THE TALK SHOW
Host: Glenn Guzzo
Reminder: Send us your “Great Moments in Strat” – your playing experiences that you just have to share.
The Next Super-Advanced Season (Hopefully!)
Strat-O-Matic recently announced that the Yankees’ championship season of 1977 will be the next super-advanced season to be produced. While I look forward to it, may I make a suggestion for the season to be produced after that?
Since super-advanced first appeared with the 1985 season, there have been 21 recreated super-advanced seasons (1911, 1920, 1924, 1927, 1934, 1941, 1948, 1951, 1954, 1955, 1957, 1959, 1960, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1971, 1975, and 1978). To put it another way, of the last 98 years of MLB (1911-2008), there is never more than an eight-year gap between super-advanced seasons. Here are the largest gaps:
· Eight years (1912-1919)
· Six years (1928-1933; 1935-1940; 1942-1947; and 1979-1984)
· Three years (1921-1923; 1968-1970; and 1972-1974)
SOM has covered some eras very well; you may be a fan of the Boys of Summer, but if the 1953 Dodgers aren’t available in super-advanced, you could put together a pretty good squad of Dodgers from ‘48, ‘51, ‘54, and ‘55. But I am mildly surprised that, of the top five gaps in super-advanced seasons, one of them is very likely a large part of so many customers’ memories: 1979 to 1984.
Even ruling out the strike season of 1981 (I would wager the company would rather recreate the Taiwan Little League before it touched 1981), there are still five worthwhile seasons left untouched. I sat down and listed all of the great and good players who I felt posted, not just good seasons, but their BEST seasons ever during this period:
· 1979 – Dave Winfield, Keith Hernandez, Davey Lopes, Darrell Porter, Dave Kingman, Don Baylor, Gorman Thomas, Fred Lynn, Sixto Lezcano, Kent Tekulve, J.R. Richard, Mike Flanagan, Jim Kern, Tommy John, Garry Templeton, Ron Cey
· 1980 – George Brett, Cecil Cooper, Willie Randolph, Ben Oglivie, Bob Horner, Al Bumbry, Willie Wilson, Tony Armas, Mike Hargrove, Rick Cerone, Steve Stone, Mike Norris, Jerry Reuss, Tug McGraw
· 1982 – Robin Yount, Steve Rogers, Bill Buckner, Gary Carter, Pedro Guerrero, Al Oliver, Mario Soto, Doug DeCinces, Andre Thornton, Brian Downing, Joaquin Andujar, Jeff Reardon, Joe Niekro, Bob Stanley, Lance Parrish
· 1983 – Eddie Murray, Jack Morris, Dan Quisenberry, Lou Whitaker, Dale Murphy, Dickie Thon, George Hendrick, John Denny, Scott McGregor, Jesse Orosco
· 1984 – Cal Ripken Jr., Jose Cruz, Rick Sutcliffe, Willie Hernandez, Harold Baines, Chet Lemon, Ryne Sandberg, Mike Boddicker, Kent Hrbek
That’s an awful lot of memories for an awful lot of customers, I bet. I would even wager that there are some customers, like me, who would be happy with 1981, just to see the updated version of Mike Schmidt’s best card ever – not to mention the best cards of Fernando Valenzuela, Rick Burleson, Nolan Ryan, Goose Gossage, Andre Dawson, Dave Concepcion, Bill Madlock, Carney Lansford, Dwight Evans, Buddy Bell, Bobby Grich, and Rollie Fingers – and Jeff Leonard!
But this period is not only notable for great player seasons – there’s also great pennant races, too: 1979 NL East (Pittsburgh vs. Montreal); 1980 NL East (Philadelphia vs. Montreal) and 1980 NL West (1-game playoff between Houston and LA); 1982 AL East (final game between Milwaukee and Baltimore) and 1982 NL West (final-day decision between Atlanta vs. LA); and 1984 NL East (Chicago vs. NY).
