The Talk Show 2007


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.



In the last Talk Show, we invited gamers to share their rules to prevent abuse of dominant relief pitchers …


Beware the POW


In our six-team face-to-face league, the teams are obviously pretty set with quality arms in the bullpen.  However, this did not dissuade people from using their “studs” for multiple innings.  After one season where a manager abused this situation, we instituted what is now called “the Derek Liliquist Rule.”  Relievers who now pitch past their POW inning have to sit out the next game to rest.  Also, they can only pitch one inning past their POW rating before the “dots” on their cards become hits.  This has limited managers from using dominant closers for multiple innings to only crucial games, or games where they have used all other eligible pitchers (e.g. long extra-inning affairs.)  It has worked extremely well for our league, especially since we do not have a usage rule otherwise for relief pitchers. 

The Redbirds


            I like this rule. It’s very simple to understand and apply. It’s true to the game’s endurance ratings. And it ought to simulate the actual use of relievers.



NetPlay Hockey


I am writing to update all the hockey gamers out there about our all-netplay hockey league, which to my knowledge is the only one of its kind.  You can review the website,  If anything, I think that the website shows our commitment to netplay hockey, and certainly the website has as much statistical info as any league website out there.  My contact info is on the site for anyone interested in learning more about the league.


I am also writing about one concern regarding the hockey game:


Why not change Passing L some more to accommodate the more accomplished passers (more rebound chances and fewer outside chances for a Joe Thornton L reading for instance) and balance it by providing more outside shots from Passing L for the lower-rated L Passers?  It could be made optional in the computer game and would require absolutely no split-deck changes and only slight modifications to some goal-scoring cards.  It shouldn’t be terribly difficult to accomplish.  Strat is the best hockey game out there, but the one consistent complaint from SOM hockey gamers is about the passing.  I know that more complex passing systems would be very unlikely to be adopted by Strat due to split- and/or action-card changes.  But with the changes I am describing no action or split cards would have to be changed.  These changes would make Strat the perfect hockey game.  I hope that they will be taken under consideration.


Barry, Bronx, NY


            Congratulations on the web site and your league. Your web site is an impressive statistical resource and your league looks like it is flourishing. The site is a fine example of elevating interest in the sport and in SOM hockey.


            I had the same impression about the Super-Advanced Passing L system when it first came out. And when I published STRAT FAN in the 1990s, we printed many playing innovations – about passing and other facets of the hockey game. I think Strat-O-Matic has been receptive to gamers’ suggestions and the game company has improved an already-popular hockey game several times. The Super-Advanced rules were a major step, and the computer-game options were another. Your suggestion joins others on the company’s wish list.



Pass Block vs. Pass Rush


I play SOM Football solo C&D, basic game only. The simplicity and accuracy as well as the challenge makes for a great game. I have an observation on the differences between the big card (pre-1982) and the small cards (1982+). It seems to me that for the basic game, the big cards are more realistic because the QB sacks are distributed on both the defensive cards and the QB cards. A QB with few sacks (Marino) has no control under the new game, but would have in the old game (no sacks, no pass rush on his card). This is such a huge factor in the game.


Yes, I understand the small cards have penalties, the 7/8/12 special team rolls, receiver on defensive flat pass, but the QB sacks have always bothered me. Any thoughts?

Anthony N. Abilo, Madison, NJ


          Two thoughts:

1)                          The current card format is far superior, even with the tradeoff you mention. In addition to the advantages you cite, the offensive cards are vastly superior, without the blocking plays there.

2)                          To gain the contemporary advantages and get back what you have lost on the pass-rush, use the Advanced pass rush (not the Super-Advanced with individual pass-rush ratings). When playing solo, assume there is one blitzer whenever the offensive pass block or defensive pass rush is consulted.



Waiting for Zelmo


While purchasing the new computer basketball game this year, I noticed the 1970-71 ABA season was missing.  It’s the only old season left without the ABA counterpart.  This would be a great addition to the league I’m playing in.  Mel Daniels, Rick Barry, Charlie Scott and Zelmo Beaty, to mention a few, had great years.  Any possibilities it may be created to fill the gap?   

Kelly Robinson, Fort Meade, MD


            Possible? Sure. However, as an ABA stand-alone, I think it is less likely to come sooner than other seasons not yet created for the computer game. SOM has announced no schedule for reproducing past seasons, but its release of one historic basketball season per year means we have years more of “filling the gaps” in the 1970s and 1980s.



Another Vote for the WNBA


I have been wondering why women’s sports are not represented. The WNBA is 10 years old, excellent entertainment and represents a great league for young girls to aspire to.

Susan  Simpson


            All true, but the question for Strat-O-Matic is a business issue rather than a social one. We know, for instance, that many women are baseball fans, football fans and hockey fans as well as basketball fans. But we also know that few play Strat-O-Matic.  We also know that the NBA game is the least successful commercially of any SOM product. So I can understand the game company’s reluctance to go deeper into the niches of the sport. While the WNBA has a solid following, it is a small fraction of the NBA’s following.



Pitcher Injuries Needed


My draft league is currently completing its 14th season.  Over the last couple of years, we’ve been trying to fix the injuries to be more realistic and penalize players for over-usage.  We moved to the 15-day/60-day method with daily injuries with maximum rules.  However, it still does not seem to penalize teams and players appropriately.  We’ve had batters and pitchers at 110% to 135% get the injury selection yet they continue to shake it off more times than get injured and most times are able to stay in the game.


This is not the aspect that disturbs us the most.  Daily injuries and the occasional 15-day and rare 60-day (only once ever in our league) have kept our batters relatively in check (although that needs some improvement by SOM).  Our pitchers, especially starters, seem to get injured rarely or inconsistently.


For example, nothing is stopping one of our players from pitching Johan Santana 275 or even 300 innings.  We do not wish to limit our players by innings but rather want the game to punish and injure over-used players.  Will SOM improve the injury system? At least force pitchers over 100% who roll the 6-12 to be removed from the game.


Matt Phelan, Lansing, MI


            Your deeper experience with the Super-Advanced injury system actually encourages some of us using it for the first time in an eight-team league. In my second game of the season, I lost two pitchers to the 15-day DL. One was 261-IP Tom Seaver. In the first 47 games (total) of the league, four pitchers have gone on the 15-day DL, compared to three position players.


            According to the Help file in the computer game, “When using this system, pitcher injuries that occur from the pitcher’s hitting cards are ignored. Instead, all pitchers can be injured when a dice roll of 6-12 occurs.  An injury can occur to a pitcher with any player at-bat (not just the DH as was the case with the old rules).”

            That tells me pitchers have a 9 times greater chance of being injured than in other injury systems and a 9 times greater chance of being injured than a position player (although there are 8 times more position players in the game).


            At this point, I’d predict that the difference between your league’s two-year experience and my league’s two-week experience is random chance.


            Your larger point about an injury role automatically punishing an over-used player has much merit. That would raise the risk of over-usage.


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.


Worth Remembering


Glenn, in a recent SOM Talk Show, you wrote:


Yes, this is an amazing hobby. Almost each game played is full of thrills, large and small, that fertilize the imagination. Memories from ballparks and bubble-gum cards come to life. An empty house becomes a stadium. Three dice become bats, balls and gloves. When playing Strat-O-Matic, the ill forget their pain for a while, the lonely feel companionship, the frustrated feel relief. And the Strat-O-Matic player has friends all over the world who speak your language. It’s magic.


This certainly describes the experience of myself and others.  In particular, it applies to the life, illness, and untimely death of my friend Mark Lynch.  A convert from APBA (but played Strat for 25+ years), Mark loved the Orioles and he loved Strat.  He was the glue that kept our Portland, Oregon league going for 9+ years.  As an elementary school teacher, he used Strat to teach math and history.  It was always present in his classroom for a generation of kids.  As is true of many of us, he bought his first home computer so that he could play an entire 162-game season, complete with stats. 


At his funeral, many of his Strat buddies and his current and former students came to pay tribute to the man and to the game.  Mark struggled with cancer for 3.5+ years and although I have not seen Mark in years, I know that Strat helped keep him mentally focused and keep his spirits up.  There was not a bigger fan of Strat and baseball than Mark Lynch.  Your words certainly ring true in his case.


Dave Black, Madison, WI


            These stories touch the heart and help turn the cards and dice to flesh and bones. Thanks for sharing this, Dave. Ironically, I just had a conversation with Portland sports-radio host Scott Lynn, who invoked Mark Lynch’s name with much the same reverence. In a discussion of my book Strat-O-Matic Fanatics, we had just reached the point where we were talking about how some in this hobby are buried with Strat cards or dice in their coffin. So it seemed natural for Scott to mention Mark. I certainly appreciated hearing about Mark then. Your letter is a fitting eulogy.



Pick a Card, Any Card


It’s been talked about many, many times. I know that. But it seems to me that an overwhelming number of Strat gamers are dying for a set of Negro League All-Stars.

I fully understand Strat’s position on this subject, that they want to collect all statistics as accurately as humanly possible before creating this set. But, there are questions about how these statistics would hold up against Major League competition, which is what we gamers will be playing this All-Star team against.


For example, it is said that Josh Gibson’s greatest season in the Negro Leagues consisted of about 84 homeruns and a batting average well over .400. Would he have had those stats against Major League pitching? Not likely. So, what would be the best way to create this team so that it plays realistically against Strat’s Re-Created Past Teams? Here’s what I suggest:


Every Negro League All-Star can be closely compared to at least one or two Major League Stars (Josh Gibson compares to Babe Ruth or Jimmie Foxx ). So what

Strat should do is use one of Ruth’s or Foxx’ season statistics that are not used in any past-season set to make Gibson’s card. Strat could do this with every one of the Negro League players to create this team. Now, most important, put it to a vote.


Present this idea to all Strat gamers on the web site. If they would definitely purchase this set if it was produced using this formula. A minimum of say 80 percent approval is required, or don’t make the set. Just try the vote.

Mike, Clearwater, FL


            Mike, there is no way SOM is going to go for simply declaring another player to be Josh Gibson. There is no chance the SOM community would afford that any credibility. If the approach would be satisfying to anyone, he could do it himself. Pick players who you imagine Josh Gibson and others to be like, put the new names on the card and roll ‘em. Can’t find an 84-homer card? No worry. According to Shades of Glory, the book compiled after the recent deep research conducted by the Baseball Hall of Fame team, Gibson never hit more than 13 homers in any of his 10 Negro League seasons from 1936-46. Granted, his 13 HR happened in 97 AB (at that rate, he would hit 80 HR in 600 AB) and his Negro League career averages of .359 batting and .648 slugging are Ruthian. But the mythical memories of Negro League players are exactly why SOM needs real numbers, not folklore.



Can’t Get Enough of the Sixties


I agree it would be great if Strat would come out with an entire carded season for old football seasons. I would be willing to pay a bit more for sets in the Sixties. What a great card set 1969 would be. I also have several other questions regarding Strat Football cards.


Why is Strat so secretive about telling us what new seasons are next? We always know well in advance regarding baseball, yet each year it seems like Strat says nothing about the football card set until it is only a month or two away from coming out? Any clue on what the next sets will be?


Would Strat consider coming out with the “best of” cards for the first seasons that came out on computer…1966-1968-1972-1977. There are many non-carded great teams that are missing in my sets from these years… 1966 Green Bay- 1968 NY Jets- 1972 Miami- 1977 Dallas.


It is my goal to someday have a ‘60s football league to play with cards that have at least one year of each of the teams that made up much of the ‘60s Leagues. I’m still looking for Washington, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, SF, Denver, Miami, KC, Cincinnati, etc.

 Mark Bender, Lansing, MI



Covering some familiar ground: It’s not “a bit more” to buy 26 teams from 1969 than it is to buy the six-team sets SOM produces. The much higher price might chase away most of the audience for the six-team sets.


            I want to play that Sixties league, too. Those are truly attractive teams from 1966, 1968, 1972 and 1977. Many of us wish SOM had carded them when it produced those computer seasons. But now, it’s strictly a board-game sale for seasons already available (and played) on computer. I think it’s possible we’ll see those in card form someday, but it’s not likely to be higher priority for SOM than producing other seasons not yet available for the computer or in modern card format.


            SOM has always been conservative about product announcements. Foremost, it tries not to promise until it knows it can deliver. And the game company has remained on top of its field for so long by taking the competition seriously. So SOM holds its cards, so to speak, close to the vest.



AFL Glory


What are the chances that we will see the 1968 and/or 1969 Raiders and Chiefs?


Ken Brown

Co-Founder: Detroit NFL Strat-o-Matic League

We have the ’68 Raiders in computer form, but not in cards (see answer above). Just a matter of time for ‘69, and likely short time given the pace of SOM’s historic-season card-making and its emphasis on the Sixties.



Treasure Chest: The 1967 NFL, Featuring … Milt Plum


I recently uncovered a 1967 NFL Strat-O-Matic football game in an old box. When I opened the game to glance inside, in a split second I noticed Milt Plum on top of the Lions and zeroed in on a strange reading. Short pass #4 Right is 12 yards and Wrong is incomplete. I don’t think I remember ever seeing something like that. Can you confirm after all these years if this is a misprint? I didn’t look at any teams in detail but a cursory

glance at a few other QBs who had the top cards in their team stacks revealed some pretty zany and unique numbers (> 20-yard Short Pass readings). So, although logical, I can’t really dismiss Milt Plum’s card as a miss-print sans confirmation. Thank you.


Tommy, Kennedy Twp, PA


            Those were the days … before current card-making customs, and before Strat-oriented publications where gamers could get such questions answered publicly. I checked with James Williams, who was an SOM employee then and who has been deeply involved in the football ratings for many years. He said it’s unclear if that was a misprint, although the older cards may have been more error-prone. The 1967 season was the first SOM ever did for football, and things done then, Williams observed, may have been deliberate, but then soon abandoned in favor of better card-making.



