STRAT ALLIANCE/STRAT PLANET
Interview with Steve Barkan 12-06-2000
by Bruce Bundy
Well, the first proofs of the cards aught to be
about ready by now! The final weeks must have the guys at SOM exhausted! The
essential ingredient to the cards is the formulae, and my SOM formula guru is
Steve Barkan. Steve shares the researching tasks with Hal, and it is Steve that
does the personal checks during the card-making to make sure that the
ingredients are mixing correctly! Steve is always outstanding to talk to, I
always look forward to it, and he always puts a smile on my face! I caught him
at Strat-O-Matic today!
BB: Hi Steve! People have some questions about
game situations I wanted to run by you. One is your general overview on the
"Clutch Factor". Do you think it should be used in mixed leagues?
BB: You don't think it's tuned toward a team?
SB: No, not at all.
BB: It's tuned to the individual then?
SB: Individual players - sure.
BB: Does it use the RISP & RISPw2out statistics?
SB: No. There are 2 separate statistics that
STATS compiles strictly for us which are not included in any reports that I have
not seen anywhere else. Those 2 statistics are combined to create a statistic,
then they are put in conjunction with the player's batting average, which
creates the plus or minus situations on the card.
BB: Would the same be true about the diamond
effects on the card? Would you use them in mixed leagues?
SB: I would say yes. I don't see where that
would really gain toward or take away from because right up front, when we first
came up with ballpark HR, we would always talk about how someone say, at that
time, Ryne Sandberg, would be playing in Houston, which doesn't give up as many
homeruns as Wrigley Field did at that time. So I don't think that has anything
to do with a mixed league versus a replay league. The way baseball is now, with
all the trades you're getting, it's almost like being in a mixed league anyways.
BB: Is the more involved to the Diamond Effects
then just the ballparks?
SB: I don't really work with the creation on
that. I would probably say no, but it is not an absolute answer.
BB: OK. Here's a real simple situation. You have
a runner on 1st. He is a "4 (18 - 6)". The itcher is a "-2", the
catcher is a "-2". The runner gets his lead. Describe the breakdown, please.
SB: Oh, boy. You're asking the wrong person.
That's something you should ask Bob Winberry. I haven't played a board game in
probably about 12 years now.
BB: Dang, we gotta get you back in! I'm still
SB: I don't have the time. I have a life outside
BB: That was the next question! What do you do
after a long day of working at Strat?
SB: Well, it depends on the time of year.
BB: During this hectic season?
SB: During this hectic season, I'm actually
bringing work home. I doing inputting on mostly the advanced game, the
super-advanced game, creating stats like the clutch. I'm inputting them on my
own time, because if I didn't, we'd never get the cards out by January.
BB: Is that where the personal effect comes in?
Do you visit individual players?
SB: No, it's strictly based on a formula. There
are certain fine tunings you have to do based on the amount of time you have to
play with. It's really more an adjustment. I'll take the entire 750 batters for
instance, and I'll put in my 2 numbers I got from STATS that we spoke about
before into the formula, and I'll sort them. What happens is the formula, in
conjunction with two other formulas, gives me a number +220 to -220 points off
their card. Of course there are adjustments to that, obviously, you can't give
someone minus 220 points, although that's what Luis Castillo worked out to. So
I'm just doing a sort. When I'm doing charts like that, I'm not looking at the
players, I'm looking at the numbers, and then I'm putting in a final number.
BB: How do you think the new high strikezone
will effect the game of baseball?
SB: You know, I've been reading about the high
strikezone. I know how it should effect the game, but I don't think it's going
to work that way. It should add to more hitting, but what's happening now - and
I can tell you this as a former college assistant baseball coach -is all the
batters, all the pitchers, & all the umpires are all tuned in to a strikezone
that actually at one point went from the ankles to the waist. Baseball can say
it's a higher strikezone, but you got to get the umpires to call it, the
pitchers to throw it and the hitters to swing at it. I don't think it's going to
work. It's not going to be that big of an effect.
