The Talk Show – April, 2008


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.



            I was wondering if Placido Polanco’s e0 means he automatically gets a gbA on 20-sided die rolls of 8-12? I’ve already rolled an 11 on the twenty sider, then proceeded to roll snake eyes with a 1 kicker for a E-1 … I know he didn’t make an error all year last year, so I was just hoping to verify what the e0 really means to Strat-O-Matic.

Jim Belli, Santa Rosa, CA

            The roster sheet instructs us to use the e0 rating for first basemen when using Polanco in Super Advanced play, but offers no specific instruction for the Advanced game you are playing.  However, the clear intent is to keep Polanco error-free, so an automatic out – in this case, an automatic gbA (unlike the Super Advanced charts) – is in order.


Competing in a Pure As-Played Environment


            Now that I have begun an “as played” replay of the 1951 season, an idea has occurred to me that I think would have value for SOM customers who like to conduct solitaire historic replays.  The idea is this: Build into the SOM season database the actual scores and box scores for the real-life games and give SOM users the option of replaying games for a particular team, while using the real-world results for all other games.


            In other words, I might choose to replay all the games involving the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1951, using the actual lineups and starting pitchers for both clubs.  The results of all other games on each day of the schedule would simply be the real-world game results from that day.


            Standings and team and player statistics would be advanced each day, thus creating a mix of the “real” and the “simulated.”  We might call this the Historic Replay Mode, and it might need to be a subset of the “As Played” option.  Perhaps on the Schedule Maintenance screen for a league, the SOM user could specify that games not involving his chosen team could be played manually, played by autoplay, or “played” as in real life.


            The challenge, of course, would be to see if the SOM manager can guide his chosen team to better performance than it achieved in real life while having all the opposing clubs perform exactly as they did in real life, except for the games against his club.


            Let’s say you are replaying the 1941 American League season and your chosen team is the Boston Red Sox.  You know that Joe DiMaggio is going to go on a long hit streak, which you will have a chance to halt when the Red Sox play New York.  However, if you don’t stop DiMaggio in your head-to-head encounters, he is going to duplicate his 56-game hit streak.  In fact, if your chosen team is the Cleveland Indians, DiMaggio might hit in more than 56 straight if you don’t stop him in Game 57, as the Indians actually did (and assuming, of course, that he managed hits in the earlier games against your Indians during the streak).


            No-hitters, perfect games, triple plays, four-homer games, etc. would all occur as they actually did unless the team was playing your chosen club.  It would be interesting to watch some of these notable achievements pop up on the Out of Town Scoreboard.


            This would be a great way to learn some baseball history – and to relive history for those of us who find the past seasons fascinating.  I suspect this can be done for very little cost, especially for seasons where Retrosheet has published individual game data.


John "Jack" A. Mitchell III, Jacksonville, FL


            I like this option. Among other things, it improves the experience of replaying a single team. The improvement comes from the computer’s talent for adjusting the actual statistics by the outcomes in the games you play.


            In my previous single-team replays, such as one with the 1961 Reds, I was content to see that a) by winning one more game than actual, the Reds did indeed win the pennant and b) the stats I compiled for the Reds players placed them up or down the league-leader lists. I did not take the next step on the realism ladder: Did the Reds have a sufficiently similar record versus the second-place Dodgers to maintain their actual four-game advantage? Theoretically, if the Dodgers were three games better vs. my Reds than they were in 1961, Los Angeles would have won the pennant. The computer would handle that task easily.


            Your idea offers at least one more attraction: The ability to replay an entire season as instantly as replaying the 154 or 162 games of one team. No more monitoring at bats and innings pitched throughout the league to keep it on track. While other gamers might strongly prefer the mystery and variability of a thoroughly new replay, the speed of the replays you suggest would make many other projects more feasible. For instance, replaying Pete Rose’s career would be less intimidating.



Thinking Inside the Box


            Hi, I am from Canada and remember playing Strat during the early 1960s.  Could anyone tell me what the game itself came with besides the playing cards?  Just can’t seem to remember all the details.

 Paul Facey, Kitchener, ONT


            The SOM game box would have included individually cut player cards collated in teams with a rubber band around each team, a thin instruction booklet, three six-sided dice, a deck of 20 small split cards, a fielding chart, a baseball-diamond game board, several pawns to mark base runners and number of outs, several score sheets and stat-compilation sheets, a set of pitchers’ hitting cards (just four back then) and an order form for teams and game parts. A strategy chart may have been a separate piece or printed on the inside of the game box.




You Never Forget Your First Love


            My question concerns Strat Computer Basketball.  I have Version 3.0 and enjoyed the convenience of the computer game.  However, the one thing I miss that I am able to do with the baseball game is roll the dice manually.  Why hasn’t Strat included this option for the Computer Basketball game?  Is it something they could add, or is there something about the game engine that would make this impossible or very difficult? 


            There are so many fun, wonderful seasons that I would love to replay, but I do feel a distance from the game when I cannot roll the dice by hand.  When I first played the Computer Baseball game, I was using the on-screen dice and that was pretty good, but I felt a distance from the game.  To me, it was feeling like a computer game and not enough like Strat.  When I started rolling the dice manually it felt more like Strat to me.  I guess the most important aspect of Strat that is different from any other game I ever played is the dice.  When I roll the dice, I feel like I am that batter hitting the game-winning homer, I am Dr. J slipping around Bird for that slam dunk.  If I could have that experience for the Computer Basketball game, it would be excellent, and I would probably stock up on those 1970s and early/mid-1980s seasons. 


