There are a million other hobbies out there. We chose Strat. There are many fantasy sports, including a lot of baseball. We chose Strat. There are even a handful of choices for our exact brand of replaying sports, APBA, Diamond Mind, etc. We chose Strat.
Why? Because we feel like Strat provides us with the means to have real life players play exactly to their abilities (of the year before) while not making it so complex that games take three hours to play.
Warning: Iím about to use the forbidden word. If this upsets you and Ray Lewisí children, please stop reading NOW.
Strat gives us a chance to be real life General Managers (and Managers), building a team, playing games, and having players play to the talent level that they did in reality. There, I said it. Strike my dice dead (okay, too late, been done for years).
We donít have a replay league where all Boston players play in Fenway Park, or where we have exactly 30 teams, but we do try to have game rule limitations so that players arenít supposed to be abused and overused.
We do expect that over the course of 162 games that Barry Bonds will hit approximately the same number of homers as he hit in real life (heíll hit more in our league since he wonít get 200 IBB and he plays in a much friendlier park than Pac Bell). We expect Schilling and Santana and Rivera and all to be dominant pitchers. We expect the base stealers to steal their share of bases, we expect good fielders to make more plays than Ruben Sierra.
And we limit appearances to approximately real life totals so that Pedro canít pitch every game or that Kevin Maas doesnít play 162 games when he played 37 in real life.
We do fall short in our quest in a few areas, and this doesnít include the areas that we choose to, like choosing our own ballparks, having players from multiple teams, etc.
Injuries are not realistic in most cases. We can forestall some extensive injuries by resting a limited player early. And we never have injuries more than 15 games.
Usage for Ďone sidedí players is an area we often take advantage of. Yes, some players platoon in real life.
Starting pitchers get way too many complete games. We have yet to come up with a reasonable clamp for this problem.
Players playing out of position. We have fairly lenient position usage rules. If a player has the position on his card, whether he played two games there or 162, we can start him at that position for every eligible game. Does this matter? A discussion for another time.
Closers are not nearly as valuable as real life. See C above and also the fact that even the best closers have a 50/50 chance of being on the batterís card where their superb numbers have no effect.
We donít monitor lineup placement (probably impossible, since over 50% of our batters would have to bat 1-6 in the lineup) so cleanup hitters can lead off and lead off hitters can bat cleanup.
And the fact that we have 21 teams drafting from 30 means that bad players generally donít see the light of day and most teams have lineups that are just short of the 27 Yankees, especially in the AL. So most pitchers wonít be able to match their real life ERAs.
There are intangibles that probably canít be covered in a board or computer game, like a full time player being angry at being pinch hit for, or the inspiration that a great or courageous play can have.
We canít prevent the luck of the dice that would allow Omar Vizquel to hit three homers in a game. We can control the fact that the NY Yankees had one complete game this year and our teams averaged 30 or so or that hardly any pitcher went past nine innings in a game and until we amended it, our starters could go substantially more.
We could play a game that just has a few surface statistics to drive it. We could be a lot more laissez faire in our approach to usage and last yearís Jason Bay card could be as good as Barry Bonds for 162 games. We could let Roger Clemens start every game or every other game. It would be fun. It would be Sega. It would not be Strat.
What we have isnít perfect. There are some refinements that Iíd like to see us work on. But basically, we love Strat because the players emulate their real life statistics as closely as possible. And we should strive to, while not making the game extraordinarily complicated, keep playersí roles and usage realistic, trying to play the game rather than trying to find every loophole and workaround to bend the fabric of Strat.
Because thatís why we love Strat. Letís keep it real.