The Talk Show – May, 2011


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.
Polling Options
            I see where another poll has been initiated at Strat Fan Forum, to help determine which prior season Steve Barkan tackles next. This is a great way to engage the community.  But one thing that would be nice would be to see the polling done through the official SOM website. That way, all of the company’s dedicated fans could participate.  SOM could even link through Facebook and Twitter.
Jeff Woodhouse, Seattle, WA
            With the advances Strat-O-Matic is making in social media, multiple media platforms and its own website, we may see this eventually. For now, however, Strat-O-Matic wants to keep it to one gamer, one vote and the polling software on the Strat Fan Forum enforces that.
Pitcher Stealing Errors
                 I am curious about the 2010 stealing ratings for Daniel McCutchen and Joe Saunders. Both of them are *3 – 20 6. The only other pitcher from 1988-2009 with this rating was the 2000 Masato Yoshii. The 3 – 20 6 rating has been the standard. In a similar vein, the 2010 Randy Wolf’s stealing rating is 3 – 20 11. The rating was never given from 1988-2009. The rating was always *3 – 20 11. What is the reason for the change in philosophy?
Richard Zaborsky, Dublin, OH
            SOM replies: “These are errors. Saunders and McCutchen should not have an *. Wolf did not get an *, he just missed the cutoff. It is a formula and his percentage was just below the cutoff for the * rating.”
When Bunts Go Bad
            I have been playing Strat since the age of 5 in 1975, and continue to be amazed at the unmatched level of accuracy it attains — the product, of course, of the thousands of hours of historical research that the Strat team puts into its products, which in turn makes the realism of the games mean so much to me. That being said, I have always had one minor issue with the computer baseball game.
            Far too often, double plays occur on bunt pop-ups.  While this might happen regularly in little league or high school ball, it essentially never happens in the major leagues.  As a professional scout and former college coach, I can tell you that players on base on a bunt are taught to "see the ball down" – that is, not to sprint from their secondary leadoff until they see the bunted ball hit the ground.  Unless the statistics prove me wrong, I suggest that bunt pop-up double plays be severely limited in the computer game programming from its current state. But my small issue notwithstanding, I thank you for such a wonderful product and remain a loyal customer.
Doug Feldmann, Villa Hills, KY
            As a scout and coach, you would have excellent insight. The results from a search of the Retrosheet play-by-play data for 2010 shows there were 41 double plays on bunts, and 10 of them occurred on pop ups that were caught. The other 31 hit the ground, but it is unclear how many of them were bunted into the ground and how many were popped up before hitting the ground without being caught. Getting the data on SOM bunt DPs will take more work.
            In Super-Advanced play used by the computer game, all bunt DPs occur on popups. A and B bunters are immune to DPs. Others are expected to bunt into DPs one out of every 36 attempts. A stats report from a replay will show us how many times bunts were attempted and how many were unsuccessful, but not the DPs. Here’s what I got from an auto-play of 2010:
            1,770 attempts, 1,387 sacrifices. The 78 percent success rate suggests that, on average, the final bunt rating (considering corners in/infield in defense) was about a C, so nearly half of the bunts were by A and B bunters.
            If every bunter was worse than a B, it would take, on average, 1,476 attempts to produce 41 DPs (41 x 36). We would get 49 DPs in the 1,770 attempts above. But if A and B bunters were making half the attempts, we would need 2,952 attempts to produce 41 DPs. And we would get only 24.5 DPs in the 1,770 attempts above, vs. 41 actual.
            So it doesn’t look we’re getting too many bunt DPs. That leaves us with how much we want to be concerned about 25 pop-up DPs vs. 10 in actual 2010.
            Your question also is ripe for discussion about the difference between what players are taught and what they do. If players could be relied upon to do as they are taught, we would see far less of runners being caught off base on missed bunts (“see the ball down”), doubled off on line drives (“see the ball go through”), outfield overthrows (“hit the cutoff man”), fielder collisions (“call for the ball”), pickoffs, rundowns, balks, pitchers failing to cover first or failing to back up third and home, and many other mistakes that are more mental than physical. Because mental mistakes SHOULD almost never happen, when they do in SOM, gamers complain that they occur too often. We want control and assurances that no real manager can achieve. I remember a Talk Show question long ago about the frequency of pickoffs. A gamer, typical of many, was convinced they happened too often. So Bob Winberry ran a dozen replays or so and found that they happened exactly as often as in the real Major Leagues. When bad things happen to us in SOM, we remember them really well, while not bothering to keep track of the many more times the expected events occur.
Strat-O-Matic to the Rescue
            I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your book about Strat-O-Matic. I read it again every year. Your book always makes me remember my childhood and my father, who was much like Hal Richman’s father. He used to tell me and my brother, who I live with and still play with, much of the same things Hal’s father said to him – but of course we did not pay much attention to him. When are you going to write another book about SOM and the many fans?
            I was introduced to this game in 1967 by my long-time friends, the Candelarias (kins to John Candelaria, the Major League pitcher) in 1967. I still remember the US Mail truck when it came in 1967. My friend called me: "Hey the Strat-O-Matic is here.” I flew to his house and was amazed by the game much so I bought my own.
            I have gone through three divorces and other maladies, and now I am disabled with diabetes. I have in my computer more than 60 seasons and get every new season and stuff that comes out. I moved from Puerto Rico to Florida and brought with me my old 1977 and 1978 SOMs with me. I still have them and about another 30 seasons of cards, plus Old-Timers, HOF cards, Negro Leagues, etc. I have a lot of time to play now. I forget all about my sickness when I play – I am another person, a big-league manager. I have played innumerable games, board and video, and there is none to compare to SOM.
Orlando Leon, Live Oak, FL
            I am always touched, and I know that Hal Richman and the SOM employees are, too, when they hear of Strat-O-Matic’s healing power for those with wounded bodies or wounded minds. For me, Strat-O-Matic has been the one constant in my life since age 12, during a half dozen cross-country moves. Jobs change, life changes, but Strat-O-Matic is my loyal friend, there for me wherever and whenever, a companion that introduces me to new friends and a pain-killer that lifts my spirits when they need it. I am very sorry to hear of your afflictions, but delighted that Strat is helping you through them.
            Your connection to the Candelarias and Puerto Rico also fascinates all of us who are amazed by Strat-O-Matic’s global reach. We wish you many more years of happy gaming. You’ve got some serious Strat-O-Matic Fanatic credentials!
            The Strat-O-Matic Fanatics book is a constant source of joy for me when I hear from appreciative readers. I have some initial thoughts about a sequel, but don’t know the answer to your question, “When?”
A Big Idea for Baseball
            I’d love to see all-franchise teams for baseball like SOM does for football. I’d prefer the best single-season cards (which would be easier to put together since they’re already done) but career peak cards like the Hall of Fame set would be okay, too.
Ben Leong, Gaithersburg MD
            Man, how many of us have tried, or dreamed about, assembling all-time franchise teams? I’ve gone to bed thinking about those lineups and pitching rotations – way better than counting sheep! Until recently, this was not very realistic. Too many excellent players do not have their best season represented in an existing SOM set (unless you count the “Chevy” computer seasons). That’s still true to some extent for pre-1948 players. For career-peak stats, the past year’s Heroes set, combined with the Hall of Fame 2010 set, get us very close for many franchises. The odds of seeing your idea happen also went up when SOM announced that it would get into Digital Printing, which would make lower print runs feasible. I don’t think you should expect this before your next good night’s sleep, but it could be a dream come true after all.