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Vol. IV, Issue #3 - March 2016

Strat-o-matic Baseball League

Commissioner Interviews  PART VI

** "World Baseball League" – Jeff Chaput **
      (It is time to meet more commissioners from the various SOM baseball leagues that are
out there, as these leagues are a key foundation of the SOM world. We
thank Jeff for joining us and offering to share about a league that has
existed for almost 40 years—another league with history and traditions.)

(Notes from the Wolfman:
 The World Baseball League, or WBL, has been around since 1977.  Currently they have two divisions, one known as the American and the other as the National. They keep their players from year to year and have an annual draft of the eligible players not owned by any team. With just 14 teams in the league, there are usually good pickings. Eligibility is based on a minimum amount of plate appearances for the positional players and innings pitched for the starters and relievers. Over half of the current owners have been involved with the WBL since the 1980s. Most of the remaining managers arrived in the 1990s, with the exception of two who came into the league in the last five years. Okay, Commissioner Chaput, all our members are now excited to hear about your WBL, tell us more.)

Ultimate Strat Baseball Newsletter, Logo for World Baseball League, Strat-o-matic Baseball League

Wolfman:  Jeff, I want to thank you for accepting my invitation to speak to us. Welcome to the Ultimate Strat Baseball Newsletter.

Jeff:  Thank you, the guys in the league think it is cool that the league is being recognized like this.

Wolfman:  Jeff, I normally ask questions first to give our members a chance to meet you and know a little bit about your background before we talk about Strat. So first, which part of the world do you live in right now and is this where you grew up?  So then, this is the area where your league meets in then, yes?

Jeff:  I live in a small town in Western Massachusetts. We are located in the Berkshires, which most people have heard of. This is where we all grew up and still live. One member went off to join the Navy in the 80s and then lived in San Diego for about 25 years, but he recently returned to the area.

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

Yes, I played baseball when I was younger, as did every member of our league. We all played at least through Little League, with a couple through Babe Ruth, and a couple more played through high school. One member also played in college. My best position was third base, though I also pitched.

Wolfman:  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 were your favorites?

Jeff:  I followed the Red Sox growing up, still do, as do most members of our league. Since we are located in Western Massachusetts, we are by the New York border and also list four Yankee fans among our owners. My favorite player growing up was Carl Yastrzemski, but was pretty much a fan of all the Sox players of that era, such as Rico Petrocelli, Fred Lynn, Jim Rice, and George Scott, just to name a few.

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

I saw an ad for Strato in a magazine, don't remember which one, though I can narrow it down to Sport, Sports Illustrated, or The Sporting News. I started playing the game in 1973 with a starter set; I believe it had only six or eight teams.

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

We started the WBL in the winter of 1977; that was face-to-face. A few of us joined a play-by-mail league in the 1980s (in addition to the WBL) but really did not enjoy it. We all lasted one season in the play-by-mail league. A few of us attended tournaments when they first started in the 80s. We went to the ones located around Boston.

Ultimate Strat Baseball Newsletter - Members of the WBL showing commissioner Jeff Chaput
(The smiling faces of the members of the WBL during their draft day on March 18th, to
see where
Jeff is, he is in the 1st row to your farest right in the dark blue shirt and
his brother Matt is in the first row to your left in the green shirt with their friend Bernie
to the far left in the first throw, these three are what is left of their original members.)

How did the WBL come into existence? Where did the name come from for your league and what is the name of the team you manage?  Can you describe the structure of your league and how the playoffs work?

Jeff:  We started the league in the winter of 1977. The impetus came from an article in Sport magazine about four guys who played a draft league using another game's cards. It sounded like fun; so my brother, cousin, another friend, and myself got together and decided to start our own league. Of the original four, three of us still play. My brother and cousin are still in the league with me. The other guy who replaced the original owner who dropped in 1982 is still in the league. We came up with the name based on the World Football League and World Hockey Association. We felt we were challenging MLB; so, we created the World Baseball League. My team is called the Dayton Grits and actually came from the article.

We have two divisions of seven teams (American and National), top four in each make the playoffs. It seemed like the lower seeds would knock off the higher seeds more often than not, so we devised a playoff system where 4 plays 3, the winner then plays the 2nd seed and the winner of that series plays the 1st seed in the division for the right to go to the World Series. This makes the regular season more important, plus if a lower seed does move on, they really have to earn it. 

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

Jeff:  We keep players year to year. We have limits on at bats and innings pitched for both starters and relievers. If one of your players does not qualify for the league due to not making the minimum at bats or innings, you may still keep him on your roster. Players who do no meet the minimums are not allowed to be drafted or picked up during the season. We have a trading deadline of August 1; after that point, no more trades or pickups. We hold a 12-round draft prior to the start of each season, all players who qualify for the league are eligible for the draft, if they are not already on a team.

Wolfman:  What is your life as the commissioner of WBL like?  How much time does it take? What are your duties? Do you have other officers in your league?

