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Ultimate Strat Baseball Newsletter - Pitcher in Logo

Vol. IV, Issue #2 - February 2016
** SOM Baseball & MLB News **
      ( a new periodic column for 2016 where we share special news
linked to the SOM Baseball Game and MLB .... stay tuned!! )

Notes from the Wolfman
- This month for the Strat-o-matic Baseball & MLB News page we offer some personal reports from "Opening Day" by two friends who attended (beyond what we shared via Marc Wasserman's column); we introduce you to the Strat Tournament Player's Club Reporters (who will be sharing with our readers going forward news and updates about the live and on-line tournaments they have been offering for years, formerly known as the STAR tournaments) and we travel back in time to chat with Bud Podrazik, not about his strat prowess but his music and the famous song he created for SOM's 50th anniversary! And finally, in the last section on this page we have the full details of a very very special tournament we are offering to our members, that will be extremely beneficial and help you with all future play of your game, find out more details below.


FLASH: FLASH: FLASH: What you didn't attend Strat-o-matic Opening Day?  Well hear from these two strat buddies who went to their 1st one - Derek and Rick come in ...

Wolfman:  It is kind of interesting how things work out sometimes.  Derek Townsend and Rick Lackey are very good friends.  After we released our trailer video on SOM's "Opening Day" to the members of our newsletter, Derek said hello and told us he was present.  So I asked Derek if he would discuss his experiences on Opening Day (Friday, February 12th) with us.  But I didn't notice that the friend he went with was Rick, who we had just interviewed for the newsletter, being the league champion of NASOMA (to read Rick's interview click here).  But, as has followed me all my life, this type of synchronicity happened perfectly.  I wanted to wait till February to share Rick's interview and then all of a sudden here he shows up again with this story.  Anyway, I want to thank Derek and Rick, for sharing their personal accounts of what "Opening Day" is like to augment what we are also able to show via our videos on the USBN Video Channel, enjoy ...


Wolfman:  So gents, can you share with our members what took place during your visit this month at Strat-o-matic for "Opening Day"?


Ultimate Strat Baseball Newsletter, photo of Rick Lackey and Derek Townsend taken during "Opening Day" at the Strat-o-matic Game Headquarters in NY on February 12th, 2016

(Photo of Rick Lackey to your left with Derek Townsend
on your right - found this photo on SOM Facebook Page)

It was a blast meeting Hal Richman (for the first time) and getting a chance to talk to other Strat Fanatics while waiting in line!  We (Rick Lackey came up with me) traveled up from Dallas Texas for Opening Day for the first time!  We arrived in line at 8 am and that arrival time was good for 4th and 5th on the line.  We had a great time comparing notes on other draft leagues while talking to those in line with us.  

Everyone took turns sharing stories of how, and when, they first started playing the best game ever!  The Strat employees were awesome too, they kept bringing us coffee, donuts and then they brought out a handful of cards for us to examine while we waited for "zero hour" 12 noon!  This whole pilgrimage started out as a "bucket list" trip but after making the trip I'll have to figure out a way to make the trip every year!

Derek Townsend

The NY trip was great! We actually visited Strat a day early to make sure we could find the place in the morning. And because we did, we got an inside look at the place - and even got to meet Hal for the first time. Everyone there was so nice. We bought hoodies, and Millie gave us a printout of the route from SOM to our hotel.

The next morning we arrived at 8:00 AM only to find we missed being first in line by a mere THREE HOURS. lol. Derek and I were 3-4 in line, but the two guys in front of us got there at 5:00 AM. Crazy.

The four hours waiting in line were the best part of the experience. We talked with those two guys and Brian behind us, who had driven in from Cleveland. We really were "with our people" as Brian said. Derek and I were interviewed twice - once for YouTube (this would be our Johnny on the Spot) - and had our pictures taken a few times. Cool stuff.

And when we went inside to get our cards, even though we were 3-4, I received my cards first! All I had ordered was the 2016 cards with card image, so the guy getting mine was quicker (plus Derek couldn't remember his number). We then had to rush out to make a 3:15 PM flight back to DFW (Dallas - Ft.Worth, TX), and we had to return our car by 1:00 PM to keep from paying an extra day - but we made it. All in all, a great 2-day trip. Plus, we missed the blizzard by about a week, I guess; and missed the next hard freeze by a few hours.

