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.
 
 
WEATHER OR NOT?
 
How does Strat-O-Matic factor weather into computer football? I think that it might make a difference in play calling if a team is playing in Green Bay or Buffalo in December as opposed to Miami or San Diego. I for one would like to know if it’s snowing in Buffalo or the Tundra is frozen in Lambeau Field. I also would like to know why my computer freezes if I walk away in the middle of a game for more than a minute or two. I get an error message and I have to reboot the computer when this happens.
 
My football wish list: A total scoring leader category that includes non-kickers, a total individual touchdown category, extra points made/attempts in league leader and team reports.
James Hurwitz, Novato, CA
 
            Weather effects are not included in the computer game. However, each team’s wins and stats were influenced by actual weather during the season. There is an option for Home Field Advantage. If you want to simulate extreme weather, you could decide to use the Home Field Advantage only late in the season when a dome or warm-weather team is on the road in a place like Green Bay, Buffalo or New England. Or, if humans are managing both teams, you could limit the number of times certain plays could be called. 
 
            Sounds like your computer is providing its own weather effects. Or maybe it can’t bear to be without you. Doesn’t sound like a problem many others have had with the SOM computer football game.
 
 
WISH GRANTED: 1957 WILL BE NEXT
 
I'm eagerly looking forward to the 1948 deluxe replay season of SOM baseball. I know that generally there is one new deluxe past season that comes out each year. Is there news yet as to what season will be next? I am hoping for 1958 or 1957 as I want the continuity and would like to see the 1950's completed, but any year would be welcome.
Byron Fulk, League City, TX
 
Are the 1957, and 1958 baseball seasons, close to being issued, now that Strat is releasing the 1948 season? Is there any chance that Strat-O-Matic will reprint the 1962 season, with the same print format in the basic version; as say the 2004 season?  Past seasons such as 1956, 1961, 1968-70 etc. the basic version would conform and look better if they were printed the same, such as 1963-66 etc.
Phil, PassaicNJ
 
            You will be pleased to know that 1957 will follow 1948 in Strat-O-Matic’s lineup of baseball past seasons. This will leave only 1958 as the gap between 1954 and the present. And it will re-create the only World Series champs for the Braves while they were in Milwaukee. The Braves had mighty teams in the 1956-59 era in particular, and the ’57 squad, led by Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews and Warren Spahn, has always been tough in competition between Strat-O-Matic’s basic-only old-timer teams.
 
WANTED: FOOTBALL PLAYER CREATION
When I bought the very first version of Computer Football, I was disappointed to see that I could not modify stats and create new players from scratch.  Will we ever see such features in the game, just like the “Create a Fringe Player” and “Modify Player Stats” in the Computer Baseball game?  I know other stat-based computer football games have that feature.  If those features are added, I’ll buy the game again.
Jared Kindestin, Washington, DC
            I doubt it. For one, that feature was at the root of the company’s problems with a gamer who tried to market his own Strat-like computer seasons back in the 1990’s. To help offset this, Strat-O-Matic has been producing past seasons at a rapid rate, three per season as of late.
 
GETTING PERSONAL
I was looking through some old Strat cards and I came across one of me! (made in 1990). I was wondering, was this is something Strat still offers? I would love to get another one.
Lou Catalano, Staten Island, NY
 
            The “Personalized” cards are still available at $6 each. Look for the separate two-sided sheet in SOM mailings that has the headline, “Finally, Your Opportunity to Play in the Major Leagues.” You supply the stats and the ratings, and SOM creates the card. I had one, too. Thankfully, it was based on my softball days, not my last year in baseball, when I found out I could not hit a slider.
 
 
SIGHTS FOR SORE EYES
 
Thank SOM for putting out a great hockey sim! I have some suggestions for future upgrades. How about being able to control the size of the PBP text. It seems my old eyes see the PBP smaller and smaller every year. Also it would be easier to follow if the PBP were in the team colors. Team logos on the rinks would be a great idea also. These may seem minor (which I see as a compliment, meaning SOM hockey needs no major changes) but I think these suggestions would improve the feel of the game!!
 
            Oooh. You don’t really want text in multiple colors. You think your eyes are bad now? To read more than a few words at a time, black-on-white is the only option for good resolution. But the Version 4.01 patch provides for changing text size. The rink logos would be very cool, but Strat-O-Matic would face licensing issues with the National Hockey League to provide them. That’s why you don’t see team nicknames on Strat-O-Matic cards and disks anymore. However, the Strat community is broad and creative and you can find importable rink logos elsewhere on the Internet.
 
STRAT-O-HOLIC ANONYMOUS
 
There is not much more to say then Strato is real. I sometimes can feel the lumber sawing off the bat, the dirt kicking up on a hard grounder and the crowd cheering on a game-winning 1-4 homerun roll. I play in a very competitive six-team league and spend countless hours with stats, strategy and spitballs. My wife and kids take a back seat during Strat season. A bad guy? No, just a Stratoholic.
 
            Spitballs? Hope each of you has his own dice! When is the season over for a Stratoholic? If it works in your house, good for you. But you might want to teach everyone the game. You know – passing along tradition, quality time, harmony. Unless, of course, the spitballs would make things worse.
 
 
COLLEGE DAYS HERE AGAIN
 
I recently purchased a Strat College Football game on e-Bay.  I very much enjoyed reading your "For the Memories" articles.  The game I have features the 1975 season with 24 teams.  Do you know how much the game changed from the edition I have to the 1988 game you were using?  I notice that you mentioned playing the 'basic' game.  I don't think my game has basic or advanced versions.  I know it's a very long
shot, but I wish Strat would make their college game available again.  Not having player names included must have hurt sales.  How did you come up with the names that you used in your tournament?  I'd love to do that with my set.  Thanks for any info you can give me on this very entertaining Strat-O-Matic board game.
Brad
 
            You have Strat-O-Matic’s first attempt to capture college football. It was more of a playing-card game and there were no player names. That game was quite fun as a strategy game, in the way that the classic Football Strategy by Avalon-Hill was. But it was not anything like other Strat games. And it failed for that reason as much as any other. Strat-O-Matic tried again in 1986-88, with a more conventional Strat game that did use names of skill-position players and special teams guys, but didn’t give each his own card. However, a team’s tailbacks had different readings than the fullbacks; flankers had different results from split ends and tight ends. So if you’re running OklahomaState, you just declare that this carry goes to Barry Sanders, roll the dice and look for tailback readings. In that way, your choice of ball-carriers or receivers often made a huge difference. But there was no distinction between Sanders and his backups. While SOM did this because individual player cards for 48 teams would have made the set prohibitively expensive, it also turned out – I found this fascinating – that on many teams, ALL the tailbacks had similar yards per carry and ALL the tight ends had similar yards per catch. This would be true for fullbacks and each wide receiver position, too. Quarterback teammates showed the most variation.
With this experience in mind, if Strat-O-Matic were to try college football a third time, it most likely would be for the computer only.
 
CHORES BEFORE FUN
I have been a big fan of Strat-O-Matic since my uncle introduced me to it 24 years ago. I love the new version of the football game and I have one major complaint: In my draft leagues, the computer manager does not “recognize” the best players for a particular position once you generate the depth chart after a draft. I spent a couple of hours moving the better qualified players into the starting line-up for each Offensive or Defensive formation they may be involved in. I love this game and I truly hope they improve that issue.
KennethWashington D.C. Coleman,
            It would be convienent if the program had this ability.  I've forwarded the request to Strat so they can consider it for the wish list.
 
 
YOU MAY ORDER SIGNED BOOKS (WHILE THEY LAST)
 
Since I can not make the trip to the book signing, I would love to have a signed copy of the new Strat-O-Matic book. Would it be possible to order a copy via credit card now or the day of the signing and have Mr. Guzzo and Mr. Richman sign the book? Then have the book shipped to my home? A signed book would be greatly appreciated. I have been playing SOM baseball since 1964.
Ken DiVincenzo
 
            At Opening Day, Hal Richman and I will be signing books for those who buy them there. We also will sign a limited supply of other books that can be requested when ordered by mail or phone. However, only those purchased in person can be personalized. And, once the other supply is sold out, I can’t be certain when I’ll be next able to get back to SOM to sign more.
CLOSER RULES
What does SOM say about a pitcher, who does not having a closer rating, serving as a closer? I am having a war with a league member about this.  I do not want to change our rules concerning pitchers and closers. Our rule states that the player can only play where he is rated; thus, if a pitcher does not have a closer rating, then he can't close.
Now, would a 6 / 0 / N pitcher be considered "not rated" for closing? How about a 0 / 3 / 0 pitcher?  Is that "not rated" for closing? And for pitching in middle relief – is a 6 / 0 / N pitcher not rated for middle relief or could that pitcher pitch middle relief?
J. Michael Blakely, Kennesaw, GA
 
            It’s unclear whether “N” stands for No, Never, Not-Rated or No Way, but Rule 28.1 in the SOM rulebook is crystal clear: “If a pitcher is rated `N’ for closer endurance, he should not be used as a closer.” If you force him into a closer situation, he will be automatically fatigued. A “0”-rated closer is eligible to close, but he will become fatigued as soon as he allows a hit or walk (see the example in Rule 28.35). The “0” for a relief rating is the computer designation that this pitcher is rated only to be a starter. He should never relieve. If you force him in, he will enter game fatigued.
 
 
THE GREAT HOCKEY MYSTERY
 
Do you feel that SOM will issue some additional past seasons for the NHL, as it now appears that there will be no 2004-2005 NHL season disk to issue in summer 2005? Many of us hockey junkies would love to replay some seasons from the 1930's and 1940's. Many NHL legends and Hall of Famers were active then.  In the 1929-30 season alone, no less than seven NHL Hall of Fame goaltenders were stopping pucks in NHL arenas (Hainsworth - MTL C, Benedict - MTL M, Roach - TOR, Worters - NY Americans, Thompson - BOS, Gardner - CHI, and Connell - OTT)
           
            I would be first in line to buy cards and computer authorizations for any or all of these seasons:
1. 1929-30 (key rule changes make game look more like current version, Montreal Canadiens roster with six HOFers on it wins Stanley Cup)
2. 1933-34 (Blackhawks win cup)
3. 1939-40 (NY Rangers win cup)
4. 1950-51 (Tor wins cup, all games of finals go into OT)
 
APBA did release some seasons for the early NHL about seven or eight years ago, but that was a very poor DOS-based product.  SOM hockey for Windows is a fantastic product.  Even computer-generated seasons for early NHL play, similar to what SOM does for major league baseball, would also be more than acceptable to most of us, and reduces the company's costs of providing new products like this.
 
Keep up the good work for our hobby. I look forward to your new book.
 
Gary Kinn, Marlton, NJ
 
            Hope you enjoy the book, Gary. It was fun to report and write and has been fun to talk about.
 
Strat-O-Matic has not decided what it will do after this hockey “season.” Past seasons gain appeal in a year when labor woes ruin the current year. Going back to pre-World War II NHL seasons means going to a different game, when there was no center line, when defensemen’s movements were restricted and other rules of the day made the sport fundamentally different from the way the sport is re-created on Strat-O-Matic table tops. If we can suspend disbelief and accept playing a pre-War season with today’s rules, and make the allowances for individual performances, there still remains the issue of whether there will be much of a line behind you for seasons that far back. I suspect that only baseball, with its unique emphasis on statistical history, can attract many fans for pre-1950 seasons. You’ve picked some historically significant seasons, for sure. So if I’m wrong, you’ve given everyone a head start on that research.
 
 
BAD THROWS – ACCIDENTAL AND NOT
 
A player steals second, the opposing player rolls the 20-sided die to see if his catcher throws the runner out.  Has there ever been a discussion about a number or numbers being rolled that would send the ball into centerfield, and the runner ending up on third or having a choice to send him depending on the base running ability?

The '27 Yankees are playing the '04 Red Sox.  Pedro Martinez drills the great Bambino in, let’s say, the backside.  Benches clear but no warning.  Then Herb Pennock drills Varitek the very next inning, then warnings are given.  The opposing player has not had enough and chooses to hit another player and hence a bean-ball war.  Has Strat ever thought about a chart that would have ejections, or injuries arise from a hit batter? 
Either way Strat is the best and I look forward to the '04 Red Sox suiting up against the '98 and '27 Yankees and getting revenge against the '86 Mets.
Dominic Mattioni, Lee, NH
 
            Sounds like you’re playing Basic, Dominic. In the Advanced game, the T-ratings for catcher’s are for wild throws on successful steals. You could adopt the rule if you’ll play modified Basic. If the base-stealer is safe on a roll of 1, 2 or 3, roll the 20-sided die again and compare the result to the catcher’s T-rating range. If it falls within the range, the ball sails into the outfield and all runners advance one base.
 
            While there is no Rare Play for a bean-ball war or ejections, Strat-O-Matic does put some injury results with HBP readings. Some gamers innovate with their own warning-ejection rules. For instance, after the first or second HBP (first warning), the next HBP results in an ejected pitcher. Some go further and roll the 20-sided for a chance that the batter is also ejected for charging the mound. It’s not a Strat rule, just something other gamers do for the level of realism they prefer.

 

 

 

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.
 
