THE TALK SHOW
Host: Glenn Guzzo
You can submit your question or insight on any Strat-O-Matic game to firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
HE’S GOT IT BAD … BUT IT FEELS SO GOOD
I truly enjoy your columns on the Strat-O- Matic Web Page. I enjoyed the article on truly bad teams. I still love the 1972 Rangers for Mike Paul, the ‘73 Brewers for Scott, May and Porter, playing a game with 1973 Pirates and Expos with Steve Blass vs Bill Stoneman just to get one of them a win. Richie Hebner’s ‘72 card versus lefties. I love the ‘60s and ‘70s – so many memories. I get a thrill of looking at the cards and seeing Mays, Aaron, Cepeda, Kaline, Al Ferrara, Celerino Sanchez, all the players. Good and bad teams. Looking at a Strat-O team is like opening a pack of new baseball cards. I am still upset that the 1971 set did not include Gomer Hodge. Bob Bailey had a devastating card for the 1970 Expos.
I bought my first set in 1973, and I play 500 to 1,000 games a year. Baseball 900, Football and Hockey share the other 100. I have roughly 25 different baseball seasons on the go. Some of the seasons I am playing: 1956, 1959, 1961, 1963 to 1969 … 1971, 1972, 1973, 75 and 1977 … 1981 and 82 … 1994 and 1996, 2000, 2011 and 2015.
I need to play every day. My wife says I am possessed.
Presently I am enjoying the 1965 season at home and 1981 at the cottage. I brought a set to Cuba this winter. I am lobbying for the re-creation of the 1968, 1970 and 1972 seasons. I have the original ‘70 and ‘72, but would love a Super Advanced version. Please consider one of these in the near future.
I also play Hockey and Football – Single elimination system (with a friend – with whom I also play computer version of Strat-O-Matic Baseball). I have tried other games and some have nice features. But Strat-O-Matic rules. God Bless Ethan Allen and Hal Richman.
I enjoy reading your stories. They trigger a lot of memories. (And, yes, I do have storage problem). Keep up the good work. I love playing Strat-O-Matic and reading about it.
Have you ever taught your wife how to play SOM baseball and she beat you?
On our honeymoon! Two weeks in Hawaii was outstanding, but two weeks without Strat was unthinkable. Playing VERY basic (no infield in, no holding runners), Donna won the first three and thought Strat-O-Matic was great! Once we added strategy, her wins were tough to come by. When Orlando Cepeda for the ‘67 Cardinals had four strikeouts and a double-play in one game, she benched him (the NL MVP that year) and still boasts about her produce-or-sit managing style. (She didn’t win the next game with Bobby Tolan at 1B, either.)
As much as I love Strat, and as much as I love my wife of 22 years who enjoys participating in the things I love, I do not love it when she says playing Strat was the best part of our honeymoon!
A NIGHT TO REMEMBER
My nephew Andy and his wife Amy hosted a Strat-O-Matic Baseball game night on July 29. We had live MLB on in the background and Ozuna of the Marlins homered on TV … then roughly 5-10 minutes later he hit one in his Strat at-bat! Also, the tourney ended on a rare LO – Max, yes, a triple play that may have cost Andy the tourney win. He had bases loaded with 0 outs and needed the runs as the tie breaker … and later we found one was turned in MLB that same night!
In an ironic twist, I drafted all Reds hitters with Mets pitching. I missed out on drafting the Reds bench so I didn’t have Zack Cozart. I had Eugenio Suarez. The trophy was a Zack Cozart bobble head – and as fate would have it they ended up winning it for the Zack! Great game. Thanks for the memories all of you at Strat provide to us!
Now if you could just release some more memories like the 1980 season 🙂 Well, that’s one for another time.
Thanks for more episodes in the long-running series called, “How Life Imitates Strat-O-Matic.” Or, as more than a few of us might say, “Strat-O-Matic IS life – the rest is just details.”
I’m pretty sure that when Strat-O-Matic can get to a super-advanced version of 1980, it will be popular. The Phillies win their first World Series with MVP Mike Schmidt. The Royals reach the World Series for the first time after George Brett’s .390 season. Great stuff.
