The Talk Show – August 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.



Strat-O-Matic Classic


            I started out playing baseball with my Mom and Dad’s playing cards. Ace is a home run. King a triple. Queen a double. Jack a hit. Red 10 after a hit a double play. Then I had a game that you had to place the players on the game board and spin the spinner for the results. After Strat-O-Matic, all bets were off. Nobody compares to SOM on stats. Nobody. I discovered SOM in its infancy – 1961. I’ll bet that my Mom had that till she passed away and my brother and I let everything go to estate. My Mom was one of the Moms who saved everything for me. Not like most who threw everything away. I was already a stat freak. I loved stats. I had stats for the playing card baseball game. I even had rosters and box scores of every game played.   


            After SOM, nobody competed with them till SOM came out with its computer version. They are their own competitors. If you want realism at its best, love stats, baseball and the smell of the grass on a sunny July day, rip out your Strat-O-Matic and batter up.




            This story describes so many of us that it could be the universal theme in the evolution of Strat-O-Matic and those who play it – from home-made game, to primitive game with real players (e.g. All-Star Baseball) to the dawning of Strat-O-Matic. In your case, the discovery of a game that rated real batters and pitchers individually and accurately – and one that was simple to learn and fast to play – was ’61; for me, ’63; for others, later. Your story is a classic and so is the game. No matter how many years we play, the hobby remains fresh and exciting, with unique and memorable games occurring every year.


            The letters to The Talk Show tend to reflect the appropriate attitude, but it’s worth remembering that, in our quest for an always-better, nearly perfect game, we already have the best, most perfect game and that it has been so for nearly 50 years. What a treat. What a legacy. 



Speaking of Nostalgia …

          … From the Editor of the Strat-O-Matic Review



            I retired in the fall of 2006, after 38 years at the Kalamazoo Gazette. I still work with the Gazette as a free-lancer, usually covering high-school events or writing about old-timers who have passed away. I’m 67 now and still play basketball twice a week (I’m reduced at times, especially when playing with young guys, which most of them are, to being the “sixth offensive option” on a five-player team) and softball and volleyball once a week, in season.


            My wife Mary Jane and I have been married for 45 1/2 years. My son Todd lives in Kalamazoo, works part-time with the Gazette, and in 2007 won the GKSML (Greater Kalamazoo Strat-O-Matic League) championship for the first time. Our daughter Amy lives in North Carolina with her husband and two children. My son-in-law, Greg Pierce, knows Josh Hamilton’s mother. He told me four years ago that Hamilton, if he ever got his drug problems under control, would be a super player. Hope everything is going well for you and your family. I still reread sections of your book from time to time. You did a great job.

Del Newell, Kalamazoo, MI


            A lot of the Talk Show readers will smile, as I did, after hearing from you again, Del. For those who don’t know, Del was the 20-year editor of the first independently published Strat-O-Matic publication, the Strat-O-Matic Review. For most of those 20 years, which preceded the Internet, the Review was the only way to know about the spread of the hobby. Monthly delivery of the Review was how we learned of Strat-O-Matic’s intentions for new games and card sets, how we learned of other Strat gamers across the country and how we learned the playing tips that others used to accent their playing experience. The Review was how we talked to each other, bought and sold each other’s used cards and how we discovered the answer to the Review’s question (and ours), “So You Thought You Were the Only One?”


            Thanks so much for the update. Congratulations on your successful retirement, including your ability to still get up and down the court.



The End Times in Strat-O-Matic Games


            You may remember me as the guy who loves realism and playabilty as opposed to encyclopedias etc. I really liked Steve Shoffner’s out-of-town scoreboard idea last time. It would increase realism without sacrificing playability. Anyway here are my realism hopes again this year:
1. More realistic rules regarding pulling the goalie … In the board game, we use the penalty timer and consider the attacking team to be on the power play. The defending team can ice the puck with a 10 percent chance of an empty netter or they can skate with three successful skates resulting in a 90 percent chance of an empty netter
2. A more realistic end-game in basketball … At least be able to call timeout when gaining possession without time running off. I also suggest a tic clock similar to the 2-minute clock in football – basketball teams squeeze a lot of plays into the final seconds.
3. More realistic home-field advantage in football.
4. An upgrade to the computer hockey coach to give it the ability to line match.
            Like most gamers I don’t offer suggestions as a negative, because I believe Strat to be the best.

Mike, Arizona

            Thanks, Mike. You know from reading The Talk Show that the game company takes note of such suggestions. And it’s very likely that other readers have their own techniques to share for these things (please do). You’ve started that conversation well with your system for pulling the goalie. It’s easy to remember and use. It’s authentic in relation both to the real NHL and to Strat-O-Matic’s game play. Presumably, you have liked the results enough to continue using it and to recommend it to us.


