, the stats of those extra kickers and return men don’t make much impact on the stats of the individuals who absorb them. On rare occasion, though, a second punt returner will have a touchdown rating when it was a third man who achieved it. In either event, the team stats and team performances will be accurate.

 

 

IN SEARCH OF THE LOST SEASONS

 

Is there any chance that Strat will reprint past recreated baseball seasons that are out of print. What is the future for creating past seasons from the 1970's and 80's?

James Hurwitz, Novato CA

 

            The best chance is for upgrades of Advanced seasons into Super Advanced format, as was done in the early 1990’s for 1975 and 1978. At the time, Strat-O-Matic said it expected to update more seasons, but it hasn’t happened. SOM’s Steve Barkan, the expert on past-season work, says these updates take almost as much work as researching a past season from scratch. That seems surprising, but it makes sense when you think about how all the card chances change once ballpark effects are added. Then there’s clutch and much more, so just about the whole back side of the card has to be re-done. Most of the seasons no longer are Advanced seasons without Super Advanced features. It’s very unlikely they would be reprinted without being updated.

 

 

HOW TO WEAKEN FOOTBALL DEFENSES?

 

I am totally loving the newest edition of the computer version of the football game. I was wondering if any gamers had come up with a formula to (create) levels of generic defense – if it could be formulized so that not all teams in the draft league would be excellent vs. the pass and excellent vs. run. If you have an answer please share. There has got to be a litmus test to decide in fairness what a team’s defense should be.

 

Michael Ochinero, Evanston, WY

 

            We invite any gamers to share their techniques with Michael, who I assume is talking about drafted teams in a league that is small enough to have mostly “6” defenders. I do know that some leagues require you to draft an entire team’s defense. Others require you to draft all three team defense cards from a single team – few NFL teams are excellent against both the pass and the run. Perhaps the most common technique is to limit the draft pool. If, say, you’ve only got six teams in your league, perhaps you would draft from only 6-12 NFL teams.

 

 

 

 

 

CALLING TECH SUPPORT

 

First, please let me start by saying that Strat-O-Matic Baseball is without a doubt the greatest game in the history of the universe.  My first set was the 1976 Season that I ordered when I was 12 years old and paid for with money I earned from my paper route.  About five years ago I moved up into the computer version (5.0 was my first) and it is even better than the board game.  I love it.  The only thing better is real Major League
Baseball.  But I feel there is trouble in paradise.

 

Tech Support for customers with computer versions of SOM games is available only from 8:30am EST to 12:30pm EST Monday thru Friday.  That is four hours a day – Eastern Time Zone.  I work from 6:30am EST to anywhere between 2:00 and 7:00 pm EST Monday thru Friday and every other Saturday.  I have no days off through the week, nor do I have any days that I'm off work before noon.  How is a customer like myself supposed to get any advice or assistance from them?  And I live in the same time zone.  I feel sorry for anyone that lives out west and needs help.  I have called them on the phone from work and they insist that you have to be in front of your computer. I completely agree that that makes things a lot easier, but just how am I supposed to pull that one off?  They need to have some people in there for a few hours in the evening also. Does SOM have any plans to expand the hours for Tech Support?

Brian Gillispie, Cross Lanes, WV

 

            The short answer is no, do not expect longer hours for live tech support. Sad to say, but in the current state of tech support, Strat-O-Matic is generous in providing any free phone service. I have my own personal experience with huge, mega-billion-dollar hardware and software companies as an illustration. In each case, their web sites were no help. On the phone, I got seemingly endless phone-tree options. After navigating all the number-pressing I was often told – via recording – that everyone was busy and just call back later. After much persistence just to get through (dozens of calls to one company), I learned that if I actually received any tech support, it would cost me. That was $9 from one company, $32 from another and $60 from another. Just to be able to continue using products that had suddenly stopped working properly. Obviously, I empathize with you, but if these huge companies can’t staff the demand for paid tech support, it’s unsurprising that Strat-O-Matic is unable to provide more free support.

