The Talk Show – February, 2012

Host: Glenn Guzzo
You can submit your question or insight on any Strat-O-Matic game to 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.
            I can’t wait till Opening Day for the new baseball cards. I have a new project in mind, and was wondering what you think of it. It will be a mixture of 2010 and 2011 cards. The last two seasons have been called the beginning of a new era, one which favors pitching, as batting averages, homeruns, and ERAs have been dropping all over the Major Leagues. So I have a new idea to create a real “Year of the Pitcher”: For every pitcher, I will use the card for whichever season, out of 2010 and 2011, in which he did better. Conversely, for every batter, I will use whichever season he did WORSE. I think it will be very interesting to see how it turns out. I think I just may create a modern-day version of 1968. What do you think of my idea?
Donald Gordon, Ontario, CA
            I never tire of dreaming up ways to combine players and seasons. Though playing any game of Strat-O-Matic is fun, any time, there have been countless occasions when I have spent thoroughly enjoyable hours assembling teams for new projects, then played with them very little. You are about to adopt a variation on one of my favorite techniques: Keep the flavor of a franchise, but use players from multiple seasons. It’s a way to use more of the seasons SOM has given us. It’s a way to avoid using a key player’s “off” season. One project I have had in mind for years, but never done, involves taking the worst cards, and seeing if any of the batters or pitchers excels against nothing but weak opposition. Another involves assembling teams with nothing but 1-rated fielders, to how many no-hitters result.
            I will be very interested in your results. Will you get a flurry of no-hitters? Set shutout records? The strikeouts might be amazing. But you will still have some very good hitters, too – guys like Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera, who are good every year. I know you’re going to have fun.
            Will the upcoming Baseball version have an improved scheduler?  The current scheduler does not give proper days off. You play 34 days in a row and then you get 3 days off. That doesn’t happen in real baseball.

Steve Kenemer, Holland, MI … MWBA – Strato League since 1972
Not this year. From programmers I have spoken with, a sophisticated scheduler is a complex task. But SOM gives you a very good work-around. Take a schedule you like, produce it in spreadsheet form, and you can import it to serve as many leagues as you want. For instructions on how to do this, see the Help file, summon Schedule Maintenance and scroll down to Import.
            Now that there have been a few seasons since the Hockey Hall of Fame set came out, do you have any suggestions for adding players to those “original 12” teams from the set? I would guess they won’t update the set anytime soon so I’m thinking in terms of suggestions for cards that could be used for some of these players.

            Between the Hall members inducted since it was released (Neely, Hull, MacInnis and others), the next ones (Sakic, Roenick and more) and the still-active ones (Brodeur, Jagr, Selanne, etc.), it probably wouldn’t be too hard to come up with 14 teams now.