Rick Lackey


FLASH: FLASH: FLASH: We want to introduce you to the STPC Reporters, who starting soon will be giving us news and updates from the tournaments held by the Strat Tournament Players Club ...

  As you may recall in our last issue, as has been our tradition to do so, we interviewed the World's Champion of the Strat Tournament Players Club, Pete Nelson, who won his fourth championship tournament.  The STPC (formerly known as Star Tournaments) has been leading the way for many years offer a number of live and on-line tournaments that are extremely challenging and draw the best Strat Baseball gamers in the world.  This month, we have also interviewed, the West Region Coordinator and STPC Council member Jim Gary (click here to view his interview).

I had a chance this month, since both Pete and I live in the Seattle area, to finally meet Pete and at some later time, as Pete accepted my challenge, we will be playing a live series using the new 2015 based cards, following the rules of STPC.  This is one of my joys as your editor, to play in all the different styles of play we have now with SOM Baseball and to play against some of the interesting individuals in our world.  But I had been talking to Pete, since early this year, that it might be nice if we could share some type of reports of what is happening with their tournaments in the newsletter. So we came up with the idea of having an STPC Reporter.  Pete checked around and two of their members have volunteered to help with this.  We are not sure yet what this new section of the newsletter will be called but you will know it when you see it.  Since their tournaments don't start till March, I thought it would be nice to introduce you to the STPC Reporters, as two members stepped forward.  May I introduce you to Matt Crowley and Jasper Cattin:

Bio on Matt Crowley

Ultimate Strat Baseball Newsletter, photo of STPC Report Matt CrowleyMatt was introduced to Strat-O-Matic by a high school friend in the Philadelphia area and began regularly attending tournaments.  Matt has attended tournaments all across the country and has now attended three Worlds events, in Orlando, Las Vegas, and most recently Pittsburgh. 

Matt is a longtime Orioles fan and his favorite real life player in Cal Ripken.  His favorite strat card to date was the Adam Lind card with left field eligibility (as a 5 range) from a few seasons ago.  Regularly drafting Lind and playing him in left, the phrase "Lind effect" was coined that season when opponents would finally roll the lf()x chance, but then roll a 16 or higher to miss the range of hits! 

Matt has also been known to try some gimmicky strategies, one time drafting a team with only left handed pitchers (starters and relief... this did not end well) and another time drafting a team comprised only of current and former Baltimore Orioles (also did not end well).  Matt has won a few tournaments, but mostly plays for the fellowship with other players and the occasional dramatic walk-off homer.  He now resides in Minneapolis and serves as the coordinator for the Jasper (midwest) region in STPC.

Bio on Jasper Cattin

Jasper works as a Poker dealer, including working at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in 2013 and in 2014.  This has been a summer job for me two of the last three years and I will probably be going back this year. The biggest non poker name I dealt to is Ray Ramano. I also dealt to Phil Ivey 3 times.  His hobbies beyond playing strat of course are officiating Baseball and Football at the high school level.

He started playing SOM Baseball when he was loaned a 1995 card set over the 1998-9 Christmas break when he was in middle school.  Now, he has played approximately 30 tournaments (via STAR and STPC) in this time including once at the Worlds Tournament.  He has won two tournaments (Seattle 2001 and Portland 2011) so far and was the runner up in 2 other ones.

Related to leagues he has participated in: He is the commissioner of 'BAD League' BAD stands for building a dynasty. It is his 3rd attempt at running a league, as the last 2 failed in the first year. Their initial draft happened earlier this month (Feb. 2016).

As far as what Jasper will be contributing to the newsletter in the future, he said:

I would like to create a guide on getting up to speed as a tournament player, and creating a ratings system so that a new player is able to compete with as little intimidation as possible.

Wolfman:  So, USBN members, lets give a warm welcome to Matt and Jasper as they keep us
up-to-date on what is happening in the STPC world, hopefully in the next issue of the newsletter we will have their first report. Thank you, to both of you for this help!  :-)


Time to explore a different aspect linked with Strat and that being music. Or, rather, a special creative artists who is in the midst of our community and is a song writer.  Time to revisit with Bud Podrazik.