 

THE TALK SHOW

 

Host: Glenn Guzzo

 

You can submit your question or insight on any Strat-O-Matic game to SOMTalkShow@aol.com. When you do, kindly include your name and town. Other gamers like to see that. And the display format below works better that way.

 

CHRISTMAS SHOPPING

I saw in the November Talk Show you mentioned a Strat History book in the making.  Do you know when it will be ready?  And how can I order the book.  I am really looking forward to it.

Matt Poulter East Windsor NJ

Many years ago I purchased replay guides for Strat Baseball from you and STRAT FAN.  I would like to get some more years.  Do you still make them, I hope?  Please send me some information about purchasing these replay guides.

Gary Powell

 

 

            Thanks for asking, guys. My one-sentence “shameless plug” in last month’s Talk Show attracted a flurry of interest that Matt’s question represents. My book, Strat-O-Matic Fanatics: The Unlikely Success Story of a Game that Became an American Passion is published by ACTA Sports in Chicago. Strat-O-Matic will be selling the earliest copies, beginning Dec. 20, with delivery beginning at the time the new baseball cards/disks are shipped (usually late January). There will be a more detailed description of the book on this website, in the next Strat-O-Matic News newsletter (that goes out with the pre-season offer) and in the “red flyer” included in SOM mailings.

 

            Strat-O-Matic Fanatics is more than 300 pages and costs $14.95. While devoted long-time fans of the hobby will recognize some of the subject matter, the vast majority of it is previously untold stories, including those that describe Hal Richman’s difficult childhood that led him to create his own world of games, the difficulty he had finding anyone who would share his dream and the ways Strat-O-Matic often had to overcome steep odds to survive. The book describes the many ways – some heart-warming, some heart-wrenching, some hilarious – this hobby has touched so many of us. The stories of the fanatics include interviews with the famous (Spike Lee, Jon Miller, Ken Singleton, Andy MacPhail, Electronic Arts founder Tripp Hawkins and more) and the not-so-famous. The book will give you a glimpse at Hal Richman’s early, pre-Strat-O-Matic cards and take you, for the first time, into the company’s annual private meeting where fielding ratings are decided. As you can tell by now, I had a ball reporting this book. And the journalist in me is excited about being able to share what I learned with you.

            My Baseball Replay Guides once were sold through STRAT FAN, then the game company. But now they are purchased directly through me. New this year are guides for 2004, 1984 and 1948. Here’s the whole lineup: 1911, 1920, 1927, 1930, 1934, 1941, 1948, 1950, 1953-56, 1959-70, 1978, 1984-99, 2002-04.

 

            Seasons are $15 each, two for $28, three for $39. Please send check or money order (U.S. funds only) to: Glenn Guzzo, 1608 Inkberry Lane, Jacksonville, FL 32259.

 

            Baseball Replay Guides have the exact as-played schedule with actual starting pitchers for each game. They have comprehensive in-season roster moves (seasons 1948-2004 have opening-day rosters, too). And a unique lineup guide to distribute at-bats realistically. In a phrase, they offer more accurate, “guilt-free” replays (the guides tell you when the star players must sit and the bums must play).

 

 

STRAT VAN WINKLE

 

I last played Strat baseball (computer version) in 1994, but am planning to play the 2004 season this year.  I'm wondering what innovations there have been in those 10 years I've been out of it.  I know about pitch counts, but has there been anything else?

Bruce Wilmot, Alexandria, VA

 

            Welcome back, Bruce! Alas, if I were to look up and write about the more than 100 improvements to the computer game since you fell asleep, my beard would be as long as yours by the time I finished. Suffice to say, you won’t be disappointed. The game is better in every way – graphics, ease of use, functionality, stat packages and with many new options whether you play solo, in leagues or head-to-head over the Internet. No other games on the market make so many improvements so often. Beard or not, you’ll feel like a kid in a candy store just exploring all the new ways to enjoy the game. Oh, and since you’ve just awoken, 10 years might not seem like such a long time – yet. But get this: The Boston Red Sox won a World Series. Perhaps the earth shaking is what disturbed your slumber.