Baseball Player Usage I:

Simpler is Better


I’m playing the 1950 baseball game in cards, and most teams don’t have decent relievers.  Even better teams – Red Sox, Tigers – don’t have a decent pen.  That means starters often must relieve.  I allow starters to relieve as long as it’s not the game before or after their scheduled start.  My regular relievers can go one inning beyond their POW, then must come out.  Relievers can’t pitch more than two straight games.


I have a similar system for position players and part-timers.  If a player has 300 or more plate appearances, he can play every day.  At 250 to 300 PA, three out of four games; 190-250 PA, two of four; 110-190, one of four.  Under 110 PA, a player can play only rarely or not unless a starter is injured.  Under 75 PA, pinch-hit only or play almost never.  These rules prevent someone who had a great 88-at bat season, like Joe Garagiola in 1950, from making an unrealistic huge impact. 


Another player-limit rule: No catcher can catch both ends of a doubleheader.  The only exception in 1950 is Yogi, who actually did so often.  Pretty amazing.


As for pitching injuries, a triple 6 roll on any batter gives the pitcher an injury chance.  After a triple 6, I roll the 20-sided die; if it’s 1-5, the pitcher is injured.  The exception is a four-day starter, who gets a second 20-sided roll.  If he rolls 1-5 twice, he’s hurt.  This has worked well; pitchers (in real life) tend to get hurt more often than position players, and the injury roll on the pitcher’s batting card doesn’t reflect enough injury chance. 


No-hitters? In 40 years, I’ve had one:  In the 1961 game, Mudcat Grant no-hit the Yanks with about five walks. I had a more interesting near-perfect game the first season I played, 1966.  In a league I created, the Yankees’ Fred Talbot, 4-something ERA, pitched 8.2 perfect innings against the great-hitting Pirates.  Even after all this time, I remember the sequence of Talbot first losing the perfect game, then the no-hitter, then the shutout, then the game.  I pinch-hit Jose Pagan, who walked.  Matty Alou singled, Manny Mota doubled, Clemente singled in one run and Stargell doubled in two.  I couldn’t bear to take Talbot out, but I guess I should have.


Thanks for keeping this great game going. 


Jim Poole, Cobleskill NY 


            I like your style, Jim. I have played in my share of leagues with AB and IP usage set at 100 to 110 percent, and I’ve never liked regulating things that way. I don’t like tracking that any more than I like punching a time clock at work. And teams with higher-octane offenses end up pushing clean-up hitters to eighth, bunting when they never would otherwise and pinch-hitting with pitchers. I much prefer a cutoff system like yours and I’ve come to believe it should be done in your fashion: Lesser-used players are limited to X games out of four or X games per six-game week. Your guidelines for relievers, catchers and pitcher injuries are elegantly simple, too.


            I’ve also enjoyed my share of great-teams projects that so many simulation-game players love. And yet I’ve come to realize that a significant part of Hal Richman’s genius was in producing a game where we could see the differences between great, good, mediocre and poor players. That was always important to Hal. And finally I realize how important it has been to me in my replays. We are in awe as the great players dominate lesser foes, pile up the stats and deliver game-winning performances. But we also see the Fred Talbots over-achieve brilliantly – until their fatal flaws make them inevitable losers. Most often, the stars shine. Once in a while, the underdog rises above. It’s all good.


Baseball Player Usage II:

Starting Pitchers


I want to share one rule that has been adopted in all leagues that I have played in.  One thing that always bothered me was pitching gems being shattered with a single after a pitcher is “tired.” Also, since so many starters can only go 5 or 6 innings, it becomes difficult for a man who loves pitching to lose what I consider the greatest things in the game.  A couple rules have been adopted.  First, no pitcher can go more than 3 innings past his “tired” inning. Thus, 5-inning starters just simply cannot pitch a complete game, but guys with a 7 still can experience a Jack Morris-like day.  The rule we adopted is that a pitcher cannot get tired even if he has pitched past his limit if he has allowed no runs, 3 or less hits or 5 total base runners for the game. The pitcher gets immediately tired once he gives up his first run. Also, if the 3-inning rule is used, the pitcher loses one inning of effectiveness in his next start. The 3-inning rule cannot be used in consecutive starts, either.

Rich Gapinski, Eastlake, OH




Another Way for the Computer to Outsmart Us


I have played the computer baseball game since it was first released, and have played the board game since 1972. Could the computer game make suggestions to the manager (the person playing the game) like a bench coach does, when to change a pitcher-what pitcher has the best percentage verses the next batter due up, what batter to pinch hit, defensive replacements. This would have to be somewhat controllable by the manager, but would use much of the information in the computer manager.


I love the many things that have been done to improve the computer game, and just flat out love the game

Rod Shelly, Berkley, MI


            This could get very amusing. I wonder how many times a virtual bench coach would second-guess my decisions before I tell it to shut up. Seriously, although we don’t get it via prompts from the computer, the game does offer us the Comparison vehicle to evaluate the pitcher-batter match-ups exactly as you suggest. If you haven’t tried it, access the Comparison screen by clicking the button at the bottom of the lineup screens before and during games.


More Draft-O-Matic Functions

It seems to me that so much more could be done with the sort function of the baseball draft program. Not that it isn’t useful. I was looking to find a good reliever in my recent draft. I sorted by era then runners per 9 IP. Only ending up having to look over most of the cards anyway. I think it would be great to be able to do a sort and get a breakdown like you get in the Baseball Ratings Book. Like ob vs. left-handed batters and also show the complete stat line. I did buy the Ratings Book, computer and print versions both. I could go and eliminate all players not in the draft and so on, but why not have the game do that?

Brad Wilkens, Inver Grove Heights, MN

The otherwise-valuable Draft-O-Matic has its limits. I’d also like to be able to program it for present value vs. future value (taking into account age, several past years of performance, etc.) in drafting for keeper leagues. Alas, it’s inevitable that we expect computers to be able to do everything – and “everything” tends to mean satisfying our own special needs. For now, your request and mine are Wish List items.


Photo Op

I’m a long time player, first time “caller.” Question: I’m using V10 and I see I can add player pictures to the interface to display during at bats. How do I do this?

            I started playing Strat baseball on a Mac. In fact, I beta tested a Mac version back in the early ‘90s and I’ve been hooked ever since. Right now I’m playing abbreviated seasons starting in 1949, the year I was born. It’s been very enlightening seeing how the teams evolved during the various decades. And I get a kick out of “visiting” all the old ballparks and “seeing” my favorites play once again.

 I also completed league play using teams from the ‘90s. I created a league using the top four AL and NL teams, based on season wins and losses, playing in two divisions and incorporating inter-league play. Frankly, I liked the ballplayers in the Fifties and Sixties better. Age and stage I suppose.

            This is a great hobby and it keeps me out of trouble.

Alan Albert, Geneva, IL

The player photos do add nicely to the experience.


Check the Help File under Player Pictures. This is the key portion:


To assign a player picture you simply need to place his picture in the appropriate folder:


For batters – put the pictures in Player\Batters folder (located inside the game folder). For pitchers – put the pictures in the Player\Pitchers folder.


The file name should have an underscore between the first and last name.  For example, a  picture for Alex Rodriguez could have the name: "Alex_Rodriguez.jpg"


The player image must be 90 wide by 135 high.  The file format and extension name should be .jpg or .bmp.  We recommend jpg format because this will save space on your hard drive,  especially if you are using a large number of player pictures.



Bigger Than Life


Thanks for providing this forum.  It is interesting to read about the experiences of other Strat players across the county, as well as your insight on these subjects.


I’d like to discuss two Strat baseball subjects.  The first one is high-end hitting extremes in Strat.  I have not done any in-depth statistical analysis on this, but I have been playing Strat since 1970 and it seems to me that Strat baseball has an issue with being too much of a hitters’ game.  In practically every season I re-played (using “As Played” version), there is typically at least a couple of players who wildly exceed their stats and have a season that would go down in the annuals of real life baseball as one of the best on record.  The total hitting stats appear to skew towards hitting as well.  Exceeding the actual hitting stats appears to be the norm, rather than the exception.  One example is Morgan Ensberg in the 2005 replay I am currently in.  I am at the All-Star break.  Below is a comparison of Ensberg’s SOM stats vs. his real-life stats.


                                 AB       BA       HR     RBI      Slg Pct      AB/HR

SOM at Break            298      .342      32      70        .738           9.3

Real Life at Break      297      .290      24      65        .596          12.4

Real Life Season End 526      .283       36     101       .557          14.6    


I could provide a couple other examples of this from the same season replay.  I’d like to see it be more difficult for players to have such an exceptional Hall of Fame worthy season, rather than a common occurrence.  Do you and other Strat players have the same issue?


The second subject I’d like to put out for discussion involves linking the “default” Computer Manager to the As Played version of the game.  There is more and more data available today regarding how players are used in baseball.  For example, shows the situations in which pitchers were actually used.  It would be great if Strat would pre-load the Computer Manager to change based on actual occurrences.  For example, let’s say Strat has a relief pitcher as the Closer in Computer Manager, but in real-life he did not begin to close until the 2nd half of the season.  Strat could program the Computer Manager to use him as he actually was in the first half (perhaps he was the set-up man for example), and then as the schedule turns to a certain date his Computer Manager role changes to coincide with his real life role. This would save a lot of time for the gamer who wants to simulate the As Played schedule and lineups as realistically as possible. Is this a modification that Strat could pursue?


Doug Ward, Olathe, KS



            Some of your hitters SHOULD over-achieve mightily. Some should over-achieve slightly. Some should under-achieve. And some should be very, very close to actual. Same for individual pitchers. That’s just what we call statistical standard deviation. In order to achieve true randomness, we’d need a sample of 10,000 AB or more. The lower the number below that, the likelier that the results will deviate from actual and the likelier that the deviation will be wider.


            It’s normal for a simulation to be accurate to within one or two standard deviations. That’s for every statistic. For instance, a standard deviation for a hitter with 15 homeruns in 500 AB might be four homers. According to statistical standard deviation, 68 percent of the time you will be within one standard deviation (in this case four homers).  So if you ran many replays for this player, 68 percent of the time he should have between 11 and 19 homeruns.  Also, statistical standard deviation tell us that  95 percent of the time his  total should be between 7 to 23 in the replay. The other 5 percent of the time his replay total will deviate more than that.


            The typical experience in representative Strat-O-Matic replays does not skew towards hitting over-achievement. Typically, league-wide batting averages (which can involve 80,000 AB) are within 1 or 2 points of actual. “Typically” comes from many thousands of auto-plays in testing and the vast majority of replays I have seen in online forums, submitted to STRAT FAN in the days when I published that magazine. My own  replays bear this out. Other batting statistics are remarkably close to actual, too.


            Yes, if SOM was inclined to provide a separate computer manager for the as-played seasons, I think it could program the changes you desire. That’s a Wish List item for the game company to consider along with other requests.


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.


Outfielder Throwing Errors

Many of us in The Sporting News Strat-O-Matic online community are long-time board and computer game players and recognize that there are some rules not visible on the charts that are basically computer-only rules. But we are passionate about the online game and want to understand as much of the underlying game rules as possible.

In this case we hope to gain a better understanding of how throwing errors figure into our strategy.  A particular manager has seen multiple instances of errors by his centerfielder, Mark Cameron, who in the 2006 game is a CF-1(e7).  In most of these cases it appears that the error could not have come from the fielding chart, and we’ve made the assumption that the errors result from throwing errors. It could also possibly be a rare play, but the situations don’t seem all that rare.

Certainly Cameron can be expected to average 7 errors a season. But how do throwing errors figure into that? Does that increase the 7 average, is it factored into the e-rating, adjusted for computer vs. board play? How are throwing errors determined, and what stats are the basis for computing them? What would be a “normal” amount of throwing errors we should expect to see?

Charlie Bell, San Diego, CA

Don’t hold your breath waiting for Strat-O-Matic to provide detailed answers to all of your questions in the final paragraph. But we have some clues. The Super-Advanced Fielding X-chart allows for hits and one-base errors on the same play. These errors could either be bobbles after clean hits that allow all runners to move up, or errant throws. Additionally, worse throwing errors can occur on contested throws when the batting team’s manager challenges an outfielder while trying to gain an extra base. These errors would be in addition to the outfielder’s normal error frequency. The frequency of these errors would vary according to the aggressiveness of your opponents.

            I offer separate answers to your examples below, which suggest that the “supplemental” throwing errors haven’t been occurring so often after all..

0 C.Beltran 6 HBP b-1
0 1 R.Cano 7 Double & Error – CF 1-H b-H
0 A.Gonzalez 2 Single b-1
0 1 H.Ramirez 4 Double 1-3 b-2
0 23 A.Escobar 3 Strike Out b-0
1 23 M.Cabrera 3 Ground Out b-0
2 23 A.Soriano 6 Line Out b-0

Assumption – Cano hit a double and Cameron made a throwing error?

Yes. Since Cano scored on his own time at bat, we can assume this was a throwing error when Beltran challenged Cameron’s arm trying to score from first on Cano’s double.

Cameron makes a 3-base error.

Assumption – This one came from the fielding chart?


0 C.Counsell 3 Double b-2
0 2 M.Loretta 2 Single & Error – CF 2-H b-2

Assumption – Loretta singles and this is another throwing error?