LEAP-PROOF WALLS
 
Do you know whether or not the Outfielder Robbing a Home Run rule (known as the Leaping Outfielders rule here in St. Louis) is supposed to be applied in the two National League parks (Philadelphia and San Diego) that opened last year? The rule says that it should not be applied in a park when the height of the wall exceeds 10 feet, and then goes on to list those parks as of 2003. The Game Company really should be telling us whether or not to apply the rule in each new park. Just telling us not to apply it if the wall exceeds 10’ in height doesn’t work – the right field wall in PETCoPark is higher than 10’ in some areas, but not others. None of us play the computer game so we cannot check to see if the computer game is programmed to apply the rule in those two parks.
John McGuire, MadisonCounty, Illinois
            SOM’s Bob Winberry says the game company uses the fence heights in left-center field and right-center field for this rule. Since the heights are below 10 feet in both areas for San Diego, use the rule there. In Philadelphia, the fence is below 10 feet in right-center. So, use the rule for left-handed hitters. But in left-center, the height is 13 feet, so the rule is not used for right-handed hitters in Philly. Hopefully, SOM will add this information each year on its ballpark cards, roster sheets or elsewhere that board-gamers can see it.
           
 
CARDINALS WANT A HEALTHIER WALKER
 
I got the new 2004 cards, decided to play the St. Louis-Houston NLCS and in the first game, Larry Walker rolled a 1-6 – “+ INJURY." I think – wait a minute – he played almost every game for the Cardinals once he was traded on 8/7/04 – he was hurt in Colorado, but to combine those two is unrealistic as he will get hurt almost every other game in St. Louis and that would effect the St. Louis pennant drive and playoffs negatively. As it is, I'm being Mr. Nice Guy by not allowing Carpenter to pitch. In his case, I think they should have divided the cards, one St. Louis with 150 AB and very limited injury, one Colorado. What's your opinion? Suggestion on how to modify?
Jim McPartland, Monroe, CT
 
SOM has always combined the stats of a player who played on multiple teams in the same league. Separate cards are only for players who played both in the AL and NL. For Walker, 5 carded injury chances out of 216 rolls (108 hitter, 108 pitcher) means one injury per 43 plate appearances. About one every 10 games. He played in 44 of St.Louis’ 54 games. In other words, he missed about one in five, although he was never on the disabled list.
 
If you want to play it differently, remember: It’s your game, do as you please (as long as your league members agree). In the board game, the work-around options are plentiful: Ignore the injury; make the injury rest of game only; cap the number of times you'll allow such a player to be injured. But for some semblance of realism, keep Walker’s at-bats for St. Louis close to his actual 150. If playing the computer game, your only options are: 1) set your league to ignore injuries; or, 2) after the game with an injury, give St. Louis days off to get Walker back in the lineup. This last option will have other consequences, notably the rest for St. Louis’ pitchers.
 
FLOPPY TROUBLE
I just bought a new laptop and there is no drive for floppy disks. With Strat’s new authorization system using a CD there is no problem installing future rosters. However, what do I do with my old rosters on floppy disks (I have about 20 past seasons)? When I go to use a past season like 1995 or 1954 and the computer asks me to insert the floppy disk in order to access it, it is obviously impossible. My friends foresee the same problem in the future if they buy new desktops without floppy drives. Will our past-season roster disks become unusable and our money go down the drain?
Maryse Imbeault, Quebec City, Canada
            You have hardware and software options. Each will cost you a relatively small amount. When I bought my laptop two years ago, I made sure it had a replaceable floppy drive. My new desktop had no such option, so I bought an Iomega external floppy drive (then $50). It’s plug-and-play easy to use. Without a floppy drive, you also have the option of trading in your disks to SOM for authorization cards. As of today, such swaps will cost you $2 per season. This is the fact of life with technological advances. I have purchased the same Beatles albums on vinyl, 8-track, cassette and CD.
 
UPDATED SEASONS
 
When a person goes to download a deluxe season on the computer baseball game 10.0 there are sometimes two options. A Deluxe Season Roster Original and a Deluxe Season Roster Updated, As Played. Could you please explain what is included with each option and the differences between the two?
James Micek, Staten Island
            Once upon a time, SOM released past-season disks that lacked such valuable statistical information as RBIs, stolen bases, caught stealing, pitcher games started and saves. Seasons like 1930, 1950, 1956, 1959, 1961, 1962, 1968, 1969 and 1970 were affected. The Updated seasons correct this flaw. These and other improvements by the gaming community included updated e-ratings, supplemental stealing ratings, balk/wild pitch ratings for older seasons (circa 1970s) that pre-dated these features. Previously, the disks for those seasons had used generic formulas – for instance, all “B” stealers had the same supplemental stealing.
 
WHEN THE STARS COME OUT
How does one go about playing an advanced all-star game in basketball, when a team defense card is needed? Should every defensive reference count as a basket except for a seven dice roll which should utilize the defensive center’s rating if he is playing inside?
James Micek, Staten Island, NY
If you do, your scores will be in the ionosphere. Although, by NBA All-Star game standards for defense, maybe this will produce the most realistic result. There is no standard way of doing this, but here are some other options:
-- Calculate the average defensive card and create this “generic” team defense. This is a popular technique for draft leagues. STRAT FAN used to do this each season and the computer game now has this feature.
-- Use the team defense of a representative team from each conference.
-- Accept the 7-roll Inside Man reading and the Offensive Foul readings. For all other readings refer to the X-column of the defender instead. On a team of all-stars, this likely will produce better defense than a team defense card. And better defense than the NBA All-Star game produces.
 
A QUESTION OF BALANCE
Can you tell me how baseball board game players obtain "balance ratings?"
For that matter, why doesn't SOM print them on the Advanced side of the
cards?
Sean
The BAL ratings are a computer function only, driven by the fact that you don’t always have a card image handy to notice a player’s lefty-righty strengths and weaknesses. The BAL ratings are useful, but they don’t tell you if, for instance, a 4R pitcher gets to that rating via on-base chances, home runs allowed, or both. Two different pitchers could achieve the same BAL rating in different ways. So it’s a weaker substitute for a visual inspection of the cards.
 
 
 
THIEVES AND THOSE CATCH THEM
 
I am especially having problems understanding the rule for a delayed steal of home:
 
Rule 23.9 Delayed Steal of Home
If the defense tries to throw out the man stealing second, does the man on 3rd automatically score, or are two stealing success rolls required, and thus the potential for a double play?  If an additional stealing success roll is required for the man stealing home, is it the standard second stealing number -5?
 
            Yes, the runner scores.
 
Also, I don't exactly understand item E as it applies to the previous four items: "if the runner on third attempts to steal home, the defensive manager has the choice: let the throw go through to try to get the runner attempting to steal second, or cut off the ball and throw home." Cut off the throw from where?  If the throw goes through, it would be the pitcher making his normal pitch, correct? 
 
Or does rule 29.1-E mean, "if the defense decides to ignore the man stealing second, and a steal of home is attempted anyway, resolve as a straight steal of home"?  If this is the case, the man stealing second would automatically succeed, and there would be no possibility for the catcher to throw to second, correct?
 
            This is how it works in real baseball and SOM: The man on first breaks for second. The man on third waits to see if the catcher is going to throw through to second base. If he does, the man on third breaks for home. The infielders at second then decide whether to take the catcher’s throw and apply the tag at second, or for one infielder to step in front of the bag, take the catcher’s throw short of the bag and fire home to get the lead runner instead.
 
            In all cases, the defending team is choosing a play on one runner only. The other is automatically safe. There is no chance for a double play. If you are throwing for the lead runner instead, use the calculation in the SOM rules to determine the runner’s success chance.

Rule 24.0- Pickoffs & Balks
If, under the super advanced balk / wild pitch / passed ball system and supplementary steal system, a runner needs to roll for being picked off, is his "second steal rating" modified by the pitcher's Hold rating and/or the -4 penalty for being held on base (if he is being held)?  Also, does the catcher's arm become involved at any point?  Runners are occasionally picked off by catchers.
Luke Merritt, Dubuque, IA
            The SOM pickoff rule does not involve catchers. Yes, the pitcher’s Hold rating and the -4 penalty are used to determine the runner’s ability to get back to the bag safely.
 
ARE THE ‘80s NOW OLD-TIME BASEBALL?
 
I am in my thirties and have fond memories of baseball in the 1980s.  Unfortunately, there does not seem to be enough poll votes among gamers to influence SOM to update and reprint a card set from my favorite decade.  Is there any possibility that SOM could update at least one season from the ‘80's to see if it ends being worthwhile?
Scott Fiscus, Shelton, CT
            Ever since SOM updated the 1975 and 1978 seasons to Super-Advanced form, the company has said that it would like to do this with more seasons. However, other projects have earned priority, and for predictable reasons: The devoted SOM community that wants past seasons gets more excited about never-produced seasons than updated versions of seasons it already has seen/played.
However, we may soon reach a point where that is not so automatically true. The 1970s and ‘80s now are more than a generation old. And all but a few of those card sets haven’t been available through SOM for years. Someone who has played Strat for 15 years may never have had the chance to buy the great Oakland teams from 1972-74, for instance. Or the 1984 Tigers, ’86 Mets and ’87 Twins. Also, the number of great historic seasons never produced by SOM is dwindling. The company now has issued every season since 1959 (and a dozen earlier seasons including the forthcoming 1957) in Advanced or Super-Advanced form. Every season since 1901 is available on the computer. Perhaps the time is near for sentiment to change in favor of the 1980s. But the polls should tell us that, shouldn’t they? If never-seen seasons always outpoll the others, then it’s not difficult to figure which will get SOM’s priority.
 
HOME RUN DERBY, STRAT STYLE
 
A suggestion my friend had for a new feature for Version 11 would be some form of Home Run Derby. Imagine Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Greenberg and Foxx battling out against Sosa, Bonds, McGwire, Maris, Mantle, and Mays? They could bat against the 1965 John Purdin, or the 1965 Jim Brenneman. It could be a ton of fun.
Steve Napoli
 
            You are a sadistic man, Steve, to invoke the names of John Purdin, Jim Brenneman and Oscar Zamora (oops, that was me who mentioned Oscar) in such a competition. Seriously, now that we have an All-Star game feature in Version 10, perhaps HR Derby could be near. But I’d hate to see the likes of Purdin REDUCING these sluggers’ homer chances. At the 1998 Strat convention in Akron, we set up HR Derby competitions where every 4-5-6 roll was converted into a 1-2-3 roll. Would add a bit of strategy, however, to name your slugger AND the pitcher who would “pitch” to him.
 
 
 2-MINUTE WARNING
 
I know I've mentioned this before but we still don't have "2-minute" clocks in hockey or basketball. As you know, many of us old-timers have shared tips and used different "2-minute" clocks on the board games. Any idea when the computer games are going to move into the 21st Century?
Mike, Arizona (Strat since 1967)
 
            In football, teams use special plays – hurry-up offense, spike the ball, run out of bounds, sideline passes – designed to save time in the final two minutes. But in basketball, it’s pretty much fastbreak, press, foul deliberately, fire up more 3-pointers, call timeouts and take a desperation shot at the buzzer. All of that is in the game already. Perhaps SOM could add something that gets shots off quicker, with a decline in accuracy. Same thing for hockey, where the strategy doesn’t save time as much as it increases desperation – pull the goalie, abandon defense and call your one timeout to rest tired players. All but the timeout is in the game now.
 
 
A BASIC PROBLEM
 
I played my first short-season Strat-O-Matic baseball replay in 1970 and have done about 10 more since then.  I've played the dice version entirely and I bought a new 'X Chart' for the basic game in the early 90s (the original deteriorated thru time and usage).  Using basic game rules (non-computer), how does a field rating of '5' come in since there is no '5' on the basic X-chart?  Is this a computer game only feature?
Henry Dearborn, Summit, NJ
 
            You simply need a new X Chart, Henry. The recent-vintage ones have the “5” column on them.
 
 
 
 
FLYBALL / GROUNDBALL
 
I recently joined a league that plays a modified version of the basic game. Ten years ago I used to play the computer game. I have been studying cards for our draft and noticed that all pitchers cards have exactly the same number of X-chances for all positions. Has any thought ever been given to tailoring the cards to show the propensity for pitchers to be either groundball or flyball pitchers? This would force managers to pay more attention to infield or outfield defense depending on which type of pitcher he had on the mound. It would also make more sense that strikeout pitchers have fewer outs on balls in play than those who hardly ever strike batters out. I'm sure this has been brought up before, but I have not seen it addressed in any letters I have read. What do you think?
David Barrett, Plain City, Ohio
 
            Some years ago, Strat-O-Matic started addressing flyball / groundball tendencies on the Advanced side of the pitcher’s cards. The gamers who pay attention to this are the sharpest of all, since most overlook it. You won’t see this on the Basic side, but the Advanced side shows that pitchers are rated for their ground-ball double-play frequency and for ground ball / fly ball tendencies. Generally, lefty hitters also will hit the ball more often to the right side, and vice versa. It has long been true that high-strikeout pitchers also have fewer groundball A, B and C chances and fewer flyball b and c chances. They do get fewer outs via balls in play and more via the K.
 
 
GIVE ME A MOSS MOON
 
Okay, so the PC football graphics won't be like Madden’s. But how about some better graphics after I burn my opponent on that last-second TD!  And since I can't get my wife to bring out the pom-poms, a cheerleader now and then would be great!  A player lost to injury often doesn't get noticed until several plays later, and you realize he is gone. A guy on a stretcher carted off the field would help to recognize those times! Just wondering if you have plans on juicing up the graphics?
Tom Murch, EBFL Football League, Eagle Bend, MN
 
            These computer games – they are so literal! Board gamers have always used their imagination in ways beyond anything a computer can display. That’s why so many sports broadcasters began with Strat-O-Matic. But until SOM computer football catches up with your imagination, we can have fun with this, as your headline (repeated here) suggests. In addition to season-specific play-by-play, perhaps SOM could sell season-specific graphics. Would have all the logos, period-specific uniforms and stadiums, of course. But we wouldn’t have to limit this to your practical suggestions. For seasons with Elmo Wright and Billy “White Shoes” Johnson, Mark Gastineau or Ickey Woods, we’d have special end-zone celebrations and sack dances. Alas, the company probably would have to draw the line at certain R-rated halftime shows.
 
