The Talk Show – October 2015

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.
            This week I stumbled upon the podcast section on SOM’s website and listened to one from a few years ago (Feb 2013 I believe) in which you were a guest. I found it fascinating listening to you describe the way SOM assigns its ratings. You were asked why you always come back to SOM. You answered that it has the best combination of playability, realism and accuracy. 
            I have always felt that SOM is a GREAT game. It really is very well designed and I do feel it replicates player abilities very well. The game company has done so many seasons, has an exceptional reputation for ratings/realism, has a great community, and is fun – I now own nearly 45 SOM sets. One of my all-time favorite projects was using the Heroes set in which I broke it into AL/NL teams composed of only players who played in the 1980s/1990s and played a best of 7 series. The AL swept, but each game was so hotly contested and had me on the edge of my seat. 
            But it drives me crazy that a 1-rated outfielder can only make an error and never allows a hit plus error (I only play the board game, Super Advanced with all the bells/whistles). As a result there are just too many dropped flies, IMO. I was doing a 1955 World Series replay and with two outs in the 9th, Hank Bauer dropped TWO consecutive flies for E2s to cost the Yankees the game. Hard to imagine!
            I’ve also wanted to see outfield assists at second and third base on runners trying to stretch a single to a double, etc.
            Do you have any suggestions for house rules to tweak these? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Josh Nelson
            Here are a couple of thoughts. With none on, and a DOUBLE, SINGLE**, a SINGLE (of) – not on SINGLE* — you may attempt to stretch a batter’s single or double in the way the Supplemental Stealing System works. First, determine whether the runner CAN try to stretch. Subtract 10 from his running rating and roll the 20-sided (this eliminates the 1-8, 9 and 10 runners from stretching and limits the chances of others). Then roll for the man’s speed, adjusted by the OF throwing arm and the hit location. This is untested. If you think that gives good runners too many extra bases, then maybe a deduction of -4 off his speed. This shouldn’t happen often – after all, a man’s extra-base hits already are accounted for on his card and this play is a risk.
            On the outfield errors, Super Advanced reduces the number of dropped flies that occur in Advanced. The E(1) accounts for errors on hits and bad throws. In the Windows game, the cutoff rule can cause any OF to make overthrows.
            As for OF-1 not making errors on hits, that’s correct. I just use a bit of imagination — the E(1) is a muffed line drive that could have been scored a hit or error. After all, any towering fly that was dropped would be an E(2) or E(3).
The Bigger the Better
            I love the big season cards with big stat numbers. Bonds 73. Williams .406. Belle 50/50. Gibson 1.12. Any chance of a set featuring these cards?
                                                         Anthony G., Chattanooga, TN
            I’m assuming you are craving a set with all these players and more, because there already are single-season sets with each of these historic performances. The only time Strat-O-Matic did a single-greatest-season set of assorted players (in any sport) was the 1960s-era issue of the original Hall of Fame A and Hall of Fame B sets in basic-format only. They had the player’s top season on one side of the card and the flip side represented his career performance.
            So, while your suggestion is fascinating, there’s no indication SOM is headed in that direction. I think such a set would be irresistible to many, but there are several reasons why it might not happen: 1) The challenge of normalizing the cards across all eras (though SOM did that with its more recent Hall of Fame sets; 2) the set probably would undermine sales of the season sets; 3) though many gamers would buy this, a good many others have declared that playing a superstar league takes away most of the strategy – nobody bunts, platooning is scarce, etc. Teams have no weaknesses to work around or exploit.
Escape to the Past
            I have been playing Strat off and on for over 50 years, cards and dice of course. I still remember my first purchase of a selector set of the 1962 cards (Yankees, Angels, Tigers, Dodgers, Giants, and ?). This game has been one constant in a world of change. The perfect escape into another world in which one has total control – that is, if you play the solitaire version. The capability to have competition against different eras, to hold drafts, to create tournaments, and to make trades provides a limitless number of scenarios.
            Although I am a native Californian, I have been a Yankee fan most of my life. As such, I have collected an assortment of their greatest teams. Therefore, I did not hesitate to buy the slightly used 1956 season, featuring Mickey Mantle’s best year. Unfortunately, now it has become worn with age. I do not recall this season’s cards ever being available for purchase from Strat and I am mystified as to how they came into existence. Please clue me in.