This would come from the fielding chart – a Single** plus error

0 E.German 6 Strike Out b-0
1 B.Hall 4 Walk b-1
1 1 D.Ortiz 4 Walk 1-2 b-1
1 12 T.Salmon 4 Strike Out b-0
2 12 A.Laroche 2 Single 2-3 1-2 b-1
2 123 A.Ramirez 6 Double & Error – CF 3-H 2-H 1-H b-3
2 3 T.Hunter 6 Ground Out b-0

Assumption – Ramirez doubles and another throwing error?

This also would come from the fielding chart – a DO** or a DO*** and an error.

In summary, only one of these four errors occurred outside Cameron’s normal error rating.


The Time of the Recent Mariner


I am a big Mariner fan and have been ever since I heard of Ken Griffey Jr. I have also collected a lot of the recent SOM Mariners team because I hope to have a 10-team league of just Mariners. I am missing a big one, though, 2001. I have 1982, 1990, 1997, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006, but that hole is screaming to be filled. I ordered the 2001 teams at the end of the year sale last year, but by the time I ordered, it was sold out. Is there any way that Strat-O-Matic will reprint the 2001 Mariners anytime soon?


Eric Krentz, Eugene, OR


            Not anytime soon. The most recent season Strat-O-Matic has reprinted is 1978 and that was not a pure reprint, but an update from a card set in Advanced format to one in Super-Advanced format. None of the seasons since then are in “permanent stock.” They take years to sell out, but once gone, they’re gone. I’m sure, however, that you can find a 2001 Mariners team in the secondary market.



HOF Player-by-Player Updates


I have been a huge fan of SOM baseball since 1975 and wonder why don’t you update the Hall of Fame set as new players are inducted?  It would seem that you are missing out on the yearly additional revenue as opposed to waiting for a major update. 

Also, I suggest that the set of 80 Hall of Famers is popular because it is all that you offer.  Several players do not even have their best years represented (e.g., Honus Wagner, Babe Ruth).  Any plans for a super season card set that would include the all-time best players for each team say from 1906 (or so) to 1950 and a second set of 1951 on? I hope you take this comments as constructive criticism – you have the best games!

Tom Burik, Erie, PA


            If “as the new players are inducted” means yearly updates, that would mean 1-2 players per season. That’s not an efficient way to print, or to process orders. Long ago, Hal Richman said it would take at least 16 players to justify an update set. So far, 13 players have been voted in since Strat-O-Matic’s 2001 Hall of Fame set was published. That’s a 192-card set well beyond the 80-card HOF set you mention. Have you missed it, or do you just mean Basic-only cards that include the player’s best season?


As mentioned here before, the all-time franchise sets create special problems for a game researched in such detail as Strat-O-Matic. Each Major League season has its own set of norms. If the set you envision involves players from 80-100 different seasons, that’s an intimidating research job. On the other hand, SOM is only a handful of seasons away from producing every post-World War II season in lefty-righty format. So something along the lines you suggest is possible. It comes down to the game company’s marketing decision.



 Playing ‘Em 162 Games At a Time


 I noticed that an individual submitted some extreme performances to your Talk Show recently. He was referring to Morgan Ensberg, I believe. I guess the guy never heard the saying, “That’s why they play 162.” He listed other-worldly stats put up in very short seasons and was taken aback that stuff like this happened. In 40-plus years of playing the game, I have witnessed some extreme performances that do tend to level out as a season runs its course.


I once set up all-time teams for each major league team by selecting the best cards from my collection of many thousands of cards. It was a Basic version, cards and dice exercise that was a joy to play. After 81 games, Frank Robinson of Cincinnati was running away with the RBI crown with 71. He tanked in the second half and limped home in that category. In the last game of the year he nudged a runner across the plate for his 100th RBI; yes, he only knocked in 29 runs in the second half of the season.


            Just a few years ago for me, Mike Piazza had 29 RBI at the half-way point of a 162-game season. He went on a rampage in the second half by pounding homer after homer and driving in 61 runs to finish with 90 RBI.  Last year my friend’s Derrek Lee had 36 home runs through 81 games. Stagger Lee popped just 12 dingers in the remainder of the season to finish with 48.


            Field of Dreams told us to “Go the distance.” That’s good advice for anyone who wants to assess players’ performances in the Strat world.



Rick Zaborsky, Dublin, OH


Thank you, Rick, for the excellent examples. This is a principle we all need to understand if we care about statistical integrity. We further distort the probabilities when we place players in different environments than the stock-team seasons their cards are based on. Put a guy on a team with very different teammates, very different opponents, in a significantly different ballpark and you may have a great time, but please don’t expect his stats to be unaffected.



The Case of the Mysterious MVP


I had an absolute blast replaying the 2006 Dodgers. It was a project I started just for the heck of it and ended up being so much fun. I completed the entire 162 games in less than three weeks. I had Lance Berkman and Kenny Lofton battling neck and neck for the NL batting title until the final week when Lofton went into a mini-slump and Berkman was benched by the computer once he got a one point lead. That’s one of the great things about Strat. During the replay, I was checking Houston after every game and seeing what Berkman did that day.  Mark Hendrickson, Brad Penny and Greg Maddux were all 20-game winners. And the Dodgers won 100 games!


But there were some questions. Will Strat ever say how it calculates the MVP and Cy Young totals? Brad Penny went 23-5 with a sub 3.00 ERA and was beaten out for the Cy Young by Mets reliever Billy Wagner, who saved 35 games, went 6-2 and had a sub 3.00 ERA. I felt robbed. I know the formula for post-season awards has changed because in my draft leagues, the winners of my earlier years changed when updated to the newer versions of the game. The same thing happen in the MVP where Rafael Furcal hit .313 compared to MVP Jose Reyes’ .334 but outscored Reyes, 169-121 and hit more homers and had more RBIs. Reyes did have a SB edge 67-42. Reyes won by 19 points. I wasn’t sure if fielding played a part, as Furcal had 29 errors.

Tom Gantert, Jackson, MI


I’ve had the same eye-opening experiences, but SOM is not likely to divulge its formula. The team’s fortunes seem, appropriately, to play a part in the rankings and I think fielding could decide a close call. In your case, I’d have to go with Penny, at least unless Wagner’s “sub-3.00 ERA was more like 0.87 in a lot of relief innings. I could see why Reyes would top Furcal, whose “more homers and RBIs” might not have been impressive enough in league-leader terms, and therefore not enough to trump Reyes’ impressive BA and SBs.


I look at the SOM rankings for entertainment and perspective, but choose my own MVP, Cy Young and All-Star players for my replays.


Bob Winberry adds “The logic for choosing the player awards is not as simple as it seems.  If you believe that a particular award is a very bad selection then please send us a backup of your league along with an explanation as to why you feel so.  Please make sure it is an egregious example, not just a borderline one.  I have tweaked these awards before, and I will continue to do so in the future.  But I need good examples of situations that have slipped through the cracks in order to improve the logic.”



Ice Time


We’ve been playing SOM Hockey (board game) for 12 years. Nowadays, in hockey, an important stat is the time spent on the ice. Do you think that SOM will one day include time (numbers of cards played per period) in the game? This would make the game more realistic, don’t you think?

LP and the rest of LNSOM (Montreal)


            Maybe. But, unlike baseball, football and basketball, hockey’s simpler statistics – counting stats rather than rate stats – tend to be driven by ice time already. The high scorers got more ice time. I’d love to have the ice-time stats handy as a playing guide, but charting ice time and/or shifts would really slow down a game that has the considerable challenge of capturing the continuous flow of NHL play.



He’s Ready to Rumble


I’ve been an avid card-game player for almost 25 years and truly have a warm spot in my heart for the hockey game. I’ve started playing the computer version lately and have been enjoying it tremendously, but I think the elimination of the brawls possibility is ill-conceived and lacking. I was grateful for an explanation as to why it has never happened in hundreds of games played – the fact that the teams could be shorthanded seems to be a realistic chance, and it’s too bad that it’s been ruled out. Sort of like not having injuries in the other games because the outcome could be upset. It’s hard to imagine the Avs-Wings or Battles of Quebec or Alberta being emasculated. There are few things as disappointing in the computer hockey game as having two AA players line up, draw a penalty – and than have a bench-minor be the result.


Thanks for letting me share my concern for an otherwise sound game.

Steve Walsh, Kalamazoo, MI


As a guy who thinks fighters should also get delay-of-game penalties in the NHL, I can’t say the absence of brawls affects me the same way. Still, a twin-penalty situation between a pair of AAs creates anticipation – if it ends up as a bench penalty, that’s going to be a letdown. But fights still occur in the computer game – as the help file explains, the “Brawl” event in the board game has been replaced by a “Big Fight” designation in the computer game. A true brawl – involving four or more players – is a pretty rare event in the NHL, then and now.



Forced Integration


I run a league where the AL and NL are only allowed to use players from their leagues.  The current game does not allow for me to separate the players when I want to see who HAL would suggest is the best available player for a certain position.  Can the newest game have this function included?

Doug – Deerfield, Kansas


            If I understand you correctly, the answer is to create separate leagues for your AL and NL. Then, release only that league’s players into a free agent pool. Then the Draft-O-Matic “recommend” function will be limited to the players for that league.



Armed and Dangerous


In my 2006 Marlins Replay, through the month of April, #3-rated Scott Olsen is BATTING 7-for-8 with 3 runs, 1 double, and 0 Ks.  It got me wondering: in the modern era (say last 20 years), what would generally be considered as the best hitting start (through April) for a pitcher?  I have to admit, the fact that Scott Olsen was hitting so well slipped by me since he obviously doesn’t bat every day, so I’m sure pitchers hitting well in real life can go unnoticed for the same reason.

Scott Dicken, Fort Lauderdale, FL


            If you have the database skills, maybe you can pull this information from Otherwise, I wouldn’t know where to look for it and I’ve got a very good reference library. I think we can safely assume that an .875 batting average is best-of-the-best territory, though surely some pitchers have hit for more power in the first month.


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.


Shea Stadium, Then and Now

I am in the process of replaying every season of New York Mets baseball with the computer version and have a question about the stadium screenshots.  In the midst of 1964 (of course, the Mets are horrible) it’s a bit odd having Ron Hunt hit with a picture of Shea Stadium circa 2004-2005 in the background.  Shea in 1964 was quite different than its current state.  Is there any thought to adding a feature that would allow the user to import a different picture of a stadium?

Thanks and keep up the great work!

Hal Koplin, Wethersfield, CT

            With the same ballpark today (albeit modernized) as they had when Shea Stadium opened in 1964, the Mets are like the folks who cling to their homestead when the whole neighborhood is transforming around them. About the only parks older than Shea are those considered national treasures – especially Fenway Park and Wrigley Field. Most National League teams playing in 1964 have changed ballparks twice since then. You can use your own pictures in Strat-O-Matic’s baseball game, although it is a little tricky.  A good web page that might help you with this is:

Rules to Live By

In my solitaire league, called AFBL (Adam’s Fantasy Baseball League), I set ground rules that may help other solitaire players when making tough decisions. I also incorporated a couple ideas for those who enjoy organizing and running solitaire leagues:


1.) Stealing:  Asterisked base stealers get held automatically.  The only time I steal with C players is in desperate situations – when trailing and in later innings. D and E never steal.  I will not steal with one out unless the player is an A or AA rating. 


2.) Sac bunting: I will sacrifice bunt in close games where there is a difference of 1-2 runs.  Usually these are batters with C or better bunt ratings and who are lower in the batting order (7-9). I also only sac with 1 out.


3.)  Hit and run: I use this strategy when there is a weak batter at the plate, the pitcher has a + hold rating and there is a relatively good base stealer on first (A-C) rating.


4.) Defensive strategy:  Since I play very conservative, any time one of the above situations occurs, I use the appropriate defensive strategy.


5.) The Draft: I performed the draft by best available rather than by trying to go for speed on a team or build a team around sluggers. This required careful inspection of the cards and ranking players by OBP, and how balanced their hitting was against L and R pitchers.  Vlad Guerrero was taken first overall for the 2005 card set. Also, to avoid too much All-Star baseball, I stuck with the AL batters who had more than 300 AB. For pitchers, the lower their ERA and home runs, the higher they ranked.


6.) Team finances: This is a very crude model, but for teams to make profits, I multiplied wins by 30 and losses by 15.  At some point I will incorporate a penalty or award system for winning streaks and losing streaks.  The better teams do profit – the more quality free agents they areable to sign in the off-season.


7.) The Draft: At the end of the season, I will have a one-round draft from players chosen at random from the NL.  The retirees from the league will be those at each of the positions who underperformed their real-time stats the most.  


8.) Why the league works for me:  I hear about a lot of guys starting a league but then giving up because it takes too long or because they have too many teams.  I suggest you keep it simple.  I play with 6 teams in two divisions.  I play 24 games for each team, so I must play 72 games overall.  All stats and standings are kept in a Microsoft Excel file. And all scoresheets are kept in a folder and tucked away for later record-keeping.


I hope some of these ideas help out fellow solitaire players.  


Adam Kisailus, Buffalo, NY  


            Thanks, Adam. I hear the same thing about unfinished projects from board-game players – and book writers! At some point, it’s Just Do It! time.


I have been playing SOM in both card-and-dice and computer format for almost 10 years.   Being a baby boomer, I guess you could call me a late bloomer to SOM.  I love the game and have purchased every card set of the past-season deluxe sets that are still in print and even those now out of print. I have been playing the super-advanced version of the game in manual mode on the computer.  I like the tactile aesthetics of handling everything myself while letting the computer record the stats. Would Strat consider upgrading the Manual Mode?  The problem is that Gold Glove stats, many manager decisions (hit-and-run for instance), which fielders made the put outs, and whether a play was an X-chance go unrecorded.  Could such information be included?  I wonder whether enough gamers would be interested to make it worthwhile for the programmers to do this upgrade.