 
 
WHEN AND THE FACE MASKS WERE OPTIONAL
 
I would like to offer a suggestion on the next vintage carded seasons. Why not the 1958 NFL season? This is the season that many say changed professional football. In this season you have Unitas, Ameche, Gifford, Summerall, Rote, Conerly, Hornung, Groza, Brown, Wade, Layne, Blanda, etc. This is the year the NFL Championship was decided in OT between the Giants and Colts (23-17). Since you card only six teams per season, how about the following, which were the best from that season:
 
Baltimore Colts (9-3)
New York Giants (9-3)
Cleveland Browns (9-3)
Chicago Bears (8-4)
Los Angeles Rams (8-4)
Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4-1)
 
Can you imagine playing a round robin of these six teams (play each team twice) where all teams play 10 games? Who knows who would be the best! I know that SOM makes vintage cards for baseball, but I think that to card these teams from 1958 NFL would be a big sell and I would be one of the first to buy. Is the above possible?
David Dollins, Paducah, Kentucky
 
            I’m in line with you to buy this. We Baby Boomers can never get enough of those “Golden” years. The SOM football game debuted with the 1967 season. Over the last three years, we have seen our first look at re-creations of 1966, 1965 and 1964. The pattern suggests that 1963 would be next and that it would be 2010 before we see 1958. Much as I’d like to see this ’58 season, I don’t think I’d want SOM to skip 1963 (the classic defensively dominant Bears against Y.A. Tittle’s offensively gifted Giants) or 1962 (the 13-1 Packers and the strong Lions team that beat them). A personal favorite (though I missed it as a 6-year-old) is 1957. It lacks the ’58 balance at the top, but has the stars you mentioned, the last Detroit champions and the spectacular offense of the 49ers with QB Tittle, RBs Joe “the Jet” Perry and Hugh McElhenny and receivers R.C. “Alley Oop” Owens, Billy Wilson and Clyde Connor. It’s the last good 49ers team until the John Brodie era in the ‘70s.
 
 
CORRECTIONS, PLEASE
 
Is there a way of getting a comprehensive list of baseball card (and roster sheet) corrections for any and all seasons and teams?
Ralph Weiss, Baltimore
 
I see online the corrections for the past couple of baseball seasons' card typos or incorrect ratings on the computer disk. Is there somewhere online where the information for all the other seasons is published? I'm primarily interested in having the information for all seasons going back to 1990.
Ian Holden, Ottawa, Canada
 
            I know of no source for comprehensive error/correction information for any sport, but here is a good place to start for baseball: http://www.geocities.com/Colosseum/Stadium/4811/. Once you get there, scroll down to the section called SOM Baseball Error List. There is another section devoted to nameless players. These are part of Gary Simonds’ excellent site full of tools to enjoy the hobby more.
 
 
 
 THE A-ROD ARGUMENT
  
How could strat give A-Rod a 2e8 at SS?? He played only 2 games there. It's a travesty to other everyday shortstops.
Joe Slis, Racine, WI
 
This has been discussed extensively online and by Hal Richman in the latest Strat-O-Matic News newsletter that was mailed to customers in January. I don't think you are arguing that because others played SS every day that makes them better shortstops than Alex Rodriguez. If so, I disagree. Most pro teams would prefer A-Rod's defense there.
 
Briefly:
-- A-Rod didn't move from SS because his defense suffered, or because he suffered physically.
-- When a player plays briefly at a position he recently played extensively, it is not uncommon for the new rating to be one notch down from the previous rating. A-Rod had been a 1 the previous season.
-- SOM rates stock teams. The Yankees will still use Derek Jeter at SS and A-Rod at 3B. If gamers choose to draft teams, they expect distortion from the norms SOM uses to rate players in their team context.
 
 
PITCHING AROUND
 
My brother and I have re-found our enjoyment of Strat Baseball, though enjoying in the modern day of computers, we play the game displayed on a large screen TV (gotta love projection TVs)! One question: Can someone enumerate a bit more the effect of pitching around a batter has. We've read the help file information and we understand the intent, but being a bit more analytical, we'd like to understand the impact in clearer terms. Does pitching around take away 10 chances of hits and add 10 chances of walks?
Ian Holden, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
 
 
Strat-O-Matic does not publish the details of all of its “computer-only” features such as pitch-around and bunting for a base hit. They believe that having the precise formula would lead to unrealistic play for these features. Instead, you as the manager are to develop a feel for these strategies much in the way a real-life manager needs to.
 
 
CRAVING ATTENTION
 
Is SOM likely to revise its board basketball game in the near future?  There seem to be several areas which could use significant improvement.
 
The first would increase success rates when a 3-point shot is open (from good passing, switch situations, double-teaming, or defensive inside man). Almost 20 years after 3-point shot came into the NBA, we are still stuck with a Band-Aid rule. The computer hoops game increases success rates for open threes, so Strat must be aware of this shortcoming in the board game engine.  Currently, the board game does not play like the real game.  For some specialists (e.g. Steve Kerr) the 3 is their best shot in all situations; knowing this, an alert coach will always leave them open (either through double-team or defensive inside man), which is exactly the opposite of how such specialists are defended in real life.
           
The second area that seems to need to catch up with the times would be to offer an option for zone defenses.  Finally, it would be nice to see some players with extra low shot attempts get more than 26 replays on their shooting cards.  Unless this happens, there will always be some players who will generate unrealistic results by shooting the ball too much.  Again, this change has already been implemented in the computer game.
 
Now that the NHL has given Strat some free time, do you think they will finally get around to paying a little attention to their oft-neglected basketball fans?
Carlos Wilson, Haines, AK
 
A lot of factors here, Carlos. One, all the computer games have features not present in the board games. This is mostly a function of play value in the board games. The computer can handle extra calculations in micro seconds, but those same extra steps would slow a board game to a plodding pace. The changes you are suggesting might not be severe, however, and this forum is a place for Strat-O-Matic to gather such wish lists.
 
I may just be out of the loop, but this is the first I’ve heard about 26 replays being too few. The stats from full-season basketball replays – what we’d want to use to judge this – are scarce. 
 
If Strat-O-Matic has devoted less attention to basketball upgrades, it probably has much to do with the lack of intensity among basketball gamers. When I published STRAT FAN, basketball gamers offered fewer playing tips, fewer replays, fewer letters to The Talk Show, than any other sport. Today, SOM produces more old-timer seasons in football and hockey because gamers are deeply involved in the research and card-making. Basketball alone has failed to develop that level of devotion. Although SOM does not disclose sales figures, these things suggest that basketball is the company’s lowest seller.
 
Then there is the NBA itself. According to image consultant Landor Associates and pollster Penn Schoen and Berland, the Kobe Bryant rape trial and the Detroit Pistons/Indiana Pacers brawl have reduced the NBA's image to strike-ridden NHL levels. That’s a strong statement – TV ratings for the NBA are higher than the NHL’s were. But then, everything seems to outdraw the NHL on TV – poker, billiards, bass fishing. This year's Westminster Kennel Club telecasts on the USA Network drew a higher rating than last year's NHL Finals on ESPN – 2.9 to 2.2 – according to Nielsen Media Research.
 
 
 
THE STRAT-O-MATIC FANATICS BOOK
 
I thought I was reading about myself for a bit. I used to sit for hours and make up sports games hiding in the corner behind the large chair in the living room. Glenn, you have done a wonderful thing here by this book.  I read your book in 3 days time.
 
At first I thought, oh no, this is going to be a sob story about some reclusive dude (who screwed up my fantasy life by allowing me to discover SOM products /  almost failing college / never amounting to anything according to those who know me / missing family functions for years so I could drive 50 miles to play a dice game with other low- life subservient types) who had no life and a father ... wah wah wah.
 
About 2 inches into the book I knew I would not be able to put this thing down. Explaining to my wife that she has to read this to finally understand me after 28 years of marriage ... aw heck, you know the story. Hal is me and I am Hal but he persevered and I acquiesced to life's demands. Instead, I lived my fantasy life through his products. Heck Hal's games were better than mine anyhow.
 
1973-4 basketball was my first time. College and four other illegal tobacco smokers. Pictures still remain. Rudy T was my guy!  Dick Snyder was unstoppable until we figured out that team defense card … Throwing baseball dice against walls … Sticking ink pens into paneling … Johnny Bench's card in the air as I was disgusted with his hitting .123 or something 30 games into the season and then watching three other managers leaping over each other to claim him for their teams … Today still playing Internet with my son – thanks the most, Hal!
 
Now my beef with you. Del Newell and the SOM Review are mentioned several times, but how could you miss out on telling the world about Del, who very much helped out at no compensation at anytime from SOM through their growth in the early years.  Del also still runs the GKSML, which may be the longest continuing baseball league in existence. How could you miss this!
 
Jeff Kik (former GKSML GM and loyal 50-year-old
Fanatic who still has the blue shirt from way back)
 
 
 
I couldn't put it down and read it in two days. I had a bone marrow transplant this past summer and now answer questions on-line each day about how my recovery is going. One question often asked is have I reassessed what's important in my life since the transplant? Well, before the transplant I played a lot of Strat, but now ... I still play a lot of Strat! I've been rolling since April 1971. A fellow that I was in a long-time league with has become a successful screenplay writer in the past few years (Mike Rich, including Finding Forrester, Radio, The Rookie and Miracle (although through a legal snafu he is not credited as the writer). Thanks again for a great book.
Mark Lynch, Portland, OR
 
 
Your section detailing the idiosyncrasies of other Strat-O-Matic fanatics did something I never thought possible: make my interest in sports board gaming look sane. It was fun reading your outline of the history of the sports board gaming industry as Strat-O-Matic developed. As someone who played APBA, Statis-Pro, and Negamco (and still does), I found it interesting to read about their place in the evolution of this field.
David Solomon, East Brunwick, NJ
 
 
            I especially enjoyed getting to "know" Hal, and his incredible persistence in keeping SOM alive. I feel such compassion for Hal and the Richmans, and the SOM staff. For me, it was always about perfecting the game, and I didn't really take the time to think about the people behind the games who made it all possible. I was certainly bordering on obsessive at many times, even dreaming once or twice about Strat cards with new, exotic features. I also met one of my oldest friends through the Strat-O-Matic Review, and believe it or not, I ended up being the "best man" at his wedding. So thanks for writing this book, and thanks for STRAT FAN and the Talk Show. You've been a great friend to the SOM world for a long time.
Judy Kamilhor
 
 
            First: STRAT FAN readers will recognize Judy Kamilhor better as Judy Goldberg, our first hockey expert. Thanks, Judy, for all your mighty contributions to the hobby.
 
            As these letters demonstrate, there is an endless supply of great material that could fuel a dozen books about the game company and the hobby. All of these letter-writers’ stories would have fit the theme nicely. Ultimately, the book had its physical limits. One of my tough decisions was to take devoted Strat players to places they had never been before – to Hal Richman’s childhood home and earliest Strat leagues, to the SOM “coffee klatch” where the baseball defensive ratings are decided, and to fellow fanatics such as Spike Lee, Trip Hawkins, Andy MacPhail and others who, to the best of my knowledge, have never been interviewed about Strat-O-Matic. That meant sacrificing detail on the cottage industries – the publications (Strat-O-Matic Review, STRAT FAN, Lamanna’s Baseball Bulletin, etc.), the online forums (somworld.com, the SOM Fan Forum, etc.), the conventions and more – that surely would be described more fully if this book was an encyclopedia of Strat.
 
            As for the ground that this book does manage to cover, I find it gratifying to hear how quickly readers are hooked once they open the book and how the stories transport so many readers to happy memories. I get a kick out of the former Strat players who say that, after reading the book, they are going to play Strat games again. There are two right in my neighborhood. My wish for the book and the hobby is that all the former Strat players out there will hear about the book. If you know some, spread the word. Bringing them back can only make the hobby stronger – and better – for all of us.

 

 

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.

 

CORRECTION

 

In the last Talk Show, we answered incorrectly when asked if the pitcher’s hold rating and the -4 penalty for a held runner are applied against a runner’s chance to return to base safely on an attempted pickoff.

 

The correct answer is that neither applies. Simply use the runner’s second steal success, chance (e.g. “6” in a rating of 15-6)


 

COLLEGE FOOTBALL THRILLS

 

 I'm so excited that you guys are developing a college football game. I know that it must be an enormous project. Being a Trojan fan, your game couldn't have come at a better time. Hopefully you can get a reasonable replica of Reggie Bush. He had three TD rushes of over 65 yards last year (65, 66, and 81), in addition to several long TD passes (long of 69), 2 punt return TDs and an 84-yard KO return. I watched that guy all year (and the previous year, too), and he makes 2-3 big plays a game! Count me in as a longtime loyal Strat fan...since 1965!

Jeffrey Lauber, Galt, CA

 

 

I wrote you two times in the past year inquiring about a computer version of college football, and my prayers have been answered.  I will definitely put my money where my mouth is and purchase the fully loaded set.  Also, I see SOM is coming out with a Hockey Hall of Fame set.  Do you know if they will give a hypothetical breakdown of teams based on eras, much like they did with the baseball set? 

