Great Moments in Strat – August, 2008



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Why Some Teams Win and Others Don’t


            I’ve had a lot of highlight moments over the years when I play S-O-M computer games – which is how I play football, basketball and, for the first time this past year, hockey. Our GKSML face-to-face baseball league is still going and we’re currently wrapping up our 69th, 154-game replay.


            The special moment I’m writing to you about occurred last fall when I was replaying the Detroit Lions season (I also replay the playoffs), which means I’ve become a good loser. The Lions were 3-13 in real-life and I “coached” them to a 4-12 record.

In the second game between the Lions and Green Bay, a couple of plays at the end made it the best game of SOM computer football I’ve ever played. Here’s what happened:  The Lions led 30-24, only 15 seconds were left, and Brett Favre was intercepted by DreBly, seemingly snuffing out the last Green Bay chance. But Bly fumbled on the return and Green Bay center Scott Wells recovered. One play left and the ball was on the Packer 32. Favre then connected with Greg Jennings (who went to Kalamazoo Central High School and later set pass-catching records at Western Michigan University) for 68 yards and the winning touchdown. Favre was 22-of-41 for 360 yards and threw for four TDs with two interceptions. As usual, Favre spread his passes around, throwing to nine different receivers.

Del Newell, Kalamazoo, MI



Fantasy + Replay = All in One


            When I got the cards and dice baseball game based on the 2006 season last year, I immediately had a 30-team fantasy draft.  I opted for up-and-coming stars like Hanley Ramirez, Nick Markakis, Felix Hernandez and Matt Cain much of the time, building for the future.  After the draft, I started a 162-game season.  I didn’t finish it then, but when baseball started up again this year I picked up where I had left off and finished all 162 games.  Strat-O-Matic certainly delivers all the feel of baseball, with many players going through slumps and hot streaks over the course of the year.  My team, the Toronto Blue Jays, started slowly with a record of 19-31 through the first 50 games, a slump I attributed to how young the team was.  It wasn’t until after the All-Star break that the team broke .500 with a four-game sweep of Boston at Fenway Park (one of the highlights of the year).  With a record of 77-68 and the playoffs out of reach, my team went on a 15-2 tear to finish the season 92-70.  While we didn’t make the playoffs, I’m looking forward to seeing Matt Cain, Hanley Ramirez, Yadier Molina, Matt Stairs, and Rafael Betancourt play for me with their ‘07 cards this year. 


            While most players posted stats very similar to their ‘06 line, my team had many great stories, like Wilson Betemit hitting .279 with 25 homers and 107 RBIs, Matt Stairs hitting .298 with 21 homers in only 349 at-bats, Dontrelle Willis going 19-6 with a 3.24 ERA over 247 IP, and even Yadier Molina hitting .244 (when he only hit .216 for the ‘06 Cardinals).  My Jays also had a few disappointments, too, like Jonathan Broxton posting a 4-13 record with a 4.02 ERA and Hanley Ramirez hitting .253, albeit with 61 stolen bases.  Thanks again, Strat-O-Matic, for all the good times playing the most realistic baseball game on the planet.

Nathan Groot-Nibbelink, ONT, Canada



Here’s How to Make the Old Cubbies Great    


            One of my favorite season replays was the mid ‘60s Cubs. Combining cards from the 63-67 seasons, I created a monster team that won 102 games and defeated Detroit in the World Series. Ernie Banks (.336 50-149), Billy Williams (.314 29-111), Ron Santo (.297 29-114), Adolpho Phillips (.263 23-70 53 SBs), Randy Hundley (.241 18-64), Fergie Jenkins (20-13 3.12 an a Memorial Day no-hit game), Larry Jackson (17-7 2.95), Dick Ellswoth (14-7 3.67), Bob Buhl (12-9 3.56), Ted Abernathy (29 saves 72 games 2.34) and Lindy McDaniel (16 saves 72 games 2.12) were the notables. George Altman (19 homeruns), Don Landrum, Billy Cowan and Lee Thomas were also solid bench players. This team had power, pitching and speed.

Scott G, Katonah NY


A Cluster of No-Hitters


     I have Version 13 of the SOM Baseball game and I love it because I can play it in a solitaire fashion. I play all of the Oriole (home team) games (2007) manually and a few other select games in a 16-team stock replay season. (Cleveland,13-6, is the class team so far with about eight .300 hitters and a 3.24 era). My first wife introduced me to SOM baseball in 1975 with the board game and six teams. We played until about 1986: the 1979, 1981, 1983 and 1984 seasons. On an average, it was about 600 games per season using 16 teams and finishing with the playoffs. Then I played on the Commodore 64, the 1986 season with about 16 teams but only about 400 games, and then later on a season (1991, I think) with an IBM computer, with maybe 300 games. I actually preferred the board game to the computer, but no one was interested in learning the game, so I stuck to the computer in the later years.


     After the 1994 season in real MLB, I became disenchanted with baseball. All of the season records, games, cards, and floppy disks slowly became either lost or thrown away after 1994, as I have moved several times. My most prized possession was the box scores and lists of no-hitters that I was involved in numbering either 6 or 7 in about 3,500 games.(All my records were either hand-written or typed before I acquired the computers). All I can now remember of these no-hitters is:’79 Jack Morris, Detroit; ‘83 Dave Steib, Toronto (and someone else); ‘84 Dan Petrie, Detroit (playoffs vs. Minnesota); ‘86 Mike Scott, Houston (computer); and ‘86 someone else. I think someone else pitched a no-hitter on the IBM computer (1991?), but gave up 6 or 7 walks.


