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Vol. IV, Issue #4 - May 2016

** Welcome to "The Chuck Stop" with Chuck Tinkler **

Diamond Vision: Tales of a Strat Master (Part IV)

(We welcome you to this new periodic area of our newsletter that is known as "The Chuck Stop"
which will feature one of our favorite contributors, Chuck Tinkler.  Our boy Chuck returns to conclude
his epic article with sections VI & VII of his tale and experiences with a special individual he has met that
was very knowledgeable about the game ... a true Strat Master he says? Continuing reading on ... )

Comments from the Wolfman:  We wish to thank Chuck for yet again coming up with the final part of his fascinating article for the Ultimate Strat Baseball Newsletter.  We have decided to collect all of his articles into one place here, now known as The Chuck Stop.  In this edition, he finishing his fascinationg story about his experiences with an individual who Chuck has referred to as the "Strat Master".  Going forward we expect to see other articles from Chuck as he periodically entertains us with his views on Strat.  Chuck always likes to chat about Strat, of that there is no doubt, dealing with Hal settings and ballpark dimensions in particular. So feel free to email our boy Chuck with your questions or comments related to this article. His email is listed at the end of this article.  Thank you for your contribution again Mr. Chuck!!

To read any of the previous articles which Chuck has shared with our newsletter since 2014, you will find them listed below. If you haven't read the earlier parts of this article on the "Strat Master", first go to the November and December 2015 editions plus the previous edition we shared this past February. See all of Chuck's earlier articles listed below.

(his first article for our newsletter about Ballparks - quite insightful, check it out)


(This is the link to Part I of this article about the Strat Master with Sections I & II) )

(This is the link to Part II of this article about the Strat Master with Section III)


(This is the link to Part III of this article about the Strat Master with Sections IV & V)


Ultimate Strat Baseball Newsletter, member Chuck Tinkler writes an article about SOM Baseball Ball Parks  
Diamond Vision:
Tales of a Strat Master
(Sections VI & VII)

The Final Report on the "Strat Master"


 Okay. So enough with dancing around the subject. Secrets were promised and it's time to deliver.

Let's say that greatness comes in the form of a pyramid. That is, those at the top are fewer in number than those at the bottom. In terms of MLB players, let's say that there is only one centerfielder like Mike Trout, a few guys that are kinda close, several guys that are kind of close to them, numerous guys that are kind of close to them, and an infinite amount of players that are average/replacement level or below. And let's establish the difference between a great player and a great season: a great player repeatedly produces great seasons; great seasons can be had by other than great players. Additionally, let's say that teams have two ways of acquiring resources: draft and trade. Some leagues have minor leagues systems, free agency, etc.; for our purposes here though, only draft and trade will be considered. Lastly, let us separate this as a conversation about having a great team as opposed to "winning". What "winning" means to some may be different than to others and is beyond the scope of this article. For our purposes here, let us focus this piece on strategies behind creating a great team. 

As said before, leagues are filled with different GM's, each with their own style, approach, perceptions, etc. Some like to play for this or that, to have their hometown guys, see how many bases their team can steal, whatever. Most guys are trying to "win". Approaches to winning though are as varied as the GM's. Some wait for "their year", some patiently accumulate, some go for broke every once in awhile, etc. As for Phil, this was about creating the greatest team a human could create. It was about winning, yes, but the prelude to that was getting the guys that were fitting enough for someone who had the lofty standards for themselves that he had. He didn't want one-year cards, etc.; he wanted a team he can beat your brains in with forever. This is a critical distinction because in every league are there GM's doing this and doing that, placing value on players that he wouldn't and not properly valuing the ones that he would. While everyone was busy trying to "win", he was busy trying to end their lives as they knew it - the underbelly of draft leagues that nearly all are susceptible to.