Henry Roman, Plumsted, NJ

 

 

Bravo to Strat for doing college football. And thanks for getting the word out. I was within a week of purchasing another game just to play college football. Congrats on doing ALL the teams, too. We all know it's a guess-timation. But it's the Strat game engine we all want. I see the college football as can't miss. Hope this inspires college basketball (and all the teams, too!)

Tom Gantert

 

            I can hardly wait for college football. The emotion, the rivalries and the rules (especially stopping the clock on first downs) that permit exciting comebacks make this arguably the best sport out there at the moment. While blocking ratings are subjective “guess-timations” heavily influenced by team performance, I’m expecting the measurable stats to be much better than best guesses. The first version of the game is not out yet, but I won’t be surprised if gamers start clamoring even before then for great teams of the past! Let’s see, there was that Big Ten era from 1958-68 when every school but Northwestern went to the Rose Bowl … and the great 1971 Nebraska-Oklahoma game and ...

 

            The 234 Hall of Fame hockey players will be divided into 12 teams. Not by franchise, and not by era, but in a way that makes them relatively equal. Researcher Tim Comely collaborated with Total Hockey Editor Dan Diamond to divide the teams this way. Here’s an example:

 

Team Lemieux

1st line: Frank Mahovlich-Mario Lemieux-Newsy Lalonde

2nd line: Clark Gillies-Bryan Trottier-Mike Bossy

3rd line: Bert Olmstead-Bill Cowley-Joe Mullen

sub forwards: Marty Walsh, Mickey MacKay

1st defense pair: Paul Coffey-Larry Robinson

2nd defense pair: Red Kelly-Sprague Cleghorn

extra defenseman: Moose Johnson

extra player: Harry Hyland (rw-c-rd)

Goalies: Ken Dryden, Hap Holmes, Georges Vezina

 

 

MONEYBALL AND STRAT

 

An interesting thought: When Wade Bogg's got voted into the Hall of Fame, he has talking about how valuble he would be in today’s game. We Strat players always knew the value of on-base guys. Guys like Damaso Garcia are barely playable at .305 BA, .310 OBP.  This goes the same with WHIP become a big stat now. The only stats I looked at were IP vs BB +H, and the HRs allowed.  It always amazed me how valuable guys were who were not huge stars on offense and defense. We were about 20 years ahead of the curve with MLB.

Tom Hannon, Salisbury, MA

 

            No doubt: Strat players were way ahead in counting on-base chances as the primary way of evaluating player performance. I think we were led to that by the design of the cards. The success chances, including WALK, were in capital letters. They just jumped out at you, and the guys who didn’t have walks sure had to have tons of hits to compare favorably. I did the same thing with WHIP, as far back as the mid-Sixties, long before there was such a thing as fantasy baseball.

By virtue of his immediate selection to the Hall and his place high in the batting orders of World Series teams in Boston and New York, Boggs was valued pretty highly all along. He had the good fortune to be a table-setter in powerful lineups. On SOM draft teams, his few extra-base hits and non-existent speed made it tough for him to get around the bases on teams with inadequate power. Personally, while I favor on-base, too, I look for guys who get themselves into scoring position – extra-base hits and, if not, the ability to steal second after their walks. I thought that a guy like Jason Thompson – all homers and walks, mediocre BA, no speed, no defense – was over-valued. Without his walks, he had little to offer. He hit into too many double-plays to hit behind the best on-base guys and seldom drove anyone in without a homer. But he was SO slow, he needed homer hitters behind him to make any use of those walks. If Thompson was batting fifth, how many consistent power hitters would hit behind him? Conversely, Eric Davis was amazing, even though he, like Thompson, was mostly homers and walks. The difference: He was a lightning base-stealer to make use of those walks. Of course, he added Gold Glove defense, too.

 

 

HE GIVES HIMSELF THE THUMB, THEN HAL TAKES OVER

 

I greatly enjoyed your book, especially the biographical part about Hal Richman.  I have been playing Strat since 1967, and have teams going back to 1963. It was also good to hear about some other long-time players.

            I employ a similar method to the one described (in The Talk Show) about HBP results.  After one player has been beaned on both sides, I consider a warning issued to both benches.  Any more beanings result in the pitcher and the manager (in my case a switch from human to computer managing) being thrown out of the game.  I am intrigued by the notion of the batter charging the mound and also being ejected.  Are there any stats on the frequency of this occurring?

Art Haley, Sandy, UT

 

            Oh, those warnings. Every baseball documentary on old-school pitchers shows the late Don Drysdale, scowling through interviews and growling that today’s pitchers are weenies for not throwing inside. “We had a rule,” he says each time, “you hit one of our guys, we hit two of yours.” It’s not revisionist history – Drysdale is among the career leaders for hitting batters – but he played in an era with different rules. He wouldn’t get the chance to hit that second batter today.

There probably are some stats on ejections, but I’m not aware of any reference that shows the cause and location of the ejections.

           

LIKE THE BIG LEAGUES, A MANAGER IN NEED OF HELP

I never played SOM before and am looking for books or websites for data about being a better manager.

(unsigned)

            Since you use the word “manager,” I assume you’re talking baseball. Publications on in-game managing strategy are not as abundant as those that offer insight on evaluating player performance to help you acquire the better players in drafts and trades. For pure data to evaluate player cards, there is nothing better than Strat-O-Matic’s annual Baseball Ratings Book. There was a good bit of strategy and statistical analysis in the defunct STRAT FAN – some of those back issues are traded on eBay from time to time. Online, www.somworld.com has a wealth of data and opinion about which players should fare best and some insight into competitive managing techniques, too. Somworld also is a conduit to buying independently produced guides that could help. The message boards at www.stratfanforum.com give you access to many of the most active gamers in the hobby. Most of them are knowledgeable and friendly; they cheerfully help newcomers find their way around Strat-O-Matic’s board and computer games in all sports.            

 

ABOUT THOSE POLLS

Many SOM fans have mentioned polls in their questions to the Talk Show. 
Where are these polls located?  I would love to cast my vote for which seasons SOM creates next.

Kelly Robinson, Fort Meade, MD 

I always enjoy reading your Talk Show column.  I read with great interest your response to the question concerning the possibility of reissuing baseball seasons from the ‘80s in super-advanced format.  I must admit to being taken aback by the final sentences of your response:

Perhaps the time is near for sentiment to change in favor of the 1980s. But the polls should tell us that, shouldn’t they? If never-seen seasons always outpoll the others, then it’s not difficult to figure which will get SOM’s priority.

In 2004, shortly after the 1948 baseball season was issued, Steve Barkan conducted an extensive poll on the Strat Fan Forum looking to find out what seasons the gamers would like to see done next.  The poll was conducted over a 3-5 week period, and included an initial round of open polling, and then a final poll limited to the top three or four seasons from round 1.  I can’t remember exactly how many people participated in the poll.  But I think it was 200-plus.

I have searched the Forum in vain for that thread so I could show you.  Alas, I can’t find it.  But I am absolutely certain from participating in it and following this poll closely that the 1971 season was the hands-down winner. In fact, all the seasons from the ‘70s not yet in Super-Advanced format did exceptionally well.  I was psyched because 1971 was my No. 1 choice.  So imagine my shock and disappointment when Barkan came back after meeting with Mr. Richman and announced that 1957 would be the next recreated season.  Huh?!

Although I am not privy to the demographic data, I would guess that the overwhelming majority of Strat baseball enthusiasts now are males between 35 – 55 years old.  That would mean only a small portion of that group can remember the 1957 season, while most could recall the early ‘70s seasons from their youthful days in school (elementary, high school, college).  As such, there is a nostalgic, emotional attachment to those early ‘70s seasons for baby-boom gamers in this age group that can’t exist with the late ‘50s.   It’s no wonder the ‘70s did so well in the polling.  And it’s no wonder that complete card sets for the 1971-1974 baseball season regularly go for $200 - $350 on eBay. 

Why 1957? My guess is that, simply, Mr. Richman wanted 1957 – either for business reasons or his own personal reasons.  That’s fine with me; it’s his call to make.   But then why did Barkan even bothering with the poll and getting up the hopes of those of us who participated?  It seems pretty clear to me that the ‘70s and ‘80s are “off the table” for super-advanced re-creation.

The time is definitely near to change in favor of the 1980s. But even more so, the time HAS ALREADY ARRIVED to change in favor of the 1970s.  So I think your response is somewhat misleading since it suggests that poll results actively influence what recreated season SOM does next. 

In fairness, the year before, 1948 won the same poll on the Strat Fan Forum, and was indeed the next season released.  But this only compounded my disappointment upon seeing the 1957 season chosen the next year even though 1971 was the clear winner of that year’s poll.

Douglas Zaner, Atlanta

            In recent years, the Strat Fan Forum at www.stratfanforum.com has been the principal site for Strat-O-Matic’s polls on past seasons, but informal votes come in all year through emails, postal mail and other communication with the company. Barkan and others at the game company always have said the polls are one of the things they consider. Realistically, it cannot be the only consideration – the votes are few enough that if everyone who voted for a season bought it, those sales would be nowhere near enough to justify SOM’s costs.

             The polls help update the company’s sense of where the community’s wishes lie, and to determine whether SOM’s own thinking is on target. But as Strat-O-Matic has published more past seasons, it has delivered all of the ones in truly high demand. The votes are pretty scattered among seasons now. Sometimes, SOM chooses a season because it abets other causes – 1920 was a historically significant baseball season, but the research on that and the 1911 season helped give SOM a lefty-righty database for older players that were in the most recent Hall of Fame set.

            There’s no dispute that most active Strat players were fans in the 1970s and 1980s. But the game company knows that some of those gamers already purchased those seasons once. So that’s another consideration – reviving a popular season from the 1970s vs. original work on a historic season. The 1957 season is not as historic as 1956, 1961, 1930 or 1920, but it is pretty significant as the only World Series won by the Milwaukee Braves, in a notable World Series at that. It updates the ’57 Braves, one of the most popular teams from SOM’s original, Basic-only old-timer sets. And it helps build the SOM library of seasons that now lack only 1958 to be complete from 1954 to the present. I think that 1948 was popular both for its close pennant races and because it represents the immediate post-War years that were unaccounted for in SOM’s re-creations.

            Excellent cases can be made for some of those ‘70s and ‘80s seasons, too (1971, 1972 and 1980 likely would rank very high, with several others in the running). They deserve consideration, as do 1951, 1947 and others never published.

 

DEAD TIRED

 

In SOM baseball, a fatigued Roger Clemens is much better than some fatigued no-name with a 5.97 ERA. But I wonder how accurate that is? I mean, isn't a fatigued pitcher a fatigued pitcher no matter who he is? I've always wondered if there shouldn't be a universal "fatigued pitcher" card, similar to the card for a position player coming in to pitch, that should be used when ANY pitcher gets fatigued. Any thoughts on that?

Paul Dudenhefer, Durham, NC

 

            You may be onto something, Paul. Intuition says that Clemens has more to draw on when he’s not at his best than, say, Matt Kinney. But there may be a point when anyone’s 80 mph fastball is a batting-practice pitch. It’s true that some SOM starting-pitcher cards have been so good that it was worth letting them pitch fatigued rather than go to a mediocre bullpen. That’s why I prefer the pitch-count system in the computer game. A pitcher gets progressively more fatigued – and as he does, he loses control and the ability to keep the ball in the park as well as the board-game practice of turning outs into singles. The smart people at Baseball Prospectus and elsewhere have begun to track how drastically a pitcher’s performance drops after a certain number of pitches. When the database gets large enough, that could tell us whether, say, Roger Clemens at pitch 120 turns into Matt Kinney at pitch 100.

 

 

WISH LISTS

Editor’s Note: Generally, Wish Lists can’t be answered specifically, because they involve game-development issues that are uncertain, confidential or both. They are presented here to demonstrate various gamer interests and to help notify the company of customer demand. Occasionally, the timing is right to answer a question with certainty. More often, the Wish List kick starts a conversation among gamers. So feel free to send your Wish Lists, but please don’t be disappointed if you don’t receive a definitive answer.

 

When is Strat-O-Matic going to reproduce the 1967 football season for computer? They have reproduced around it, but so far ignored the first season they created. I have been renaming players from the surrounding seasons, but it is not the same as having the real thing.

Dave Curbow, Alta, IA

 

            You’ll see 1967 this summer, along with 1963 and 1986.

 

 

With Version 5 of Strat-O-Matic football, I would to see tournament play implemented. In addition, the inclusion of a squib kick option, a coach's decision for questionable calls, and a forced time out due to an expiring game clock could further add to the realism. With the coach's decision, there could be a 50 percent possibility of reversing the call. Just like in the current rules, there would be a loss of a time out if the call was not reversed.

(unsigned)

 

Tournament play is planned as a primary improvement in Version 5. In baseball, the feature provides for up to 7-game series. In football it will be single-game match-ups.

 

 

Following the unfortunate cancellation of the past NHL season, there obviously would be no new current season to feature. Instead of "all-star" teams, I am recommending either the 1990-91 or 1991-92 season when the Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup. There were only 21 or 22 teams in these two seasons. As an added feature, why not include as a bonus the 1960-61 six-team season? That was the last year the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup. Adding tournament play would allow the opportunity to play great teams in different seasons against each other.

            For the Computer baseball game, I am lobbying for the inclusion of the 36 Past Teams. The 42 Oldtimer teams are already on the computer game. The 36 Past Teams would be the ideal complement to the 42 Oldtimer teams (as all the teams are in the basic version) particularly in the recently incorporated tournament play. 