 

 

FOUL PLAY IN THE ABA

 

I played my first ABA 1972/73 game between the Indiana Pacers and Memphis
Tams and noticed an awful amount of fouls. Mel Daniels fouled out quickly. Checking my Basketball Encyclopedia I saw there were no records for games fouled out for the 72/73 season. I seem to remember that at one point the
ABA experimented with eliminating players fouling out of games. Was this rule in effect during 1972/73? Did Strat err?

Rod Jerred, Stoney Creek, ONT

 

No. From www.remembertheaba.com: “In the ABA's last season … the ABA had a no foul-out rule. When a player committed his sixth personal foul, he could stay in the game. However, subsequent fouls by that particular player resulted in two free throws plus possession of the ball for the opposing team.” That would have been the 1975-76 season. Total Basketball shows that Daniels fouled out eight times in 1972-73.

           

However, Daniels averaged just 3.9 fouls per game while averaging 38 minutes per game. While your one example does not a trend make, gamers often need to take precaution with their big men. Gamers tend to elect their star centers for shots as often as possible – and all those Inside shots come with the significant risk of an offensive foul (results 9 and 11 on the Team Defense card – a 5.5 percent chance, or one offensive foul for about every 18 “touches”). Computer gamers need to be extra careful about electing the Power Move (which has a higher scoring percentage, but a higher risk of an offensive foul) too frequently. Backup centers tend to be foul prone to begin with. If your center is guarding a high-foul-drawing opponent (Shaquille O’Neal, Moses Malone, etc.), you have double trouble. If your center is a weak defensive rebounder and will be fouling more often while defending the shots after offensive rebounds, that’s a triple threat. In contrast, star guards and small forwards are often shooting outside, with no risk of an offensive foul.

 

 

WHEN THE SAINTS WENT MARCHING OUT

 

I was excited to hear sometime ago that Strat was going to produce a WHA season disk.  I was disappointed when I found out the 1975-76 season was the choice.  I will admit I was a Minnesota Fighting Saints fan.  (I need to mention I made it to all the home games, regular and playoffs for the Saints in ‘74-75.)  The Saints folded after 59 games in ’75-76 along with the Denver team.  The better choice would have been the 74-75 season, when all the teams completed a full season.  So my question is to you foresee additional disks for the WHA? 

Joe

 

            Those Saints had a nice corps of forwards in ’74-75, with Mike Walton, Wayne Connelly, Ted Hampson and Gerard Gallant, among others. I think the key here is in Strat-O-Matic’s carded set, which is limited to six teams (the rest can be printed out from a computer disk and all the teams are in the computer game). In ’74-75 there was one dominant team – Houston had 106 points and no other team had more than 92. In ’75-76, Houston and Winnipeg had 106 points each and the high-flying scorers on Quebec (Marc Tardif had 71 goals, Real Cloutier 60 and Rejean Houle 54) earned the Nordiques 104. That makes for a much more attractive six-team package.

           

Like everything else, future offerings at SOM depend on the sales success of earlier offerings. The absence of an NHL season thus far suggests there will be much lower demand for hockey products. The game company has not yet decided what it might offer in place of an NHL season, if it comes to that. But it’s a sure thing that if there is no NHL season to reproduce, then if Strat-O-Matic does any hockey at all next summer, it will be hockey from the past. 

 

 

COLLEGE SPORTS AND SOM

 

While searching the Internet for college computer basketball games, I came across an article written about SOM college teams for the computer only.  Did SOM ever make any college basketball teams?  I don't see them on the product pages.  I for one would buy SOM college football or college basketball disks, even if they were only "computer generated" and were for the computer game only (no cards).  Any chance of this?

Matt Norris, Overland Park, KS

 

About ten or eleven months ago, I wrote you about the possibility of SOM doing a College Football game just for the computer.  After reading about your undertaking in the "For the Memories" series, my interest for a computer game was sparked again.  I would love it if SOM could do, at the very least, the ‘86-88 seasons on disk.  I think gamers could get by doing the type of format you used, or making one up on their own.  They could also use all three seasons to make up a rough league of their own.  Anyway, I would definitely purchase any and all computer College Football games they produce.  And for the record, the Golden Domers would have beaten Miami at a neutral site if given the chance to play again that year.