Want interesting super-advanced effects? Look no further than the pitching-friendly park effects of the Astrodome, where George Foster in 1979 hit more homers there than any Astros player. Or the Launching Pad in Atlanta. The 1982 Brewers blasted 216 homers, yet County Stadium was not a good park for home runs. How awesome would that lineup be in a neutral park? And I think you really can’t appreciate how good the 1982 Cardinals were unless you put them in a field with park effects. Or pitchers hold ratings: Dwight Gooden and J.R. Richard were fireballers with (presumably) poor hold ratings; how would you manage them in the late innings? Rickey Henderson, Ron LeFlore, Tim Raines, and Omar Moreno were all AAA stealers before advanced stealing was fully defined; what would their steal ratings be?
I will admit to a selfish motivation here: I am an Orioles fan, and I wish that Earl Weaver’s great platoon teams of this period were well-represented with SOM’s excellent left-right cards. But I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting to see one of these six seasons recreated in super-advanced. Perhaps it’s a case where, because these seasons are recent compared to other seasons long gone, they are like the trees that block your view of the distant forest … one can easily forget what marvelous specimens they are right near you.
P. Sean Bramble, Dazaifu, Japan
Always great to hear from you, Sean, and to know the hobby is alive and well so far away. Your letter is a great reference for gamers, and covers the sort of ground I like to provide for the audience at The Talk Show. With so many historic seasons already covered, it seems to me the job yet to be done can be divided this way: Pre-World War II seasons, post-War/pre-1970s, and the reprint era of 1972-forward. A logical marketing approach might alternate seasons in these three groups.
There are not many seasons left in the middle group: 1946, 1947, 1949, 1952, 1953 and 1958. That last one has been promised, as the missing link for SOM’s consecutive run from 1954-present. In the reprint era, we’re missing 1972-74, 1976 and 1979 to complete the ‘70s. For the sake of it, let’s add 1980 to make it six seasons to match the six in the post-War era. If we assume six pre-World War II seasons in rotation, then SOM is covered for the next 18 years.
Now let’s imagine a bit more. By then, if not sooner during this commitment to reprints, SOM decides to update 1961, 1962 and 1968 with super-advanced features. That makes room in rotation for 1982-84 and three more pre-War seasons. This omits (or at least pushes to the back of the line 1981 and the 1942-45 War years). Now SOM is covered for 27 years.
If we want to keep speculating about pre-War seasons, and we get to pick nine of them, pretty interesting cases can be made for 1901 (first AL season), 1908 (two great pennant races), 1919 (Black Sox), 1936 (Gehrig MVP and DiMaggio rookie), another from the 1937-39 Yankees powerhouses and 1940. We should add at least one of those Cubs pennant winners in 1929 (awesome Cubs hitting, plus first of three great A’s pennant winners), 1932 (year of Ruth’s “called-shot” World Series homer), 1935 (great NL race) and 1938 (Gabby Hartnett’s homer in the “gloamin’ “ ). Otherwise, 1916 once was on SOM’s candidate list, and several others have historical significance.
The Gator is Missing
I am strictly a board game player, and I like to try to play one team through their “as played” schedule. Thanks to Retrosheet, I also now try to play the “as played” schedule with the actual line ups and batting orders. If the card set does not include them, I am not overly concerned with pinch runners, pinch hitters, relievers who pitch to just a few batters, but it bothers me when there is a player who may have started 20 or so games who does not have a card.
Recent example: I am playing the 1967 Tigers, trying to gain that one extra victory the real team was short, and notice that throughout the entire month of April, Gates Brown was the starting left fielder. But there is no Gates Brown card in the set. He had 91 ABs that year, which is usually enough to be included in a set of player cards.
That is just one example. Was there ever any thought to releasing “extra extra” players for certain seasons so that every player who played in a game would have their own card? I am thinking there might be a market for that, unless it would be much more expensive for the company to do this.