The way this would play out traces back to the basic pyramid structure described above. At the top of the pyramid there are great players - guys who can produce outstanding seasons, repeatedly. At each position is there usually then a truly great player(s), more numerous "very good" players below them, even more numerous "good" players below them, and on down the line. When guys are trying to "win", they don't necessarily need great players, they can do it with a mix of great players and great seasons, or in some cases, just a healthy dose of great seasons. And truth is, many GM's don't even know the difference between a great player and a great season (or a bad player and a bad season). At least, in every league are there guys that either do not know or do not care. The point here though is that there are many ways to win, but there is only one way to dominate: have all the great players.

So what this really was then is just a big shell game. Let us label each tier of the greatness pyramid with a letter: A is for guy(s) at the top, B is the next tier, C is the next, and so on. Phil needed A's at every position to do what he was trying to do. Other guys didn't need all A's to do what they were trying to do. Furthermore, as said, a lot of them didn't even know the difference anyways - they'd become enraptured by a good season and totally distraught when struck with a bad one. The whole trick for him then was as simple as convincing the other guys to give him their A's will he handed off B's, C's and whatever else he could get rid of. And the whole thing worked because he knew the difference between an A and C and there were always guys that didn't - so it just became was a game of finding the weak link(s) in the league, dangle an irresistibly great season in front of them, walk off with the goods. Simple as that. Do that or a myriad of other things that more or less produced the same result. 

Simple as that, but not actually quite that simple. To do this, Phil needed a steady stream of B's and C's to fuel his machine. Every draft, while guys were doing whatever they were doing, he was on a mission to use every pick to either draft a great player (or player that could be great) or draft pieces that he could bait someone else with later. Nothing else factored in. He had a singular focus - he concentrated his strategy into something of a laser that he could slice through every draft with. While other GM's were wavering about this guy or that guy, he had a profile in mind for what he wanted every one of his picks to be, and drafting for him was just a matter of identifying those guys and pulling the trigger when they stepped in front of him.

If Phil were ever to become convinced a player wouldn't achieve the utility he had sought, out they went. They became a 'B' or 'C' in his mind and earmarked for expulsion. In this way, every draft had the same conclusion for him: he came out of it with great players, one way or the other. He could work his scheme from the back of the draft as easily as the front. He just had to keep himself from being distracted by the imposter players, which he never was, and the train just kept on rolling.

For this to work though, Phil had to be able to do what for some is impossible: trade anyone, anytime. Many guys think they can do that, but when push comes to shove, they get cold feet. For him though, he had his system, he trusted his instinct, and when he saw a chance to move up the pyramid, he'd pull the trigger, regardless of the names involved. And really, for the system to work, he had to be that way - getting caught holding the bag on these guys spelled nothing short of catastrophe in his mind. So just as soon as one tumbled out of their lofty perch, out they went. And just as well, as soon as a guy turned in a season over their head, out they went too. He of course would act like he was trading away nothing other than pure gold, but he wanted to get rid of these guys even worse than the guys that were on the downhill slide. Usually when GM's have great seasons dropped in their lap, they think, "Wow, I'll get to have him here, doing this…it'll be great!". Phil had the exact opposite reaction. He didn't want great seasons - only great players. So as soon as he had a great season dropped in his lap, he'd load it into the muzzle of his gun and go hunting for some sucker to blast with it. (And one would pop up, seemingly each and every time.)


As said, draft leagues are full of guys who play for different reasons. They are full of guys who play for different reasons and who have varying skill levels. For a lot of guys it takes a real effort just to survive. So when a guy like Phil comes along, with three very good players at positions that are critically needed, and even offers to take some piece of garbage back all for just this one, special guy he wants…it's easy to get suckered in. And from his willingness to do this over, and over, and over again, that or lay some other trap to step in, it wouldn't ever take but a year or two before he was up and running and three or four years before he was straight dominating. He had his formula, he stuck to it, and everyone sat around, scratching their heads, saying "how does he get so lucky??", when in truth, it was them who enabled him to do it.