            What do you think? SOM is great!       

Roger Hines, Kosciusko, MS

            As usual, it’s a matter of priorities. SOM must weigh which new features would be used and appreciated by the most people vs. the time it would take to program the features. I am especially fond of noting X chances on my paper score sheets and looking up the X-Pct stats in my computer leagues. I miss that in Manual Mode, too. But I’d have to guess that fielding stats are pretty far down the list of priorities for most gamers.


Shining Examples

I would love to see an expansion set released for the Hall of Fame 2000 card set, preferably in the “glossy” card format (the greatest set of cards in Strat history). I also suggest that SOM include a card for Satchell Paige based on his MLB stats. Perhaps it would be a good idea to add cards for Hall of Famers Al Lopez and Clark Griffith, as catchers and pitchers are in somewhat short supply when trying to organize a Hall of Fame draft league.

My personal bias would be to also include cards for Goose Gossage (should be elected in 2008) and Thurman Munson (one of the greatest catchers to ever play the game, both defensively and as a big-time clutch hitter).

Bill Canero, Sarasota, FL

            Pitchers, catchers and third basemen are all in short supply in the HOF set. Paige and Griffith as pitchers, Lopez and Wilbert Robinson as catchers and John McGraw as a third baseman would be interesting roster-filler additions. We’ll get some help at these positions with the next update set (whenever that is), since it would include pitcher Bruce Sutter, catcher Gary Carter and third basemen Wade Boggs and Paul Molitor (who played all infield spots). But there are no other retired catchers or third sackers who are close to enshrinement. Munson looks unlikely to me. He didn’t have the big season or fast pace of other short-career players in the Hall and he didn’t much sympathy support within a few years of his death.

            If I had a ballot, Gossage would be on it, no question. We probably can guess that we’ve already seen the best seven seasons of lock Hall of Famers Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux, plus likely selections Tom Glavine and Randy Johnson. Paige heads a list of 11 Negro League pitchers in the Hall. There are three catchers and three third basemen from the Negro Leagues in the Hall as well.


Learning History from SOM

An interesting anomaly for your attention: The Orioles won their third consecutive league championship in 1971 with their usual outstanding outfield of Don Buford (.290, 19 HR, 99 R) in left, Paul Blair (.262, 10 HR, Gold Glove) in center, and Frank Robinson (.281, 28 HR, 99 RBI) in right.  Question: Which outfielder led the team in plate appearances?  Answer: Merv Rettenmund (.318, 11 HR, 75 RBI, .422 OBP).  He finished second in games played at all three outfield positions to the regulars (LF-115/47, CF-139/40, RF-91/72), yet wound up leading the team in most OF defensive innings.  I think when you look at the team’s success that year, more credit should be given to Rettenmund than has usually been the case.  And it might not be too much of a stretch to see Rettenmund as the very first example of Earl Weaver’s legendary “deep depth,” which culminated later in the decade with outfielders John Lowenstein and Gary Roenicke rotating throughout the season as semi-regulars.

P. Sean Bramble, Dazaifu, Japan

You’re exactly right on all counts, Sean. When my friends and I played the 1971 Orioles with SOM back then, Rettenmund was always in the lineup.


A Long Ride on Empty

            Among long-term players, do you know anyone who has neither had a no-hitter nor even come close?  I have been playing this game 12 years and if I’ve made it farther than the 5th inning with a no-hitter it doesn’t ring a bell, and I’m sure it would.  I’ve had numerous 1- and 2-hitters, but the hits in those games came in the early innings (just had one by Josh Johnson where the two hits came in the 3rd and the 9th).  Admittedly, the pitching staffs I use don’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of opponents (think Marlins, Orioles, Rockies and Pirates), but still, can any long-term player challenge me for the Least Likely to See a No-Hitter?  Speaking of the Rockies, could you put a call out for someone who actually has succeeded playing a C&D Rockies Replay?  If not the Rockies, some other team with a relatively small fan base.  In fact, I’d be most impressed with the man (or woman!) who would play a Devil Rays C&D Replay. 

Scott Dicken, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

            Based on others’ laments about their lack of no-hitters, I’d say you have company and your letter probably will prompt some of them to write. I’m glad I don’t share your misery and I’ve had several no-hitters disrupted by weird circumstances in the 8th and 9th innings, too. As you can see from the letter above, there’s a gamer replaying the woeful 1964 Mets and I’ve encountered someone replaying the 2006 Rockies. In my STRAT FAN days we heard regularly from a gamer who replayed the full season of expansion Ottawa and other teams that are tough enough to coach for a single game!

Tinker’s Shop

I am no fan of the default SOM ruling on gb()B with an infielder in, a runner on 3rd and no force play at the plate.  SOM basically decides to send the runner for you and he is automatically out.  In real-life, if the runner was not forced with less than 2 outs, he would not go for home on a routine groundball with the infield in.  I have modified the rule on gb()B situations with the infielder to whom the ball was hit playing “in” defensively.  I wanted your opinion on the rule.  Here it is:

In situations where the defense chooses to bring the infield in when the runner on 3rd base is not forced, refer to appropriate chart for gb()A, gb()C and gb()X. However, in the case of gb()B, refer to the following rule:

On a gb()B hit to a fielder positioned “in” defensively:


If the ball is hit to the 3rd baseman or pitcher:

The runner MUST hold.  The out is automatically made at 1st.  A trail runner on 1st advances to 2nd on the play.


If the ball is hit to the 1st or 2nd baseman or to the shortstop:

— The offensive manager may choose to send the unforced runner on 3rd, or he may choose to hold the runner.

— If the offensive manager chooses to hold the runner on 3rd, the out is automatically made at 1st.  Any runner on 1st advances to 2nd on the play.


— If the offensive manager chooses to send the runner on 3rd home, the defensive manager MUST throw home.  The calculation for the safe range is Running Speed + Infielder’s Range Rating – 7.  If the ball is hit to the 1st or 2nd baseman, add 2 for the longer throw to the correct side of the plate.  The maximum safe range is 1-19.


— As always, use the “Catcher Blocking the Plate” Rule as it applies.


— If the trail runner is on 1st, he ADVANCES one base in this situation.  If the trail runner is on 2nd, he HOLDS, so as not to force the runner on 3rd off his base.

I find that this rule much more accurately depicts the real situations in baseball as well as gives the human manager more control.  What do you think?

Scott Dicken, Fort Lauderdale, FL

            This lessens the value of bringing the infield in, which already has a high penalty (more hits and fewer double plays). With the likelihood that a runner on third would seldom be thrown out at home, I think I would play the infield in only in desperate late-game situations. Your rule gives benefits to the offense without adding compensating benefits to the defense, which SOM usually tries to avoid. But if this works for you, have fun with it. Thanks for offering this to others who may be of like-mind.


AWOL Pitchers

            I suggest that SOM prints cards for any pitchers who started at least one game.  The reason is because as a C&D player, I really get thrown off when trying to do “as-played” replays when a team’s starter is not available.  Several examples I have come across in the last few games:

Yusmeiro Petit (FLA): 26.1 IP, 1 start
Kerry Wood (CHC): 19.2 IP, 4 starts

            There are more but that’s a general idea.  I’m sure SOM wants to reduce costs as much as possible.  However, I feel these players could easily be included in the “Extra Players” set.  In the case of the Marlins, for instance, Petit is the ONLY extra card that would need to be printed.  I know that several teams would require NO extra cards to be printed up (extra beyond the ones that currently are printed).  My estimations would be roughly 20 or so extra cards would need to be printed for this each year.  If it is more, say 30-40, I would be willing to pay $3-5 extra for this.  I fully understand that SOM cannot afford to print every single player that played in any game.  However, it is easy to work around not having a certain reliever or a certain fielder.  When not having the appropriate starter, there are only a few choices:

–Pitch a reliever who is on the team, has a starting rating, but is not slated to start at this point of the season (this is the best option WHEN IT WORKS – in the case of Petit, it is not an option)

— Pitch a starter who is not on the team at that time.

–Pitch someone who has thrown recently on an unrealistic amount of rest.

–Mess with the pitching schedule to make sure that the game is covered and that everyone maintains the appropriate rest period.

            Some of these options can be challenging to pull off.  All of these options eliminate the entire purpose of playing an as-played replay, which is to play as-played.  I have to admit, I’d pay TEN extra dollars if I had to, in order to have cards for starters all
of the time.  It’s also not just the principle of having the right guy, it’s the effect it has on stats.  For example, Petit’s ERA was 9.57.  I don’t have anyone else even close to that.  What that means is, I might find myself winning a ball game that I should lose, or giving up far fewer hits/runs than I should.  It also means that come season’s end, at least one
guy on my team will have an extra start.  Either way, I think it would be much easier to just print the card.

Scott Dicken, Fort Lauderdale, FL

            Looking up the 2005 non-carded players (just because that season was handiest), I found 39 pitchers with starter ratings. Twenty-three had made 2-4 starts each. I agree it’s more frustrating not to have the correct starting pitcher in a replay than, say, the correct left fielder. There’s another work-around, though it can be unsatisfying. Find a pitcher on any team (but, preferably, the same team) whose stats are similar to the missing pitcher. Use that card, but credit the stats to the real starter whose card doesn’t exist. At least this doesn’t disrupt your usage of other pitchers.


Not Fair! – HAL Plays to Win

            I was just wondering if anyone else out there is unhappy with how HAL responds in certain batter-pitcher matchups.  To me it seems that HAL pays much more attention to the “balance” rating than simple left-right matchups.  I have seen HAL summon left-handed relievers to face some RHB, such as 1978 Jim Rice or 1983 Dale Murphy, who were actually better versus RHP those particular years.  Alternatively, some LH starters are left in to face such batters when the game is on the line.  In neither situation, I would suggest, would an actual major-league manager respond in such a way.  Although there are instances in which managers might forego the traditional platoon edge against certain pitchers (for example, LHP Fernando Valenzuela was actually easier for LHB to hit because of his famous screwball), I believe the overwhelming number of managers since Casey Stengel and Earl Weaver would follow standard practice on lefty-righty matchups.  Yet HAL doesn’t seem to pay attention to this fact, and as a result it always seems to me that the “reverse-platoon” sluggers always fall short of their real-life stats when I do season replays.  Your thoughts?

P. Sean Bramble, Dazaifu, Japan

            Because player-use practices vary so, many gamers find that HAL manages differently than they would. What’s interesting about your experience is that it differs from most of the comments, which usually complain that HAL is managing replay usage at the expense of better game-winning strategies. Looks like no matter how the computer-manager handles it, HAL can’t please ‘em all.


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.



If You Love to Watch …


I saw the cool new feature for NetPlay spectators in football.  Will this be a feature added to other leagues as well?  I think it is awesome.  Great job.  You guys have really done a wonder with the innovations this year in different sports.


            Yes, this should be cool, especially for leagues. Typically, when a new computer feature in one Strat-O-Matic becomes popular, the game company tries to add it to its other computer games as well. However, Bob Winberry says “Unfortunately, this feature would be very hard to add to the other games.  Football was unique because Netplay was part of the original design of the product.  This made adding this feature a bit easier.  For the other three sports, Netplay was grafted onto the existing code as opposed to being an integral part of the initial design.  That makes it much more difficult to add Spectator mode to those games.  When we add Netplay support to the skinned version of the baseball program (either this year or sometime in the future) we will do so  keeping Spectator mode in mind.  That will lay the groundwork so that Spectator Mode can be added to the baseball game at a future date.”


The Best Hockey Set Yet

I played the new computer version of STRAT Hockey today for the first time, utilizing the Goldberg Passing system.  I have to say that the passing system, along with the statistical tweaks have made this game perfect.  I may be off about this, but it seems like even more consideration has been given to a player’s teammates and other factors when putting his card together?  Regardless, the playability of the game is unmatched in a positive way compared to any other point in the game’s history.  Congrats on a job VERY well done.

 Barry, Bronx, New York


I agree with you, Barry. I don’t know that more consideration has been given to the influence of teammates, but you can sure see that the influence is meaningful. Some hockey gamers look only at the scoring chances and fail to understand why a forward can have a scoring card nearly as strong as another player with 10-15 more goals. Before concluding that something is amiss, it’s important to look at all the ways a player gets his shots:


n Higher Offense and Breakaway/Penetration ratings earn more shots from the split deck and the “Any Player” options.

n  Higher defense ratings earn more shot-producing takeaways. At defense 3 or higher, some of those shots are Inside shots.

n  Better J-K-L passing from linemates produce Inside Shots instead of no shot at all.

n  If a forward is likely to be playing with his team’s No. 1 defensive pair most of the game, that can be a huge benefit in the passing columns. The drop-off in J-K-L passing from the first defensive pair to the next often is substantial.


Time Well Spent

First let me express my gratitude for taking up so much of my time since 1972. Dad taught me the baseball and football games when I was 10 years old and card arrival day has remained a special day all these years. I know the pressure is on, and I’ll get slammed for suggesting it, but perhaps we could all feel that holiday spirit again if we did not get advance reviews of the cards/ratings.

While it’s human nature to question the cards from time to time, let me be clear that I do not care. If used realistically, more often than not things will work out close to how they should. The fact is there will always be the element of luck as long as random factors like dice are involved. No way around it and it works just fine.

At 46 years of age, I am still a cards-and-dice player and do not anticipate switching to the computer version. I am certain they are fine and have several friends who like them. Personally I prefer the feel of the dice in my hand, if for no other reason than to throw them across the room when the player fails to do as expected. Of course this happened so often from day one that I soon tired of walking to the end of a room to retrieve the dice. But … the option remains.