Jay Adler, New York, NY

 

            Strat-O-Matic didn’t choose your favorite seasons, but it agrees with your thinking that past campaigns would be better than an all-star set of current players. The game company will release re-creations of the 1946-47, 1968-69 and 1975-76 NHL seasons. Bonus 1: A 234-card set with every Hall of Famer plus four future HOFers. Bonus 2: The computer upgrade will arrive with both the HOF ratings and ratings for the dozen teams involved in the 1980 Olympics – the year of the United States’ “Miracle on Ice” victory over the Soviet Union team.

 

 

I have been playing Strat-O-Matic for 30 years since I first started playing my brother’s game when I was 8 years old. He had the 1970 baseball season cards and I played with them for years. These cards were lost a few years back and I was wondering if there are any plans to reprint this season’s cards. I would love to get this season back. How I remember the days when that Bob Gibson pitcher card would dominate our league.

Bill Robertson, Cincinnati

 

            The 1970 season, featuring a very interesting Cincinnati Reds team, was originally published in Basic-only format and later updated to include Advanced features. But that supply sold out, too. Reprints generally don’t happen. Updates do. But there are no current plans to update 1970 with Super-Advanced features. You would likely get quicker results by seeking a 1970 Advanced set in the secondary market. There are probably more of those, and more reasonably priced, than the original Basic-only sets.

 

SOM always makes enough improvements each year to keep my interest on the rise when using the computer baseball game. My question is if there is a way the game can be programmed to keep track of pitcher-batter match-ups for the season and in what situations they arose with the results (i.e. top of the 8th, runners on 2nd and 3rd, 1 out? It would add yet another item to the realism this game displays. Thanks for listening.

David Liebowitz, Visalia California

 

            Cool feature, but clear your computer memory to handle that database. Very roughly in a 1,000 player set, there are about 420 pitchers and 580 hitters. Some of these have second and third cards, so let’s round that off, conservatively, to 370 pitchers and 530 hitters. That is 196,100 match-ups – just for the overall stats. There are eight on-base situations, three out situations and 20 inning situations (1-9, plus extra innings), so multiply by 480. That’s 92.128 million potential records – for one season. Many of these match-ups wouldn’t occur, but the program and the database would have to be prepared to handle it.

 

 

I have been playing Strat for 13 years, the computer version for 12 of them.  Each version has been great, and the new features that have been introduced in each version have kept a lot of people playing Strat over the years.  I would like to make a suggestion or two about baseball Version 11.  The emphasis should be placed on upgrading HAL.  I think a lot of players agree that HAL has been good, but it could stand to be improved.  Another suggestion: A better tutorial on how to use the SuperHAL feature.  More examples and better explanations.  Even better: Make the tutorial friendly enough so that a person who has little knowledge of how to use a program could run the game and all its features.

Michael Holland, Douglas, GA

 

 

I have a question that I hope Strat does not take offense at. But why does Strat put so much effort into developing features for the CD-ROM game that are rarely (if ever used) which do nothing to enhance the enjoyment of the game, while the presentation of the game suffers. I mean, does anybody even use The Regulator?  And what about those countless Super-HAL options?  It seems to me to be overly-tedious to set up, plus in my opinion, can't account for everything because you can't really adequately decide your move unless you are actually in the situation.

Yet the game graphics are really sad. Little stick figures that you can barely see and don't move – that little flash of a pitching motion is hardly what I call movement.  I'm not asking for anything fancy, but some players going after balls, and some guys running bases would be nice.  Please, Strat, I love playing the game.  But make some improvements where it's really needed, not in these silly gimmicks.

Greg Pahren, Virginia Beach, VA

 

            As you can see from these Wish Lists, Greg, there are a wide variety of preferences. For everyone who wants livelier animation, someone else wants more data or more programming options. They would be equally dismayed by SOM taking development time for animation, especially if having it slowed down their ability to replay a season. As Hal Richman explains in my book, “Strat-O-Matic Fanatics,” SOM has found its place in the computer sports-game market by excelling as a text strategy game. It cannot afford the graphics to compete with Electronic Arts games, nor is there a place in the market for a game to promote mid-level graphics. You are not asking for elaborate graphics, but the improvements you seek – yes, they are improvements – are supplemental to what gives SOM its strength among gamers.

 

 

 

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.
 
CORRECTION
 
In the last Talk Show, we answered incorrectly when asked if the pitcher’s hold rating and the -4 penalty for a held runner are applied against a runner’s chance to return to base safely on an attempted pickoff.
 
The correct answer is that neither applies. Simply use the runner’s second steal success, chance (e.g. “6” in a rating of 15-6)
 
 
COLLEGE FOOTBALL THRILLS
 
 I'm so excited that you guys are developing a college football game. I know that it must be an enormous project. Being a Trojan fan, your game couldn't have come at a better time. Hopefully you can get a reasonable replica of Reggie Bush. He had three TD rushes of over 65 yards last year (65, 66, and 81), in addition to several long TD passes (long of 69), 2 punt return TDs and an 84-yard KO return. I watched that guy all year (and the previous year, too), and he makes 2-3 big plays a game! Count me in as a longtime loyal Strat fan...since 1965!
Jeffrey Lauber, Galt, CA
 
 
I wrote you two times in the past year inquiring about a computer version of college football, and my prayers have been answered.  I will definitely put my money where my mouth is and purchase the fully loaded set.  Also, I see SOM is coming out with a Hockey Hall of Fame set.  Do you know if they will give a hypothetical breakdown of teams based on eras, much like they did with the baseball set? 
Henry Roman, Plumsted, NJ
 
 
Bravo to Strat for doing college football. And thanks for getting the word out. I was within a week of purchasing another game just to play college football. Congrats on doing ALL the teams, too. We all know it's a guess-timation. But it's the Strat game engine we all want. I see the college football as can't miss. Hope this inspires college basketball (and all the teams, too!)
Tom Gantert
 
            I can hardly wait for college football. The emotion, the rivalries and the rules (especially stopping the clock on first downs) that permit exciting comebacks make this arguably the best sport out there at the moment. While blocking ratings are subjective “guess-timations” heavily influenced by team performance, I’m expecting the measurable stats to be much better than best guesses. The first version of the game is not out yet, but I won’t be surprised if gamers start clamoring even before then for great teams of the past! Let’s see, there was that Big Ten era from 1958-68 when every school but Northwestern went to the Rose Bowl … and the great 1971 Nebraska-Oklahoma game and ...
 
            The 234 Hall of Fame hockey players will be divided into 12 teams. Not by franchise, and not by era, but in a way that makes them relatively equal. Researcher Tim Comely collaborated with Total Hockey Editor Dan Diamond to divide the teams this way. Here’s an example:
 
Team Lemieux
1st line: Frank Mahovlich-Mario Lemieux-Newsy Lalonde
2nd line: Clark Gillies-Bryan Trottier-Mike Bossy
3rd line: Bert Olmstead-Bill Cowley-Joe Mullen
sub forwards: Marty Walsh, Mickey MacKay
1st defense pair: Paul Coffey-Larry Robinson
2nd defense pair: Red Kelly-Sprague Cleghorn
extra defenseman: Moose Johnson
extra player: Harry Hyland (rw-c-rd)
Goalies: Ken Dryden, Hap Holmes, Georges Vezina
 
 
MONEYBALL AND STRAT
 
An interesting thought: When Wade Bogg's got voted into the Hall of Fame, he has talking about how valuble he would be in today’s game. We Strat players always knew the value of on-base guys. Guys like Damaso Garcia are barely playable at .305 BA, .310 OBP.  This goes the same with WHIP become a big stat now. The only stats I looked at were IP vs BB +H, and the HRs allowed.  It always amazed me how valuable guys were who were not huge stars on offense and defense. We were about 20 years ahead of the curve with MLB.
Tom Hannon, Salisbury, MA
 
            No doubt: Strat players were way ahead in counting on-base chances as the primary way of evaluating player performance. I think we were led to that by the design of the cards. The success chances, including WALK, were in capital letters. They just jumped out at you, and the guys who didn’t have walks sure had to have tons of hits to compare favorably. I did the same thing with WHIP, as far back as the mid-Sixties, long before there was such a thing as fantasy baseball.
By virtue of his immediate selection to the Hall and his place high in the batting orders of World Series teams in Boston and New York, Boggs was valued pretty highly all along. He had the good fortune to be a table-setter in powerful lineups. On SOM draft teams, his few extra-base hits and non-existent speed made it tough for him to get around the bases on teams with inadequate power. Personally, while I favor on-base, too, I look for guys who get themselves into scoring position – extra-base hits and, if not, the ability to steal second after their walks. I thought that a guy like Jason Thompson – all homers and walks, mediocre BA, no speed, no defense – was over-valued. Without his walks, he had little to offer. He hit into too many double-plays to hit behind the best on-base guys and seldom drove anyone in without a homer. But he was SO slow, he needed homer hitters behind him to make any use of those walks. If Thompson was batting fifth, how many consistent power hitters would hit behind him? Conversely, Eric Davis was amazing, even though he, like Thompson, was mostly homers and walks. The difference: He was a lightning base-stealer to make use of those walks. Of course, he added Gold Glove defense, too.
 
 
HE GIVES HIMSELF THE THUMB, THEN HAL TAKES OVER
 
I greatly enjoyed your book, especially the biographical part about Hal Richman.  I have been playing Strat since 1967, and have teams going back to 1963. It was also good to hear about some other long-time players.
            I employ a similar method to the one described (in The Talk Show) about HBP results.  After one player has been beaned on both sides, I consider a warning issued to both benches.  Any more beanings result in the pitcher and the manager (in my case a switch from human to computer managing) being thrown out of the game.  I am intrigued by the notion of the batter charging the mound and also being ejected.  Are there any stats on the frequency of this occurring?
Art Haley, Sandy, UT
 
            Oh, those warnings. Every baseball documentary on old-school pitchers shows the late Don Drysdale, scowling through interviews and growling that today’s pitchers are weenies for not throwing inside. “We had a rule,” he says each time, “you hit one of our guys, we hit two of yours.” It’s not revisionist history – Drysdale is among the career leaders for hitting batters – but he played in an era with different rules. He wouldn’t get the chance to hit that second batter today.
There probably are some stats on ejections, but I’m not aware of any reference that shows the cause and location of the ejections.
           
LIKE THE BIG LEAGUES, A MANAGER IN NEED OF HELP
I never played SOM before and am looking for books or websites for data about being a better manager.
(unsigned)
            Since you use the word “manager,” I assume you’re talking baseball. Publications on in-game managing strategy are not as abundant as those that offer insight on evaluating player performance to help you acquire the better players in drafts and trades. For pure data to evaluate player cards, there is nothing better than Strat-O-Matic’s annual Baseball Ratings Book. There was a good bit of strategy and statistical analysis in the defunct STRAT FAN – some of those back issues are traded on eBay from time to time. Online, www.somworld.com has a wealth of data and opinion about which players should fare best and some insight into competitive managing techniques, too. Somworld also is a conduit to buying independently produced guides that could help. The message boards at www.stratfanforum.com give you access to many of the most active gamers in the hobby. Most of them are knowledgeable and friendly; they cheerfully help newcomers find their way around Strat-O-Matic’s board and computer games in all sports.            
 