For every Superman though is there Kryptonite. For Phil, it was technology. The face-to-face league became a play-by-mail league and he was slow to adjust to the computer age. Going to PBM (play by mail) broke the personal connections, and for him, it just wasn't the same. Running his scheme required emailing guys, guys he didn't know, guys who seemingly came and went, guys who were in so many leagues that they wouldn't even bother responding, and it just aggravated him to no end. He would always say "Why can't anyone pick up the (dang) telephone anymore?!". The whole situation left him with just me and another buddy to deal with, and we knew darn well that if Phil wanted to do a deal, we shouldn't. With his blood supply effectively shut off, he was left with just the draft, and a team can only last so long with having nothing but the last pick to work with. His teams crumbling and computer problems growing in annoyance, he just checked out. It just wasn't worth the hassle anymore. If anything, his great success had caused the league to become bitter and resentful towards him and all of it just kind of combined to overcome any interest he had in continuing. We tried to get him going in some other leagues later and he said "two years…I'll win…who cares" and just kind of trailed off. He was done.

Final Thoughts

While this all sounds fine and dandy, it took an amazing amount of baseball knowledge on his part for the whole thing to fly. Phil pitched in the minors and coached another 30+ years after that, so he knew what he was looking at when he saw a ball player. He could take one look at a fastball, curveball, a batter's swing, and he knew. Every time he had a deal in place, a draft pick to make, a decision to make, he always had that to fall back on - he could conjure up in his mind a picture of the guy, watch a highlight, read a stat line, and he just knew. There is simply no substitute for that; it is something that no draft list, website, or book can ever provide. Phil too had been playing Strat-O-Matic since the 1960's and for that too was there no substitute. He knew the nuances of the game, knew the X-charts, knew what defensive ratings meant, what hit-and-run charts did, what steal ratings meant, all of which conferred a huge advantage when playing someone FTF.

Last but not least, Phil was a brilliant strategist. His ability to envision a path to greatness, and a desire to see it through, were far beyond all else in making the impossible a reality.

Chuck Tinker

(FINAL NOTES from the WOLFMAN: We want to thank Chuck again for concluding another one of his classic articles for our members. We can't wait to see what his next contribution will be here at "The Chuck Stop". Again, we are always open to new ideas and submissions by our members and perhaps (we hope) that Chuck has been ain inspiration that you might consider to send to us one of your own offerings. As stated before, Chuck as always is up for chatting about Strat, reach him at: chucktinkler@yahoo.com  )


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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 DON AUGUST, Ex-MLB Pitcher, Don August was a pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers for four seasons. He talks with the Wolfman about his insights on the game of baseball and what experiences he had during his major league career, as we continue to interview more ex-MLB players, those who we recognize their names from their Strat-o-matic cards in past seasons.

  ARTICLE with MATT EDDY, Matt returns with his first article for USBN discussing ten keys how to set your playoff roster.  Matt is a key editor for Baseball America as well as helps his SOM baseball league with their blog and website.

  INTERVIEW with BART EWING, Bart Ewing an old friend of the Wolfman's, from the 1970 National Convetion days talks about the art of doing personal replays and what he calls his "Championship Leage" battles in this interview.

  ARTICLE with WOLFMAN SHAPIRO, Wolfman takes a good hard look at the new "Baseball Daily" game play with SOM Baseball as he decides to manage the 2016 Chicago Cubs day by day.  He discusses how this new level of the computer game works.

  SOM BASEBALL LEAGUE REPORT with WOLFMAN SHAPIRO -- the editor of "The Ultimate Strat Newsletter" and 2012 CBA Champion, talks to members of various Strat-o-matic Baseball Leagues that he has discovered on the internet about the history of their league and their experiences. This is the first time we get to speak to a League Commissioner of a Baseball Retro League and how these leagues are different than the normal draft league.  To read the interview, click on the link below:

INTERVIEW with Vinny Manchini, EGML Commissioner, P-VII (Computer)

  BASEBALL BOOK REVIEW with WOLFMAN SHAPIRO, editor of "The Ultimate Strat Newsletter" takes a peek at the 2016 Prospect Handbook published by Baseball America and tells you why this book is needed for SOM League Managers using the latest card sets.

  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
Founder/Editor, the Ultimate Strat Baseball Newsletter

twitter: @StratBaseball4U

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