I am now involved with a football keeper league entering its 18th season and going strong.  I hope to do this for at least another 18 and more. The eight of us do play the baseball game on a more occasional basis and without the same intensity. Usually we do it for therapy. I replay the full season for the Mets combining solo and whoever stops by.

Again, thanks for the 30+ years and keep doing exactly what you do.

Jeff Konstant, Elkton, VA

Very nicely said, Jeff. Many of us can feel your joy.

Yes, the advance info on card ratings is a bit like knowing what you are getting for Christmas weeks before the big day. But for every several who lament this each year, many more crave it. In the days of STRAT FAN, and before that, the Strat-O-Matic Review, the card-ratings issue was the most sought-after of the year. Most of this demand comes from gamers in competitive leagues and STAR tournaments. Some is from the “just-can’t-wait” crowd. And yet, just like the Christmas present you really, really want, the new cards and computer disks are a thrill to behold the day we unwrap them. That’s why hundreds line up outside Strat-O-Matic on Opening Day and thousands more post lookouts waiting for the big brown truck.

Everything you said about the cards-and-dice version is true. Nothing tops the experience of rolling the dice and engaging in the chatter with an opponent in head-to-head play. That’s the STAR tournament experience. And as great as head-to-head play is for baseball, it’s even more intense in Strat-O-Matic football. This is why NetPlay was such a breakthrough with the SOM computer games. The new features for computer football – spectator mode and the Strat-O-Matic Gaming Lobby – should multiply that excitement.

Ripken Will Improve Third Base Stock in HOF Set


No other third sackers close to enshrinement? What about Cal Ripken this year?  He played both shortstop and third base. 

Bill Donnelly, Indio, CA


All of Ripken’s best seasons were at shortstop, and it will be a waste not to have his plus offense there. But with the paucity of regular third-basemen in the Hall of Fame, an update edition with Ripken probably will result in him playing there. As it stands, middle infielders Billy Herman, Tony Lazzeri and Joe Sewell end up playing third. So does Pete Rose, who was a much better outfielder than third baseman. And so does Jackie Robinson, who played third base less than any of his other carded positions.


Speaking of Third Basemen

Is it possible to see the 1980 George Brett card?


Comparing Pitchers


When you are evaluating pitchers, what specific stats or numbers from the ratings do you focus on? Which categories do you add up or evaluate when comparing pitchers?

Teun Fetz


            I begin by adding on-base chances and total base chances. Don’t forget that the difference between an e0 and an e51 is worth a couple on-base chances and a couple of total base chances. Ballpark diamonds matter a lot. But I’m also looking at other ratings that work in combination with card chances. If a pitcher is wild, has a poor hold rating and a high wild pitch rating, that’s a combination that will deny him many double-play opportunities. I’m definitely looking at the pitcher’s double-play chances, especially if he’s in a ballpark with high single chances.



Dodger Diehard Trades Koufax – and Wins

Harold Richman was kind enough to autograph my copy of your book.  I believe his gesture was because of my long tenure with his company, having first purchased his game in 1963.  I have been hooked ever since. Your fine writing truly captured the passion with which we “fanatics” pursue our fantasies and sports dreams through the amazing features and details that empower us in the SOM fantasy world.  You excel at your craft, and you really bring the joy of this game to the people.

            I play in a wonderful SOM baseball retro league called GARBO.   It starts with the 1955 season, and will continue indefinitely. The commissioner screened applicants for their passion for the team/city they would be selecting.  My credentials as a Dodger fan won out. My dad spent a lot of time in New York in the ‘30s and ‘40s, and although I was born in Connecticut, I moved to LA when I was 3 years old.  However, growing up in the ‘50s, Dad always spoke of those legendary Dodgers.   I fell in love with them 3,000 miles away.   When they moved to LA in 1958, my dad took me to see them at the Coliseum the first week they were in town.  The Dodgers have been my sports passion ever since.

            The Chicago Cubs owner in GARBO quickly realized he was going to have to be in a “building mode” for a few years.  I quickly realized this, and noticed an opportunity for each of us to get our wish.  I have always loved the attitude and abilities of Ernie (“Let’s Play Two”) Banks, and he certainly would be an immense upgrade at SS from Pee Wee Reese.   I also knew playing in Ebbets Field would be great for Ernie, so I constructed the ultimate deal.  Since Sandy Koufax was not going to develop into the “greatest pitcher of my time” until 1960/61, this exchange would be beneficial for both of us.  Koufax for Banks happened.

            I batted Banks 3rd all season. I won the NL, and the Yankees (oh, shock of shocks) won the AL.  Ernie had 68 homers and 182 RBI. He was MVP in the World Series, and the Dodgers won it all in six games. During the season, Banks had a game where he hit 4 HRs and a DOUBLE.   It was a remarkable game, in a remarkable season, and maybe the most perfect trade ever.

I am celebrating my 60th birthday and I know I am among the oldest SOM Fanatics on the planet.  Thanks for the memories.

Dave Siemienski     

Ahh, the memories. As a Reds fan, I can’t say I share your affection for the real Dodgers, but that’s quite some run the real Brooklyn/LA teams had from 1946-66. In addition to 10 pennants, they were runners-up seven times, including playoff losses in 1946, 1951 and 1962 and a final-day loss in 1950. The ’55 Dodgers had one of the strongest lineups ever.

I can relate to starting with Strat-O-Matic in 1963, which was my first year (the 1962-season card set). And I can relate to making a trade for Ernie Banks in his prime. When I traded SS Woodie Held, a No. 4 starting pitcher and a fourth outfielder for Banks, that sealed the pennant for my team in a 1959 draft league. Though Banks was league MVP for me, too, he wasn’t in the class of your 68-HR, 182-RBI man.

I’m pleased you enjoyed the Strat-O-Matic Fanatics book. Thanks to support from fanatics like you, the book is now in its second printing.


Help Wanted for “Last Minute of Play in This Period”


For years I played the most realistic football game on the market (SOM) only to get down to the last 2 minutes of a tight game and have a totally unrealistic finish due to the timing rules. Finally the “tic clock” rule was added which was much more realistic. Every year I hope to see this improvement to basketball and hockey. It seems to be a glaring omission that could easily be addressed. What do you think? I am glad to see Judy Goldberg’s passing system added this year and bet that she has a realistic “tic clock” idea for that last minute when the goalie heads to the bench.


Mike, Arizona


          The hockey game can end abruptly when the last action card or two has a result such as “Lose to Opponent.” But remember that each action card represents 40 seconds of play and the reading is the key result of what was like several sequences of action. In an NHL game, 40 seconds is a full shift. Since it takes only about 9 seconds for a team to move the puck from behind its own net the length of the ice and get off a shot, a lot can happen in 40 seconds. A lot can happen in a one-action-card sequence of Strat-O-Matic hockey, too.


Gamers have many hockey innovations, but I don’t recall seeing an elaborate tic-tock innovation for the final minute of the game. For any number of ideas, however, check out these playing tips from Goldberg, Rob Gallamore, Kent Lundahl, Gord Franklin, John McTernan and others:


Return to the Tinker Shop


This is in response to the Tinker’s Shop issue with the gb()b with a runner

of third and the infield in.  We have addressed this in our face-to-face league in the following way:


    a.    With a runner on third with less than 2 outs, the offensive manager has the option of holding the runner if the defense is playing in.  The runner is not out on a GB(b); instead read as batter out, runner at third holds.  The penalty is that the runner does not

score on a SINGLE*.


   b.      The offensive manager must announce the runner on third is not going on contact before rolling.    For the purpose of this rule, we assume a SINGLE* is a ball that was knocked down by an infielder allowing the batter to reach.   However, since the runner on third was not going on contact, he can not score.

Tom Pierson, Boston

I like this. If your penalty applies to all the SI* results on split chances and ballpark-single chances, the tradeoff is significant enough to make the manager think twice about playing it safe. The tradeoff needs to be significant. When any strategy option becomes automatic, there’s not much strategy involved.

Missing in Action

I started to replay the 1930 MLB season on computer, when I noticed the Detroit Tigers had less than 400 AB at the Catcher position.  So I did some digging, and there seems to be a number of players who had a decent amount of time on two squads.  I did not include the trade of Hall of Famers, Goslin for Manush. 

How can I have the players play the correct number of games, or close to it, for each squad?  I attempted to make a trade that occurred during the season, only to be rejected by HAL.  I assumed that when I bought the 1930 season “as played,” it would automatically take care of the trades for me.  Below are examples of players and the team they were traded from with their stats on that team before the trade.  The team they were traded to is in parentheses, and on the computer that team has the full season stats for that player.


Bob Fothergill:  55 games, 143 AB  OF  (CHW)

Pink Hargrave: 55 games, 137 AB  C  (WSH)

Harry Rice: 37 games, 128 AB  INF/OF  (NYY)


New York Yankees

Mark Koenig: 21 games, 74 AB  INF/OF (Det)



George Kelly: 51 games, 188 AB  1B  (CHC)

Hughie Critz: 28 games, 104 AB  2B  (NYG)

Ethan Allen: 21 games, 46 AB  OF  (NYG)


New York Giants

Pat Crawford: 25 games, 76 AB  INF  (CIN)


Any help is appreciated.

 Henry Roman  New Egypt, NJ

            When you install a roster file “as played” it should move the players to their correct teams the day of the move. I’m not sure why these traded players would open your season on the rosters of the teams they played for last. I do know that for seasons older than the mid-1980s, the as-played feature often determines roster moves by the dates of games players started, rather than the actual transaction date. I know this because I track transactions closely for the Baseball Replay Guides I produce.


            Unfortunately, I know of no source for 1930 Opening Day rosters. But I have these dates for the moves that sent the players above to different teams:


Fothergill: from DEA to CHA on July 18

Hargrave: from DEA to WAA on Sep 10

Rice: from DEA to NYA on May 30 … Koenig from NYA to DEA same date


Goslin: from WAA to SLA on June 13 … Manush from SLA to WAA same date


Critz from CIN to NYN on May 21

Crawford from NYN to CIN on May 27


            If anyone wants more info about purchasing my Baseball Replay Guides, email me at         



Sudden Death for the Canadiens


I have been impressed over the years with the quality of your baseball products, but none of your products impresses me more than Strat hockey. I think it is simply amazing. Of course, I still prefer the cards and dice. It has a certain charm and quality that, in my view, the computer doesn’t possess. I have put together an eight-team league of 100-point teams and, so far, I have enjoyed it immensely. The eight teams are as follows: 77 Montreal, perhaps the greatest team of all time; 71 Boston, maybe the best team in franchise history; 96 Pittsburgh, the most explosive of all Mario Lemieux-led teams; 80 Philadelphia, with that 35-game unbeaten streak; 02 Detroit, one of the best in franchise history; 01 Colorado, the best team in that franchise’s history, 75 Los Angeles, definitely the best in that team’s history (sorry, Wayne); and 07 Anaheim, the best team last season.


I have a standard set of action cards, with a little tweaking to reflect a home-ice advantage, which seems to work out pretty well.   The most memorable moment was in a game between the Kings and the powerful Canadiens. This particular LA team seems to be one of those teams that are always hanging around. Dan Maloney scored the tying goal with only seconds left and then won it in overtime off of the last action card on a SHORT-HANDED outside shot. I have played four games for each, and many have been very good, but this one was the best.                               

J. Cost, Wellsburg, WV  


            I will be very interested to see who wins this league. I won’t be surprised if it’s Boston. The depth on the ’77 Canadiens and ’02 Red Wings is amazing, but depth often means less in a league of great teams, where every team has stars who can dominate the best second-tier players. The ’75 Kings have fine depth, too, but maybe not enough star power to contend in this group.



They’ve Got Those No No-Hitter Blues


I will add my lament to those of Scott Dicken and others who may be responding to his note about the lack of a no-hitter. I started playing SOM in 1968 and, through seasons of varying duration, through replays and Old-Timer teams, I’m still waiting. (Carl Hubbell taking one to the ninth is the only time I’ve come close.) Hey, just another reason to keep playing.

Gibson Smith, Duncan, S.C.


I have been a Strat player since 1964 and have never had a no-hitter to show for it. I have come close many times with pitchers such as Koufax, Gibson and Ryan. I think mostly it is due to the fact that I play short seasons of my leagues in C&D format. The best I could do was a Tom Seaver one-hitter with two outs in the ninth against the Pirates in my 1971 league. My favorite player, Roberto Clemente stroked a two-out double to the right field wall to break it up. Of course, I was managing the Pirates.

Alan L. Dehn, Schenectady, NY


In response to Scott from Ft. Lauderdale’s lack of a no-hitter: I have been an avid Strat card and dice gamer for over 20 years and have yet to toss a no-hitter. I have played over 2,000 games and once in 1987 Bert Blyleven of the Twins had one broken up by George Brett in the top of the 8th. Since then I haven’t gotten close. A couple of one-hitters with Randy Johnson in 1995 and 2001 but never late enough for drama. I also realize some of the best pitchers of all-time have never thrown one either. Keep rollin’.

             Joe Dorsa Flushing, NY

Speaking of Seaver, I once had him tossing a no-hitter through eight innings. But when he was up to bat in the bottom of the eighth, he was injured and couldn’t finish the game! At least all-time greats like Clemente and Brett broke up your no-hitters with clean hits. Though I’ve had many no-hitters in replays and draft-league play, I’ve had them broken up by a) a fielding-chart hit in the 9th against SS Craig Reynolds and b) a rare-play pop up that fell safely between infielders for the only safety.


No-Hitter Drought? Have You Pitched John Halama?


I have always read how people go decades without having a no-hitter. I experienced a no-hitter pretty quickly. Even though I just started when my dad bought the 2001 season, I only played the 2001 version minimally, so I started my first replay with the 2003 season. On April 24, John Halama of Oakland no-hit an injury-depleted Detroit Tigers team that lost 119 games during the regular season. The only base runner was Craig Monroe, who walked in the 5th inning. Oakland scored 13 runs in that game against Jeremy Bonderman.