Gradually, Strat-O-Matic has increased the number of cards in a set, and the number of additional players it offers, though the latter group is only for current-season releases. When the company updated 1967 in two-sided card format, it offered 24-25 players per team. Contrast that to this year’s release of 1971, and its 27 players per team. The computer game reached the point where it offered every player from a season, even those with 1 AB or 1 IP. You can get them all for 1967 that way.
When I published STRAT FAN, we published “extra-extra” players in various sports. We once produced 144 such cards for 1987 and that included more than a few batters with 100+ AB, plus a bunch of pitchers with more than a handful of starts each. But we found demand low for the ‘87s, and I’m sure that’s because, at any given moment, there’s no critical mass replaying any one past season. There might be many thousands using past seasons today, but they’ve got 64 to choose from. So I can’t see SOM printing an inventory of “extra-extra” ‘67s and other years.
The work-arounds aren’t very satisfying, but these are the most common:
n Find the computer card image for ’67 Brown and make your own card.
n Use SOM’s Nameless Player cards (they are two-sided) and assign them to Brown and others according to their talents.
n Give Gates Brown’s ABs to other outfielders in proportion to their playing time.
n Give Brown’s ABs to the Tiger whose stats are closest to his.
n Take the player (preferably a Tiger if you can because the team’s statistical norms are different than for other teams) with stats closest to Brown, use his card but credit the game stats to the missing Brown.
Dealing with the Ballpark Baby Boom
With new stadiums going up in New York and others planned in the near future, there will be fewer double digit codes available in the baseball game. I try to match the ballpark to the era so I use some of the oldtime ballparks from sites like Brian’s Ballparks. Will the game code function be expanded to three digits so as to accommodate the expanding number of ballparks that can be used?
Tom Nelson, Cincinnati
Strat-O-Matic’s Bob Winberry indicates that expanding the ballpark codes to support three digits is high on the priority list.
Becoming Your Own Printer
I will be ordering a few past seasons of SOM hockey that include 6 teams and a print file for the remaining teams. In your opinion what is the best type of paper to use to print the remaining teams on. I have been playing SOM faithfully since 1978 but I have never ordered past season cards with a print file. SOM has been such a big part of my life and many others as well, SOM should be proud of itself!
Rick Bettini, Matthews, NC
I use 90-pound index, which suits me fine. It also suits my ink-jet printer fine. If you think your cards will have heavy use, you could go to 110-pound, but the sturdier the stock, the less flexible it is. So make sure your printer can process those sheets efficiently.
Cheaper by the Three Dozen
In regards to Ryan Morris’ recent Talk Show question asking about reissuing 1980s
sets, I wonder if the company has considered one similar to the 36-team set of ‘60s and ‘70s teams it now offers, going from the late ‘70s to early ‘90s.
Another generation has grown up on Strat-O-Matic, and many of the players and teams they remember could be replayed in a similar fashion to how we’ve used the older
36-team set. To me, this concept would steer clear of what we are accustomed to seeing on eBay, while giving gamers more of an opportunity to play with dynasties, as well as the teams that only made a short-term (but memorable) impact.
Ed Gross, Parma Heights, Ohio
The first 36-team set stopped with the 1976 season. The teams were attractive, but did not necessarily offer the pennant winners from the seasons included. I don’t see why SOM could not do that again especially for its sold-out pre-2000 seasons. Like most other things, it’s a matter of priorities and demand. Your suggestion will be read and perhaps others will adopt your request.
Do you think that Strat will ever issue a projection disk to use with the computer baseball game so one could play in-season games?
Kevin Hennessy, St. Paul, MN
Strat-O-Matic’s online-gaming efforts, both with The Sporting News, and at SIKids, reach out to fantasy-game players. A logical extension of that initiative is a projection disk, and/or in-season updates, for the purpose you mention. Though that’s consistent with current trends, none at the game company has made public comments that suggest it’s a product we’ll see soon or even inevitably.