Wolfman's Notes:  Back in October of 2013 we had the pleasure to speak to Bud Podrazik, a very creative strat gamer who is good friends with John Dewan, the President of Baseball Solutions, who we have also chatted with before.  During his interview, Bud mentioned that he had done a special song for Strat-o-matic in order to honor the 50th Anniversary of the Game Company.  Well, a friend on my SOM Facebook page remeind me of Bud's song and I thought since it is now Strat's 55th anniversary let's bring the amazing song Bud did before, share it again with our members.  But this time, I wanted to talk with Bud again, and focus more on how he created the song.  Music is such a key in our lives today, it would be a nice touch for this month's newsletter to add a little music, aye? 

So if you would  like to review the earlier interview we did with Bud, to meet him a bit more as a strat gamer, head over to:


Now lets go on to the new interview with Bud.


Wolfman:  Now Bud, in the first interview we did with you before in 2013, you mentioned how creative you are as an artist and we sharing a link to your video where you play the song you wrote for SOM during their 50th Anniversary Celebration. But we never asked you about the song itself, can you tell us why you were inspired to write this song after attending SOM's anniversary celebration?

Ultimate Strat Baseball Newsletter, photo of Bud Podrazik, song writer and Strat-o-matic Gamer, wrote special song for Strat-o-matic's 50th anniversaryBud:  I was inspired by the atmosphere of everything going around me there at the 50th Anniversary event - the speakers, the autograph sessions, as well as the gamers from different cities who just sat down with strangers and opened their game boxes to play casual Strat-O-Matic baseball games on the spot. You know how certain diners find the ambiance of a restaurant as particularly important as the meal? It was similar to that. I was just absorbing the atmosphere, the shop talk, and the comraderie.  

Wolfman:  What about lyrics you came up with? How did this happen?

Bud:  When I made the decision to write the song, I thought of all the physical elements one experienced while playing the game - the artistic visuals and colors (the game board, the card patterns, the dice, markers, the fielding chart, the split cards or 20-sided dice). I had also always loved the wording in the original brochure that Strat-O-Matic sent me that influenced my decision to purchase the game, so that was a significant part of it as well. Of course, there are baseball terms that are necessary (home runs, doubles, triples, hits, outs, etc.). Then we have the board game terminologies (fielding positions, fielding ratings) that, unfortunately, make this song a poor choice to sing at coffee house open mic nights, since the audience doesn't have a clue to what the heck I'm singing about. I knew from the beginning of the composition that the rally song was going to be folksy, a kind of sea shanty or bar pub type of ditty. The big challenge of writing was walking the fine line between celebrating a past-time hobby and making an infomercial.

Wolfman:  Since I am also musical and play the 12 string guitar and write my own songs - I have a feeling for what it takes.  Why did you select the melody you did for this song.? Have you used this melody before for other songs?

Bud:  No, the melody was unique to the song; I never used it for anything else before or since. Music, as in art, is all about brainstorming. Sometimes the inspiration comes in chunks over a long period of time; other times (in rare instances) it floods all at once. This was one of those latter moments.  I just picked up the twelve-string and started finger picking chord patterns, doing walk-downs and walk-ups on the base strings (the octave joy one lives to pick on a twelve for). I knew pretty early in the process that it was going to be 3/3 waltz time, which, again, was from the idea that I was basing the composition on a bar pub or sea folk sing-along. 

Wolfman:  Now as I stated before, your song has been on the internet now for about 5 years now - what kind of feedback have you received from the song. Do you have the gift to write your own songs and if so how does this process work?

Bud:  Outside of the few comments attached to the YouTube video, I really haven't heard anything. The 2,000 hits on the video is surprising, since it was never promoted (it is copyrighted by me). I've written songs before (mostly instrumental, a few vocals, one liturgical). For me, the process of writing music is similar to cartooning - noodling on a musical instrument or doodling on scratch paper until something pops up. 

Wolfman:  Are there any other songs you have written that are on the internet which you are well known for?

My musical outlets are primarily hosting and performing at open mics (usually accompanied my wife, Marge, who sings and plays some guitar as well) and leading an acoustic guitar choir at my church for the last fourteen years. I did spend a couple of years in a 70's Ensemble Class at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago. Anybody interested in seeing any of those performances can go to YouTube and type in my wife's name with no spacing (margepodrazik).

Do you think in anyway - writing songs helps you with your playing SOM? When you are involved with SOM do sing or hum songs or have music going on in your head or playing music you listen via headphones?