Also, I recently started my own solitaire league. It has 16 teams, 2 leagues, one division per league. I drafted the teams using the Yahoo! Fantasy Sports rating system. Even though it was not perfect, and did not include retired players such as Brad Radke, it enabled me to draft non-biased. All teams drafted 50 players, though I never attempted to play the minor-league season. I play a 52-game schedule, including a mid-season All-Star Game which ended in extra innings with a Scott Spiezio two-run homer. I just finished about 3/4 of the season, but may need to wait until December to finish because I am just about to start school at UConn in the fall.

John Garcia, Oakdale, NY          

            Not taking your SOM league with you to college? That’s discipline. But it might be a wise move for the sake of your grades. I know plenty of Strat-O-Matic fanatics who play a series, then get to the homework. When it the series is so good that it leads to another, and another … well, you get the idea.


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.



Maybe SOM Hockey Should be an AA Step

I have been an avid reader of The Talk Show and Great Moments for years and now feel compelled to write in to echo another fan’s sentiments last month on Strat Hockey.

What a game! I would have bet hockey couldn’t work as a board game. But once you get past the line-change frequency compromise (essential), the flow and intensity (last-man-standing multiple rebound shots!) is real-world.

I came to Strat Hockey looking for something to occupy time and keep me from drinking all my per diem and going into the office with a headache everyday while on an extended road assignment in Atlanta in 1985. Twenty-two years, wife, house, and two pre-teens later, I still like it best. But I find all the Strat board games fabulous. Baseball is uniquely fun at any of the complexity levels. Football is overwhelming to me at the highest complexity level and I care about roundball too little to play beyond the basic level.

I make no apologies for loving the board and dice I started this hobby with. But what a great time-saver the 20-sided dice are and I’ve gradually adopted rules from old STRAT FAN issues and some of my own for things like shot blocking, home-ice advantage, zero offense and defense alignment options, etc. I found last month’s Talk Show reference to a new-rules site had fine ideas for expanding the breakaway-penetration and great passing rules.

 But one item was mentioned there that troubled me and that should have been glaring at me for the last 22 years. The board doesn’t reflect real hockey defensive assignments. One side (the visitor’s) should have both defensemen outside their wingers to reflect defensive hockey assignments – generally wingers defend their points and the offensive forwards are down low on the defending center and his defensemen. Did Strat have a strong reason for the board being configured as it is? 

I also ignore the suggested rules to alternate “any player rebound” and “any player shot” chances for equally rated offensive players as, based on my years in street/floor hockey leagues, it seems inevitable that the inside or rebound shot is always on the stick of the best player of the other team. 

Magnificent Hobby!

Jeff Fout, Westerly, RI

            For as long as I can remember, I have played the hockey board-game match-ups the way you suggest. In the attacking and defending zones, hockey is winger-vs.-defenseman. It’s basically only neutral-zone hockey when wingers are back-checking other wingers. I also find this change more fun, because I have my defensive-minded stay-at-home defensemen covering high-scoring wingers, not low-threat defensemen. We all have to remember, though, that ratings are computed based on the official rules. Whenever we deviate to suit our interests, we should expect a ricochet effect in the scores and stats our games produce.


Computers Now Old Enough to be Nostalgic

Okay, this may come off as the dumbest suggestion (and I may be the only person who would ever desire this), but here goes: Would Strat ever consider adding an option to the computer game that would allow the user to have an interface like the old does version 2 game? No stadium pictures or path of balls.  I liked the basic layout of the classic board game with that great dice and split-card sound effect.  My problem with the current game (and most of the past versions) is how far removed it seems from the dice and card game.  I just don’t need that much distraction when playing.

Assuming this is impossible, how soon do you think the wait is for the 1980 football season and the cardiac kids?

Kevin Hennessy, St. Paul, MN

I think the wait for the 1980 Browns will be shorter. We’ve got to figure that, at the current rate of three historic seasons per year, there are only six more years before we have all seasons 1960-present. We lack only 1960-61, 1970-71, 1974-76, 1980, 1982-83, 1987-89 and 1993-97. Of those, the main “gap-filler” is 1980, which stands alone in a five-year period. Every season has its historic significance, but I’m also looking forward to 1960 and 1961 to complete the AFL era. The ’60 season in particular is historic – the first AFL season, the Philadelphia Eagles’ last championship and the first appearance in a championship game for Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers.

I’d never predict a retro approach to dated technology, but the strong relationship between the Strat-O-Matic computer and board games have helped each other. Tying the computer games to the board games has helped bring veteran Strat gamers to the computer games. SOM’s “open system” that shows you what’s in there – the cards, charts and more – has been a mark of integrity for Strat-O-Matic’s computer products. Meanwhile, features designed to take advantage of the computer’s potency have improved the board games. The computer’s speed has made full-season replays widely achievable for the first time. And Hal Richman’s decision to price cards cheaply for computer-game purchasers has kept the card-printing volume up, and set prices lower.

For now, you can turn off the sounds and the flight of the ball, and turn on the card image and board-game information.


One Base at a Time

Why is it that each time there is a wild pitch or passed ball, it is followed by an out. What about allowing a WP or PB to advance runners and, in the event no one is on base, it becomes a Roll Again. Also, is there a way to purchase a team that is out of print? I’ve been looking for the 1998 Yankees but cannot find them.


Use the Super-Advanced board-game rules and you’ll have your wish on wild pitches and passed balls. It’s that way in the computer game, too. In the basic game, you are free to adjust the rules as you see fit – as long as you are playing solitaire or in a league of like-minded gamers. You wouldn’t be the first to do it the way you suggest.

Out-of-print cards are marketed through online auction houses, and other places gamers connect online. The ultimate Strat card broker is Chris Rosen. You can find him here:



Baseball Hall of Fame Team Rosters


Regarding the Strat Hall of Fame card set that came out in 2000, did the Talk Show break the 192-card set into teams by eras? If so, can you direct me to that article?

Barry A. Gross, Northbrook, IL


I don’t remember listing them in the Talk Show, but the 192 players are divided into eight era teams in the computer-game setup.


Here they are:

Old-Timers: Anson, Brouthers, Clarkson, Comiskey, Connor, Cummings, Davis, Delahanty, Ewing, Galvin, Hamilton, Keefe, King Kelly, McCarthy, McPhee, Radbourn, Spalding, Thompson, Ward, Welch


Turn of the Century: Beckley, Bresnahan, Burkett, Clarke, Jimmy Collins, Crawford, Duffy, Flick, Jennings, Joss, Keeler, Joe Kelley, Lajoie, Mathewson, Nichols, O’Rourke, Rusie, Waddell, Wagner, Willis, Cy Young


Dead Ball: Baker, Bender, Brown, Carey, Chance, Chesbro, Cobb, Eddie Collins, Evers, Hooper, Joe Jackson, Johnson, McGinnity, Plank, Roush, Schalk, Sisler, Speaker, Tinker, Wallace, Walsh, Wheat


AL Pre-WWII: Appling, Averill, Combs, Coveleski, Cronin, Dickey, DiMaggio, Doerr, Faber, Ferrell, Gehrig, Gehringer, Gomez, Greenberg, Grove, Hoyt, Lazzeri, Lyons, Manush, Carl Mays, Rice, Ruffing, Ruth, Sewell, Simmons


AL Post-WWII: Aparicio, Berra, Brett, Carew, Doby, Feller, Fingers, Fisk, Ford, Fox, Hunter, Reggie Jackson, Kaline, Kell, Killebrew, Mantle, Newhouser, Palmer, Rizzuto, Brooks Robinson, Ryan, Wilhelm, Ted Williams, Yastrzemski, Yount


NL Pre-WWII: Alexander, Bancroft, Bottomley, Cuyler, Dean, Frisch, Grimes, Haines, Hartnett, Hornsby, Hubbell, Travis Jackson, George Kelly, Klein, Lindstrom, Lombardi, Maranville, Marquard, Medwick, Mize, Ott, Rixey, Terry, Traynor, Vance, Lloyd Waner, Paul Waner, Ross Youngs 


NL Post-WWII: Aaron, Ashburn, Banks, Bench, Brock, Bunning, Campanella, Cepeda, Clemente, Gibson, Koufax, Marichal, Mathews, Willie Mays, Morgan, Musial, Niekro, Perez, Perry, Reese, Rose, Schmidt, Schoendienst, Seaver, Spahn, Billy Williams


Left Outs: Boudreau, Carlton, Cochrane, Drysdale, Foxx, Goslin, Hafey, Heilmann, Herman, Irvin, Jenkins, Kiner, Lemon, McCovey, Pennock,  Roberts, Frank Robinson, Jackie Robinson, Slaughter, Snider, Stargell, Sutton, Vaughan, Wilson, Wynn



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.



Is Anybody Out There?

I live in Pickerington, Ohio. I have not been able to locate any leagues in the area. Are fantasy baseball leagues the only leagues out there? I would be interested in a league that plays with the teams as they are. I really do not know much about draft leagues.

 Jim Pardee, Pickerington, OH

            The first step is to find other Strat-O-Matic players. I have found them everywhere I lived – including Akron, Ohio. I have found at least 10 where I live now in Jacksonville, Fla. If gamers near you see this, I will try to connect them with you. You could post your interest in the leagues section of the Strat-O-Matic Co. web site or on other Strat-oriented sites, such as You might place a small ad in a local newspaper.

Your shared love of SOM surely will get you to quick agreement on how to play. Stock teams are great. SOM draft leagues have at least two attractions: They can level the playing field by making teams closer to equal than the 8-16 teams in a stock-team league. And they appeal to those who think they know talent and like to assemble the parts of a championship team.


Late-Game Strategy

Two Questions:

1)      Timing in the Super-Advanced Hockey (board game only). 

Suppose the last Action Card draw says “Inside Shot LW” (this is the last Action Card in the deck, the period is ending.)  The LW shoots, and “Rebound” is the result.  The offensive player who gets the rebound shoots.  The result is Rebound again!  At this point, I did not know if it would be fairer to assume that time had run out, or to keep playing until the sequence was resolved.  On the second rebound shot – the third shot in total – the offensive team scored.  Ought the game to have ended prior to this goal?  In other words, after the final card is drawn, how long may one keep playing?

And what happens if there is a defensive penalty on the final Action Card draw?  Does the game simply end?  In that case, the defense is rewarded for playing ultra-aggressively, even illegally. There would be no disincentive for the defensive player (coach) to use “intimidation” to try to take away the puck.  How does the actual NHL rule in such a situation?

2) RE: advanced baseball game (board game only).  Watching games on
TV, most real-life teams go into a “no doubles” defense to protect a lead in the 9th inning.  This does not seem to be an option in the board game.  Might a defensive manager have his team play a “no doubles” defense?  In that case, all doubles would revert to single*. If, however, the result is flyball C or flyball B (?), the batter also is awarded a single*.  What do you think of this potential rule adaptation?  I’d be interested in your comments.

Jimmy Jr., Lewisburg, PA

Someone as observant as you knows that hockey rebounds can happen in rapid-fire succession, just a second or two apart. Now remember that the last Action Card represents 40 seconds of play. So keep resolving the rebounds before ending the game. But if you want to improvise some incredible drama, try this: If a rebound goal occurs on the last Action Card, roll two dice and add them. If a 12 – no goal, the period ended before the puck crossed the line. If the goal happened on the second rebound, it’s no goal on rolls of 11 or 12. If on the third rebound, it’s no goal on 10, 11 and 12. And so on.

In the NHL, penalties do happen at 20:00 of the final period. The player gets the PIM stats, but his team is never short-handed. Here again, though, you could improvise with a roll of two dice. Roll a 12 and it’s a penalty shot (this assumes the penalty was a desperate act in the crease or in hauling down a player who would have had a clean breakaway).

Computer baseball allows guarding the lines to prevent doubles. You are correct that this strategy increases singles. If you improvise for the board game, I don’t think you’d want to eliminate all doubles – most happen on balls hit in the air. But you might eliminate the doubles that start a split chance (e.g. DO** 1-11, SI** 12-20). You might even want to turn some of those doubles into outs – perhaps if the roll is within the double range and is an even number. Similarly, converting all flyC and flyB? results into hits is too harsh. That could add 50 or more batting-average points to the hitter. But maybe stick with the split-chance theme and say that non-ballpark chances that begin with a SI* split become automatic singles. For variety, authenticity and drama, roll the 20-sided die anyway and if the number is odd, it’s a SINGLE*. If even, it’s a SINGLE**. 

It’s a Called Strike Three!

Is there any way that Strat could produce a strikeout looking and a strikeout swinging on the Strat card?  I’m tired of guessing whether the batter took a third strike on the corner, or went down hacking.

Alan Maier, Enfield, CT

            Those stats are hard to come by, and without them, SOM would have to guess, too. As an alternative, try this: Decide what percentage of strikeouts you want to be called third strikes. Maybe one-third? Then take that percentage of dice roll chances and say that strikeouts on those dice rolls are called third strikes. If one-third, that’s 12 of 36 card chances in each column. So strikeouts on the added dice of 2-5 and 11 would be called third strikes. Many other combinations will get you to 12 chances if you prefer: 6, 7 and 12 for instance; or 4, 5 and 6.


