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Ultimate Strat Baseball Newsletter - baseball hitter

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Ultimate Strat Baseball Newsletter - Pitcher in Logo

Vol. IV, Issue #8 - December 2016

** Interview with Blair Conrad **

(We hear from the Commissioner of the Halifax Strat-o Baseball League,
a face-to-face league around for over 25 years hailing from Canada.)

Notes from the Wolfman:  Here is our second interview this month with another face-to-face league that is out of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada that I found via the on-line directory of leagues which Strat-o-matic has on their website.  You will find with their league has some different ideas how they determine their league champion and what Canadians like about baseball. Take it away Brad!

Ultimate Strat Baseball Newsletter, logo for Halifax Strat-o-matic Baseball League

Wolfman: I would like to welcome to our newsletter Blair Conrad, the commissioner of The Halifax Strat-o League, face-to-face baseball league which has existed for 33 years - congratulations Blair on your long status.

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

No problem at all. Happy to talk with you. 

Wolfman: Blair, 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 first, which part of the world do you live in right now and is this where you grew up and how did you find yourself in Canada? 

I live in Chester, Nova Scotia. I was born nearby in Bridgewater, NS and grew up there. 

Wolfman: When you were younger - did you actually play baseball and if so what was your best position? 

Fast pitch softball was big in this area when I was a kid so we all played that. I was a pitcher up until I was about 26 years old when I suffered a bad knee injury that knocked me off the rubber. 

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

Iíve been a big San Francisco Giants fan ever since I saw Will Clark swing a bat. Always loved Nolan Ryan, he pitched like I would have given the opportunity, and the talent. 

Wolfman: How did you hear about SOM Baseball? When did you first begin to play the game? 

I first played in University in about 1986. A friend was in a league and he introduced it to me. I loved it right away.

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

Iíve been in the Halifax league since í89 and I started another face to face league here in Nova Scotia that is still operating but that Iím no longer part of. Iíve never played in a tournament. 

Wolfman: How did The Halifax Strat-o League come into existence? Where did the name come from for your league? 

It had been running for some time when I joined as an expansion team, at least since 1985. There arenít any of the original teams still in the league and I donít keep in contact with any of the guys from way back then so I really donít know for sure when it started. 

All of the guys in the league were living in Halifax when I joined so I suppose thatís why itís called that. 

Wolfman: I read on Strat-o-matic that you have 8 teams (which take the name of MLB teams) and you play a 162 game season. Are any of the managers in your league right now original manager? What is the name of the team you manage? 

No original managers. The manager of the Dodgers has been around the longest. He started in í85. 

I manage the Giants, unsurprisingly. 

Wolfman: Can you describe the structure of your league and how the playoffs work to determine your league champion? 

I disapprove of having playoffs and using a DH. We have one 8 team division and we play a balanced schedule. Whomever wins the most games is the champion. Being the best over 162 games is far more indicative of whoís the best team. Anyone can win 4 out of 7 games. 

Wolfman: How do you create your teams - discuss the rules of your league and how you build you team (players you keep from year to year and your draft and trades). 

People who want to join the league are strenuously vetted. They have to actually be able to add single digit numbers together. 

Other than that they just have to commit to the time it takes to play 162 games face to face. It is a commitment; it takes a lot of time. Not everyone lasts. Weíve had our share of dropouts.  

We try to make the league as much like MLB as possible. We have 40 man rosters with 25 man active rosters as well as a 5 man "minor league" roster that contains un-carded, rookie qualifying players. 

The 25-man active roster must contain at least 11 pitchers. 

At the end of each year we protect 25 players and dump the rest back in to the draft pool. If we are expanding we protect less players, usually 22 or 23. 

All trades have to be ratified by the commissioner but honestly there is rarely any controversy on that front. Everyone in the league is REALLY trying to win. There is a legend of a player being traded for a Big Mac but that was many years ago. Draft picks can be and are traded.  

We all meet face to face shortly after the new cards arrive each February and do the draft. 

Wolfman: When you play your games -- do you use the computer or just use dice and cards with scoresheets? 

Dice, cards, and scoresheets. 

Wolfman: We can understand why 33 years ago you started a face-to-face league but with all the new updates with the computer game why have you decided to keep your league face-to-face? 

Itís tradition and it is fun. Why wouldnít we? Weíre all friends. I canít imagine it any other way. 

Wolfman: Have you ever tried to contact other face to face league near you area in Canada to have league champions play each other? 

Nope, not really interested. Itís enough of a challenge to keep our league organized. 

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

Well I would suggest your members check out our website.  


I handle all of the content. I love spreadsheets, sadly, so itís fun to keep all records up to date. I encourage the owners to play their games and make sure I get my games played. There are no other officers. We all contribute $10 to pay for the cards each year and thatís it. Simple.  

I spend way more time on my team than I do on being the commissioner. 

Wolfman: Blair have you ever been close to winning the champion of the The Halifax Strat-o League - when did this happen and what type of team did you have? What type of team do you generally like to create? How did your team do last season? 

Iíve won the league nine times, most recently using the 2013 cards. I always build my teams on OBP and right handed power pitching with a glance at defense. Our current season, 2015 cards, recently ended and sadly I finished second.  

