The Talk Show – October 2013

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.
            We met twice in the past, once at the SOM convention in Jamaica, Queens back in 2002 and another time at a baseball opening day in Glen Head at the SOM headquarters.  I just read the SOM basketball preview and just wanted a little clarification on the normal and fastbreak passing for LeBron James and Chris Paul. Once again you done a great job bringing us gamers advance information. I want to know what numbers they have the ball stolen, generate a turnover, throw an open pass, and of course dazzle for normal passing and the same for the fastbreak passing (except for open passing of course). I read the review at 5 a.m. on 8/25/13 and maybe I was up too early but is Chris Paul a 3-20 fastbreak dazzling point guard? I know last year he was a 5-20 fastbreak dazzling point guard. I won a championship with that card. Please clarify for both LeBron and Chris Paul.
Randyl Jones, Hempstead, NY
            Hi, Randyl. You should have the cards and/or Windows ratings any day now. The “preview” is just that – a look, not a complete ratings book. Paul is something special, of course, and may be as valuable as anyone in a draft league. All those automatic hoops on his dazzlers take a toll on his stock-team teammates’ shooting columns, though, so when Paul is resting, the Clippers’ offense will be challenged.
            How does Strat-O-Matic plan to handle Billy Hamilton? Won’t it be hard to account for a guy who steals successfully pretty much every time he gets on base?
Matt Crowley
            Too soon to know for sure, but SOM’s Supplemental Stealing System is terrific at managing a runner’s base-stealing frequency and his success rate. Hamilton was 13-for-14 this year in only 19 AB, so I’m guessing we’ll see him get his jump on 2-12 and his rating could be 20-16. But in the past, 19 AB rarely has gotten a player a card, so anticipate Hamilton as a computer-only player. He’s ripe for abuse in projects that don’t limit player usage. With a .368 batting average and .429 on-base percentage, he’d likely set everyone’s stolen-base records if allowed to play full-time.

            It seems some 1938 baseball teams have been short-changed on position players. I play with in-season transactions and appropriate usage limits, and that has left me bereft of necessary players for several squads.
            I was playing Philadelphia at Boston (N.L.). As the season opens the Phils have just three carded bench players, and two are lefty swingers who couldn’t buy a hit against southpaw pitching. Given the horrible pitching, pinch hitters will be at a premium.
            Third baseman Pinky Whitney got hurt (remainder of game) and left. I had to pinch hit in the seventh. Once again, I had to go to the bench in the ninth for a bat. There went the backup catcher. Then, in the 11th, my starting catcher got hurt.
            I had to deal with a short-handed bench, while several pitchers who pitched just a couple of games in the final weeks of the season are carded. Some of those position players provided necessary bench strength early in the season, until trades or other transactions brought in guys who were carded. The Phils have a couple of deals coming, but not until I get well into my season. Those trades are essentially one-for-one, so they don’t help. It’ll be midseason before I see a net gain in bench strength.
            The Phils are a real mess, to be sure, and no amount of extra scrubs could have helped much. But the Red Sox are forced to go two-thirds of the season with just three carded bench reserves.
            I have combed the Baseball Reference rosters for players who were excluded, and found a nice neat group of nine (one card sheet):
Blondy Ryan – 12 games, 26 PAs, the only player to fill in for Bartell at short until his midseason departure.
Ethan Allen – 19 games, 36 PA’s. Utility outfielder for the Browns, until his June 18th release.
Irv Bartling – 14 games, 51 PA’s, arrived Sept. 8 and played regularly through the end of the season. He has the most PAs of any un-carded player, and more than many players who are in the set.
Babe Barna – 9 games, 33 PA’s. Started for the A’s during their first three games of the season. Was on the roster through April, then recalled in September.
Paul Chervinko – 12 games, 30 PA’s. Started the first seven games of the season behind the plate for the Dodgers. In all fairness, the Dodgers went through eight catchers that season. But Roy Spencer is the only active, carded, catcher for the first two weeks of the season. And he wasn’t even starting. Babe Phelps, who is carded, didn’t get a start behind the plate until May 5. Merv Shea didn’t start a game until June 6.
Packy Rogers – 23 games, 43 PA’s, infielder-outfielder, called up at mid-season by the Dodgers. Fairly regular utility player through Sept. 8, he appeared in 23 of 56 games during that stretch.
Fabian Gaffke – 13 games, 15 PA’s. I know. Not a lot to work with. But the Red Sox have just 11 position players until Jim Tabor gets called up the first week of August.
Moe Berg – 10 games, 12 PA’s, Boston’s third-string catcher also played first base. The Red Sox need any depth they can get. As an added incentive to card him, he was active and on the Red Sox roster all season.
Vito Tamulis – 3 games (2 starts), 15 IPs. I know Tamulis is carded for Brooklyn, following his trade from the Browns. But he did start two games early in the season, and pitched 15 innings for St. Louis. If, in other cases, it was so important to card guys who had two end-of-season appearances and only one start each, then why not a St. Louis card for Tamulis?
            It’s not always a matter of how much some of these guys played (though several had significant PAs, especially given their reserve status and the period they were actually on the active rosters), but that they were available.
            If SOM is not going to card everyone, and they have the Nameless Players for the rest, why card hurlers who didn’t even appear until the final two weeks of the season, but not the players listed above, who were all arguably much more important to their respective teams’ depth?
            They are pinch hitters, pinch runners, and injury replacements, and help keep starters from going over their allotted playing time. They help make other in-game moves possible, just by being there. Even if their numbers are terrible, they sometimes contribute mightily to how a team performs during the season.
            It’s the logic behind who was (and wasn’t) chosen that I’d love to learn more about.
            Atley Donald pitched just 12 innings … Catcher Hank Helf got 13 at bats. Cleveland has plenty of other players … Elmer Burkart pitched 10 innings. He made two appearances, Sept. 27th and Oct. 2nd … Tom Earley pitched 11 innings and didn’t appear until Sept. 27 … Clay Smith pitched 11 innings, all in relief. His first appearance (of four) was Sept. 13.
            Those players are all carded. But what makes them better-suited for inclusion than the other guys I mentioned?
Jeff Woodhouse, Seattle
            Making sure every team has its correct 25 players on every day (or almost every day) of the actual as-played season would require carding everyone who played. That’s never happened. If that’s the level of participation you need, the alternatives are 1) use the nameless cards; 2) find similar players whose cards can represent the low-use guys; or 3) play the computer game, which has everybody.
            The nine players you listed also include guys such as Bartling and Tamulis that were available for only a few weeks. When it comes to carding, SOM looks at end-of-season rosters, makes sure each team has at least enough players (even if that means carding someone with fewer AB/IP for that team than players excluded from other teams) to have backups at each position and makes its cuts (with some exceptions) on each team based on most AB/IP/Games pitched, not most days on the roster.