The Talk Show – June, 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.



Stuck in the 1980s


            1)  Is there any chance Strat might offer DOS version two baseball sound effects as an option for the current computer game? I have always liked DOS version 2 the best – maybe it was just the novelty of finally having everything automated for the board game pretty much along with an “adequate” computer opponent.  The sounds for dice and split card draws I thought were especially cool.  Wouldn’t it just involve including a couple *.wav files for this to become a reality?


            2)  Any news on a 1980 football season release?


Kevin Hennessy, St. Paul, MN


            Sorry, Kevin. I couldn’t resist this headline, which are words borrowed from an ad for a collection of 1980s pop-rock songs. (The ad: “Are you still dialing 867-5309 and asking for Jenny?”) You are asking for 1980s sound and 1980s football teams.


            The generic answer has been to let go of  old technology – it’s not coming back in SOM computer play anymore than it is coming back to your TV or your music system. But if it’s just a couple of *.wav files, maybe it’s such an easy add-on that SOM could accommodate the few who are still humming those sounds in their heads.


            As for 1980 football, fans of the Eagles, Kardiac Kids Browns and Air Coryell Chargers will have to keep waiting, though perhaps not for long given the few historic seasons still on SOM’s to-do list. Raiders fans, however, will be less disappointed by the absence of that Super Bowl-winning Wild Card team led by Jim Plunkett. The new lineup of historic football seasons includes 1958 and 1983 – the latter featuring a Raiders Super Bowl champion quarterbacked by Jim Plunkett.


            The 1980 campaign is unusually attractive, with nine teams that finished 12-4 or 11-5. The 12-4 Eagles had to top the 12-4 Cowboys in the NFC East to reach their first Super Bowl (and first championship game in 20 years). The 12-4 Falcons, the best of that franchise until its Super Bowl team in 1998, had a fight from the 11-5 Rams in the NFC West. The Browns and Oilers each were 11-5 in the AFC Central. The Chargers and Raiders each were 11-5 in the AFC West. The 11-5 Bills were but one game better than the Patriots in the AFC East. In all, strong teams battled for the titles in five of six divisions.



Always a Hall of Famer


            I have been a SOM fan for over 40 years. I am also a member of Friends of the Hall of Fame. Since my visit to the HOF in 2001, I always said there was something missing, SOM Baseball! I wrote several letters inquiring why the HOF had the APBA game for sale in the Museum’s shop and not SOM, which was more real and a lot less complicated to play. Finally, I was pleased to see they are selling SOM in their shop and have it in an exhibit of the Baseball Games. I have to say to Mr. Ennis that I understand his email about SOM – as a matter of fact he could read mine on the Stratosphere.

This game means so much more than a game to a lot of people who have had tough times. As far as I am concerned, SOM has always been Hall of Fame caliber since 1961.

Orlando Leon, Polk City, FL


            Yes, Strat-O-Matic and the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum seem to be a natural fit. Both allow us to re-imagine on-field heroes, through statistics and by reminding us of images forever in our minds. For pure joy of baseball, these two can’t be topped.



The Score is Settled


            I read in a recent Talk Show that Jerry Magoffin experienced trouble with the scoring of the 2005-06 hockey set.  I echo his frustration and wanted to double-check with you whether other gamers has also experienced better scoring totals from the 2006-07 set? 

            Can you please try to convince me that the computer game is something I should try?  I worry about feeling removed from the board game elements that make it so fun like looking through the cards, rolling the dice, etc.  I also worry that it will feel like just another computer game and not Strat.

Scott Dicken, Fort Lauderdale, FL


            We published a later Talk Show letter from Magoffin saying the scoring problems had disappeared with the 2006-07 set. And SOM acknowledged that it had tweaked its formulas in that set. So I believe the issue is resolved.


            Keep rolling the dice if that’s what you love. For feel, there’s nothing like the dice and cards. But if you get the card image option, you’ll see the cards in the PC game and know it’s Strat. 


The reasons to go PC in hockey:

 — A computer opponent.

— Faster stat-keeping on a much wider array of stats.

— A few seasons available on computer only.

— You can play more of the schedule by allowing the computer to play some of them for you. That way, you get full-season stats without the time to play the full season. You also can play the games involving your favorite team(s) and allow the computer to play the other games.



A Strat-O-Matic Who Done It


            I’ve been playing this game since the original Mets stunk.  I’ve always wondered if the cards are based on random chance for the opponent or actual opposition.  Let’s say for whatever reason Team A had the best offense in the league and for whatever reason Greg Maddux never faced them, though pure percentages would have said he’d face them three times.  Is the Maddux card based on having faced Team A three times or none?  Thanks for answering a question that’s been lingering for 45 years!