Wolfman: How is the relationship of your members amongst each other? Do you ever do some public activities together? 

The relationship is great but our activities are always to do with the league. Weíre all in the 40-50 year-old range now so we try to keep our saggy asses out of the public eye. 

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

Early on a team called the Orioles did dominate the league via their manager but he was intolerable and violent. As bad a sportsman as you can imagine. That however was long ago; we have a very reasonable group now. A couple teams have won more than most but I wouldnít say they dominate. Actually this yearís winner has been in the league since 1994 and heís won for the very first time. 

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

I scout by stats and internet opinion since I donít get to see too many games in person. As I mentioned earlier I love pitchers that can strike batters out and batters that walk so I thatís where everything starts. Making smart trades at opportune moments and drafting well are also key. I think I prepare well for each seasonís draft and have built my teams that way for years. 

In game strategy leans toward Earl Weaver Iím afraid. I donít like to make outs on the bases and I do platoon liberally. Love the 3-run homer.

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? 

Iíd doubt that Iíve thought of anything revolutionary but I do think that knowing your opponentís tendencies can be very helpful.

Are they likely to pinch hit for the pitcher early in the game?

Do they like to attempt to take the extra base? What percentage do they need to try it? Same for holding runners and stealing.

Things like that can mean a game or two during the season which can be the difference.

Wolfman: What do you like about The Halifax Strat-o League? What is the key for the longevity of your league? 

We all love baseball. We love discussing baseball and playing a simulation of it because weíre not going to be playing the real thing any time soon. 

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 Ö??

I once overcame a 10-run deficit in the bottom of the ninth inning against my brother, which was fun. I've had a couple pitchers throw no hitters as well. Shockingly one of them was by Clay Buchholz. 

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

I love baseball and statistics so it just fits in perfectly for me. I think we once tried "Statis-Pro Baseball"?  It (just) wasn't the same. 

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 The Halifax Strat-o League? 

There's nothing important about our league. We just love baseball. I have attached a couple docs with some of the customized rules and such that we use. 

(if you wish to view Blair's league documents click on the links shown below to download these files to your personal computer - Blair these links are not active but will be shortly)

 Rules of the League       Roster Regulations

Wolfman: So thanks Blair for spending time with us. Good Luck in the next season of The Halifax Strat-o League with another exciting season of play! 

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? 

Sure, just use the email address on the Strat web site like you did. 
lumpygravytubby@yahoo.com )

Wolfman: Can we share your league website with us? 

Brad: http://lumpygravytubby.wixsite.com/halifaxstratoleague 

Wolfman: All the best and thank you Commissioner Conrad.



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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 SEAN PLOUFFE, HITTING A BASEBALL, Sean is a pro hitting consultant who works with various minor league and major league players to help them with their swing to be able to be more efficient in hitting a baseball.  In this interview we discussed how Sean was able to become this hitting consultant.  Perhaps Sean can help some of our members hit a baseball better in your physical baseball leagues?

  SOM/MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL WORLD NEWS with WOLFMAN SHAPIRO, editor of "The Ultimate Strat Newsletter" roams the world for interesting news linked to SOM or MLB. For this month he shares some gems he found on the Strat-o-matic website, offers two more "Stat of the Week" bulletins through Baseball Info Solutions (John Dewan and Bill James), a special announce of a new draft guide coming out in January through our team in conjunction with Strat-o-gists, new videos on our Youtube channel and a gift shared with our members by a former contributor.

  ARTICLE with WOLFMAN SHAPIRO - How to Setup Your Draft League Team, as we all wait for the new 2017 cards (based upon the 2016 MLB Season) to come out, to our members who are in a Keeper's Draft League, during our off-season we always ponder how to make our teams better.  This article is probably more for GMs wanting to win their first championship, as the Wolfman let's you in on his strategies for building his Skokie Wolfmen in the CBA .... if you are in the CBA don't read this article please ...

  EARLY SOM BASEBALL CARDS with TOM NAHIGIAN, Wolfman's old Strat Friend, Tom Nahigian, known as the "Collector" in Guzzo's book, returns to us as we share images of some of the early SOM baseball cards made for the 1960 season, before Strat-o-matic created the advanced cards that we all know today.  This is one of our favorite periodic columns by our members, also check the links on this page to view the previous release of the early card image from 1960 and 1961.

  SOM BASEBALL LEAGUE REPORT with WOLFMAN SHAPIRO -- the editor of "The Ultimate Strat Newsletter" and 2012 CBA Champion, turns his attention to talk to members of various face-to-face
Strat-o-matic Baseball Leagues that he has discovered through the league registry service offered on the Strat-o-matric website. Each commission speaks about the history of their league and their experiences. To read these interviews, click on the links below:

INTERVIEW with ARNIE POLLINGER, Commissioner of SOMBILLA (Face-to-Face)
INTERVIEW with BLAIR CONRAD, Commissioner of Halifax Strato (Face-to-Face)

  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 shares with us part one of what he calls "Old Guys Rule". This article deals with the value of a 1st round draft and more - Chuck always entertains our readers with his insightful and colorful stories and experiences - check his new article out now!

  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

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