I'm not a big fan of headphones. When I've got music playing in the background, it's usually because I'm used to having something going on in the room while I'm doing something else. Headphones would interfere with my concentration with the task at hand. Listening doesn't really correlate with my music or art - I don't hum or sing while working. If anything, I have a problem (when playing Strat-O-Matic solitaire) with doing play-by-play announcing. My wife will come in from some errand she's been out running and sometimes thinks I'm taking on the phone!

Is there anything else new in your strat life Bud that you might wish to share which we didn't cover in your 1st interview in 2013?

No. Right now, just to pass the winter, I'm playing a Strat-O-Matic Hockey Stanley Cup mini-tournament, using the 2005 Hockey Hall Of Fame Cards. I'm still involved with the Strat-O-Matic baseball league that was started by John Dewan, my brother, Mark, and myself. We're wrapping up our 40th season.

Thank Bud for allowing us to add your song to the USBN video channel and give our members more insights into how you wrote the song.


Once again, if you wish to listen this amazing song which Bud composed and played in honor of Strat-o-matic's 50th Anniversary in 2011, click on the link below (Bud gave us permission to add his song to our Youtube Channel ...):




The Ultimate Strat Baseball Newsletter with our good friends at the Strat Tournament Players Club Invite You to our Experimental On-line Tournament - Here is why you don't want to miss this opportunity!!

A few weeks before the release of this newsletter, I had lunch with the Advisor to the Council for the Strat Tournament Players Club (STPC) and the Four-Time Worlds Champion, none other than Pete Nelson, who we have spoken to a number of times in the past in our newsletter.  And at the end of our time together, as we each had to leave to finish tasks for this day (as we could have spoken for a long time about our mutual grand experiences with SOM over the years), I asked Pete, the following question:

"I think there is a way we could work together to offer to the members of our newsletter, one of your special tournaments, that could provide for these lucky individuals not only a chance to see the magic of what STPC offers, but a great learning experience of how to play SOM Baseball from the great players your tournaments offer. What could we do together?  What is the minimum people we would need to do an on-line tournament, one that would take about a month to play?"

Then Pete responded, that if we had just 8 people, and we used the tournament they called PureStrat which uses a combination of Skype, with an on-line dice roller (the three dice and the 20 sided die) and the cards we are receiving now for the 2015 MLB season we could do this. But his key idea was to match, four of their top players with four our members who have never played this tournament before (or what they would call "Newbies").

So in our 1st bulletin of this year, I put out an initial call to find volunteers for this experimental tournament, this opportunity for two great organizations devoted to SOM Baseball to work together and one person so far has agreed to join this next mad experiment.  Therefore we need three more members to make this a reality.

Now here was my experience in playing in this type of on-line tournament using skype which took a month to complete, that I joined in 2013.  And if you wish to know more, at the end of this section, I have links to the reports I shared via this newsletter.  Think about this, you have a chance to play live, one of the top SOM Baseball planets on this planet (actually at least four such players)!  Even though you are doing it on-line, via skype you are speaking to them live.  You have a chance to learn about drafting a team, which type of teams are the most effective as well as to learn the strategies of these amazing players AND, you can ask them questions!  Plus, you don't have any set schedule - you have a full month to contact your next opponent to play them.

So here is how the tournament will work.  First, you need an internet connection, the program Skype which is free (www.skype.com) and the 2015 MLB card set.  We also are going to recommend for this tournament that scoresheets are used so we can record the games to do a report of some kind.  STPC has versions of all the special charts you can print out - and there is no DH so you need the pitcher's hitting cards, which also can be printed out as well.

In an 8 man tournament league, the first thing that will take place is a draft that will be done on skype - you will draft 25 players and a stadium.  STPC will supply the special documents for our members which Jim Gary discussed in his interview (the Average Pick Sheet and from some of their tournaments which already have gone on - you can see the teams that have been drafted plus they have a program that tells you the next best players to pick).  After you have your team, you will play 28 games, 4 game series against the seven opponents but your 1st series you will play against an STPC member.  You can go with a 4 or 5 man rotation, you need at least two players who can play each position.  They have their own rules for the tournament, a few rules a little different from how we normally play Strat.

We hope (it is being negotiated) to offer the winner and runner-up a prize of some sort. Now, why is this experimental tournament so important to us here at the newsletter.  We believe and have found that the best way to learn the game and become a good player is to play against very experienced players.  It is like everything in life, if you want to excel at something, its nice to have a mentor to learn a few things.  This gives you such a chance in the comfort of your home and we believe that part of the longevity of SOM is not just via playing in leagues but a chance to go head-to-head in a tournament.  If this experimental tourney works, we will offer more.  Of course, for those who become our volunteers, you may decide to continue to participate in the 3 types of tournaments STPC offer.