ABOUT THOSE POLLS
Many SOM fans have mentioned polls in their questions to the Talk Show. 
Where are these polls located?  I would love to cast my vote for which seasons SOM creates next.
Kelly Robinson, Fort Meade, MD 
I always enjoy reading your Talk Show column.  I read with great interest your response to the question concerning the possibility of reissuing baseball seasons from the ‘80s in super-advanced format.  I must admit to being taken aback by the final sentences of your response:
Perhaps the time is near for sentiment to change in favor of the 1980s. But the polls should tell us that, shouldn’t they? If never-seen seasons always outpoll the others, then it’s not difficult to figure which will get SOM’s priority.
In 2004, shortly after the 1948 baseball season was issued, Steve Barkan conducted an extensive poll on the Strat Fan Forum looking to find out what seasons the gamers would like to see done next.  The poll was conducted over a 3-5 week period, and included an initial round of open polling, and then a final poll limited to the top three or four seasons from round 1.  I can’t remember exactly how many people participated in the poll.  But I think it was 200-plus.
I have searched the Forum in vain for that thread so I could show you.  Alas, I can’t find it.  But I am absolutely certain from participating in it and following this poll closely that the 1971 season was the hands-down winner. In fact, all the seasons from the ‘70s not yet in Super-Advanced format did exceptionally well.  I was psyched because 1971 was my No. 1 choice.  So imagine my shock and disappointment when Barkan came back after meeting with Mr. Richman and announced that 1957 would be the next recreated season.  Huh?!
Although I am not privy to the demographic data, I would guess that the overwhelming majority of Strat baseball enthusiasts now are males between 35 – 55 years old.  That would mean only a small portion of that group can remember the 1957 season, while most could recall the early ‘70s seasons from their youthful days in school (elementary, high school, college).  As such, there is a nostalgic, emotional attachment to those early ‘70s seasons for baby-boom gamers in this age group that can’t exist with the late ‘50s.   It’s no wonder the ‘70s did so well in the polling.  And it’s no wonder that complete card sets for the 1971-1974 baseball season regularly go for $200 - $350 on eBay. 
Why 1957? My guess is that, simply, Mr. Richman wanted 1957 – either for business reasons or his own personal reasons.  That’s fine with me; it’s his call to make.   But then why did Barkan even bothering with the poll and getting up the hopes of those of us who participated?  It seems pretty clear to me that the ‘70s and ‘80s are “off the table” for super-advanced re-creation.
The time is definitely near to change in favor of the 1980s. But even more so, the time HAS ALREADY ARRIVED to change in favor of the 1970s.  So I think your response is somewhat misleading since it suggests that poll results actively influence what recreated season SOM does next. 
In fairness, the year before, 1948 won the same poll on the Strat Fan Forum, and was indeed the next season released.  But this only compounded my disappointment upon seeing the 1957 season chosen the next year even though 1971 was the clear winner of that year’s poll.
Douglas Zaner, Atlanta
            In recent years, the Strat Fan Forum at www.stratfanforum.com has been the principal site for Strat-O-Matic’s polls on past seasons, but informal votes come in all year through emails, postal mail and other communication with the company. Barkan and others at the game company always have said the polls are one of the things they consider. Realistically, it cannot be the only consideration – the votes are few enough that if everyone who voted for a season bought it, those sales would be nowhere near enough to justify SOM’s costs.
             The polls help update the company’s sense of where the community’s wishes lie, and to determine whether SOM’s own thinking is on target. But as Strat-O-Matic has published more past seasons, it has delivered all of the ones in truly high demand. The votes are pretty scattered among seasons now. Sometimes, SOM chooses a season because it abets other causes – 1920 was a historically significant baseball season, but the research on that and the 1911 season helped give SOM a lefty-righty database for older players that were in the most recent Hall of Fame set.
            There’s no dispute that most active Strat players were fans in the 1970s and 1980s. But the game company knows that some of those gamers already purchased those seasons once. So that’s another consideration – reviving a popular season from the 1970s vs. original work on a historic season. The 1957 season is not as historic as 1956, 1961, 1930 or 1920, but it is pretty significant as the only World Series won by the Milwaukee Braves, in a notable World Series at that. It updates the ’57 Braves, one of the most popular teams from SOM’s original, Basic-only old-timer sets. And it helps build the SOM library of seasons that now lack only 1958 to be complete from 1954 to the present. I think that 1948 was popular both for its close pennant races and because it represents the immediate post-War years that were unaccounted for in SOM’s re-creations.
            Excellent cases can be made for some of those ‘70s and ‘80s seasons, too (1971, 1972 and 1980 likely would rank very high, with several others in the running). They deserve consideration, as do 1951, 1947 and others never published.
 
DEAD TIRED
 
In SOM baseball, a fatigued Roger Clemens is much better than some fatigued no-name with a 5.97 ERA. But I wonder how accurate that is? I mean, isn't a fatigued pitcher a fatigued pitcher no matter who he is? I've always wondered if there shouldn't be a universal "fatigued pitcher" card, similar to the card for a position player coming in to pitch, that should be used when ANY pitcher gets fatigued. Any thoughts on that?
Paul Dudenhefer, Durham, NC
 
            You may be onto something, Paul. Intuition says that Clemens has more to draw on when he’s not at his best than, say, Matt Kinney. But there may be a point when anyone’s 80 mph fastball is a batting-practice pitch. It’s true that some SOM starting-pitcher cards have been so good that it was worth letting them pitch fatigued rather than go to a mediocre bullpen. That’s why I prefer the pitch-count system in the computer game. A pitcher gets progressively more fatigued – and as he does, he loses control and the ability to keep the ball in the park as well as the board-game practice of turning outs into singles. The smart people at Baseball Prospectus and elsewhere have begun to track how drastically a pitcher’s performance drops after a certain number of pitches. When the database gets large enough, that could tell us whether, say, Roger Clemens at pitch 120 turns into Matt Kinney at pitch 100.
 
 
WISH LISTS
Editor’s Note: Generally, Wish Lists can’t be answered specifically, because they involve game-development issues that are uncertain, confidential or both. They are presented here to demonstrate various gamer interests and to help notify the company of customer demand. Occasionally, the timing is right to answer a question with certainty. More often, the Wish List kick starts a conversation among gamers. So feel free to send your Wish Lists, but please don’t be disappointed if you don’t receive a definitive answer.
 
When is Strat-O-Matic going to reproduce the 1967 football season for computer? They have reproduced around it, but so far ignored the first season they created. I have been renaming players from the surrounding seasons, but it is not the same as having the real thing.
Dave Curbow, Alta, IA
 
            You’ll see 1967 this summer, along with 1963 and 1986.
 
 
With Version 5 of Strat-O-Matic football, I would to see tournament play implemented. In addition, the inclusion of a squib kick option, a coach's decision for questionable calls, and a forced time out due to an expiring game clock could further add to the realism. With the coach's decision, there could be a 50 percent possibility of reversing the call. Just like in the current rules, there would be a loss of a time out if the call was not reversed.
(unsigned)
 
Tournament play is planned as a primary improvement in Version 5. In baseball, the feature provides for up to 7-game series. In football it will be single-game match-ups.
 
 
Following the unfortunate cancellation of the past NHL season, there obviously would be no new current season to feature. Instead of "all-star" teams, I am recommending either the 1990-91 or 1991-92 season when the Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup. There were only 21 or 22 teams in these two seasons. As an added feature, why not include as a bonus the 1960-61 six-team season? That was the last year the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup. Adding tournament play would allow the opportunity to play great teams in different seasons against each other.
            For the Computer baseball game, I am lobbying for the inclusion of the 36 Past Teams. The 42 Oldtimer teams are already on the computer game. The 36 Past Teams would be the ideal complement to the 42 Oldtimer teams (as all the teams are in the basic version) particularly in the recently incorporated tournament play. 
Jay Adler, New York, NY
 
            Strat-O-Matic didn’t choose your favorite seasons, but it agrees with your thinking that past campaigns would be better than an all-star set of current players. The game company will release re-creations of the 1946-47, 1968-69 and 1975-76 NHL seasons. Bonus 1: A 234-card set with every Hall of Famer plus four future HOFers. Bonus 2: The computer upgrade will arrive with both the HOF ratings and ratings for the dozen teams involved in the 1980 Olympics – the year of the United States’ “Miracle on Ice” victory over the Soviet Union team.
 
 
I have been playing Strat-O-Matic for 30 years since I first started playing my brother’s game when I was 8 years old. He had the 1970 baseball season cards and I played with them for years. These cards were lost a few years back and I was wondering if there are any plans to reprint this season’s cards. I would love to get this season back. How I remember the days when that Bob Gibson pitcher card would dominate our league.
Bill Robertson, Cincinnati
 
            The 1970 season, featuring a very interesting Cincinnati Reds team, was originally published in Basic-only format and later updated to include Advanced features. But that supply sold out, too. Reprints generally don’t happen. Updates do. But there are no current plans to update 1970 with Super-Advanced features. You would likely get quicker results by seeking a 1970 Advanced set in the secondary market. There are probably more of those, and more reasonably priced, than the original Basic-only sets.
 
SOM always makes enough improvements each year to keep my interest on the rise when using the computer baseball game. My question is if there is a way the game can be programmed to keep track of pitcher-batter match-ups for the season and in what situations they arose with the results (i.e. top of the 8th, runners on 2nd and 3rd, 1 out? It would add yet another item to the realism this game displays. Thanks for listening.
David Liebowitz, VisaliaCalifornia
 
            Cool feature, but clear your computer memory to handle that database. Very roughly in a 1,000 player set, there are about 420 pitchers and 580 hitters. Some of these have second and third cards, so let’s round that off, conservatively, to 370 pitchers and 530 hitters. That is 196,100 match-ups – just for the overall stats. There are eight on-base situations, three out situations and 20 inning situations (1-9, plus extra innings), so multiply by 480. That’s 92.128 million potential records – for one season. Many of these match-ups wouldn’t occur, but the program and the database would have to be prepared to handle it.
 
 
I have been playing Strat for 13 years, the computer version for 12 of them.  Each version has been great, and the new features that have been introduced in each version have kept a lot of people playing Strat over the years.  I would like to make a suggestion or two about baseball Version 11.  The emphasis should be placed on upgrading HAL.  I think a lot of players agree that HAL has been good, but it could stand to be improved.  Another suggestion: A better tutorial on how to use the SuperHAL feature.  More examples and better explanations.  Even better: Make the tutorial friendly enough so that a person who has little knowledge of how to use a program could run the game and all its features.
Michael Holland, Douglas, GA
 
 
I have a question that I hope Strat does not take offense at. But why does Strat put so much effort into developing features for the CD-ROM game that are rarely (if ever used) which do nothing to enhance the enjoyment of the game, while the presentation of the game suffers. I mean, does anybody even use The Regulator?  And what about those countless Super-HAL options?  It seems to me to be overly-tedious to set up, plus in my opinion, can't account for everything because you can't really adequately decide your move unless you are actually in the situation.
Yet the game graphics are really sad. Little stick figures that you can barely see and don't move – that little flash of a pitching motion is hardly what I call movement.  I'm not asking for anything fancy, but some players going after balls, and some guys running bases would be nice. Please, Strat, I love playing the game.  But make some improvements where it's really needed, not in these silly gimmicks.
Greg Pahren, Virginia Beach, VA
 
            As you can see from these Wish Lists, Greg, there are a wide variety of preferences. For everyone who wants livelier animation, someone else wants more data or more programming options. They would be equally dismayed by SOM taking development time for animation, especially if having it slowed down their ability to replay a season. As Hal Richman explains in my book, “Strat-O-Matic Fanatics,” SOM has found its place in the computer sports-game market by excelling as a text strategy game. It cannot afford the graphics to compete with Electronic Arts games, nor is there a place in the market for a game to promote mid-level graphics. You are not asking for elaborate graphics, but the improvements you seek – yes, they are improvements – are supplemental to what gives SOM its strength among gamers.
 
 
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.
 
 
POM-POM’S FLYING OVER COLLEGE FOOTBALL
 
Please tell the powers that be Thank You and my order for College Football will submitted the first day it is available.  I believe the forum you offer gamers through the monthly Talk Show column on Strat-O-Sphere helped the decision on this.  I will continue to dream about the day when SOM College Basketball appears.
Matt Norris, Overland Park, KS
 
With the release of the upcoming College Football game is there any plans to come out with a College Basketball game for the Computer only?
Robert, Camp Lejeune, NC
            I knew it wouldn’t be long for the drums to start in favor of college basketball. (I’ll get the cymbals!). The answer is: Not Yet. Let’s see whether computer college football can be successful in SOM’s third old college try on the gridiron.
 
FILLING THE HOCKEY VOID
 
We've been playing SOM Hockey for 11 years and the lock-out in the NHL has put us in an interrogation mode about next season. We have a system of play that allows coaches to take the same team every year depending on their performance. For example, one of us has been coaching Detroit for six seasons in a row and doesn't want it to end! We received an e-mail from SOM this past winter that exposed us the many solutions that SOM proposed as an alternative for the next hockey season. One of these possibilities was that SOM would do an average of the career statistics of every player who was to play in 2004-05 and organize them by teams. We were wondering what happened to that idea... 'cause it sounded great.
LPrez from LNSOM in Montreal.
 
            It did not sound great to most of the gamers who were quizzed about it. Some of those who dismissed the idea did so out of disgust for current players. Others because career cards don’t appeal as much. A whole bunch of these cards would be “career” cards for guys who had just 1-2 NHL seasons. After thinking it through, most gamers were happier with past seasons, a Hall of Fame set that would card many great players for the first time and the 1980 Olympics teams. All of those will be out soon.
 
FOOTBALL PAST
 
No six-team football sets were done for the 1966, 1968, 1972, 1977, 1981, and 1990 seasons. Per the Strat-O-Matic custom, what are the chances that Strat will go back and produce the six team football sets for these seasons?
Steve Aquino, Union City, CA
 
            Not good, but not impossible. These are not huge sellers when they come out in combination with computer disks. As a belated stand-alone sale, it would be less attractive to the game company than fresher releases.
 
 
Any talk of ever making some 1950's teams? Before the “Fearsome Foursome” there was the Colts great D-Line Gino, Big Daddy, "Fatboy", and Don Joyce and the greatest QB's of any era.
Louis, Forest Park,IL
 
All talk, though it seems that this will happen in due time. The slow march backward of seasons that pre-dated SOM’s original 1967 football set now include 1966, 1965, 1964 and this summer’s 1963. If the trend continues, we’ll hit 1959 in four years. Those great Colts were terrific in ’59, ’58 and ’57. In addition to Baltimore’s Johnny Unitas, the ‘50s gave us such superb quarterbacks as Bobby Layne, Otto Graham, Norm Van Brocklin, Y. A. Tittle, Bob Waterfield and the early careers of Bart Starr, Sonny Jurgensen and John Brodie.
 
 
NEED SOME RELIEF, HAL
 
Why is it that when you set up the pitching options that SuperHAL ignores them?  In the league I am in, I have Tom Glavine.  About a third of the way into the season, Glavine already had 3 relief appearances, one of which was a game he relieved after he had started the previous game.  In the SuperHAL option, I do not have the box checked by "Relieve even when tired."  Even more, why is he even relieving?
 