            Do you foresee the 1956 season being recreated? Also, revisiting the 1962 season would be high on my list. I realize that the production of all-franchise teams would be a major undertaking; but it seems to me that almost every fan of the game would be interested. All-franchise teams would facilitate league play much more than the Hall Of Fame cards. Speaking of the Hall Of Fame, it is a fantastic collection, especially with the greatest seven years format. The ability to purchase yearly updates would be a “‘must”‘ for anyone with this set. Hope that you can find a way to make this a profitable option.
            Many thanks for a lifetime of enjoyment. 
Mike Romano, Los Osos, CA
            Your sentiments, Mike, speak for a lot of us, who just cannot get enough of playing Strat-O-Matic or of new card sets/Windows rosters. The 1956 season you have been playing with was Strat-O-Matic’s first effort to create a season going back in time. It appeared in early 1982, with the just-completed 1981 season. SOM creator Hal Richman wanted to bolster what he correctly assumed would be sagging sales following the players’ strike that wiped out one-third of the 1981 campaign.
            Because 1956 was such an ideal choice, it’s a curiosity that SOM has not yet updated it into Super Advanced form, the way it has done with seasons from the 1960s and 1970s. Surely we will see that done, and demand for similar treatment of 1962 has been consistent. Of all the seasons Strat-O-Matic has produced, only 1930, 1950, 1956, 1962, 1968 and 1970 have not appeared in Super Advanced format. Count me among those who are eager for those very updates – whenever I think about assembling teams from each franchise’s successful runs (for instance, the 1951-56 Dodgers, or the 1960-64 Yankees), not having 1956 and 1962 in Super Advanced form becomes an issue. I left the ‘62 Dodgers out of my now-in-progress Beautiful Losers league because they aren’t in SA format.
            You are correct that all-time franchise sets would be a big undertaking, but Strat-O-Matic has a head start on that with its Hall of Fame and Baseball Heroes sets. I’d love to see those supplemented with the players who could complete rosters for at least the older 16 franchises (maybe 24). Because those ratings would be based on best-seven seasons (rather than each player’s greatest season) and because the supplemental players would not be Hall of Famers, this set would have some good-not-great players who would represent relative weaknesses. Having both strengths and weaknesses brings more strategy into play.
A New Look at Old Football Cards
            I emailed Talk Show a few years ago about the Milt Plum card from 1967 where I noticed it had a completion in Right and an incomplete in Wrong. I think James Williams said there might have been errors on early cards. I was cruising through some old SOM Review on-line the other day and I found this question:
Q: On Bart Starr’s 1968 card with the Packers, he has a 30-yard gain on 2 when called right but an incompletion when the play is called wrong. Is this a misprint?
A: Starr’s 1968 card was computed correctly. The reason for this situation is that
Starr’s completions were incorrectly matched up, however, the card is correct as it came
            I’m not really sure what the answer means but I am thinking the early cards are correct in this regard.
Tom Griffith
            I think the SOM Review answer is saying the Starr card shouldn’t have a gain in Right without a companion gain in Wrong, but that the number of completion chances are still correct.
What’s Next?
         Do you think SOM will issue 1976 as the next NFL reissue season? A far better year than 1974.
Alan W. South, Britain CT
         I wouldn’t be surprised, because Strat-O-Matic has the rest of the 1970s covered. By the same rationale, 1960 and 1987 are strong candidates as well.
Picking Winners
            Two friends and I have a 48-game league season and we pick 3 teams apiece from 2 different years. My question is what do you look for in a pitching card? I had a 1971 Mickey Lolich card and he had a very good year, but I kept on getting bombed, I think it was a 6-4 or 6-5 home run. So I try to look for on base percentage for batters but for pitching, what do you look for in a card? We do not play advanced.
            I am also emphasizing on-base percentage for pitchers. To me, the most important thing for a pitcher is to get the out when the roll is on his card, because, overall, most of the damage comes from the batter cards – as we should expect when we are choosing the best players on the best teams. Extra-base hits trump on-base percentage if the on-base is close.
            Lolich does have a good card, so we also have to consider that your short seasons are going to produce some wild stats. Compare, for instance, the extreme stats that are common on the Major League leader boards in mid-May to the more reasonable stats on Oct. 1. Your stats after 48 games – the spectacularly great stats for some players and the spectacularly awful stats for others – should look more like the mid-May stats.