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Wednesday 24th May 2017

My pal Dean Peterson asked me if I was interested in being in the Summer Legends of Cooperstown (SLOC) league, a Strat-O-Matic Hall of Fame league which has 30 teams scattered across our lovely country.

Now, I have played in STATS Diamond Legends Leagues over the years (with Dean), so I got sort of used to Dutch Leonard and Charlie Root and Hughie Jennings being on my squad, but the SLOC League has a fun basic parameter that mixes the past with another year.

The basic premise is every three years there is a throw back snake draft where the 30 teams each get to draft from Hall of Famers for whom Strat has produced cards.

After we have a core of ten HOF players, there is an open draft that includes additional Hall of Famers, borderline Hall of Famers (like Al Oliver and Jim Kaat) and the players of a selected year.

For this year, 1998 is the year, but, before the entire league could move into the open 1998 draft, there was a redistribution draft.

For the redistribution, all the players from the two teams with new owners (so, one of those teams was mine, previously known as the Minneapolis Millers), plus all the players from two other teams who decided to cash in and draft over first went into a common pool.

The remaining 26 teams in the league each froze ten players, and the unfrozen went into that same common pool, and then the four redraft teams had a snake draft to bring us up to ten players each.

And then, League Commissioner Larry Denicola took the remaining non-selected players and merged them with the Strat pool from 1998 and the draft at large began.

Since it is a slow e-mail draft, and since there were around 400 players to be picked, things started right around the first of November.

If you don't know Hal Richman's wonderful concoction, Strat-O-Matic accounts for such baseball minutae as holding runners, defensive skill, and then range, base running skills separate from out-and-out speed, ball park factors and a lot of other nuances that make the game pretty much irresistable.

As I write, I just made my 15th pick for the Radicals, Boston reliever Dick Radatz, a big strikeout right-handed complement to my lefty in the pen, Lazaro Salazar.

Truth is, I really only have one close to modern player, along with two who played in the 70's, and Radatz, who was at Fenway in the 60's, with the balance being the Hall, or near Hall of Famers.

We do get through around ten picks a day with the draft the way it is going, which means I get a selection every three days.

Which also means after each selection I make, I have to plan what I think, and then hope, will be out there in 72 hours for me to fill out my roster.

Sometimes it works pretty well, as in I got Mike Tiernan and Deacon White. But, sometimes, as in any draft, not so well, as I missed out on John Wetteland and Billy Wagner.

The basic plan I am looking at is building around strong pitching, speed, on-base totals and defense, but it is really fun looking at players I did not know as well prior to joining the league.

So, here are my picks so far, with a little narrative.

  • Ray Schalk (C): HOF backstop with a career .253-11-594 line to go with 169 steals, a .340 OBP and stellar defense.
  • Deacon White (C): Another HOF'er, White played 20 years and put together a .312-24-988 line, with 70 documented steals (1890 was his final season). White is a left-handed platoon counter to Schalk, whose defense is as solid.
  • Buck O'Neil (1B): The star of Ken Burns baseball, an affable and astute student of the game who played with the Monarchs and played defense, had speed, power, everything.
  • Bid McPhee (2B): McPhee played 18 seasons, ending in 1899, hitting .272-53-1072 and again, giving me great defense at second.
  • Bill Dahlen (3B): Dahlen actually patrolled the hot corner up until 1911, and walked 1,064 times to 759 whiffs, and played more great defense.
  • Pop Lloyd (SS): Lloyd logged 25 seasons in the Negro Leagues, with a .337 average and .383 on-base percentage.
  • Barry Bonds (LF): I get his 1998 numbers, which means a 1.047 OBP and great defense in left field.
  • Mike Tiernan (CF): Played 13 seasons with the New York Giants, ending in 1899, with a .311-106-852 line, along with 428 steals and a .392 OBP. Remember, those 106 dingers were during the dead ball era.
  • Bobby Bonds (RF): Fun having father and son in the same outfield. Bobby has pop like his son, and a serious gun in right.
  • Ed Walsh (SP):  Career 192-126, 1.82 mark over 2964.3 innings.
  • Tim Keefe (SP): 342-225, 2.63 record over 5049.7 innings. He actually tossed 619 innings in 1883 (five years before my grandfather was born).
  • Mickey Lolich (SP): The Tigers' premiere lefty from the 60's and 70's, Lolich was 217-191, 3.44 over 3638.3 innings.
  • Carl Mays (SP): 208-126, 2.94 mark over 3021 innings with a 1.207 WHIP.
  • Lazaro Salazar (RP): Pitched and hit in Cuba, and then the Mexican and Negro Leagues. 
  • Dick Radatz (RP): 122 saves over seven seasons, with 745 strikeouts over 649.7 innings.

The game has actually tailored the stats for my non-1998 players into a mean of solid seasons, but the fun is not just in learning and drafting guys like White and McPhee.

In Strat, as in baseball, set-up and utility players are paramount, so names like Ricardo Rincon, Vic Darensbourg and Graeme Lloyd are gracing rosters along with Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Rogers Hornsby.

How much fun is that?

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