That is why in a previous Talk Show letter I mentioned that the next version of SOM Baseball, extensive work should be done on improving HAL.  There has got to be a way for the computer to recognize that a pitcher should not relieve, especially if all that pitcher did was start.  The cards have ratings, I know, in the form, for Glavine is 6/0/N, meaning he can start for 6 innings and 0 relief.  The computer should be able to read that same numbering system.  Don't get me wrong--Strat has one of the best baseball games anywhere.  But I think more time needs to be spent on improving the HAL system then putting in new lines of play-by-play or something like that.
Michael Holland, Douglas, GA
 
            Difficult to say why the computer is choosing Glavine for relief, because there are many possibilities. For one, make sure that your computer manager “Pitchers” section shows Glavine in the rotation with NEVER chosen for relief. If you are using the Super Hal Bullpen option, that should help, too, since Glavine won’t appear on the list of eligible relievers. But you’ve got to program Super Hal correctly. Check the Help file if you have doubts. I am going to assume that your team has adequate number of active pitchers rated for relief, including at least three guys with closer ratings. Even with all the settings showing Glavine off limits for relief, the CM will choose a starter to relieve in emergency situations (when all other relievers are fatigued).
 
Probably the best way to determine why the game is bringing in a starter as a reliever would be for you to save the game at the moment that you see the problem occur.  Backup the league, and e-mail the league backup along with the saved game to Strat-O-Matic.  Be sure to include a detailed description of what you feel the problem is.  This will help Strat-O-Matic determine what is going on.  It will also allow them to provide instructions to you on avoiding this situation, or it might allow them to fix the software if abug is causing the problem.
 
 
THOSE EARLY 1970’s AND THE eBAY BLUES
 
I was one of the people who were extremely disappointed when SOM announced that they were going to recreate the 1957 season instead of re-releasing the 1971 season. Most polls that I have seen and participated in have 1971 as the clear favorite.  I am one who wonders if the company really cares about polls or not.  I wish that SOM would give a reason as to why they choose to not release 1971.  With the exception of the Milwaukee Braves championship, I do not see why 1957 would in any way be preferable to 1971.  Most of today's players started playing during the seventies and these sets bring back memories.  I started playing SOM in 1973, but started following the game in 1971.  I cannot afford the price of getting the original cards off of eBay.
Frank Green
 
            I think a lot of us can sympathize with you, Frank. Especially after seeing recent eBay experience where a seller broke up his 1971 and 1972 sets with extra players and fetched astonishing prices for single teams. But I don’t think you’re going to make any of us who look forward to 1957 feel guilty about it. Tough as it might be for you to figure, some prefer 1957. Why? Because they already have a Strat-O-Matic set from 1971. Because they are Braves fans and this was the Braves’ first World Series victory. Because they are Milwaukee fans, and this was Milwaukee’s only World Series victory. Because ’57 was a legendary season for one-year wonders, with Hurricane Hazle’s amazing regular-season performance and Nippy Jones’ World Series heroics. Because ’57 was a historic season for another reason: The final year of the Dodgers in Brooklyn and the Giants in New York. Because the traditionalists among SOM players like having pre-expansion, pre-Astro Turf, pre-DH, pre-free-agent baseball to complement their use of current teams. Because Ted Williams (.388-38-87), Mickey Mantle (.365-34-94), Hank Aaron (.322-44-132), Stan Musial (.351-29-102), Willie Mays (.333-35-97), Frank Robinson (.322-29-75), Ernie Banks (.285-43-102) and Duke Snider (40 HR) evoke memories, too. As do nine-inning pitchers like Warren Spahn, Don Drysdale, Jim Bunning, Lew Burdette and Billy Pierce. Because for Retro-leaguers, with ’57, there will only be one season missing (1958) in SOM’s run of seasons from 1954 to present. Among other things.
 
 
RED, WHITE AND BLUE
 
Question, will Strat consider reprinting baseball seasons of 1956, 1961, and 1962 in the same printing format as; lets say other past seasons, like ‘63, ‘64, ‘65, etc.? In those seasons as in others, they are printed in three colors (Advanced) and in blue, with a light blue screen in basic. This would conform with most other past seasons and are for more attractive then the black type which they were originally.
Phil S, Passaic, NJ
 
            No such plans announced yet, Phil. If it gets done, it won’t be to make them all look as pretty as the others. It will be to update those early seasons into Super-Advanced form. So far, SOM has done so with only two other Advanced seasons: 1975 and 1978.
 
 
PASSING ON THE TRADITION
 
I have been a Strat fanatic for the past 25 years and recently I was privileged to pass along my love for Strat-O-Matic Baseball to my 10-year-old son. Let me tell you there is nothing more gratifying than sitting down and reliving the moment when I first learned how to play. My son was so excited, he had watched me for a couple of years play and on occasion, when he was interested enough, I would let him throw the dice. It was so funny to watch him as he threw. It was like he was holding onto diamonds, the look on his face was like, “I hold the power.” He was so careful when he threw, too. Then when the dice would finally land he would quickly look at me, waiting for the outcome of his throw.
 We had played together using my set and game for a about a year, then Christmas 2004 he got his very own game! This was the climax of his Christmas, and this was the same Christmas in which we got PlayStation2 from Santa! His reaction brought a tear to my eye, and his grandma's as well, because she had been there all the years I played and knew how important it was to me. We had a blast when we got home from grandma's house, all day the only thing he could think of was going home and getting started. The whole experience of setting up the game, carefully getting the teams together and finally the selection of the team he was going to manager for the season. There really was no selection – his favorite team is the Atlanta Braves. He played about 10 exhibition games, then his season started.
 I watched him as he got his favorite place to play ready to go, just like I showed him, because those of you who have played for along time, it's all about where you play! He loves to play solitaire, but on occasion we will square off, and dad will have to take him to school, of course! I hadn't played much prior to my son getting his game, but now I find myself so excited to get home from work and tossing those little square gems for a few hours, with my son! I have a 4-year-old son as well. I will update you in about six years on who's schooling who then! 
Scott A. Stearns, Sioux Falls, SD
 
            Playing catch, opening up packs of baseball cards together and rolling the Strat-O-Matic dice. Each a time-honored way to pass the torch. Your letter is a perfect conclusion to this month’s Talk Show. Thanks, Scott.

 

 

 

 
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.
 
 
IS THERE A GUINESS BOOK ENTRY ON THIS?
 
I am wondering if the East Coast Baseball Association (ECBA) is the longest continuous running PBM SOM Baseball league?  Formed by Daniel Hoffman of Elmira, NY in 1974, we each took a 1973 based NL team (I got the Cubs) and drafted the remaining AL players.  Each year we drafted the new rookies and traded amongst ourselves, always striving to build a powerhouse.  Most of the managers played in the league for over 10 years, and some, including myself, over 20.  While I no longer play in the league, having lost interest in professional baseball about six years ago, the league and my old friends still thrive and I miss the ole dice-rolling greatly.  The ECBA is in its 31st consecutive season!  It still has annual conventions, in which the managers (concentration in California and Pennsylvania area) get together for a weekend of gaming.
 
Larry Fryer, Woodstock, MD (been playing Strat since 1967)
 
            My guess is that the ECBA is one of the longest-running leagues, but not the longest. The Greater Kalamazoo League, featured for years in the old Strat-O-Matic Review, is still going strong, I hear. That league predates 1974, if I recall correctly. The only way to be sure is for other gamers to tell us of any leagues that can rival the ECBA’s longevity.
 
 
WISHING ON A COMPUTER
 
I am a fan of the computer football game.  I am wondering why seasons all the seasons from the 1980's and 1990's have not been produced as available computer disks.  Since those seasons have already been created in advanced card form, it seems like it would be more a matter of converting facts to computer format rather than the time consuming research. If I remember correctly, Strat Computer Baseball had one year where suddenly several baseball seasons that had been produced as cards only were available as computer disks.  The cards for those baseball seasons were no longer available, but we could get the season on computer disk.
 
There are many football seasons I would want to buy for the computer game.  High on the list would be 1991 when Detroit Lions played in the NFC Championship Game and 1992 when Dallas won the Super Bowl.
 
Bob Riggs, Sunbury, Ohio
 
Many of these seasons take longer to update than you assume, because they were created before the newer FlatPass enhancements, the fumble adjustments, and more. Beyond that, in terms of sales it seems to work best for Strat-O-Matic to produce the disks together with the 6-team updated card sets. The seasons that were produced for computer only without updated cards have left some gamers wishing for the cards, but unlikely to get them any time soon.
 
 
I'm wondering if the new version of NFL Computer Football will show the “dice” rolling as in the older baseball versions.  With the current version I have, when the plays are selected it just tells you the roll result, there are no dice “rolling.”  Also, will we be able to draft different defensive cards, i.e., Tampa Bay Short/Long, New England ER/FP and Pittsburgh LB/OT? 
 
Travis, DeLandFL
 
            One wish granted: New this year, if you have the Card Image Option with Version 5, you’ll see the rolling dice.  The ability to separate defensive cards for drafts is still on the wish list.
 
 
Every year I hope to see an improvement in the hockey computer manager that will allow it to match lines and set the off/def according to that match up … any idea when or if the computer manager will rise to this level?
 
Mike, Arizona  
 
            That’s a long step up for the hockey CM and SOM is not there, yet. However, this year’s update does make it easier for gamers to set their lines and choose matchups.
 
 
IS THERE A PITCHING COACH IN THE HOUSE?
 
I'm in the last 31 games of the season and I have a question about my remaining games' rotation. I have 4 SP's all with an * ( 3 days rest ), but there short on innings available to start the max amount.
 
SP 's
1 = Pedro Martinez ( 44 ip's available )
2 = Pavano = ( 37 ip's )
3 = Maddux = ( 76 ip's ) 9 starts scheduled @ 8.4 inn's / start
4 = Thomson = ( 55 ip's ) 8 starts scheduled @ 6.9 inn's / start
and
6 = Mulholland = ( 51 ip's ) 4 days rest needed
7 = Hendrickson = ( 19 ip's ) 4 days rest needed
8 = Dominquez = ( 20 ip's ) 4 days rest needed
 
Do I start my best pitchers the max first, or do I schedule them vs. the weaker teams?
 
Mike “Tut” Tuttle
 
If you can clinch your pennant/division/playoff spot early by winning now, do it, then your lesser pitchers can finish up, resting your main guys for maximum matchup flexibility in the post-season.
 
Otherwise, I'd do this:
-- You should have enough of Maddux, Thomson.
-- For Pedro's 7 remaining starts, throw one to the other guys. That mean's Pedro gets 6 starts, averaging 7 IP each.
-- For Pavano's 7 remaining starts, throw 2 to the other guys. That means Pavano has 5 starts at 7 IP each.
 
When do the lesser guys start? When they can get the best possible matchups regarding opposing lineups and ballparks. Of course, if Pedro or Pavano ends up leaving a start early (blowout or injury), you might be able to squeeze another start out of them.
 
 
HERE A 1, THERE A 1, (NEARLY) EVERYWHERE …
 
One thing I'd like to see or know is a list of the teams with the most defensive “1” ratings in advanced version SOM history. Which team of all time had the most  1’s on a single team? For example, I know the 1975 Reds had Johnny Bench-c, Joe Morgan-2b, Dave Concepcion-ss, and Cesar Geronimo-cf. That's only four. I'm guessing there are other clubs in SOM history with more or equal to that. I would be interested in seeing those results.

Teun
 
            Wish I had time to do the research, but I know that four is not the record. Many teams – too many to remember – have had four.
 
            The Basic-only cards for the 1931 Athletics have six 1’s, including backup 1B Phil Todt. The others are C-Cochrane, 2B-Bishop, 3B-Dykes, LF-Simmons, CF-Haas.
 
Here are some teams with at least five in the Advanced Game.
 
            1941 Yankees: C-Dickey, 2B-Gordon, SS-Crosetti, CF-DiMaggio, RF-Henrich
            1950 Dodgers: C-Campanella, 1B-Hodges, 3B-Cox, CF-Snider, RF-Furillo
            1954 Yankees: C-Berra, 3B-Carey, SS-Miranda, LF/RF-Noren, RF-Bauer
1974 Reds: C-Bench, 2B-Morgan, SS-Concepcion, LF-Rose, CF-Geronimo
1977 Red Sox: C-Fisk, LF-Yastrzemski, CF-Lynn, RF-Evans, OF-Miller
1978 Red Sox: C-Fisk, SS-Burleson, LF-Yastrzemski, CF-Lynn, RF-Evans
            1979 Phillies: C-Boone, 2B-Trillo, 3B-Schmidt, SS-Bowa, CF-Maddox
 
            The Basic-only cards for the 1953 Dodgers had the same five 1’s as the 1950 Dodgers above. I would expect that some of the Chevy-disk seasons have teams with at least five 1’s, maybe more.  Similarly, the Basic-only 1919 White Sox cards had five 1’s – C-Schalk, 1B-Gandil, 2B-Collins, LF-Jackson and CF-Felsch.
 
If other gamers know of other teams with five or more, please write in.
 
 
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.
 
 
SO MANY PUNTS, SO FEW `KICKS’
 
This punting thing is causing big arguments here. I know the rules say you can do an out of bounds punt, but NO ONE in the NFL can do it anymore. Every punt I see on the opponent's side of the 50 sails into the end zone for a touchback. Please give me your thoughts.
 
Also, I want to buy some different color 6 sided dice (blue, black – anything but red and white). Suggestions? Thanks.
Jim McPartland
 
            It’s a lament in all the sports – the fundamentals seem lacking. NBA players athletic enough to make improbable dunks can’t make the 15-foot jumper or free throws. Homer-happy shortstops can’t drop down a decent bunt. Half the pitchers can’t throw a strike when they need to. But according to the official 2004 NFL statistics, punters dropped 23.5 percent of their kicks inside the 20, while 7.2 percent were touchbacks. Since that includes all punts, even those that never had much chance of doing either, it’s likely that the kicks from inside the 50 were more successful than this 3-to-1 ratio. Mike Scifles of San Diego had a league-best 42 percent land inside the 20.
 