Henry Roman, New Jersey

 

 

            Strat-O-Matic’s inability to make a go of college football and basketball rank high on the game company’s list of frustrations. If SOM can find another way to make it work – a computer-only game is almost certainly the only viable solution – I believe it would do so.

 

Computer college basketball (1994-95 season) lasted just one year. It had only the 64 NCAA tournament teams, but the main reason for its failure was the absence of player names. “At the last minute,” Hal Richman says, the NCAA withheld permission for Strat-O-Matic to use them. STRAT FAN published a utility that permitted easy insertion of the names, but not everyone knew about that and the combination didn’t translate into sufficient sales for SOM. Too bad, because the college game had all the thrills of SOM’s pro basketball computer game.

 

Strat-O-Matic’s history shows that when it introduces a new computer game, it likes to offer multiple seasons. While the ’86-88 NCAA seasons SOM produced on cards seems like a good place to begin building an inventory, that was, unfortunately, 15 years ago. It’s very unlikely that a new game, built for the computer, would follow that model. Let’s say, for instance, that a new computer college football game worked like the current pro computer game. Much of what is in the old board college game would no longer apply (the passing cards, the punting system and more). Instead of a simple process to adopt the ’86-88 seasons, SOM would have the much more demanding task of re-engineering them. I am among those who would dearly love to see the great teams of college football history in Strat form, but at this stage, anywhere SOM could revive college football would be a good place to start.

 

In my ’88 tournament, Miami simply matched up well with Notre Dame. The Hurricanes had more offensive options (Notre Dame didn’t pass well that year), and their strong passing attack gave it more quick-strike ability than Notre Dame had against a Miami defense that was good enough to slow down the Irish’s powerful running game.

 

 

PASSING TRENDS

 

I seem to remember reading “somewhere” that Strat designed the football
cards with the intention of a 60/30/10 flat/short/long pass ratio being called. Does the game company still use this ratio (if, in fact, I remembered it correctly), or does it change along with the changing game in the NFL?  Maybe a 40/40/20 ratio was used in the late 60s?

Kurt Conlan, Laguna Beach, CA

 

            Both the cards and the sophisticated computer coaches in Version 4 of the computer football game reflect the passing styles of the eras. Strat-O-Matic’s ratings encourage gamers to throw Flat Pass much more often, and Long Pass much less often with 21st-Century NFL teams than with the bombardier-style passers of the 1960s (Unitas, Namath, Lamonica et al).

 

 

E-6, AGAIN

Three of us play a full season of Strat-O-Matic with cards and dice with the basic game.  Out of this experience I share a concern and make a suggestion. The last two years, 02, 03, our shortstops cards, all rated a level 2 for fielding. Actual MLB season error totals for these shortstops are as follows compared to our Strat-O-Matic league.

 

                                    MLB                                                    Strat-O-Matic

                                     2002               2003                            2002           2003

 

Renteria                        16                    19                                38                    26

Hernandez (PGH)         19                                                        32

Cabrera                                                18                                                        35

Rollins                          14                                                        30

Gonzalez (Fla)                                      16                                                        26

 

 

The totals are significantly different.  Frustratingly different. My suggestion: Reduce the number of error possiblilities on the basic fielding chart for 2-rated shortstops from 3 to 2.  Perhaps take away the 9-2 or 10-2 error possibility. I believe doing so would result in more realistic error totals.  Realism is the mantra of strat-o-matic.  Please restore some realism in this area.   

Don Sharp

 

            Strat-O-Matic will be interested in your statistics. Do keep in mind that the Advanced and Super-Advanced games offer more precision for errors and many other stats. The single Basic fielding rating has double duty – range and errors, and the range part is the first consideration. Zero errors won’t assure a player of a 1 (or even a 2) in Basic and 40 errors at shortstop won’t assure you of a 4. But high errors can rob a player of the 1 he earned for the Advanced game. The split, more precise range/error system in the Advanced game leads more than a few Basic gamers to play “Modified Basic” – they like the single-sided batting card, but use the Advanced or Super Advanced fielding system, steal system, N/W power and/or individual bunt and hit-and-run ratings.

