The Talk Show – May 2014

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.
Heroes, the Sequel
I recently purchased the Strat-O-Matic Heroes set to go along with the Hall of Famers and Negro Leaguers and I am really having a lot of fun with it. I was thinking that maybe soon, you will come up with a Heroes 2 set. Thinking about players who could have easily been included in the Heroes set, I came up with:
Bob Boone, Ken Griffey Sr., Matt Williams, Jesse Orosco, John Franco, Jose Cruz, Fred Lynn, Don Baylor, Rocky Colavito, Bill Buckner, Johnny Damon, Gary Sheffield, Bert Campaneris, Darrell Evans, Larry Bowa, Joe Carter, Roy Halladay, Fernando Valenzuela, Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman, Billy Wagner, Doc Cramer, Benito Santiago, Al Lopez, Chipper Jones, Ivan Rodriguez, Kirk Gibson, Willie McGee, Denny McLain, Dick Groat, Pedro Martinez, J.R. Richard, Tony Pena, Sandy Alomar, Jr., Andy Pettitte and Omar Vizquel.
            The important thing is: make sure there are enough catchers and third basemen. Those seem to be the positions that are the most scant. Thanks for listening to me rant!
Dean Scouloukas
            If there is a Heroes 2 set at some point, many of the players above have got to be in that set. All of the players elected to the Hall of Fame since Strat-O-Matic’s Hall of Fame 2010 set were in the first Heroes set (except for 19th Century infielder Deacon White). And some of the players above are destined for the Hall. You are right that catchers and third basemen are under-represented in the Hall. So are pitchers. A couple catchers not on your list, Jorge Posada and Manny Sanguillen, could be worthy of the next Heroes set.
            I recently completed a 54-game schedule for 22 teams made up of the Hall of Fame 2010, Heroes and Negro Leagues sets. That might have been the most fun I’ve had with any solo gaming experience. After seeing only two guys hit four homers in a game for my first 50 years of playing SOM (1987 Eric Davis and 1964 Orlando Cepeda – both AGAINST me), both George Brett and Mark McGwire did it in my “Hall of Heroes” league. Five guys hit for the cycle. Babe Ruth did it in the first series of the season, completing the rare feat with a walk-off triple. In the first matchup between Ruth and Josh Gibson, “the black Babe Ruth,” Ruth hit a homer in the top of the first inning. Gibson matched it in the bottom of the first. Ruth hit another homer. So did Gibson. Gibson ended up hitting for the cycle in that game and his team won. What a show!
            The Hall of Heroes league had its share of pitching – 49 shutouts by 43 different pitchers (Juan Marichal threw three). Randy Johnson struck out 20 in a 10-inning game. Twelve other times, starters fanned at least 13. Bob Feller won 11 games. Bullet Joe Rogan (2.55) led a dozen starters who had ERAs of 3.08 or better in a league that hit .270 with a 4.32 ERA. The league-wide hitting was on a par with the steroid era, but two things kept it from overwhelming the pitching: The 22 teams and ballpark effects of HR 1-5, SI 1-8 for all teams. 
Update Hockey Greats, Too
            Will you be updating the All-Time Greats for Hockey?  It’s been almost 10 years, and the recent Hall of Famers aren’t included, not to mention that all of the teams don’t have enough players for full rosters.
Doug, Evansville, IN
             Though the Hall of Fame sets aren’t designed to complete rosters for all the franchises, enough players have been elected to the hockey Hall since SOM’s release to fill another team of players. Like so many of the specialty sets that gamers suggest, this one will come down to whether Strat-O-Matic believes that sales can support an updated set.
A Lovely Shade of Blue
Will the 2010 Hall of Fame card set be available soon?  I like the non-glossy standard-issue feel of it.  If it will be re-issued, when will that be? Why has it been withdrawn from circulation?
As a 30-year professional in the television broadcasting business, I have to agree with Glenn from Passaic, NJ (home of the now long-gone legendary Capitol Theatre) that the color blue is way easier for the human eye and actually contrasts BETTER than the color black. Let me explain.
Years ago when I worked on broadcast remotes in low-lighting conditions in television trucks, an older technician showed me that blue Sharpie on white 5×7 file cards reads better than black Sharpie on the same file cards. These cards are placed under video monitors to remind us which monitor, for example, is the output of Camera 2 … the blue jumps out at you on the Basic Strat Cards, while when I gaze at say Pete Rose’s black card from the new 1961 set, Charley Hustle’s card looks rather plain. The stats don’t grab you like they do with the lovely shade of blue Strat has used in the past … so, PLEASE go back to blue ink for any future card reissues, such as the 1962 season. Currently I am enjoying a replay of the 1951 season and had planned to concurrently replay the new 1961 season. But I have decided to replay a 1964 season instead, and plan on re-playing the 1961 season later this year.