            Gotta have those dice in your team’s colors, or just to change the luck. I ran a simple Google search for “dice colors” and found several sellers. Also check out any game store in your area that sells sports and Dungeons & Dragons board games.
 
 
GIVE PUNISHMENT WHERE IT’S DUE
 
Has SOM considered splitting the team penalties between offensive and defensive? It seems that some teams such as the 1968 or 1969 (I don't remember which one) Oakland Raiders offense are penalized too much as I am sure other teams have the same situation whether it unfairly hinders the offense or defense. I am sure teams were penalized more on one side of the ball and not equally so.
 
Ken Brown, Detroit, MI
            You have to be right, and the old Raiders defenses – maybe even more so the late-70’s Raiders – are the obvious candidates for a disproportionate share of their team’s penalties. Seems to me the Strat version of the Air Coryell Chargers of the early ‘80s suffered similarly for their defense’s blunders. But I’ve never seen the stats displayed any other way than in total flags and total yards – not even a breakdown in 5-yard penalties and major penalties. Assuming the play-by-plays would give us what we need, this would be a very nice refinement to the game.
 
HELP, MAC USERS … (And, The Way to San Jose)
I am a MAC user and want to run the new 2005 Hockey Game.  I'm told that “Virtual PC” is the best PC emulator out there for the MAC, but I was wondering if anyone out there has any experience doing this?
A Comment: There was a conversation with a hockey fan identifying the heritage of the old Cleveland Barons.  Yes, they started as the expansion Oakland Seals in the NHL's first modern expansion (complete with white skates and golden blades).  They became the Cleveland Barons, then merged with the Minnesota North Stars.  What I always found fascinating was that when the Gund Brothers (George and Gordon) sold the North Stars to create the expansion San Jose Sharks, they negotiated for a "cross pollentation draft", whereby they seeded the San Jose Sharks orgainization with players and prospects from the North Stars.  So, the great circle of life for Bay Area hockey fans is:  Oakland Seals-California Golden Seals-Cleveland Barons-Minnesota North Stars-San Jose Sharks.
Rob Skalski, ScottsdaleAZ (Robert_Skalski@Vanguard.com)
            I’ve never been a MAC guy, so we’ll leave that question to others with experience. Your memory about the Gunds and San Jose is correct – I’ve never seen anything like it. Having met Gordon Gund, I can tell you that he is an amazing guy. He’s blind, but he skiis. In a room with a dozen people he has just met, he addresses people by their names based on the sound of their voices. And he is one of the shrewdest business negotiators around. When the old Coliseum between Cleveland and Akron was losing money, he acquired it (when he bought the Cavs) for $1 dollar. Then, when Cleveland wanted the team, he said he’d agree to move only if the city provided a state-of-the-art facility to replace his rent-free building – and then only if all agreed that the Coliseum couldn’t be used for anything that the new arena was used for. He got it all.
 
ADAPTING TO 1911-STYLE BASEBALL
I am amazed by the 1911 Baseball set. It is the most interesting and well researched gaming product I have ever seen. It is not only a breakthrough for Strat, but for sabermetric research in general. Unfortunately, I haven't had much time to play with the set; but looking at them I realize I have no idea how to approach deadball strategy. Those of us trained in the Bill James era would have a hard time running the bases so recklessly, but since there is no power I don't think station to station would pay off either. My question, for anyone who has played with the 1911 set: What have you learned from it? Do you apply modern strategical insights to the 1911 context, or have you learned the value of running recklessly in certain situations. The most interesting implication of 1911 strategy for me is the impact it would have on a manager's approach to certain modern teams like the 1965 Dodgers or 1985 Cardinals. Would "B" or "C' type runners be used to steal more with only 50 percent safe chances for modern teams like these, after learning from 1911 strategy? What do you think?
Mark Frobom, Boyceville, WI
            Great topic, Mark. I’ll yield to others who have played more with this set than I have, but I think it will be tough to produce these teams’ runs without the risk. With all the “w” hitters and so few ballpark diamonds (12 teams hit fewer than 40 HR and had many more triples than homers), stealing with only a 1-11 chance is definitely in order with two outs and many of the batter-pitcher combinations. Remember, too, that 31 of the 47 players who are primarily catchers have double-digit T-ratings for throwing errors on successful steals. Be especially keen for chances to make the double steal of second and third. Even more, teams need to be aggressive going for the extra base on hits. Then, trailing runners and outfield throwing errors can help produce big innings.
            While I have modest experience playing 1911, I’ve played two-thirds of the 1959 American League and I’ve found that the only way to keep the White Sox competing for the pennant is to run aggressively. It’s working. They have the top four base thieves in my replay (led by Luis Aparicio), will exceed their real-life total and often try for the extra base on hits. This creates some extra runs via speed and more scoring chances for a team that hits pretty well in the clutch. The Sox are tied for first.
            For 1911, it’s not all green-light, however. The top three teams in the 1911 AL and NL were the teams with the top three slugging averages in their leagues. And the highest-we’ve-ever-seen e-ratings will extend many innings – if teams don’t run themselves out of it first.
 
I've been playing Strat baseball off and on since 1971.  I still have questions about injuries, though. I'm currently in a 56-game short-season 1911 replay (8 home, 8 road against each of the other seven teams) and I would like to know how you deal with a player like Roger Bresnahan, who has 227 at bats but a 5L/9R injury.  Would you play him as a regular starting catcher (roughly three games out of each four-game series) and assume the injuries will come according to the percentages, or play him as a semi-regular in accordance with the at-bat totals of that season?  To do the latter would allow the possibility that his at-bats would stay in line, but a major injury near the end of the
season would screw that up.
As a side note, I've created a weather sub-category that allows for games to be postponed or rain-shortened.  This creates a lot of additional fun (headaches for managers) in dealing with scheduling spot starts and guidelines for player (primarily pitcher) use in make-up doubleheaders.  It involves follow-up 20-sided die rolls for all games starting in "Bad" weather.  Rolls of 5 or higher invoke varying rainfall, from “light rain – re-roll in three innings" or moderate rain – re-roll in 2 innings” to “heavy rain forces stoppage – re-roll immediately.”  At that point, an 18, 19, or 20 forces cancellation.
Jeff Woodhouse, Seattle, WA
            As someone who has developed many SOM playing innovations over the years, I never cease to be amazed at the ingenuity of gamers to increase fun and realism. Even though I’ve never used weather effects, I think your innovation is great.
 
            Here’s something I wrote for somworld.com about the 1911 season: “At a time when a catcher’s equipment was skimpy (Bresnahan was the first to wear shin pads in 1907), only Detroit’s Oscar Stanage (141g, 503 AB) had at least 400 AB. Only four catchers caught at least 100 games. Another key strategy decision will be which games to rest a team’s one strong-armed catcher.
 
            Bresnahan had fewer than half of his teams games and AB at catcher, so I wouldn’t start him three-fourths of the time. He and almost all other catchers need more-frequent rest than other SOM seasons. Consider using SOM’s super-advanced rest and injury systems (on the Miscellaneous Charts). In that system, a catcher will be vulnerable to rest one-third of the time. That would give Bresnahan up to two-thirds of the starts, less the injuries. If you pro-rate the injuries to match your 56-game season, Bresnahan would miss more than three games only on a roll of 20 (5 games instead of 15).
 
When I replay a season trying to keep AB and IP in line, I make all injuries “remainder of game only.” I take care of managing the rest. Many leagues that have strict usage limits do the same thing. If you want a bit more drama, you could make it “remainder of this series only.” In draft leagues, I have used a self-created system that caps cumulative injury length for players based on their AB.
 
 
 
 
PLAYING THE SHORT SERIES
I am an old school SOM player, strictly cards and dice. I play nothing but tournaments, single-elimination, double-elimination, best of series, etc. Since the times now see any pitcher being used out of the pen in the postseason, I was wondering is there a rule somewhere that I am not aware of or can be used for using pitchers only qualified as “starter” on their card as relief? Is there a POW set up for this in the software that can be used for cards/dice playing? I understand not to use them in the closer role, but has anyone done this in their game playing?
            Thanks to SOM for making any free time I have entertaining with the greatest game ever invented.
John Pellegrino, Shelton, CT.
            One of the sometimes-overlooked great things about the Strat-O-Matic board games is how flexible the game is to adaptations that suit the individual gamer. The baseball game in particular is played every which way. Playing solo, you should feel free to make whatever changes you find pleasing. For some, that’s making the game more statistically precise. For others, a more realistic feel, with a rule change here or different player usage there. And for others, anything goes in “what-if” fantasies.
If your conscience is an issue, be at ease: It’s not uncommon at all for leagues and individuals to decide that starters can be used in relief for the post-season, even if they are not permitted to be used that way during the regular season. Where I have seen this done, the starter usually gets a POW of 3 to be used in long-relief. Some will permit a small closer rating (no higher than 3) to close out that clincher (ala Randy Johnson for Arizona in the 2001 World Series).
 
RELIVING HIS YOUTH WITH STRAT-O-MATIC
 
I am almost finished with your Strat-O-Matic Fanatics book and I have to tell you it has been the most enjoyable read I have had in years. I have to believe I was a very early Strat baseball customer, as I responded to their black-and-white print ad with the baseball guy in it in the ‘60's when I was 10 or 11, and anxiously awaited delivery of the game. I could not believe how fast they shipped the game to me, and it almost took my breath away when I held the package in my hands. I just knew I was on to something fantastic. I was never disappointed by them, and over the years as I got older, the game moved in and out of my life like a good friend. I could never give up on it, sometimes going years without playing it, but then reliving the joy of seeing all the new features that were added after having repurchased again to see what's been up since I was gone. As a computer store retailer years ago, we even stocked small numbers of the game each year and sold out always, as their loyal customer base kept coming back again and again, as you know. Well, I recently purchased the new CD baseball and love it and am awaiting the new football game as I now live in Philly and can't wait to play the Eagles vs. everyone. As a former Long Islander, one year I had a kid in my elementary school class whose mom worked at Strat, and she got me great deals on cards and accessories that year. It was awesome to say the least.
 
            As I am now 52 and feeling somewhat old, your book brought back waves and waves of great memories to me. I am sure Mr. Richman now knows he created something larger than life with his games, and has brought incredible joy and beauty into people's lives. Your book captures it all with a great clarity and warmth that this difficult world we live in needs so much more of. Over the years I have often thought and wondered why and how a game could have brought so much into my life and now after reading, I think I understand why. While we often played this amazing game alone at first, as time went by, it connected us to so many others who were like us, and that is clearly a beautiful thing. When people get together for something great, life is really good!
 
And Strat-O-Matic has always been, and continues to be something really good.
 
Leigh Goldstein
 
            You have returned the favor, Leigh, by writing a letter that evokes so much of my youth. I started playing on my 12th birthday and today, I feel that Strat-O-Matic and my 9-year-old daughter are the things that keep me young(er). I always say, “Any day spent playing Strat-O-Matic is a good day.” There’s magic in every card set, but those first ones brought wonder that is almost beyond words. I’m delighted that Strat-O-Matic Fanatics is reviving so many of your good memories.
 
 
HOW DOES `THE BIG O’ HIT 3-POINTERS?
 
Great article about the '86 Bird performance (see the 9-14-05 article, Great Moments In Strat in Strat-O-Sphere).  Although I've played Strat baseball since 1968, I've never played Strat basketball.  Just a little curious about a side detail – how are the '71 Bucks rated for the 3-point shooters, since the NBA didn't have that rule way back then?  
 
Jim Beauchemin, AltamontNY
 
SOM did a retro rating on 3-pointers that is just a calculated-guess, based on which guys were the long-range shooters, their shooting percentages, scoring averages, attempts, etc. Though it can't possibly be statistically pure, it's very credible and it permits gamers to play teams from the 2-point era against teams of the 3-point era.
 
 
BUYER BEWARE WITH UNSEEN CARD SETS
I have been buying past seasons from the (prior to 1985) on eBay.  I noticed a comment that someone out there was reproducing their own cards.  I had just purchased a 1962 season (stats) that was set up for basic and advanced and had E ratings on the advanced side.  I also noticed that most of the pitchers did not have strikeouts on rolls of seven on their cards.  This was usually done with super-advanced seasons.  The print was also smaller than usual.  Were these cards produced by SOM?  Any helpful hints for buying past seasons off of eBay?
 
Eric Kessell, South Elgin, IL
 
As you describe it, these cards could be fraudulent imposters, illegal reproductions photocopies of copyrighted material or simply inferior reproductions. The original basic-only 1962 season was reprinted by Strat-O-Matic as two-sided cards with advanced (but not super-advanced) features. So there’s also the possibility that these are legit cards that simply appear different to what you are accustomed to. Proceed with caution.  In a buyer-beware environment, your best self-protection is to a) know the original product and b) ask the seller questions before bidding. You can also pose these sorts of questions to the SOM community in places like the Strat-O-Matic Forum online.
 
 
MORE TEAMS RICH WITH 1-FIELDERS
 
Adding to the list of teams with at least four position players rated as 1’s defensively:
   
n                          1993 Giants: Manwaring(c), Thompson(2b), Williams(3b),
Bonds(lf), Lewis(cf)
n                          1955 Dodgers : Campanella(c), Hodges(1b), Snider(cf), Furillo(rf),
plus 3 pitchers
Vince Crystal, Victoria, B.C.