A PRESSING MATTER
Over time, there’s been much talk among Strat round-ballers about the true nature of the “Press” defense. Some see it as a “full-court press,” to be utilized late in the game when half-court basketball won’t do enough to cut into the team’s deficit. It’s safe to say that this is the assumed nature of the Press by most today and is the one that appears supported by the rules created over the years to regulate its use.
However, others claim the Press is meant as more of a “pressure defense.” In this case, it is not necessarily a full-court press but a smothering defense of sorts (at either end of the court) that is heavier on fouls and turnovers. This view is supported by those who believe that (1) utilizing it more often helps to add some of the fouls and turnovers the average game normally lacks and that (2) it helps to bring out the true potency of teams who rely on their defense (i.e. the Bad-Boy Pistons) and who otherwise are less successful in replays.
Upon simply looking at the action deck recently, I also began to ponder its true meaning. Why would so much detail be put into something that was merely used primarily in the 4th quarter and for only those games in which its utilization was necessary to get them back into game contention? I recently played a string of games that were either a blowout or very close in score and ended up not using the Press in any of them. It didn’t seem necessary. That being said, my questions are:
1. How was the Press originally regarded when the game was created?
2. Is it still regarded the same way today?
Kevin Flynn, Chicago
Excellent topic and a fine description of the situation, Kevin. Thanks.
I think the answer to both questions is in the rule book (page 9, section 18.5): “TIP: In most cases, it would be unrealistic to press and run a Fastbreak offense for an extended period of time. As a guideline, a team should use the Fastbreak offense in conjunction with the press defense only if it is behind by more than 10 points in the fourth quarter.”
From this I believe we can deduce that the press was – and is – envisioned as a late-game strategy. However, there is nothing in the rules to prevent heavier usage, though the coach should be mindful of the trade-offs. Having better players in early foul trouble is a high-risk strategy. The Bad-Boy Pistons might have the depth to withstand it, but few teams would.
I favor playing any way that will increase your enjoyment. I have a long personal history of adapting SOM’s official rules – many of which were conceived with easier, swifter play in mind – to add realism. Strat-O-Matic itself has added numerous super-advanced rules to replicate the real-life evolution of all Strat-O-Matic sports.
If you seek guidance for how competitive leagues should settle this, I’d advocate seeking consensus. Otherwise, if the rules don’t prohibit it, then allow it. If it’s only certain teams that can use this strategy consistently and effectively, and that strategy makes that team as effective as they really were, then that suggests the strategy is appropriate. On the other hand, if an unrealistic strategy should be used by every team because it is so one-sided, then the league members probably can agree fairly soon to outlaw that strategy. That would be rare, though, because Strat-O-Matic works hard to create offsetting risk-reward for all its strategies.
The new flat pass-as-a-run and the YAC rule are very controversial out here in the league-playing community. Some folks like them, some hate them and refuse to use them. I think the latter outnumber the former. Have you had any significant feedback or analysis? One comment that keeps popping up is the fact that running guessed right hasn’t changed much even though the defenses are now strongly motivated to call a lot more run defenses than before. In fact, people are saying that it makes no sense to run the ball at all. You’re better off calling a flat pass because flat guessed right clearly yields better results then run guessed right. Any thoughts? Any analysis?
Bill Ferguson, Madison, WI
First and most important point: These rules are optional. When they were introduced last year, they were welcomed widely. Strat-O-Matic has received no data yet from leagues or individuals. We would welcome it. Personally, I’d like to be the defensive coach against a team that never runs. If I couldn’t get a shutout every other game, I’d be disappointed. While Flat Pass Right for most quarterbacks might yield more than runs guessed right for most running backs, runs guessed wrong will do quite well, as will passes. Out-guessing your opponent is still the best call.
‘20s, ‘30s and ‘40s
On upcoming potential baseball seasons, recreating 1947 would seem obvious and I do not seem to understand lack of interest in pre-WWII seasons, especially ones from the late ‘20s to early ‘30s.
The pattern seems pretty clear: Most gamers like to replay the seasons they witnessed, especially the latest season and those of their teen years. It seems that Strat-O-Matic’s 1920, 1924, 1927, 1930, 1934 and 1938 seasons give the children of post-WWII sufficient education in the great teams and players of that era. Personally, I would love to be able to replay the 1929 A’s and Cubs, the 1935 Cubs-Cardinals steamy September pennant race, and the 1940 season, which had a great four-team AL pennant race and Cincinnati ‘s first World Series winners since 1919. Since I grew up in Detroit and adopted the Reds as a favorite team when I was 10, this would be my one chance to replay a Series that had both of them.