            What would you do for football home-field advantage? A wind-and-weather factor could definitely affect the kicking game. Seems to me it could be more of a visiting-team disadvantage. I could see something that hinders a warm-weather or dome team playing in the North late in the season. I could see something that cuts the big plays of a turf team playing on grass. Perhaps the plodding, power-football grass team does not get all the big plays on the defensive card of the home turf team.




Giving Something Back


            For donation to a charity or as a starter set for a beginner:


            The following are available on a first-come, first-served basis.  Please specify your interest by year(s) and not individual teams.  I really don’t want to break up years, but I suppose I will consider that at some point.  All years have roster sheets.  Some years have ballpark effects, etc.  I will include all that I have for each year requested.  For non-charities I do request that the cost of shipping is paid after receiving the items and for donations to a charity, a receipt acknowledging the donation.


1920-MLB; 1927-Browns, White Sox; 1930-Phillies, Reds, White Sox; 1934-Reds, White Sox; 1941-Tigers, White Sox; 1950-Browns, White Sox; 1954-Orioles, White Sox; 1955-As, White Sox; 1956-Red Sox, White Sox; 1959-Braves, White Sox; 1960-Orioles, White Sox; 1961-Pirates, White Sox; 1962-Angels, White Sox; 1963-Cardinals, White Sox; 1964-Indians, White Sox; 1965-Giants, White Sox; 1966-Giants, White Sox; 1967-White Sox, Yankees, As; 1968-Angels, White Sox; 1969-Pilots, White Sox; 1970-Padres, White Sox;


1971-MLB; 1972-A’s, Astros, Red Sox, White Sox; 1973-White Sox; 1974-Dodgers, Rangers, White Sox; 1975-White Sox; 1976-Red Sox, Royals, Tigers, White Sox; 1977-Red Sox, White Sox; 1978-Mets, White Sox; 1979-White Sox, Yankees; 1980-Cubs, White Sox, 1981-Indians, White Sox; 1982-Tigers, White Sox, 1984-Braves, White Sox; 1985-Tigers, White Sox; 1986-Mets, White Sox; 1987-Red Sox, White Sox; 1988-Rangers, White Sox; 1989-Tigers, White Sox; 1990-Red Sox, White Sox; 1991-Tigers, White Sox;


1992-Orioles, White Sox; 1993-Blue Jays, White Sox; 1994-MLB; 1995-Brewers, Extras, White Sox, Yankees;1996-Brewers; Extras, White Sox, Yankees; 1997-All Stars (62 cards); 1997- Brewers, Extras, White Sox, Yankees; 1998-Cardinals, Cubs, Extras, Mets, Red Sox, White Sox, Yankees; 1999-Astros, Extras, Mets, Red Sox, Reds, White Sox, Yankees; 2000-Extras, Mets, White Sox; 2001-Cubs, Diamondbacks, Extras, Giants, Mariners, Orioles, Red Sox, White Sox, Yankees; 2002-Extras, Orioles, White Sox, Yankees; 2003-Brewers, Cubs, Extras, Orioles, Red Sox, Tigers, White Sox, Yankees; 2004-Brewers, Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Expos, Extras, Orioles, Yankees; 2005-MLB except for Red Sox and White Sox; 2006-Extras, Orioles, Phillies.


Hockey: 94-95 Nordiques, 96-97 Whalers; 97-98 Islanders, 98-99, 98-99 Senators, 00-01 Blackhawks, and games parts and score sheets.


Football: 1995-Cowboys, Packers; 2000-Ravens, and game parts and score sheets.


Basketball: NBA games parts and scoresheets.


Please contact me, Ralph Weiss, at:     


            This is very generous of you, Ralph, and I’m sure the gaming community can find a good home for these great cards.



Computer Cards


            I purchased the 2006 football season this past spring and am very pleased with it. I played about 10 games, mostly Green Bay vs. New England and on one particular occasion it ended in overtime as a tie. Green Bay built a 17-0 halftime lead only to give it up late in the 4th quarter.  Would it ever be possible to print the cards from the software since I have the card-image upgrade?


            Finally, for the past seasons like 1996, why can’t a supply of game discs be reissued and available for purchase? I wouldn’t think that the cost would be prohibitive and the cards are long gone as well.


Orin Beitlich, Inver Grove Heights, MN


            Though it is not described in the computer game’s Help file, you can print the card images with a bit of talent and practice using Windows Paint and Excel. With the card image showing on your screen, use the Print Scrn function to copy, then the Paint program to paste, and then size. Then copy/paste into Excel for final card design.             