Everyone Likes a Good Argument

            I am in a great league in the Western New York area with Strat enthusiasts.  The other afternoon during a league series we were coming up with some interesting twists on rules of the game.  I throw these out there a bit tongue-in-cheek, but perhaps Strat may decide to go with some of them:

 1.) Called strike 3s and game ejections: We’d expect a pitcher to get favored on some of the Ks on his card.  It may be a burden to find out how many called strike threes a pitcher gets, but wouldn’t it be neat to notate some of the strikeouts on a pitcher’s card with an *.  This would call for a re-roll and referral to an “Argument Chart” to see if the batter grumbles and walks away or decides to argue the call. A batter would be given a personal aggressiveness A->E rating, again it may require added research.  Depending on how aggressive or irritable a player may be he gets a higher rating (ex. Milton Bradley) and this increases his chances of arguing the call to the point of getting tossed from the game.

 2.) Rain delays: If weather effects are being used and the weather is poor, it would be neat to see a dice roll, perhaps on the 20 sided dice (say a roll of 1) in which a chart has to be referenced for chance of rain.  This could change things a bit, since teams would have to bring in new pitchers.

 3.) Rushing the mound and pitcher ejections: Goes without saying that if a player gets pegged twice in a game, he’s going to rush the mound and the pitcher will probably get ejected. This may be an optional rule thrown in there to bring up the realism even further.

 Adam Kisailus, Buffalo, NY

            Sounds like you and your friends are on your way to developing your own innovations. As I think you anticipate, the rain-delay chart could be for varying lengths – shorter delays don’t require pitching changes, longer delays require a dice roll for each team against the endurance rating of the pitcher and even longer delays require automatic removal of the existing pitchers for both teams. The extreme roll would end the game right there.

            Others have decided that the first or second HBP in a game earns a warning  for both teams and the next HBP is automatic ejection of the pitcher. Player ejections for other causes are very infrequent, despite the variety of circumstances that can trigger them (HBPs, strikeouts, walks, base-running plays, etc.), so if you do innovate this way, I’d keep the possibility very small.


Strat-O-Matic and the Hall of Fame

            I have played countless seasons of SOM with cards and computer. Something in the computer version puzzles me: Why the play-by-play announcer never says that the team has won the World Series, the division championship or the league pennant? I would like those features integrated in the play-by-play and the box score to make it more real. And nobody has forgotten Babe’s called shot in 1932, or Kirk Gibson’s homer in the 1988 World Series, etc. Can you integrate that in the play-by-play and the box score?

By the way, I am a friend of the Hall of Fame and have been criticizing them for not having the SOM game in the Hall of Fame for years. I guess other people must have complained, too, because SOM is now selling in the Museum Shop. I was very surprised to see it in the catalog. Congratulations. That is the game that needs to be in the Hall of Fame.

Orlando Leon, Polk City, Fl

            Your suggestions for play-by-play enhancements are being forwarded to SOM for addition to its customer wish lists.


            It’s great to have advocates such as you for our hobby, Orlando. As you probably recall, Strat-O-Matic was displayed in the Hall of Fame shortly after its use as a substitute for the strike-postponed 1981 All-Star game in Cleveland Stadium. I have been in contact recently with someone assembling a history of baseball board games for the Hall, so it seems likely that SOM will make a re-appearance there.



Just Like the Real Thing


Years ago I got a friend of mine to play Strat-O-Matic Football, basic version.  He was a big Chicago Bears fan, and “my guys” are the Green Bay Packers.  Naturally, we paired the 1980 Bears and Packers.  Our wives watched, and commented that it was “almost as bad as you two playing real football.”  The Pack smoked the Bears, 23-7.  Here’s the best comment on realism I’ve heard:  During the rest of their visit, my buddy’s wife was talkative, but he just sat there glumly.  When I asked if he was OK, he said, “Geez, it feels like the Bears really lost a football game!  And to Green Bay!”  His wife later told me it took him days to get over it. 


 Bob O’Halloran, Appleton, WI

            This may be the best story I’ve heard yet confirming what I always say about the football game: The mental chess game involved in playing Strat-O-Matic football head to head leaves the winner exhilarated and the loser drained. It must be the closest thing to coaching a real team. We’ve all seen friends change their personalities after losing tough games in Strat-O-Matic. In one episode, a long-time Strat-playing friend and I had planned to enjoy an elaborate dinner after completing our World Series. But when he lost in five games, he was so distraught he couldn’t bear to stick around – walking out on a gourmet meal so that he could spend the rest of the night alone with a sandwich.


Remember “The Trade?”

I could be wrong but Frank Mahovlich played for Detroit in the 1965-66 season and not for Toronto. I remember that the Wings used to put Mahovlich on the same line with Howe and Delvecchio. I don’t think younger brother Pete Mahovlich was on the roster in 1965-66. I don’t know if there are other errors on the ‘65-66 rosters, but I’m pretty certain that Norm Ullman had been traded for the Big M the at the end of the ‘64-65 season

Paul Dunn

            The rosters are correct. The shocking trade that sent Frank Mahovlich from Toronto for an entire Red Wings line – Ullman, Paul Henderson and Floyd Smith – did not happen until late in 1967-68. The Wings also obtained the rights to holdout defenseman Carl Brewer in that deal. Pete Mahovlich was a rookie for Detroit in 1965-66. But your memory is correct about Frank Mahovlich on a line with Delvecchio and Howe once The Big M became a Red Wing. Although all players in the trade did well for their new teams, neither contended for a Stanley Cup for a long time after that.

Will it ever be possible for past STRAT FAN teams to be put on one computer team disk for the computer game?

 John Trent, Charlotte, NC

After reviewing my 1971 season baseball cards I noticed Jeff Torborg’s card with the Angels has Tommie Reynolds’ batting stats. His defensive ratings are correct, but batting is switched. Does Strat have a suggested card for Torborg? Also reviewing Bernie Carbo’s card on the Reds, he has a homerun chance on 1-9, HR 1-8 flyout 9-20 with a “w” power note. He batted 4 percent of the time vs. lefties in 310 Abs, which computes to 12 or so ABs. Shouldn’t a homer vs. a lefty in 12 ABs compute to “N” status? That’s Hall-of-Fame ratio. To note, he hit homer off Jerry Koosman.

Randy Gesicki, Independence, OH

            SOM doesn’t want players to be used so unrealistically that they make a mockery of the game. So it has a long tradition of reducing the stellar performances of players who very little against one type of pitching. If Bernie Carbo really had Babe Ruth-type power against lefties, he would have batted more than 12 times against them. By reducing his homer rating against lefties, he will be used against lefties much less.

            SOM’s Steve Barkan says you are the first to report the Torborg problem. He checked and confirmed that Torborg (who hits .203 with 0 HR in 123 AB) mistakenly received Reynolds’ batting card (.188 with 2 HR in 88 AB). “There’s nothing to do at this point but get a Nameless Player card to substitute for Torborg, or perhaps use the Fringe Player creation feature in the computer game” Barkan replied.

            Here’s another possibility, no more imperfect than the Nameless Player option: Another catcher, Ken Suarez of Cleveland, hit .203 in 123 AB (but with 1 HR and more walks and strikeouts than Torborg). Use his card for Torborg, changing the HR chance to a single. If you want more precision, you could change at least half the strikeouts to popouts. But the walks are tricky. If you change them to outs, the batting average goes down. For every five carded chances of walk you remove, make one chance a single.



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.


Hockey History

Which old-time hockey seasons are going to be created?  Is the goal to have from 1954-55 to the present?  I would like to see the 1954-55 season.  Imagine the Stanley Cup Champion Red Wings with both Terry Sawchuk and Glenn Hall as the goaltenders. 

Bill Donnelly, Indio CA

With some of the great Hockey Hall of Famers going in over the past few years and some greats names this year could we see an updated Hockey HOF set or at least the new players set?

Stephen Soltis, Uniontown PA

            Strat-O-Matic has not revealed its future plans for old-timer hockey seasons. However, the pattern seems fairly clear that we might expect all seasons since 1955-56, at least. I join you in wanting one team from the Red Wings dynasty of the ‘50s. The 1956-57 season released this year has a first-place Detroit team, but earlier teams were better. The Red Wings won the Stanley Cup four times while finishing first each season from 1948-49 through 1950-55. The 1950-51 Wings (101 points, +97 goal differential) were probably the best of those teams, and the 1951-52 squad (100 points, +68 differential) was probably the best of the Cup winners. But the 1954-55 season would keep the sequence of seasons intact with a 95-point Cup-winner and a more competitive replay. Montreal had 93 points in the season before its dynasty began.

It’s too soon to expect a Hall of Fame update set because in the three years since the original set, only eight players have been inducted and three of those – Mark Messier, Patrick Roy and Scott Stevens – already are included. So we lack only right wing Cam Neely, left wing Dick Duff and two of this year’s four honorees, center Ron Francis and defenseman Al MacInnis, from the NHL, plus Russian winger Valeri Kharlamov.


The Strat-egist

In a real game played in 1979, the Pirates brought in Grant Jackson to face Darrell Evans. They put the previous pitcher, Kent Tekulve, in left field, and Evans flied out to Teke. Jackson then left the game, and Tekulve returned to the mound and finished the game.  There was an occasion when the Indians moved Sam McDowell to second base when his nemesis, Frank Howard, came up to bat. Dean Chance retired Hondo, and Sudden Sam took care of business on the hill after that. In the movie The Kid From Left Field, Dan Dailey, the manager in the film, puts his pitcher at third base for one batter and pulls off the same kind of substitution mentioned in the examples above.

Is it possible to use this type of maneuver in the computer version of Strat-O-Matic Baseball, and will the associated statistics be correct?

Richard Zaborsky, Dublin, OH

Yes, you can do this. The only limit I know of is a limit imposed by baseball. In a game with the designated-hitter, placing either the pitcher or the DH in the field cancels the DH and, under baseball rules, the DH cannot be canceled until he has batted at least one time. The box score shows the position changes properly. I see no reason why the stats wouldn’t perform equally well.


Wanted: Variety in Hockey Play-by-Play


I love the computer hockey game, but when will the PBP be expanded? It seems to be the same Play By Play every edition. Thanks for a great game!


George Wazeck, Detroit (Hockeytown)


            That’s a wish-list item and your inquiry adds a vote for that in future versions of the game. Personally, I find the play-by-plays in Strat-O-Matic’s games amusing and interesting, but I prefer my imagination. Keeping the settings on minimal or no play-by-play keeps my games moving, too. I get to play more and enjoy it just as much. I realize, though, that I may be missing out on the play-by-play “announcer’s” citations for statistical milestones, streaks and tips on in-game situations that can make any broadcast or computer game more rewarding.


Gamer to Gamer: Baseball

In response to Alan Meier’s Talk Show question on called strikeouts vs. swinging strikeouts, our league has decided that if the strikeout is on the pitcher’s card it is called and if it is on the batter’s card it is swinging. This may not be the best resolution, but it seems logical. A batter who doesn’t strikeout much would probably K due to the pitcher rather than his own penchant and vice versa.

Mark J. Varvil, Kenosha, WI


Gamer to Gamer: Hockey


Various gamers rushed to assist Talk Show writer Jimmy Jr. of Lewisburg, PA, who last month wondered if there shouldn’t be a disincentive to intimidating on the last Action Card of a hockey game. Here are their thoughts:



            I always continue playing after the last Action Card draw of the period until something happens that requires a fast-action card draw. In this person’s case about the penalties: If a penalty occurs on the last Action Card due to intimidation, and it contained a reading of “opponent fails to take away the puck,” I proceed normally (delayed penalty) until the puck was frozen, or touched by the penalized team.  Assuming no goal was scored and the defense touched the puck, Strat-O-Matic rules indicate that the ensuing faceoff would be taken in front of the defensive goaltender. (This would happen if the opponent took the puck away, as well). This would necessitate putting the penalty units on the ice and holding a faceoff.  If the power play team wins it they could shoot, penetrate or pass until the penalty timer reaches 7 or the short-handed team gains control.


For those of us who prefer to be really persistent:  If a goal did occur, and you were keeping faceoff statistics, you would hold one last faceoff at center ice before the final buzzer sounded.


Ed Gross, Parma Heights, OH



Final action card plays in STRAT-Hockey: I have always simplified the issue down to, that play goes on until an Action Card draw is required and all Action Cards have been played.  A more restrictive approach would be that as the last Action Card is played, count off all the player actions on the super advanced penalty system “clock” with the game ending when you’d need an Action Card turn over.


Jeff Fout, Westerly, RI


Then Frank and Rick Prather resolved things for themselves. First, Frank:


If the penalty was the result of intimidation, wouldn’t you actually draw a card for the faceoff, and if the PP team won the faceoff, they would get to take an outside shot (with the option to pass or penetrate), just like you would on any faceoff following an intimidation penalty? That gives the PP team an automatic outside shot, instead of having to draw an Action Card … This is at least how we would have handled it in our league back when we played on the board, though I’m not sure how the computer game would handle this situation.  If a normal penalty occurred on the last card of the game, the game would simply be over, but since this chance of a shot could occur off of an intimidation penalty, there would then be at least a small disincentive to try to intimidate on the last action card.


Frank Prather

Then Rick Prather:


The computer game does in fact have a faceoff after an INT penalty on the last Action Card of every period including the end of the game.  And you are correct that a shot can result.  The computer will continue to keep playing in this situation and on rebounds as long as the offensive team maintains control of the puck or even if there is a loose puck.  The only way to end the game or the period in these two cases is for the defensive team to get control (or a goal to be scored).  And in fact, if another faceoff occurs, it will go through the whole process again until the defensive team finally gets the puck. 



16 Skaters

I have played a lot with 16 skater teams and have settled on a rotation like this for Defense:


1-2, 3-4, 2-5//1-5, 3-4, 1-2//1-2, 3-4, 1-2//


with a forwards rotation of:


1-2-3, 7-8-11, 4-5-6, 1-2-3//1-2-3, 7-9-10, 4-5-6,

1-2-3//1-2-3, 7-8-9, 4-5-6, 1-2-3//


This works out with top forward line (1-2-3) at 30 minutes of ice time and top D pair (1-2) at 33 minutes plus of ice. At times I ignore LD/RD for 5 defenseman teams, especially if a mixed season league with teams predating LD/RD.