So I am looking for at least (the tournament can be larger than 8 people if needed) 3 more volunteers - who would like to take advantage of this amazing opportunity offered by STPC. If you feel called, if you feel adventurous, if you want to take you level of game play to a higher level, just send me an email (see my email below) with the subject, "Sign Me Up Now!"

Here are the three reports I made from a PureStrat tournament I participated in about 3 years ago that will give you some idea how the tournament works:




We will let our readers know in the March issue any new developments with the co-created STPC - USBN experimental tournament.  Thanks Pete for the suggestion and STPC for this support.

Wolfman, your humble editor, looking for new adventures for our members ....


Note: -- if you have a new story you think our readers might enjoy linked to Strat-o-matic please feel free to email us your story by contacting Wolfman at: wolfman@ultimatestatbaseball.com



Support the Cause

If you are enjoying the content and information our newsletter shares with you, why not support us with your helpful donation for our minor expenses and time?

Contained inside this exciting issue of Ultimate Strat Baseball Newsletter:
(to view the various interviews, articles, columns and special sections click on the links {underlined} and
this will take you to the appropriate webpage)


  INTERVIEW with WILLIE MAYS AIKENS, we return with our 2nd interview with ex-Major Leaguer, Willie Mays Aikens, known for being a member of the KC Royals when they went to the World Series with George Brett in the 1980's.  We ask Mr. Aiken some new questions and his experience as a hitting coach for the players in the KC Royals minors.

  INTERVIEW with MARC PELLETIER, we hear again from Marc about his special system for building winning teams in Baseball 365 for leagues based on the 20XX seasons. In this article he discusses how to pick the right pitchers for your team.  Next month in March, our editor Wolfman Shapiro, will enter a 2015 based league using Marc's system.

  STRAT WISE with MARC WASSERMAN -- commissioner of the Cyber Baseball Association (CBA) continues his new column sharing various perspectives on SOM Baseball. In this issue he discusses about his visit on "Opening Day", the top 20 cards in the 2015 MLB set and some special new videos on our Video Channel on Youtube.

  ARTICLE with CHUCK TINKLER (Part III), a continuation of the article by Chuck, one of our members sharing about a real Strat Master that he met in his early days of playing Strat-o-matic

  SOM BASEBALL LEAGUE REPORT with WOLFMAN SHAPIRO -- the editor of "The Ultimate Strat Newsletter" and 2012 CBA Champion, the "Wolfman" puts out a call to the members of various Strat-o-matic Baseball Leagues that he has discovered on the internet to talk about their experiences with their league. This is the first time we get to speak to a League Champion, from NASOMA, who we spoke to their commissioner in our December 2015 issue.  To read his interview, click on the link below:

INTERVIEW with Rick Lackey, NASOMA 2015 Champ, P-I (F2F/Netplay/Computer)


  INTERVIEW with Jim Gary, he is the head of the West Region of the Strat Tournament Player's Club (STPC) and is on their council. This is our second time to speak to Jim. For 2015 he was the points champion of the club so we inquiry to the keys to his success. It is our goal in this year to interview all the STPC council members as well as begin to share reports of what is happening in their world.

  RECOMMEND ON-LINE SOM RESOURCES -- On-line Strat-o-matic and Baseball related websites
that offer amazing information, special tools and products to improve your game play that we strongly recommend. In most cases, we have had personal contact with these sources who agree with the principle to work together and help promote each other.

  BOOKS TO DIE FOR and Become a BASEBALL GURU -- This page is specifically about special books we are finding that either will expand your insights about the game of Baseball, help you in the creation of your current league teams or with your replays and learn more about the Strat-o-matic Baseball Game and Game Company's history.  We have a special arrangement with Acta Sports, who is a publisher of a number of great baseball books (including Bill James Handbooks) to offer for our members a 10% discount. We will continue to add more books to this page in the future as we uncover other gems our members should know about.


Contact Us for Questions or Submissions

Wolfman Shapiro
co-Founder/Editor, the Ultimate Strat Baseball Newsletter

email: wolfman@ultimatestratbaseball.com
: www.facebook.com/wolfman.shapiro
twitter: @StratBaseball4U

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