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Ultimate Strat Baseball Newsletter - Pitcher in Logo

Vol. V, Issue #2 - March 2017

** Interview with Harris Jessop **

(This month we speak to commissioner Harris Jessop of the
Winter Need a Life League, a Netplay Strat League .... )

Notes from the Wolfman:  Harris has been one of the first people to become a member of our newsletter and we have chatted at various times via skype, facebook and email over the past few years. Harris helped us once, in our 1st year to put out a PDF file format of our newsletter.  Well now its Harris turn to talk about his Netplay based Strat Baseball League called "Winter Need a Life League", which I must say is quite an unusual name for any league.  Also I want to publicly acknowledge Harris, as my new assistant who will be helping me with future interviews of various strat baseball league commissioners,
 champions and officials.  I think this is the 1st time we are interviewing a representative of a Netplay only league.  Ok, Harris, time to dance here ....

Wolfman: I would like to welcome to our newsletter Harris Jessop, the commissioner of the Winter Need a Life League which is a Draft League that uses Netplay. Harris is also a long standing member of our newsletter.

Harris, thanks for spending time with us here at the Ultimate Strat Baseball Newsletter.

Harris: Not a problem, glad to be on board with you

Wolfman: Harris, I normally ask some personal questions first to give our members a chance to meet you and know a little bit about your background before we talk about Strat and your baseball league.  So where did you grow up during your early years?

Ultimate Strat Baseball Newsletter, photo of Harris Jessop, commissioner of the Winter Need a Life League

I grew up in Baltimore, and as a kid I never played baseball at all. I started coaching youth softball while in the 6th grade however. At that age I couldn't officially be listed as a coach because of age requirements but as soon as I turned 18 I was listed as the manager of the U10 team and have been coaching softball ever since. I am currently coaching a Varsity Softball team in the Baltimore area now. I have been at the current school now for 7 years.

Wolfman: Which MLB team did you root for when you were younger and are you still a fan of that team? Are there any ball players you really followed or who were your favorites?


Harris: I was always an Orioles fan, and really like the guys like Brooks and Boog. But when I went to the games I spent most of the time watching Earl Weaver.

Wolfman: Harris what are you doing for a living now?

Harris: I am now working fulltime in the school system working with challenged students in the 2nd grade. Then after my day is over at that school I head over to the High School where I coach softball and run Study Hall 3 days a week until our practice season begins.

Wolfman: Now Harris, how did you hear about SOM Baseball? When did you first begin to play the game?

Harris: I was given Strat as a Christmas gift one year, I cant remember which year because as a kid those things ended up getting lost or thrown away. If I had to guess the first season of Strat I had, it would have been probably been late 1970's

Wolfman: What is your history participating in leagues (face-to-face or computer based)? Have you ever played in any tournaments?

Harris: I have never played in any tournaments with the exception of 1 football tournament that someone was running online and I didn't do too well. Related to Baseball, I am currently in 10 leagues and of those. four of them are net play leagues. I find it's much easier to find time to play in leagues that are played using a CM. But net play leagues are more enjoyable to be part of.

Wolfman: How did The Winter Need a League come into existence? Where did the name from for your league and what does it mean?

Harris: The Winter Need A Life League was originally a spin off from a regular season league which was call Need A Life. The name basically say's it all "Need a Life" the guys we had in both leagues at the time seemed like all we would do all the time was play Strat, talk Strat and play more Strat.

Not that anything is wrong with that but that was all we would do. Need A Life was a 24 team league that after 4 season's folded because of the lack of time that a few of the members couldn't give for the league. So with the remaining members we decided to continue the league anyway.

Wolfman: So can you explain to our members more about what type of strat baseball league this is? How do you play your games? How many teams are in your league?

Harris: The Winter Need A Life League us a 16 team league and it's a short season league. We currently play 2 series ( 6 Games ) per season against each of the other 15 teams, thus this is a 90 game schedule. The 2017 season will see the schedule expand to 120 games as each series will become a 4 game series. We are a 100% netplay league and both series against each opponent are scheduled each block. So you will play 3 teams during each month of the schedule.

Wolfman: What is the name of the team you manage?

Harris: I manage the Bowie Baysox and beginning this season I will be using Washington as my Home Park.

Wolfman: Can you describe the inner structure of your league and how the playoffs work?