 

 

OLDIES AND GOODIES

 

As a Strat-O-Matic baseball fan since 1982 (thanks, Brewers) the Hall Of Fame card set is the most spectacular set I've ever used.  In terms of the high quality cards and the enjoyableness of using all of those great players in a league, it can't be beat. I've been involved in two leagues with them and have had a ball. I was wondering if there is any timetable for possibly adding new Hall Of Fame cards with the new additions and sure to be future editions of the Hall?

Bob Fuerst, Menomonee Falls, WI

 

            No timetable. I have reported before that Hal Richman would like to have a sufficient number of players to add – at least 16, maybe more – to have a product to offer. Since the Hall of Fame set came out, we have eight additions to the Hall – Kirby Puckett, Bill Mazeroski, Dave Winfield, Ozzie Smith, Gary Carter, Eddie Murray, Paul Molitor and Dennis Eckersley. Perhaps another player or two will be elected in 2005. Retired players Cal Ripken, Tony Gwynn, Mark McGwire and Wade Boggs are locks when they are eligible. That could get us to 16, but only after a few more years.

 

            Another possibility, I’ve speculated, is that fewer than 16 of these players could be added to a Negro Leagues set that would include many Hall of Famers. But there’s no timetable for the Negro Leagues set, either, while SOM awaits ongoing research that would greatly improve our knowledge of Negro League statistics.

 

 

BUNTING FOR HITS

 

Why is it that we are not given the option to bunt for a base hit with men on base? Being a Dodger fan and watching "small ball" for as long as I can remember, I know that players do not only bunt for a hit when the bases are empty. Having watched players like Brett Butler and Dave Roberts, I know that they on many occasions attempted bunts to try and reach base with runners on. Now I know that in their minds as players they are thinking that should their attempt to reach base via the bunt fail, as long as the bunt is put into play, the runner on base will most likely advance. But I still see a difference.

 

Not only is it the slap hitting speedsters that do this, but I can vaguely remember a Paul LoDuca bunt attempt with a runner on 1st. The 3rd baseman was playing deep looking for the double play and LoDuca surprised everyone by laying a bunt down the 3rd baseline. I do not recall if he was safe or not but do remember immediately thinking about Strat and how we are not able to do that. What is the reasoning behind not allowing this?

Matteo, CA

 

            Since a hit is possible on sacrifice attempts – the better the bunter and the faster the bunter, the greater chance of a hit – you can bunt with the hopes of a hit. And your bunter is better if the rare-play LoDuca situation you describe above, because the infield is back. In Strat, like real baseball, hits are harder to come by on bunts with men aboard. The infield is more likely to be playing in and the defense has more options to get an out. Many of the real-life bunts you describe are done by players who are confident that the least they can accomplish is a sacrifice. If they can manage a hit, that much better.

 

 

 

BASEBALL: RULES AND RATINGS

 

I play in a 10-man SOM face-to-face baseball league that has been in operation since 1981.  In all these years, we have not been able to interpret the rule in situations involving a runner at first base who attempts to advance to third on a single.  According to Rule 13.5 (on page 5 of the SOM rules), "if the defensive manager tries to throw out the runner at third base, the batter always takes second on the throw."  However, according to the chart of Super Advanced cut-off rule computations (on page 15), the trail runner in these situations (i.e. the batter who hit the single) does NOT automatically take second. Instead, his safe chances are to be computed as "running speed plus outfielder's arm, minus 5."  Can you resolve this apparent contradiction in the rules?  In the past few years, we have decided to follow the computation chart on page 15 rather than allow the batter to automatically take second, but without the minus 5, as a compromise, since it doesn't seem realistic to allow the batter to automatically take second in these situations.  What's your opinion?