I don’t think there’s any doubt that Strat-O-Matic will get to 1947 eventually. The company seems determined to give us all the post-WW II seasons. The ‘47 re-creation probably would have been accomplished by now if not for the company’s more recent – and very popular – decision to update 1970s seasons. Aside from its chronological place in post-WWII history, 1947 is interesting on its own merits, especially Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier and the Giants’ then-record 221 home runs, among other attractions.
THE WAIT HAS BEEN NEARLY 50 YEARS
I want to give you and our Strat friends a year to think about … 1968.
Was there ever a year quite like it? Most of us Baby Boomers were in junior high or high school, we remember the unrest, Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy – both tragically gunned down – riots in major cities, and a great summer of baseball. Here is my vote for the classic season of 1968. Our Tigers had a great year, Denny McLain, Bob Gibson, and the great tribe duo of Tiant and McDowell! I have been waiting for this Tiger team to be re-issued in current format so I can finally play an all-time-greats league. Detroit still has no World Series winner for super advanced Strat baseball! Strat, please give us 1968!
But wait, that’s not all … Then that fall, we see a changing of the guard in pro football, The Pack has their run of three championships in a row stopped, and the Colts dominate the NFL, and go into Super Bowl III as heavy favorites against Broadway Joe and his Jets. The result – perhaps the greatest upset in history of sports. And although Strat has developed this season with their computer game, they have not come out with a six-pack in card form. Strat please come out with the ‘68 football. I am waiting for this Jets team to do a “greatest of” football league. The ‘67 Jets just don’t cut it!
Convinced – with plenty of evidence – that Strat-O-Matic Baseball gamers prefer great offense – SOM creator Hal Richman is wary of 1968. Though I have lots of company, I’m still in the minority loving great pitching. My eyes go first to the bottom of the box score. To me, a close game is an interesting game, and low-scoring games always are close, magnifying strategy. As you point out, ’68 has a team worthy of a great-teams league and it has historical significance as well – the last 30-game winner (McLain) and Gibson’s 1.12 ERA, by far the best since the Dead Ball days.
If the gamer community really wants a new chance to have this season, maybe the crescendo should start now, in advance of its 50th anniversary in 2018.
LOOK AT IT THIS WAY …
This is the perfect example of why I play Strat and love the computer game so much: The focus on the details to make the game better. My suggestions are for the computer game.
I realize that this game is a hard core database and the menu structure looks like it. Change to have a basic menu by a toggle on the file menu, so that the original game menus don’t change, but to swap out to a graphic user layout menu. Team menu would bring up the diamond with all the players listed in their position(s). You could drag and drop or right click and select properties and customize everything from this menu page.
I will work on an MS paint pic of what I am trying to describe. For example, starters would be listed in the dugout area, DH in the on deck, relievers in the outfield bullpen. You could right click on bullpen and select a reliever order. Right click on the dugout and select a starter order. Then the batting order could be over the other dugout and right click to make changes. Maybe right click on the mound and select team pitching manager styles, and right click on home plate for team hitting running manager styles.
Now the league page could have a web-page look that could allow all league/division changes on one page.
Last suggestion: Have a locker of sort to store modified team creations. For example, say I want to edit the 2010 Seattle Mariners to have the players that they had in 1995 who were still in the league. I would like to store the original 2010 team and the edited team so I could swap them out in an instant or pick teams from that locker to make a league.
I know all this takes a huge amount of computer coding and I have very little knowledge of actual programming other than having seen code in programs and making a DOS window Java script Yahtzee game, and primitive web pages.
Your suggestion about presenting your idea visually to Strat-O-Matic might be helpful. I do understand that you are proposing changes that would improve form and function. As with all wish-lists offered in The Talk Show, Strat-O-Matic will consider them. They compete with others’ ideas and with available programming time. If something is desirable, but not necessary, it will need very strong support from the community to leapfrog many other ideas that can be accomplished with less work. An idea that requires massive new coding pushes aside many other improvements.