Harris: We are a one division setup for our standings and the top 8 teams in our league make the playoffs and the bottom 8 teams also play in a playoff format to determine the top 2 picks for the first round only.

Wolfman: Since you have a draft league, how do you create your teams, what players are available in your drafts, how many players can you keep? Does you league have any special rules you use? Do you allow teams to trade?

Harris: As a league we can protect 20 players each season, at the conclusion of the draft each team will have a 40 players roster. We do not allow free agent pickups so you need to draft to make sure you have enough usage to cover the entire season. When a team makes an unbalanced trade, cuts are not required unless it would take their roster to over 50 players.

We have a Min of 30 and a Max of 50 on our roster after the draft is completed and until the roster cut downs are made again.

Wolfman: So how many games do you play a week?

Harris: With our league being a Net Play league, each of the members are required to setup a time to play their games with their opponents for the month. Series do not have to be played in order but 6 series are due to be completed over a 1 month period.

Wolfman: What is life as the commissioner of The Winter Need a League like? How much time does it take, what are your duties? Do you have other officers in your league?

Harris: Life as a commissioner in this league is very easy just because the league members are GREAT!

Any league is only as good as it's weakest member and I will take the weakest member in this league anytime. I say this because you can not pick out a weak member in this league. This past season I would say if I had to guess that we have about 95% on time for all league activities and on a few monthly blocks we finished well ahead of time. Right now we don't have any other officers to speak of but we have many guys willing to step up and fill in when needed. For example my health hasn't been the best the last couple of years as you know from the talks we have had. When I was in the hospital, I am proud to report, this league ran like it was a well oiled machine.

Wolfman: Harris have you ever won a championship in your League or have you had a championship in another league you played in? If and when did this happen, and what type of team did you have? What type of team do you generally like to create and manage? How did your team do in your last season?

Harris: I have never managed a Strat team to a championship in any league. I put a lot of the blame why this is so due to my style of drafting and managing. I tend to draft players I like to follow when I go out to the ball park or watch on TV. Maybe one day I will finally decide to draft a team to suit the ball park that I am playing in. If you looked at some of the rosters I currently have you would see a bunch of current and former Oriole's and National's. In the Winter Need A Life League we have been around for 3 seasons now and I am 100 games under 500 with a 85 and 185 overall record. But in this case it's not how many wins you have but it's how much fun you are having.

Wolfman: How is the relationship of your members amongst each other?

Harris: I think, as I said earlier, this is a great group of league members that we have and I wouldn't trade any of these guys for anyone else.

Wolfman: Is there any teams (via their manager) that has dominated your league?

Harris: Yes, there is one team that jumps out at me right now due to the fact in his first season he went 71-19. Then, in season 2, he and another team both went 61-29 and this year he finished 46-44 the 8th seed going into the playoffs, making the playoffs by just 1 game. However, he went on to win the entire thing this year as the 8th seed. I believe you will be talking with him very soon and that is Stephen Kahn who is the Ontario Manager in this league.  (Editor's note: Yes Stephen has agreed to be interviewed which we hope to share in our next issue ... )

Wolfman: When you have had a successful team, what were the keys to your success with this team (or teams)? Are there special strategies you use to build your team? And special strategies you use when playing your games?

Harris: Since I have not had much success as far as winning in strat yet, I think once I have decided to try to build a good team, I would try to obtain a little bit of speed and then setup a better defensive team as these are 2 of the areas that normally hurt my teams to to start with.

Wolfman: We always ask those we interview if they have any tips or advice for our members that could help them with success with their own game playing?

Harris:  My advice to anyone reading this interview, is to remember this is a game and a hobby, it's not a matter of life and death!!  I have built some great friendships since I have started playing Strat and as I have said, within some of the leagues I am in, the Strat Members are just like a small nit family.

Wolfman: Have you ever tried to play in the on-line baseball leagues that Strat-o-matic offers, other leagues (face-to-face or via the internet)?

Harris:  I have not tried any other online leagues that strat offers as of this time but I am always open to trying new things down the road.

Wolfman: What do you like about The Winter Need a League?

Harris: The best thing about WNAL for me is the closeness of the league, it's like I said earlier a small happy family.

Wolfman: Have you had any special experiences (certain games that stand out in your mind that you played or series you played) being a manager in your league that were amazing or very unusual games, or something you are proud of. Maybe some key trade you made ...?