Scott Acton, Hackettstown NJ
            Regarding the Hall of Fame 2010 set, it was updated this year and is still in stock in a limited-edition set with the players subsequently elected to the Hall and six “chase” cards – cards for six Hall of Famers based on their stats from 1939, the year the Hall of Fame opened. When that set sells out, it’s very likely that Strat-O-Matic will continue to offer a Hall of Fame set in one form or another. It always has.
            Thanks for your experience with the colors. This may be a case of science vs. perception. However, rather than a choice of type color imposed on a white background, the preference expressed by others dealt more with the background color. They said the blue background made the type more difficult to read. Maybe your expertise would refute that, but it is a different point.
            You cannot go wrong with a 1964 replay. Solo or with others, I have played full seasons with that set at least four times. The great pennant races can turn out differently every time. The abundant superstars in their primes are on almost every team. In the AL, every team but Washington is interesting. Even lowly KC has plenty of long-ball hitters and it’s always fun to see if they can hit more homers than their pitchers give up – hasn’t happened yet! And, as I’ve written here before, the 1964 rookie class was one of the most productive ever – AL batting champ Tony Oliva, Tony Conigliaro, Dick Allen, Jim Ray Hart, Mel Stottlemyre, Luis Tiant, Denny McLain, Tommy John, Sammy Ellis, Billy McCool and more.
Defensive Strategy
            I have a general question about the gbB situation with a runner on third (not forced) and less than two outs with the infield in.  Whenever this comes up in the computer game, the runner has no choice except to be out at home with the other runners advancing.
When playing the board game face-to-face with dice, we adapt a rule:  Before the roll, the offensive manager states his intention of the runner at third moving on contact with the ball in play or playing a more conservative role and sticking to the base.  If the latter is chosen, the runner on third is not out on a groundball B but the lead forced runner is out or batter/runner is out at first with no other base running movement.  Any type of Single* or a Single* split roll is produced the runner at third does not score if playing conservative.  The infield has to be played in for any of these scenarios to occur.
Have you heard or adapted this type of rule in any of your games played?
As of now also, a defensive manager has the choice of infield in, corners in, or regular depth in the board game.  Many times I’ve seen actual MLB infields play more variables than this.  Any future tweaking thoughts?
One other question:  With the recent trend of teams playing shifts on batters more and more do you see a format someday of defensive strategies displayed somewhat in the manner of the SOM football?  In that situation, defensive players according to their positions can affect the outcome of plays and their results. You could have a 2 in RF but if you played a shift on a particular batter he could potentially become a 3 or perhaps have a better chance of making a play depending how you position him.  The pitcher’s X-fielding would more correspond to an area of the playing field rather than a fixed position.  Just a thought.
Alan Smith, Sacramento, CA
            Gamers have been adding ingenious innovations for as long as I have been playing Strat-O-Matic (since 1963). I know of some that allow runners at third to play safe. In some of those versions, the runner cannot score on any grounder; in others he has to use his running rating, minus some factor (like -7) if he elects to try for home. My advice always has been – it’s your game, enjoy it. If you prefer doing things a bit differently than what’s in the official rules, and the gamers you play with agree, go for it.
            Just a first thought on the shift option: The X chances for LF and RF are the same, so maybe the better adjustment against lefty pull hitters is to improve the 2B fielding rating and hurt the 3B fielding rating – the net effect is better for the defense. But if the reward is always greater than the risk, the defensive move is too obvious and becomes automatic rather than strategic. A gb(3b)A, B or C might have to be hits, too … Alternatively, a SINGLE (rf) could be reduced to a SINGLE* and a SINGLE (lf) could be changed to SINGLE**. Perhaps a SI* split to the right side becomes an out and a grounder or lineout to 3B becomes a hit. This would need more thought – if the batter gets credit for going the opposite way, is his power reduced in any way? Do some singles the opposite way become doubles or triples because fielders are out of position? What happens to base runners with fielders out of alignment? What about shifts against right-handed hitters?
            I have a suggestion for Super Hal bullpen logic. Could SOM create a generic system where they would cover all the different situations that would come up for the bullpen? That way all we would have to do is put the pitchers in the order we want for each situation. It is hard to cover all the situations and figure it would be easier if the situations were already there and I just put the pitchers in order and also it would save time. I tried to create the situations last year and am sure I missed some. I hope they will consider this.
Harold, St. Clair Shores, MI
            In the last year or so, I’ve seen a pattern of gamers asking for time-saving features in the Windows game. Some involving the computer manager already have been added, so your suggestion is consistent with what Strat-O-Matic has tried to do for customer convenience.