Has SOM got any thinking or have any strat hockey players out there got house rules for players playing out of rated position/positions?

Jeff Fout, Westerly, RI


            Thanks, Jeff. I’m sure gamers appreciate hearing others’ techniques on line changes and playing-time distribution. Out of position probably depends heavily on how far out of position. Defenseman and forwards generally play the same side of the ice as their shooting hand, primarily so the stick blade is nearest the boards. This aids defensemen in their own zone, both to defend against players going wide and to clear the puck along the boards. It aids defensemen at the point in the attacking zone to block clearing attempts off the boards. It aids forwards in the attacking zone the same way. And it aids forwards in their defensive zones trying to receive passes along the boards. This is why you’ll see references to teams needing another left-hand shot among defensemen or at wing – sometimes minor trades are made for that reason alone.

However, as European style demonstrates, wingers often benefit offensively by playing the “off wing.” Their sticks are closer to the net and in better playmaking position. On the power play, when defense is less of a consideration, defensemen often play the opposite side. That puts their sticks in the middle of the ice, in better shooting position. So, on power plays, I wouldn’t consider any deduction for playing a winger on the off wing or a defenseman on the other side. At even strength, there should be a defensive deduction (say 1 grade), but it’s hard to figure the off-setting offensive benefit, so it’s best just to prohibit that move. If it’s an emergency, then perhaps a deduction with no benefit is appropriate. Similarly, I’d ban defensemen from playing at forward spots, and vice versa, if they don’t have those positions on their cards. In an emergency, perhaps require that the team choose a forward with at least a Defense-3 rating to go back on defense, and deduct two from his rating there. Players who are carded as defensemen only could only move up to a wing spot (never center) in an emergency, but to avoid abuse even then, deduct one from his defense rating and turn all his Goalie Rating results into X-Any Player.

            As always, we welcome others to share the innovations that work well for them.


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.


Returning to the Mound (Revisited)

Regarding the item The Strat-egist in the last Talk Show (regarding moving a pitcher to a fielding position, then back to the mound in the same game), two gamers supplemented my answer:

From Steve Braccini, Georgetown, TX: When you bring the pitcher back to the mound, he’s fatigued.

From Meredith Adkins, Ohio: The other restriction is the Major League rule that only allows a pitcher to return to the mound once in an inning. For example, Tekulve could go to left field and back to the mound, but if he goes to another position, he can’t go back to the mound until the next inning.

            The fatigue rule makes abundant sense in the Strat-O-Matic realm. Otherwise, the defensive manager could alternate pitchers all game, which has never occurred in Major League ball, as best I can recall. Without such a rule in Strat play, the position switch also could be used to avoid fatigue in the late innings. One hit from fatigue, just move the guy to first base, then bring him back to the mound the following inning. No historical simulation sports game is immune from hindsight manipulation, but Strat-O-Matic has worked hard to discourage extreme use of its games, especially with stock teams.


On the Brandon Bandwagon


I wondered your opinion on Brandon Phillips defense this season. He is the best fielding 2nd baseman I have ever seen. I didn’t see Maz live, but have seen many other greats. This guy is amazing. He was robbed of the Gold Glove – Hudson missed the last month of the season. Please tell me Strato will give this kid a much deserved “1.” What do you think? He is better than Hudson with the leather, no doubt !

 Darrell in Waynesville, OH


            Your email arrived the same day that SOM posted its 2007 fielding ratings, which showed Phillips as a 1, for the first time. In Ohio, you see Phillips much more than I do. He’d have to be better than Robby Alomar for me to regard him as the best I’ve ever seen (I did see Maz on live TV a few times in his prime).



Why SOM Is Great for Cross-Era Play


I have a statistics question.  My sons and I play the board baseball game, almost always old seasons.  Sometimes we add players to sub-.500 teams to make really lousy teams more interesting to play.  We pick cards from other years to add to the game we’re playing.  We add medium-level guys – not Mays or Mantle but more like a Peanuts Lowry or Dave Kingman – and name them after one of us.  After all, who wouldn’t want Jim Poole on his team?


My question:  I’m playing 1950 and have added a couple of players.  Will a hitter (or pitcher) from, say, 1968, match statistics-wise with a season like 1950 that’s more of a hitter’s year?  It seems to me that a player who hit .300 in 1968 would have a much different card than one who hit .300 in 1950 because the 68 card would have to mesh with pitchers whose ERAs are far lower than those in 50.  And the reverse would be true with pitchers, I would think. It seems to me the cards wouldn’t be the same because the game itself is half-hitting card, half-pitching card.  But I’m not a statistician or anything close.  Can you shed any light on this?


1950, by the way, is a great year to play, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys playing past seasons.  Great pennant races in both leagues.  And the lousy teams – remember, half your season is one crummy team playing another – are pretty interesting.  Good game.

Jim Poole, Cobleskill NY 


            The cards will not be the same. Strat-O-Matic normalizes a player’s statistics against the norms of his season, so Boston OF Carl Yastrzemski’s .301 in the 1968 American League (league average: 230) is much, much better than Boston OF Lance Richbourg’s .304 in the 1930 National League (league average: .303). The same is true of all other hitting and pitching “rate” statistics – extra-base hits, percentage of walks and strikeouts, and more.

            Not only does SOM consider the season, it compares each player’s stats to his competition – typically within that season, the statistical norms are different for each league. Moreover, since a batter does not face his own team’s pitching (and vice versa), each team has its own norms, reflecting strength of schedule. Finally, the norms also are calculated for lefty-righty matchups: lefty batters vs. lefty pitchers, lefty batters vs. righty pitchers, righty batters vs. righty pitchers and righty batters vs. lefty pitchers – for each league.

            Doing the ratings this way is key to Strat-O-Matic’s statistical integrity. It’s also why it takes SOM months to produce a new season. Whenever a game company starts churning out high volumes of seasons in rapid fashion, you can be confident that it is not normalizing stats. Without normalization, a season’s player ratings are only valid – if then – played against the competition of that season. But Strat-O-Matic’s normalization makes SOM great for playing the creative what-ifs that gamers like you are constantly devising.

            Even then, there are some limits to extreme statistics. How do you calculate how many homers a pitcher might have given up in 2007 if he gave up zero in 1911? Today’s 50-homer men likely would have hit many fewer under the conditions of 1911, but as few as AL leader Frank Baker’s 11 homers? Differing game conditions also dictated strategy and player usage, with strong impact on such statistics as stolen bases, strikeouts and innings pitched. The sport was different back then and so are the SOM cards that reflect the way the game was played. But Strat-O-Matic’s enduring appeal has much to do with gamers’ ability to make those comparisons, because of how SOM does its ratings.



Baseball Update Requests


Will Strat-O-Matic reprint the 1961 and 1962 baseball seasons in the 3 color format? These two seasons are as popular as any that Strat has produced. Also is 1958 around the corner?

Phil S, Passaic  NJ


These answers are usually speculation beyond what SOM already has revealed, but I have consistently speculated that 1961 and 1962 are probably fairly far down the list of SOM’s priorities. The company has to weigh how many gamers haven’t played ’61 and ’62 in their first two iterations (basic only, then basic/advanced) against demand for never-created seasons (like 1951 this year, 1924 next year and 1958 eventually (to complete SOM’s run from 1954 through present). Then there’s the 1970s seasons that have been released just once, albeit in the same format as the latest representations of ’61 and ’62.

Many of us who have played both ’61 and ’62 would enjoy seeing the Super-Advanced versions, but we also have other favorites higher on our wish lists.



Is there any chance that SOM will produce adds-on to the Hockey Hall of Famers set in the future? I know the set just came out a few years ago, but I think most gamers would like the chance to include Mark Messier and Ron Francis, as well as the other new Hall of Famers, in that set.

Jeff Gillespie, Conyers, GA


            The last Talk Show contained an answer that suggested it is too soon for a hockey HOF update set, because only five players not yet in the set have been inducted in the three-year interval.


Strike Three

Alan Maier of Enfield, CT asked about Strat listing a strikeout looking as compared to a swinging third strike.  In our league we have determined that all “tired dot” strikeouts on a pitcher’s card are strikeouts looking.  I’m not sure how statistically accurate it is, but it’s how we’ve been playing for years.

                                                                                              Rob Cornwell, St. Louis, MO

            Even without the stats, I’d expect that you have more “out-looking” Ks than actual, simply because some pitchers have dots after all their strikeouts. But for those lower-strikeout pitchers, maybe that’s not unrealistic. They don’t overpower hitters, but get the calls at the corners and the knees. In the absence of good numbers, your system is likely to be as enjoyable as any.


The Dark Side of Strat

It would be interesting to explore the stories of when the fellowship in Strat is replaced by showmanship.  There must be a plethora of stories regarding various leagues that folded under dubious or acrimonious situations.  I for one have experienced the venomous jealously of supposedly “trusted” friends who periodically include you in their baseball league as an expansion squad – essentially a doormat – until your team has become the class of the league. Then you have become intolerable and, you guessed it, something right out of the French Revolution – the guillotine is out and “off with your head!”  On to the next victim/sucker, so much for good friends. 

I mention this because I was in Glen Head several years back with one of those strategomaniacs and Hal Richman was fascinated by the story of an individual who threatened to fight both me and his brother because the competitive nature of the league had worn his nerves thin.  This included outright cheating off cards and holding the dice in a manner which seemed to produce a preferred dice roll for the team at the plate, if you know what I mean. Recently, another face-to-face league I was in with these individuals collapsed under similar circumstances as the league slowly dwindled due to the competitive nature of Strat. I thought it may be an interesting to explore stories about when competition loses perspective in Strat leagues gone bad or other underhanded maneuvers to insure victory. Curious about what you think.

Kong, Chicago, IL

Sounds like you need to read the chapters of my Strat-O-Matic Fanatics book in the segment titled “Love, Devotion and Surrender” – story after story about the passion for Strat-O-Matic. Some of these stories are heart-rending human interest. Some are hilarious. Some will make you shake your head. Sounds like you would be especially interested in Steve Napoli’s account of a league member caught using batting dice with only 1s, 2s, and 3s on the first die. What the league did to penalize him was inspired.

Your experience with the French Revolution leagues reminds me of a league where, over a period of years, a half dozen champions and runners-up quit in succession, all because of one jealous member’s behavior. He had the authority to manipulate divisional alignments, consistently did so to his advantage and therefore was always a contender. But each year he fell short of the championship and took out his despondency on those who fared better. Because Strat is played by competitive people whose strategy is important and whose dice rolls sometimes produce low-percentage (“lucky”) outcomes, emotions can be as interesting as the games. Playing for money is never necessary to keep interest high.

While I’ve never defaced a card (or an opponent) in anger, I’ve had my “attitude adjustments” during frustrating stretches. Those concentration losses usually extend the misfortune, so learning to accept bad outcomes is part of becoming an effective manager. I’ve seen this skill in Major League managers. After the wheels come off in a big inning, the good managers stay focused on what they have to do with a six-run deficit instead of dwelling on “woe-is-us” replays of misfortune. These managers always give their teams the best chance to win, even if that chance is small.

Eliminating cheating and unnecessary hard feelings is fairly easy in face-to-face play. Batter and pitcher cards ought to be displayed in full view of both players. Everyone misreads a card now and then. The player rolling the dice should ask if his opponent is set with all strategy moves before rolling. Dice should not be picked up until the play has been resolved to both players’ common understanding. At STAR Tournaments, where money is at stake, players must use dice towers to eliminate those “custom” rolls. Mail leagues require much more trust, but NetPlay is a solution.

If you play enough Strat, you’ll see it all – miracle victories and inexpressible defeats that turn you into a babbling idiot. Tough losses on long-shot rolls happen. My advice: Play hard to win every game, but get over it quickly when you lose. There’s another game to play as soon as you’re ready.    



Strat continues to improve its baseball game, i.e., robbing a home run, blocking the plate, etc. Still, I don’t understand why position players, who are prone to injury, suffer so much compared to pitchers, especially frequently injured relievers, who never bat in DH leagues. Doesn’t Strat understand that not all leagues are played at 162 games or follow strict usage? Why doesn’t Strat include pitcher injury possibilties on its charts, i.e., a rare play resulting in possible injury, like it does for its position players? (Am I the first person to ask this question?) If you’re a Cleveland fan, you will recall a few years ago the Indians used dozens of pitchers in a year. The 2007 Yankees used 12+ starters, I believe. Injuries are part of the game – just like balks. Pitchers do get hurt in the computer version. Just don’t ask me how that happens.

Jesus Diaz, New York

            The injury system in the computer game also applies to the board game. In Super Advanced rules, pitchers have a high likelihood of injury – whenever an opposing batter rolls a 6-12. For a complete-game starting pitcher, that’s 40 exposures to injury per game, compared to four or five for each batter. Believe me, it works. I’m just finishing a retro league where my team endured six injuries to starting pitchers in 125 games (we turn off injuries in the final month of the 154-game season). All four of my rotation starters (and one spot starter) went down. One went on the 15-day DL twice. On two occasions, I had a pair of pitchers on the DL at the same time. It would have been much worse, but my rotation consisted entirely of heavy-inning pitchers who have some protection against injuries, per the Super Advanced charts you’ll find in the board games – a rule that also protects high-AB hitters. When you play with this system, your pitchers will appreciate double plays, outs on the bases and bunts – anything that reduces the number of batters faced who can roll a 6-12.