            As for 1996, it’s simply a matter of the game company getting to all the seasons (currently, from 1958 forward). Not much further to go, though the later 1990s haven’t had the priority of the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s.



Closer Logic


            Re: closer usage and save situation: Why must a club must be ahead by 1 run
in 9th or later inning? What is the logic behind this? Why not 3 runs?

Jesus Diaz


          The computer game properly credits a save in the traditional three-run situation. But SOM’s rule for using the closer rating primarily is there to encourage use of the real closers when the game is truly on the line. Similarly, SOM has its own way of defining a clutch-hitting situation (man in scoring position, two out) when there are other definitions used elsewhere.



Forecasting the Past


            In the next three years, what past baseball seasons is Strat considering? Also, will Strat ever reprint (three-color format) the 1961 and 1962 seasons again?


Phil, Passaic, NJ


            We know 1924 is on schedule for late January 2009. After that, nobody knows for sure, not even the game company. SOM’s Steve Barkan has said 1958 definitely will be done at some point to complete the run from 1954 forward. Updates of other 1970s seasons are possible. But Barkan individually and SOM as an institution take pride in researching seasons never published by Strat-O-Matic. Counting ’24, we have only seven seasons from 1901-1941. Meanwhile, we lack only six post-World War II seasons in the “never-done” category.


            There’s some logic to alternating between pre-war seasons, post-war “never-done” seasons and 1970s updates (six of those to go from 1972-79), but that’s just me talking. As long as I’m doing it, I could see a sequence like this: 1924, 1958, 1974 (perhaps the best of the teams in the A’s dynasty), a season from 1936-39 (Yankees offensive juggernaut), 1947 (Jackie Robinson’s debut, Giants’ home run record), 1976 (Big Red Machine, plus Yanks’ return to post-season), 1908 (if Retrosheet has the data by then), 1953 (an all-time favorite Dodgers team that extends the SOM run back a year), 1979 (great offensive season).


Commodore 64 and SOM Baseball


     My wife and I played a lot of SOM baseball in the early ‘80s using the tabletop game. Our approaches to the game though, were somewhat different. She liked to play the game in a “checkers style,” like for instance: “My ‘83 Tigers beat your ‘83 White Sox.” I liked to play in another manner, for instance: “Greg Luzinski hit a home run in the sixth inning to break up Jack Morris’ no-hitter. The Tigers are now leading the AL East by 2-1/2 games over my Toronto Blue Jays.” Games like Oakland vs. Minnesota or Cleveland, etc. became a rush affair to her, as she wanted to play them as fast as possible. We got to the point where lesser-meaning games were finished in 10-15 minutes (depending on the number of hits, etc) using the Advanced version. She eventually became bored with playing the games, and I actually finished the ‘84 season solitaire-style (Cubs won the World Series 4-2 over the Tigers).


     I tried to get friends and family interested but if they were sports fans their comments went: “THAT GAME you two play just looks too complicated and besides I haven’t got the time.” I then got my first computer, a Commodore 64. I started exploring the possibilities of adapting SOM to it, and I did come up with a pretty good stats-keeping program, and automatic dice-throwing and split-card numbers programs. But my dream of actually putting the game on the 64 never came true, mostly because I never advanced beyond the BASIC programming, and not enough memory on the 64. And my wife was having none of the computer stuff anyway, as she actually liked to keep her stats in a hand-written notebook.


     So I got more involved in the 64 and it was really fun. Not like the PCs of today, I had to invent little programs to keep stats involving zeroes, etc. I had a program named Super Sunday (football) which was fun at the time, and a baseball game which was very primitive (hit, out, strikeouts, etc. – but it did keep stats and standings). My sister-in-law, who worked at Toys R Us, came in the house one day. She said she had bought some 64 games for her son, but he wasn’t interested in them, would I want them. Hmm … X-Men fight Godzilla game, How to Keep Names of Your Relatives, etc. – but there in a white box with green writing was “Strat-O-Matic Baseball for the Commodore 64”! I almost fell out of my chair looking at it, as I had read something about SOM and was going to try to put the baseball game on the Commodore 64. It was 1990, but the game had all the ‘86 teams on it, although without cards. I couldn’t wait to download the game on the 64 and I played games for several hours afterward.