Bruce Young, Forest Hills, NY

 

            The man always takes second. Because he does, there is no cutoff rule to apply. In addition to Rule 13.5, the computer game always handles it this way, too. I understand how the chart on page 15 can confuse the issue on the trail runner. It should say that the trail runner’s advance is automatic.

 

 

How about an outfielder throwing arm e rating? As the game is played now almost all errors lead to a player reaching base. Players like Vlad Guerrero tend to make more errors throwing than catching, advancing a runner not letting him OB. This leads to pulling him for defense in the late innings, and that's not right.

Jim Guracech, St. Clair, MI

 

            The Super Advanced Fielding Chart was developed in significant part to allow for one-base errors by outfielders on throws and muffed hits. And in the computer game, there is the further refinement in the Super Advanced Max rules: “Realistic Throwing Errors.” True, outfielders’ throwing errors do not get their separate rating (as catchers have), but in my replays, my high-error outfielders often show off their great arms – their throws hit the backstop or the seats on the fly easily and often.

 

 

I have been playing Strat-O-Matic baseball for over 15 years.  The league I play in uses the Advanced Steal System instead of the Super Advanced Steal System.  We like the simplicity of it.  However, we wish that the pitchers hold would be equated into the percentages.  It relies entirely on the catcher's arm and base runner's stealing, were missing the third part of the equation.  The members of my league like the Advanced Steal System better but wish Strat-O-Matic could fine tune it to add the pitcher's hold.

Matt Phelan, Lansing, MI

 

            The higher the complexity of a rule or system in Strat-O-Matic, the more likely it is to be in the optional, Super Advanced features. If your league members are agreed, there’s nothing to stop you from using some or all of the Super Advanced features while otherwise playing Advanced. That’s the norm. Some leagues use ballpark effects, but not weather effects. Some use closer rules, but not Super Advanced pitcher fatigue. And on and on.  Super Advanced rules are all optional. We do not have to adopt them all to use others.

 

            Now, then, if you are playing the board game, Bob Winberry suggests that you could adjust the steal-success chance according to the pitcher’s hold rating. Here’s an approach that is similar to the way catchers affect base stealers in Advanced play:

 

Pitchers hold                 Adjustment
------------------         ---------------
-
5 to -9                        -2
-
2 to -4                       -1
-1 to +1                       0
+2 to +4                       +1
+5 to +9                       +2

 

 

LOOKING AT IT ANOTHER WAY

 

Here's a small suggestion for improving the look of the baseball cards ... for fielders, all of the components for their fielding is included together, e.g., "2b-2e23".  But on the pitcher's card, the range rating is in one place and the e-rating is in another.  Why not show the pitcher's fielding as something like "p-2e30"?

P. Sean Bramble, Fukuoka, Japan

 

            That makes plenty of sense, though I doubt SOM would reformat its card-printing program just for this. The game company will note your suggestion for future reference, however.     

 

 

WHERE TO GO FOR HELP

 

In my experience as a computer league commissioner, most technical issues involve Key Disk problems after a computer crash. 

 

Charging for support only works if there is value addition. If a customer calls for help to use a function that is adequately explained in the help files, charge them.  If a customer calls for help because the product fails to function, it seems like a product warranty or quality issue which is covered by the initial purchase price.

 

I personally find that the Tech Support staff has been very helpful to emailed questions.  However, if a user has a problem like inability to host games due to his use of a router, I have found that the Internet Strat community has been most helpful.  My suggestion would be for Strat to post the websites of the helpful groups such as the stratfanforum and strat-o-sphere.net.

Jim Williams, El Dorado AR

 

            When Strat-O-Matic is able to confirm the original purchase, it is ready to help gamers get back up and running after a crash. In today’s computer world, the variety and mix of operating systems, firewalls, networks, stealth viruses, software that reconfigures setups and more, each of us has a nearly unique computer. So it stands to reason that posting the problem and the specifics to an Internet board with thousands of Strat fans could bring a faster solution than hoping the tech staff at Strat-O-Matic can duplicate an individual’s problem in order to solve it.