     The most famous no-hit type of game I remember was when I was pitching Nolan Ryan for the 1979 California Angeles. He had pitched 8-2/3 innings of no-hit ball, and the ball was hit to Jim Anderson the short-stop. The result was on Ryan’s card and it read ssX. The result was a split card reading of 1 or 2 on the X-Fielding chart, resulting in a single for the batter. I can’t remember the opposition batter or team, but I still remember the player Jim Anderson (ss-3, lol, really a good ballplayer). So to people who struggled for years, even 45 years, to get a no-hitter, it appears I have been involved in an average of 6-7 no-hitters in 1 fully played season. I am retired now, and my interest in baseball has been rekindled, as I have spare time to play computer baseball. I truly love the Version 13 game and have played about 190 games auto/and manual. But zero no-hitters so far!

                                                                                                              Cliff Burris, Essex, MD



Just One More Game – Until Dawn


            Background, Part 1:  I’m playing a 64-team tournament, cards and dice, best-of-5 series, using eight teams each from the “super-advanced” seasons 1963 through 1967, 1971, 1975 and 1978.  I’m at the “Elite Eight” level – the fourth round, with 8 teams left in the tournament.


            Background, Part 2:  In earlier times, when I would often write my games up for Strat bulletin boards, I regularly used the title “Last Game of the Night”.  Whenever I tried to squeeze in “one last game” before going to bed, it always seemed like that last game was remarkable in some way – marathon extra innings, major hitting or pitching feats, heroics or late-inning comebacks.  This concept also applied to when I was trying to squeeze in one last game before work, while my wife was waiting for me to join her on a shopping trip or outing, whatever.  This doesn’t happen as much anymore, since I have many fewer obligations now, and much more time for Strat.


            And so it was one day this week, I had a minor medical procedure scheduled for the morning.   Although I am in full possession of all my faculties, this procedure did require that a responsible adult drive me home after the procedure.  My wife and I planned to leave at 9:45.  I woke up fairly early that day, so I decided to play a few games before leaving.  The series on the table was ‘66 Phillies vs. ‘78 Dodgers.   I considered the Dodgers to be one of the tournament favorites, a .586 win pct, World Series team, great pitching, good offense, decent defense.  They’d knocked out ‘64 SF, ‘67 Cubs and ‘67 White Sox to get here.  The Phils at .537 were the 58th seed, one of the major underdogs, but had already taken out the ‘78 Yankees (613) , ‘64 White Sox (.605) and ‘71 A’s (.627).


            The first game was an 8-0 shutout by Jim Bunning, took hardly any time at all.  It was still only 8 p.m., I had plenty of time for another game before leaving.  Game Two was a slugfest, 10-8, with the upset-minded Phillies, looking to knock out their fourth consecutive favorite, coming up with four runs in the 9th off Welch and Forster.  Dick Groat’s bases-loaded double was the big hit.  A great game with lots of rallies and comebacks on both sides.  On another time, this could easily have been a Last Game of the Night.  But today, I still had over an hour before we had to leave.


            So, I decided to play “just one more game” to see if the Phils got their sweep into the next round.  Battle of two fine lefties, Chris Short (20-10, 3.54) and Tommy John (17-10, 3.30).  The first four innings flew by, with both pitchers having no-hitters until Harvey Kuenn singled for Philly in the 4th.  Short kept his no-hitter going into the 7th, when North singled, but still a 0-0 game after 7.  A quiet eighth.  The Phils got a man on with one out in the 9th, bring up lefty-killer Dick Allen.  Allen had demolished the great ‘71 Vida Blue card in the previous round, leading the Phils’ upset.  His ‘66 card vs lefties has full homers on 1:4, 1:5, 1:6, 1:7 (I’m not using ballpark factors), and partial HR’s on 1:8 and 3:7, plus other hits nearly filling the one and three columns.    It is one of the best, if not the best cards against lefties that I’ve ever seen for a full-time player.  I felt I had no choice.  I couldn’t make the same mistake that Oakland had.  Although first base was occupied, I walked him.  It worked.  Tommy John got the next two outs.


            The game remained scoreless into the 11th.  With one out, Dick Allen comes up against TJ again.  One out, nobody one.  The exact same situation in which Allen nailed Vida Blue for a game and series-winning homer in their series.  I couldn’t walk him again.  Luckily, TJ escapes with “just a single”.  Allen immediately steals second, but following two walks, he’s thrown out at the plate on an infield grounder.  John reaches point-of-weakness on the second walk, but Forster gets out of the jam.  Still scoreless after 11. 


            The 11-inning outing also puts Short at POW, although the hits/walks he’d given up were nowhere near it.  Had Tommy John survived the 11th, I’d have been very tempted to let them both go in a Marichal-Spahn type of duel, but propriety reigns.  I enforce the 11 inning POW rule.  Darold Knowles relieves Short.  Still scoreless into the 13th.  In the Philly 13th, the leadoff man reaches on an error, and once AGAIN, here’s Dick Allen against a lefty, with 1st base occupied.  This time, I walk him.  Forster gets the next three outs, still scoreless after 13. 


            Somewhere in the middle of all that, needless to say, my wife calls out “almost time to leave!” from downstairs, with all due annoyance. 


            I wasn’t going anywhere, of course, until I finished this game.  Luckily for me, the Dodgers finally break through in the 14th, a big double by Ron Cey.  Forster holds it, 3-0 Dodgers in 14 innings.  It was, of course, The Last Game of the Night.

Jim Beauchemin, Altamont, NY