BB: Is there anything that you could see the SOM
SB: I think the best thing to do is - I've seen
some interesting suggestions. What I think people should do with their
suggestions really is to have to be made within the confines of the game the way
it is being played now. You really cant make a big change that changes all the
charts. You can't effect play-value playing against 40-odd seasons worth of
cards made a different way. We are all for getting suggestions. I think what the
community needs to make their suggestions at the beginning of the year, rather
than making their suggestions in October, November, & December, when we are busy
working on the cards for the new year. We can do a lot better with ideas
suggested in February, March, & April, when we have time to digest them and see
how they will effect the game. We are all for getting suggestions, whether it be
by E-Mail or by letter. Hal reads and answers all the mail. Any suggestions? I
would solicit them! I would say most of the changes that were made in the
computer game, as this is well known, are based on suggestions we have had from
users. Whatever the sport may be, the best time to get suggestions is probably
just as the cards are being shipped out so we can work on them for the next
BB: Great! Thanks, Steve!
SB: No problem! But you didn't ask me about my
activities outside of Strat!
BB: Yes! What are your activities outside of
SB: Softball superstar - you don't know that?
BB: Yeah - tell me about it!
SB: I've been on 3 teams that have won National
Championships! I've also been on teams that have finished 2nd
nationally 3 times and 3rd twice. I'm in the Long Island Softball
Hall of Fame. I'm also on the Long Island Softball Hall of Fame committee. A lot
of my time at this time of the year outside of Strat-O-Matic is spent doing
that. I'm also an assistant high school basketball coach at National Academy. I
am also a former college assistant baseball coach. So, therefore, my life is not
limited to Strat-O-Matic, especially when I get home!
BB: Do you do "Spring Training"?
SB: I went down to Jupiter, Florida, this year,
the day after the Cardinals broke camp. I have a friend down in their front
office and I spent the day there visiting. I don't do Spring Training the way I
used to. I have friends of mine with the Braves, I used to go down and watch
them all the time. With different projects going at Strat-O-Matic all the time,
the time that I can take vacation has shifted. It used to be I could take my
vacation in January, between Christmas and the time we would start shipping.
James and I both used to take vacations, but now we are busy with the computer
game, so my vacation is shifting, so I don't get to do the things that I used
BB: Now on the game - what are the most
significant changes you see in the SOM Baseball Game this year?
SB: The most significant thing that I am seeing - working on the cards - has to do with the number of players who were traded from league to league. What's happening is you are going to see stats that are based on a more insignificant number of At Bats in each league. Therefore, players such as, just to give you an example, a bad example, Will Clark. You're going to see some extremes on his individual Baltimore & St. Louis cards that you might not see on his combined card. What that's done has effected the number of additional players we have to make. We're doing nine more this year than last year - because you have so many more interleague players.
It has effected the work I do on the computer
game, computer manager-wise. The way it's setup, you have to use a player's
interleague cards, such as Will Clark's interleague card, rather than his
Cardinal card with St. Louis, and his Oriole's card with Baltimore. Same with
pitchers, such as Danny Neagle. I can only setup one computer manager.
Therefore, with Cincinnati, for instance, Neagle wouldn't be able to play. So if
you are doing your own replay, not using the Auto Lineups & the
Auto-Transactions, and using individual league cards, you pretty much will have
to go back and redo your own computer managers, which for me is pain. It makes
it tougher when I have to test the game. As you know, I do probably a dozen
replays testing the game with each league. It creates a bit of a problem when
you are doing the computer manager. I'm really surprised that people haven't
brought it up when certain spots in the rotation are wrong, and things like
that. I haven't really heard anybody bring it up. That is the biggest effect
that we're seeing on the card set - the number of combined players with combined
cards. It's something that due to the economics of the game, you're going to see
more and more, unfortunately.
BB: Anything else?
SB: That's about it! I just want to wish
everybody a happy and safe Holiday!
BB: Great! Thanks, Steve!
SB: OK, Bruce! Thank you!
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