Jack Thompson, Phoenix
            Sounds like you have a fine handle on which players to include. The questions you may want to resolve first:
            1) How will you divide these players? Do you want the teams to reflect franchises or eras? That could influence the border-line suggestions.
            2) Since each card in SOM’s Hall of Fame set is based on a series of seasons, which card will you use for the players you select? You might average that player’s best seven seasons, then pick the one that is closest to the average.
            Here’s a personal “Best of Strato” baseball fact.  Back in the ‘90s I had Bruce Hurst as a S/R on a team.  He went 56 2/3 innings without allowing an earned run.  Yes, THAT Bruce Hurst.  The same team had Clemens and Maddux (no, not Mike), and they never came close to that streak.
            One suggestion: Allow computer players to alter rules a bit more.  I play in an Advanced Rules league with managers who use both dice and computer.  We’ve found some of the rules we’d like to use (such as corners in), are not available to computer users unless we all agree to Super Advanced rules, which some of the old timers are dead set against.  
            Thanks for making a great game!           
Todd J. Leucuta – Rolling dice since 1992
            As of now, there are tens of thousands of possible combinations of the existing SOM Windows game rules. Do your “old-timers” know that they can use the base Super Advanced Rules without using most of the others? The Windows game allows, for instance, using SA rules without using balk/wild pitch/passed ball ratings, and/or without the SA steal system, and/or without ballpark effects, and/or without clutch hitting, and/or without the GBA on pitcher cards, and/or without closer rules, and/or without the Miscellaneous Rules (such as the cut-off play, and Outfield-In rule) and/or without the SA injuries and fatigue rules and/or without any of the Max rules.
            My 10-year-old son has recently shown an interest in football history, particularly Johnny Unitas. I bought a football game at Compleat Strategist as a Christmas present and after we picked out and sent for 10 2010 football teams, we are starting an 8-team league. I also, because of the Johnny Unitas thing, covertly bought the set of 1958 teams as a future Birthday/Christmas present. However, I want to get us through this league. Anyways, I suspect I know the answer but I was just wondering if there was any remote chance that Strat could/would consider printing the remaining 6 teams for a season like 1958. It seems they could print/sell the entire NFL (pre expansion-pre-AFL) for not much more. Maybe they could do this for older seasons in lieu of 6 teams from a 1990s season that is more readily available. Maybe they could conduct a poll, for instance: Would you prefer 6 teams from an upcoming 1980-whatever or 1990-whatever season or 6 more unprinted teams from an older season (1958 obviously would be my preference)? I guess my personal preference is to take the really bad teams, especially when selling the game to my son and his friends. Thank you very much.
Tommy, Idaho Falls, ID
            It’s a wonderful thing to develop a youngster’s interest in sports through Strat-O-Matic. That it’s taken more than 50 years to break some of Unitas’ records shows that your young fan invests his admiration wisely. As a gamer who loves season replays, I share your appreciation for full leagues. In fact, I played the 1957 NFL that way (on the computer). However, based on decades of SOM’s customer polls concerning past seasons, I would be shocked if anything near a majority of gamers voted for lesser teams, most with losing records, over the best teams from an as-yet unoffered season. I doubt that Strat-O-Matic would see a package of mediocre/poor teams from the 1950s as something that could sell well enough to justify the effort. I think that would have to wait until SOM develops a print-on-demand operation. Then, teams like these, which have already been calculated for use in the Windows game, might be easy to produce.
            I found the new rule about limiting injuries to the balance-of-the game-only interesting. It’s a good point that most leagues limit usage using actual real-life usage, making the injury rule a little less relevant. Maybe 10 years ago, we decided to use injuries to add a little bit of real-life spice while not wanting to dip too deeply into real-life usage. So we made an across-the-board rule that an injury could be no more than the balance of the game, plus one more game. And of course, since in PBM leagues there is little chance to play the games in calendar order, if an injury happened in the last game of the series, it could only be for the balance of the current game only.
            Several years ago, we changed it so that a player with an injury on a 2 or 12 reading could only be injured for the balance of the current game. All others could be injured as before, the balance of the game plus one additional game. I like it, because a manager really has to think twice before putting a player with a high injury number on their active roster (except when rosters are expanded in our final segment). Or at least they know there are possible consequences if they roll that dreaded, more-frequent number that might change the tenor of a series.
            We manage ours through using the “Take 15 Days Off” after every game, but this could be another way to do it for leagues that also use the SOM relief injury rules. You’ll recall how we use a different rule in our league (from a “Talk Show” a couple of years ago), so we wouldn’t use this max rule.
            Also, you’ll recall that we talked too about playing tip rules for HBPs to limit them for pitchers who rarely, or never, gave up a HBP, based on their wild pitch frequency. But we found that a bit lacking because it would take too many HBP off the board and greatly distort that number. So I got around to researching what percentage of pitchers (that is, based on pitcher IPs) are pitchers who gave up no HBPs during the season. Here is how it breaks down:
1) Of the 43,520 IP pitched in MLB last year, 38,931 were by pitchers who gave up at least one HBP last year. So if SOM were to put in a (maximum) rule that took away the HBP for any pitcher that did not give up a HBP during the year, it would reduce the number of HBPs (assuming proportional use of all pitchers) to 89.55% of real-life (a reduction of 10.45%).
 2) If instead we also allowed that “pitchers who didn’t give up any HBP but pitched 40 IP or less” did not have the HBPs they allowed negated, then that would increase the IP to 40,889, or 93.95% of real-life (a reduction of 6.05%).
             I feel most folks would like the result of 2) in order to get more reality for pitchers who control well, i.e. it would be an OK trade-off. Heck, if 6.05% is deemed too high, the number of IP for pitchers who didn’t give up a HBP who are excluded could be increased from 40 to 50 to 60 or whatever to get to the sweet spot.
            I hope you’ll at least put this on the table for a discussion. I think it would result in better baseball. I like your idea that if a batter got HBP readings on consecutive rolls, the HBP would stand even if a pitcher wouldn’t normally be allowed to give up an HBP. This would reduce the number of “overrules” by another hair.
Clay Grant, Atlanta
            Every league I’ve ever been in had a different injury rule. The new Strat-O-Matic feature ought to work well for any league already controlling AB / IP and for gamers conducting realistic replays that use as-played lineups or controls usage another way. Your HBP research is impressive. Unless and until SOM decides HBP by pitchers is worthy of its own Super Advanced rule, your idea is flexible enough for any league to find its own “sweet spot.”