Harris: The only thing I can remember that stands out for me I guess was in another league I played in, which is also a Winter League, where I had for the first time a No Hitter that was thrown in a game I was involved in. That was in 2012 when Kyle Lohse no hit my team in the LABR league.

Wolfman: Why do you personally like playing SOM - did you try other baseball games like SOM?

Harris: I have played other games like DK Sports and personally feel that Strat has more realistic stats by the season's end.

Wolfman: Finally is there anything else you would like to share with our members that I didn't ask you before that you think is important to let them know about about your league specifically?

Harris: I would like to just say again to remember it's a game and hobby and any league is only as good as the weakest member makes it. So go out and have FUN!!!

Wolfman: And if a member of the newsletter wanted to contact you or had some questions for you, is this possible and if so what is the best way to do it?

Harris: Anyone can contact me at:  harris@baltbest.com, if anyone would be interested in being added to the waiting list or even being listed to be used as a sub to play a series if a current owner is not available, please feel free to contact me for this also.

Wolfman: Can you share your league website with us?

Harris: Our league uses the Strat Draft website for the most part. Thus, a person should be able to follow the league .draft which starts in July at Winter Need A Life on Strat Draft.

Wolfman: Thanks Harris, All the best


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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 RON SHANDLER, Baseball Fantasy Expert, Throughout the fantasy baseball world, in all the various forms of Fantasy Baseball, there is no one more well known and respected as Ron Shandler. He started the website Baseball HQ, the very successful baseball guide called Baseball Forecaster and now he offers the new BABS Project for winning in your fantasy league.   We had the chance to speak to Ron and to get to know him a bit better as well as find out what the BABS project is all about in Part I, of a two part interview series we will be doing with him.

  ARTICLE with WOLFMAN SHAPIRO - Wolfman Challenges STPC Worlds Champion Pete Nelson, The Strat Tournament Players Club, is known as the most expansive and challenging series of Strat-o-matic Baseball Draft tournaments world wide. Pete Nelson has been one of the main organizers and supporters of these tournaments for many years as well as one of their repeat champions in their classic Worlds Tournaments.  Pete lives close by to our editor Wolfman in the Seattle area, so at the end of January, these two giants played a best of seven game series following the tournament rules of this club. Find out how this epic battle of SOM Baseball heavies went ....

  SOM Baseball and MLB World News - March 2017, This is our periodic column where we share any exciting news and updates linked to either the SOM World or MLB. In this issue, we share a story about "Opening Day" at the Strat-o-matic Game Company you have never heard, along with another report from another newsletter member of their experience at this year's "Opening Day".  We also share another analysis from Baseball Info Solutions done by strat gamer and the owner, John Dewan about how to evaluate Up-the-Middle Performances of various MLB teams ....

  STRAT WISE with MARC WASSERMAN commissioner of the Cyber Baseball Association (CBA) continues his new column sharing various perspectives on SOM Baseball. For his article this month he discusses about vintage strat-o-matic cards and how to find the best deals and prices to get them.

  INTERVIEW with CHRIS WILLIAMS, Strat Baseball Author, Chris is a fellow strat baseball gamer and new member to our newsletter who has just recently become the author of a new book through Acta Sports by the title of, "Coulda Woulda Shoulda", a very entertaining book about "What If" scenarios that might have changed the history of baseball. In this interview, meet Chris and find out more about his new book.

  ARTICLE with CHUCK TINKLER, Chuck is one of our most popular contributors and is back with a new article for his column, "The Chuck Stop", as he continues his article he calls "Old Guys Rule" with Part III. This article deals with the value of a 1st round draft pick and more - Chuck always entertains our readers with his insightful and colorful stories and experiences - check out this latest edition now!

  ARTICLE with WOLFMAN SHAPIRO - How to Setup Your Draft League Team, the Final Part of this article, Wolfman, finish the last segment of this three part article to share with our members the meat and potatoes of his various strategies how to build his 2017 Skokie Wolfmen in the CBA, a Keepers computer league. In this segment, he discusses the results of the CBA draft held in early March with both this written article and some supplemental entertaining videos.  By using his team as an example, you may receive from this article some suggestions and new strategies you can use to help build your own team and bring to your fans a league's championship.

  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 idea and key principle about working together to 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
Founder/Editor, the Ultimate Strat Baseball Newsletter

twitter: @StratBaseball4U

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