It takes about 20 minutes a day to run the league, a little more set up time prior to the start of the season. The way we do it now is similar to the Strato online game the company has (Editor’s Note: Baseball 365). After the draft, the owners fill out a manager tendency sheet; this has all the computer manager tendencies, plus lineups. I enter those into the game. Each night I play a day’s worth of games and post the box scores, stories, and recaps to our website. The guys review them the next day; they may make changes due to injuries, who they are playing, etc.

Basically in the late 1980s and early 1990s most members got married and started to have kids. All of our kids were/are involved in sports with most of us coaching. We were unable to meet face-to-face to play anymore, so the computer version saved our league. We still meet at my house for the playoffs. The games are played out on the computer, with each guy coaching his own team. The playoffs normally take us a couple of nights. My brother assists with some of the setup, as does my son, but we don't have any other official officers.

Wolfman:  Jeff, you told me you have been the champion of the WBL before.  What type of team do you like to create?  What type of team did you have in your last season?

My normal team is based on power—I like home runs. I try to get players at all positions that can hit homers. I had Cal Ripken his entire career, Alex Rodriguez for most of his. I also had Barry Bonds during the steroid years, when he set our league record for homers in a season—86. Bonds also has the lifetime record of 919 home runs. My team last year was kind of on its last legs: Chase Utley is getting old, as is Josh Hamilton, Matt Holliday, and Mike Napoli. Right now I am trying to rebuild with Chris Davis and Kyle Seager. I also always have a deep bullpen with a solid closer. Over the years I have had Dennis Eckersley, Troy Percival, and Joe Nathan. Currently, I have Mark Melancon and Ken Giles in my bullpen.

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

Jeff:  My main strategies as I stated above is that I like to create a team that can produce power from any spot in the lineup. I try to put together a good defense, stay away from 4-rated players if possible. I never seem to have quality starters so I rely heavily on my bullpen. In playing games, I tend to go to my bullpen quicker than most, also since my players usually can hit homers, they are not good at bunting or hit and run, so I tend to just swing away.

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 game playing.

My main advice is not to get blinded by names or draft with your heart. We have some managers who draft on name recognition. This doesn't always work, as their cards do not always match your perception. We have an owner that is a huge Yankee fan. He likes to draft Yankees, a lot of times, higher than they should go. Amazingly, even with this strategy, he is usually in the playoff hunt each year.

Wolfman:  Have you ever tried to play in the online baseball leagues that Strat-o-Matic offers, other leagues (face-to-face or via the internet)?

Last year, my son and I joined the online league Strato offers and will probably do so again this year. This is the only league I currently participate in. In the 80s and 90s, we had a very successful Strato football league, but that kind of ended around the time we switched to computer baseball.

Ultimate Strat Baseball Newsletter - Photo of WBL Members during the 2016 Draft Day
(Another Photo from the WBL Draft Day as this day is both used to help their managers
build their teams for the new season and to enjoy each other's company in a festive mood.)

What do you like about the WBL? What are the members like in this league from your perspective? What is the key for the longevity of your league?  How do you organize league play—do you have a day during the week when all the members meet perhaps?

Jeff:  Most of the members in the league grew up together. We all still hang around together with our wives and families. When we are at a picnic or out on the weekend, we always end up talking Strato. Our wives have learned to live with it. The newer members were coworkers that heard us talk about the league. So in most cases we have had a connection prior to their joining the league. We also have the next generation, as both my son and my cousin's son are in the league. We did not have an owner change for almost 20 years, other than through expansion 5 years ago.

One of the owners, who had been in the league since 1984, dropped out last year after the passing of his wife. The guy who took over the team ended up winning the championship last year. We currently get together every year on draft night, then again for the playoffs. A lot of the owners show up for the playoffs even if they are not participating. During the year, we end up getting together in little groups to go to a Red Sox game, watch the Super Bowl, etc.

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 the WBL that were amazing, or very unusual games, or something you are proud of. Maybe some key trade you made?

When we were younger and played face-to-face, we had many wild times—arguments, someone rolling a 12 to win a game, etc. Back in 1985, we had a team that was trying to clinch a playoff spot on the last day of the season. His team ended up losing as they made seven errors, with Ivan Dejesus leading the way with five.

Another famous story was in 1995, a team that had never gone to the World Series was leading in the top of the ninth. Someone in the crowd recommended to the owner at bat that he should pinch hit. So he did, ended up hitting a 3-run home run that turned out to be the game-winner. It took the losing owner months to get over that defeat (and years before he got to the World Series) and he still brings it up every time we get together.

More recently, my son's team was ahead last year by one run in the bottom of the 9th of game 7, with a chance to go to the Series on the line. My brother's team was at bat with Nelson Cruz up. As he pushed the button, he said “this is it, one of us wins or loses on this.” The crowd then roared as Cruz took the ball deep to win. As for key trades, I am most proud of getting A-Rod, using a package of draft picks and Marquis Grissom. My worst deal is when I sent Nolan Ryan to my brother when he was 34, thinking it was the end of his career.