            I am in the midst of replaying the Marlins first season after their most recent fire sale (2006) trying to repeat Joe Girardi’s magical managing (and let me just say, I was extremely disappointed that Jeffrey Loria allowed personal differences to affect a business relationship – Girardi was NL Manager of the Year for a reason).  I have a great pitching matchup in my next game versus the Blue Jays between Josh Johnson and Roy Halladay (ERAs of 3.10 and 3.19, respectively).  Looking at the stats and card chances revealed something a bit strange, though, and I was wondering if you could lend insight as to how this might be.  Here’s the situation:


            — Johnson pitched 157 innings and allowed 14 homeruns or 1 homerun per 11.214 innings.

            Halladay pitched 220 innings and allowed 19 homeruns or 1 homerun per 11.579 innings.

            Halladay clearly allowed homeruns at a slightly more infrequent rate.

            — However, Johnson has fewer chances on his card to allow a homerun if you do not play using ballpark effects. (With ballpark effects, they have the same chance.)

            — Specifically, the difference is very minimal and is that against righties and lefties respectively, Johnson has 1 chance to roll a HR 1-8 or HR 1-7 split chance on a dice roll of 6-2, while Halladay’s equivalent splits are HR 1-11 for both lefties and righties.

            — The rest of the homerun chances for each pitcher are equal (both have 4 chances at a HR 1-5 split against righties and 4 chances at a HR 1-4 split against lefties)

            — This works out to Johnson having .15 fewer chances than Halladay to concede a homerun to a righty and .2 fewer chances to a lefty.

            — While the difference is almost negligible, conventional wisdom would suggest that since Halladay allowed homeruns less frequently, he’d have slightly fewer chances on his card. But, as you can see, he has just barely more than a pitcher who actually conceded homeruns more frequently.


            I’m just curious as to why this may be, although it doesn’t bother me?  It seems to me, though, like it should be Halladay with .15 and .2 fewer chances respectively than Johnson, not vice versa.


Scott Dicken, Fort Lauderdale, FL


            I love a mystery. While Strat-O-Matic does not divulge its formulas, we have clues to solve this case. Thanks for presenting such an ideal example, the very rare problem where the players are nearly identical in the stat category we want to examine. This case is even tighter than you have detailed. Each pitcher faced 48 percent LH batters and 52 percent RH batters. Splendid.


            First, SOM does consider opponent performance in all its sports games. Since NL batters hit, on average, five fewer homers per team than AL batters in 2006, Johnson would need a barely perceptible higher HR chance to give up the same number of HR as Halladay. It’s more complicated than that, but that’s the foundation of what has been divulged by the game company. Since the 2006 cards have Johnson with fewer HR chances, our mystery is unsolved.


            Back to the scene of the supposed crime: Halladay gave up 19 HR per 220 IP and Johnson gave up 19.6 HR per 220 IP. However, there’s a more relevant stat – batters faced. Johnson yielded 14 HR in 659 BF. That’s .0212 = 2.12 percent. Halladay yielded 19 HR in 876 BF. That’s .0217 = 2.17 percent. Halladay yielded homers at a higher rate than Johnson. His higher HR chance can be explained. The clue is on the cards. Halladay yields no walks. Johnson has 13 chances worth of walks vs. LH batters and 12 chances vs. RH batters. This drove up Johnson’s batter count without driving up his innings pitched. Johnson faced more batters per inning (4.2 to Halladay’s 3.98). Mystery solved.



Sound Advice


            After more than 40 years (since 1967) playing Strat-O-Matic Baseball, I am now a computer player. It is easier – no scorekeeping, the computer even generates the itinerary and keeps records. My suggestion: We need two little words after the National Anthem is played to make it more traditional "PLAY BALL!" I wonder if that can be inserted into the computer game. It sure would sound more real in what it is already the best baseball game in the market.

Orlando Leon, Polk City, FL 


            That’s one. Then maybe add the sounds of bat day – all the kids pounding the end of the bat on the stadium concrete. How about ballpark-specific sounds – jets flying over Shea Stadium, 7th-inning-stretch celebrity singers at Wrigley Field, French in Montreal. The possibilities are limitless.



Three’s A Crowd


            What about the idea of 3 columns as we have now but extending it from 2- 12 chances to 3-18 chances, for example a roll of 3-14 or a 2-18, use 1 red dice and 3 white instead of 2 white. More details and stats would be wonderful.

James Grigaitis, Enfield, CT


            I think you’d find the reality far less wonderful. First, such a card set would be instantly incompatible with all others. Next, the card size would likely have to be changed to permit 16 results in a column rather than 11, unless you’d like type about half the size. Some baseball columns could hold more at the current type size, but not football, basketball or hockey. Adding three dice would take slightly longer and be misread a bit more often. Three dice also would make counting card chances more complex. The symmetry of 36 card chances for two dice is nice and easy. Three dice? Not so much.


            There’s something more subtle. The current 108 chances on a baseball card works beautifully because the average number of walks is 8 chances. That leaves a very neat 100 as the base. The 648 chances that would be on the card you describe could be so statistically fine that they would eliminate the need for split chances. The fewer 20-sided die rolls offer several advantages, but if SOM went that route, many of us would miss the drama of that little plastic tormentor.


            I think we can calculate the chances of this happening at zero.