     Without the cards, it was a mite difficult to play at first, but I overcame that part. I figured out an 82-game schedule (I always played half-seasons) and started a 16-team season. The game printed out standings, stats, etc. and was very good in that regard for the time period. But the season was very slow as all the games had to be practically played manual. I finished 50 games (each team), but in the meantime I had ordered the ‘89 season and couldn’t make myself wait to play it. So, I became overwhelmed with too much good stuff at one time and didn’t finish either season. And subsequently my wife talked me into selling the 64 to my granddaughter and buying an IBM computer. I did get the IBM version of SOM  baseball, but for one reason or the other I never completed a whole season on it – I actually ordered the ‘86 season and put the 64 stats on it … found out I could change player cards, etc. and got into so much stuff I became overwhelmed again.


     I have the CD Version 13 of SOM now, and it just has everything I have always needed to play solitaire. I am not going to “play” with the features on it; I am just going to finish the season I started (2007), having learned from the past (lol – I did put most of the players’ pictures on it, though). But I will always love the time I spent on the Commodore 64 and discovering SOM baseball for it.


Cliff Burris, Essex, MD


            You were ahead of your time, Cliff, but soon SOM found what you discovered: The Commodore 64 was too limiting to hold a versatile game like Strat-O-Matic baseball, especially with the rapid improvements going into the game each year. Not only that, but the stat-minded Strat gamers naturally gravitated to the PC. That’s where SOM’s customers were and that’s where Strat-O-Matic baseball needed to be.


            I think many gamers will get a kick out of reading about your competitive, baseball-loving, board-gaming wife. She’s an exception, though I’ve known several. I’m not surprised she ducked the computer game, especially the programming part. Males tend to be the ones to tinker with technology. Women expect technology to make life simpler, not more work (imagine that). Almost all the early computer experiences were male-dominated. I remember that in the early 1990s, Prodigy was so proud of being a leader in attracting females to its online environment – 20 percent of Prodigy’s members were female.




Pitcher Injuries for Board-Game Play


            Since starters and relievers are injured in the computer game, and no charts exist for the board game, I’ve been doodling with this proposal for our league. Looking forward to your comments and recommendations.

Jesus Diaz, New York


            I think this system will work nicely – it is both sound, statistically, and simple to use. I like the idea of translating the top tier of pitcher usage to the injury results of the higher-use batters. Thanks for explaining the system below and for providing the data for all to inspect and consider.



The stats representing the defined 3 pitching groups (see below) correlate with the 5-year MLB average (2003-07) of players who played all 162 games (6.6).



Triple 6 Roll

1.     Starters and relievers may be injured on the mound when a “Triple 6” is rolled during a player’s at-bat.



a.     Starters with 34 starts/220+ IP

b.     Relievers or Starter/Relievers with 80+ games

c.     Relievers with 40+ saves/60+ games


Note A:

For the defined pitching groups, above, the worse that can result is a pitcher’s removal from a game only.



Relievers with 40+ saves/60+ games entering a non-save situation, i.e., winning team is not ahead by 3 or less runs in the 9th inning or later.


Note B:

For a reliever with 40+ saves/60+ games who (1) enters into a save situation that later becomes a non-save situation, or (2) enters a non-save situation that later becomes a save situation, see Note A for injury result.


2.     Follow the injury procedure for batters.



In the event a rested starter or starter/reliever is unavailable to pitch a club’s next game, then (1) a reliever/starter may be called to start one game only. If none is available, then (2) a reliever in your minors, with a fatigue rating of 2 or more, may be called to start one game only. In such an instance, the reliever can pitch one inning above his fatigue rating only. After which, a club is required to trade for healthy starters, and/or relievers to satisfy its top club roster requirement. After trades are made, repeat cycle of using reliever/starters or relievers in minors, if necessary, if future injuries result.



during the World Series. In such a case, a club will use the least tired starter available. He’s automatically fatigued.



Every xx years, the league may redefine the pitching group, stated above, if the correlation between the group and 162-game players rises above a certain per cent difference during the most recent five-year period.



Player in 162 Games (avg: 6.6)

Years                      #

2007                       7

2006                        6

2005                        10

2004                        4

2003                        6


Relievers with 40+ Saves

Year                    50+                 45-49    40-45                       Total  (avg: 7.0)

2007                        0              2              5                              7

2006                        0              2              2                              4


2005                        0              3              6                              9

2004                        1              4              5                              9

2003                        1              1            4                                6


Starters with 34+ Starts

Year                        36               35             34                        Total                       34gs/220IP+ (avg: 7.6)

2007                        0              1              19                            20                            4

2006                        0              5              12                            17                            7

2005                        0              9              10                            19                            14

2004                        0              6              13                            19                            6

2003                        2              4              A08                         14                            7



Reliever         85+   80-84                                       Total (avg: 7.6)

2007                        2              9                                              11

2006                        3              6                                              9

2005                        1              3                                              4

2004        A 0          3              7                                              10

2003                        2              2                                              4