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

No we have only played SOM, never tried anything else. It seems to be realistic; the players perform as they should. The neat thing is when we try to analyze how a certain player will fit in your ballpark or with your team. My ballpark favors lefties, so I try to be on the lookout for good lefty hitters. Other guys in the league have set up their parks for righties or as a pitchers park, which may change your perception of certain players.

Wolfman:  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?

I think the most important thing is to have fun. The way Strato is set up now, you can play so many ways, face-to-face, computer, etc. Find the way that works best for your league and stick with it. In our case, we do miss the day-to-day dice rolling, but the computer allows us to stay in the game, have fun, and the playoffs seem like old times when we all get together.

Wolfman:  So thanks Jeff for spending time with us. Good Luck in the next season of the WBL and to another exciting season of play.

Thank you.

Wolfman:  Finally, 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? And also what is your league’s website?

Sure, through this email is the best way to contact me at: jeffman1313@yahoo.com 

And our league website can be found at:  

Wolfman:  All the best and thank you.

To Read the Interview with the Champion of the WBL from this month's issue, just click on the link here:  [ WBL Champion Interview ]


(Final Comments from the Wolfman: Again, we heard another case through Jeff, how a league has brought the members and their families together in some special ways. I believe it is always a beautiful experience when people co-create an activity that connects them more intimately.  So, if you would like to have your league featured in this section of our newsletter, please email me— whether you are the commissioner, a league officer, or just a member—and let’s talk. You can find my email address at the bottom of this page. I know there are thousands of leagues out there, and each league has its own special and unique story to tell.  What you might think is ordinary for your league might inspire a change of how another league could be played; it’s all good.  So, let’s keep ‘em coming in. Thanks, Wolfman Shapiro :-) )

Dear members, if you would like to share about your league and have it appear in a future issue of our newsletters, you will find my email address below, just send me a quick email and we can discuss it.  We haven't done any Retro Leagues yet (leagues that play with seasons from the past), so this would be a nice new edition for the newsletter.  Thanks ....


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 ROGER ERICKSON, Ex-MLB Pitcher, Roger Erickson, for the Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees, 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 which we recognize their names from their Strat-o-matic cards in past seasons.

  INTERVIEW/ARTICLE with KEN WENGER, Ken is a volunteer for the support group that works with Len Durrant and Gary Simonds who have been producing cardsets that work with the SOM Baseball Game for over 20 years that include computer rosters/teams from the Negro Leagues, Japanese Leagues and the National Association. Ken talks about his experiences being a part of this team and what it takes to make these computer card set images.

  ARTICLE with MARC PELLETIER & WOLFMAN SHAPIRO, Wolfman Shapiro now becomes Marc's student as he is guided to work with Marc's system to build a playoff bound team for one of the new 2015 based leagues that are be offered in Baseball 365.  Marc explains his blue print how to build a team and shares with us key spreadsheets to show how he evaluates the players in the 2015 cardset. The Wolfman shares his feedback upon the Pelletier system and how it will guide him to draft his team for the on-line Baseball 365 league that he will join in April.

  STRAT WISE with MARC WASSERMAN -- commissioner of the Cyber Baseball Association (CBA) continues his new column sharing various perspectives on SOM Baseball. In this issue he discusses about the coming of "Baseball Daily", his many visits to the Game Company since he was young, and the recent video inteviews done with Hal Richman, John Garcia and Adam Rosen.

  ARTICLE with LARRY BRAUS -- Wolfman's old friend Larry, who he has known since the 1970's from Chicago and the early national conventions, as well as was an early contributor of our newletter in 2013, returns in this issues with some insights on former star players you shouldn't write off just
yet ...

  ARTICLE with WOLFMAN SHAPIRO, Wolfman discusses a totally new Computer (CM) based league he joins which is based upon salaries for the players with a salary cap, plus has a big focus on building your minor league players. Through this league he participates in his first time ever an on-line auction to add players for his team.  He reports about his experiences joining this league and the strategies he used to build a team made for the playoffs plus ....

  SOM BASEBALL LEAGUE REPORT with WOLFMAN SHAPIRO -- the editor of "The Ultimate Strat Newsletter" and 2012 CBA Champion, talks to members 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 and their Champion in the same month as we find out about the World Baseball League (WBL).  To read their interviews, click on the appropriate link below:

INTERVIEW with Jeff Chaput, WBL Commissioner, P-VI (Computer)
INTERVIEW with Ted Wesley, WBL Champion, P-II (Computer)

  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 and SOM's facebook page, offers another "Stat of the Week" bulletin by John Dewan talking about current relievers and gives the first report of a Strat Tournament Player's Club tourney held in early March in New Jersey.

  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
co-Founder/Editor, the Ultimate Strat Baseball Newsletter

email: wolfman@ultimatestratbaseball.com
: www.facebook.com/wolfman.shapiro
twitter: @StratBaseball4U

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