Ralph Carusillo, Middletown, NY


            You describe the classic tradeoff in playing computer games after first coming to love board games. We have heard no such lament from those who began playing Strat with the computer. But the board game is still SOM’s soul, and no amount of technological treasure can replace the satisfaction that our best memories recall.


            Although I still play all of SOM’s board games at times, I am happy to recommend the computer games to you for all your replays. You may forfeit the dice rolling, but you will gain so much in your ability to play more games, keep more stats and share everything with others. Until SOM adds what you want in Computer Basketball, perhaps you would enjoy keeping one replay going on the PC and play other games with the cards and dice.


            Just as an example, I have a board-game replay of the 1964 Reds in progress (102 games completed) and soon will start a computer-game replay of the entire 1964 National League. Full-league replays didn’t become practical for me until the computer came along. Since then, I have completed many.



Gator Bait


            Great article on the baseball “ringers” for 2007.  Reminds me of the Gates Brown card for the 1968 Tigers, although it lists “pinch-hitter” first, and his defense in left and at first is poor.  I am doing a mini-replay for the NL 1962 season and am creating a card for Jim Marshall (.344, 3 hrs in 30 AB for ‘62 Mets).  I am rating him a “1” at first base (range factor over 10 w/1.000 fldg pct) but he will be used strictly for pinch-hitting as I want the ‘62 Mets to lose as much as they did in real life.

Henry Dearborn,
Summit, NJ


            Ah, the Gator. For this native Detroiter who grew up with the 1960s Tigers, Gates Brown was too real for me to think of as a ringer. Even then, in Strat-O-Matic’s formative years, the company had Brown’s on-field personality depicted vividly on his card: He was a 1-16 runner for a guy whose squatty body looked like a 1-10. And his 4 defense (later, a 5 with a +3 arm) explained why this guy who could hit and run hardly ever could get into the lineup.


            The ’62 Mets under-achieved their statistics. Their offense really wasn’t as terrible as that 40-120 record, so it’s difficult to get them to replay the season as poorly as that. They are plenty bad, though, especially when their pitchers have to get extra outs (or die trying) because the Mets defense kicks the ball around.



A Popular Request


            I am researching the history of Strat-O-Matic. Especially at present I am interested in knowing the release years for each of the Deluxe Past Season sets.  I have the information from 1998-2009 (next year’s 1924 set), but I am interested in the release years for the Advanced and Super Advanced format cards.  Do you have any information on these sets with any accompanying details?


            At one time or another, many gamers are trying to recall this information. Fortunately, you can find it in the Resources section of the online Strat Fan Forum here:   


            In addition to the chronology, you’ll find the companion computer release (v1, v12, etc.) and the list of features available in that release and in the subsequent Update versions now available.



Cheers and Tears


            I have been playing Strat since 1980 when I convinced my parents to buy the game from the Baseball Digest. I had researched all of the games available and convinced my parents that this would be helpful for my math.


            A few months later I was hooked on the football game. I purchased the basketball game a few years later and started leagues. My good friends and I are still board gamers to this day! I have moved away from Michigan but still play with the Flint crew when I go into Michigan.


            Strat has always been a great stress release (although there has been some cursing, dice throwing, wall punching and can crushing during games and tournaments!) Strat has proven to be an incredible therapy and has provided a lasting bond for me and my friends. It helped us get through the most difficult times in our lives.


            One of my best friends, Tony Turner, lost his son in a car accident and the night before his son’s funeral, we played a game of SOM basketball.  It was the only way that we could talk through all of the emotions and remember the good times of teaching his son Strat. His son, Marcus Turner, took over another league team (‘89 Golden State) that a coach quit and did not lose a game the rest of the season. Marcus did not make the playoffs, but sure showed some of the league members some humble pie. We now hold an annual Strat Basketball tournament with the Marcus Turner Cup as the trophy for the winner.


            When we lost our first child, my friend came to New England and we played a Strat basketball tournament the night before my daughter’s service.


            The years have passed, but we all still remember our first/best/worst games and memorable moments. Strat has always been there, from the 1980 Red Sox – 4 runs down and two outs with nobody on in the bottom of the ninth – 5-run rally capped off by a grand slam on box cars … to the last-shot, box cars 3-pointer, which produced the beer can heard round the world … to the fifth fumble of the half producing wall punching at the work break room … to coping with life’s difficult times.


            We still talk about or favorite sports in terms of Strat (he will have a long gain on 4 or he will be a great dazz man, etc…) Hats off to Hal Richman and that Strat team for continuing to produce a great product. Keep up the great work Strat!


Michael Ennis, Charlton, MA


            What a great letter, Michael. Thanks so much for reminding us how many ways Strat-O-Matic helps us through our phases in life. Some of us have to be reminded from time to time that Strat-O-Matic is only a game. And yet, at other times it can be much more than a game. Your ability to combine humor and poignancy in a short essay is a gift I am very happy to receive.