Game plays

Strat-O-Matic game plays Cleveland pro sports ‘What If?’ game – News-Herald

If ever there was a “What if?” capital of the professional sports nation, Cleveland should be in contention.

Perhaps no sports city in the civilized world can play the “What If” game better.

Strat-O-Matic plans to play this game for us.

What was once strictly a popular sports board game created 61 years ago has been available on the digital platform for around 30 years. Strat-O-Matic is well known for its simulations that provide at least some answers to those “What If?” sports matters.

John Garcia, 32, has been chief content officer at Strat-O-Matic for 11 years. He played Strat-O-Matic all his life.

“It’s a game that I love,” Garcia said in a phone interview. “It means so much to me. It’s not just a job for us. It’s so much more than that. It’s our childhood.

Garcia loves pretend play and takes it seriously.

“It’s precision,” he says. “That’s what we’re proud of: having realistic grades.”

It’s not just about statistics, whether it’s baseball, football, basketball or hockey. According to Garcia, many hours are spent reading content from various media outlets that cover every professional team to get the most accurate rating for a player and a team. The research also includes discussions with beat writers and team scouts for trends, analysis, and other factors.

Stat-O-Matic is a game company based in Glen Head, NY, which is best known for its game of baseball. The first Stra-O-Matic baseball board game was created in 1961 by Hal Richman, a college math student. He created a football game in 1968, then an advanced baseball game in 1972, followed by a basketball game in 1973 and a hockey version in 1978.

Each season, the player and team are given ratings on cards based on stat research with the goal of replicating those abilities and empowering the player to make in-game decisions with dice and charts and tables printed.

Strat-O-Matic has a die-hard fanbase. Longtime broadcaster Bob Costas said he played baseball regularly as a kid and it helped him understand the game.

With the advent of the Strat-O-Matic computer game, time-consuming game and season simulations can now be done in minutes.

So years and years of playing the “What If?” the game can somehow be answered in a short time for Cleveland pro sports fans. Garcia received five professional sports from Cleveland “What if?” scenarios. Strat-O-Matic will then provide at least one response to readers.

There won’t be hundreds of simulations. Each week there will be a simulation of these “What Ifs?” (in no particular order):

• What if the Browns beat the Broncos in the 1986 AFC Championship Game and faced the Giants in the Super Bowl?

• What if Brian Sipe and the Browns rallied to beat the Raiders in 1980 in an AFC Divisional playoff game and advanced to face the Chargers in the AFC title game?

• What if the Browns beat the Chiefs in a 2020 AFC Divisional playoff game and faced the Bills in the AFC Championship?

• What if Michael Jordan missed “The Shot” in the Cavaliers’ first-round playoff series against the Bulls in 1989 and Cleveland faced the Knicks in the next round?

File Associated Press Craig Ehlo ??
Associated Press filing Craig Ehlo — shown driving against Michael Jordan in the 1992 playoffs — will forever be remembered for his role in “The Shot.”

• What if the Indians 100-44 in the strike-shortened 1995 season played 162 games? Could the major league record of 116 wins be within reach?

The Raiders' Mike Davis intercepts a Brian Sipe pass intended for Browns tight end Ozzie Newsome in the end zone with 49 seconds left in a 1980 AFC Divisional playoff game that Cleveland lost, 14-12.  (Associated press kit)
The Raiders’ Mike Davis intercepts a Brian Sipe pass intended for Browns tight end Ozzie Newsome in the end zone with 49 seconds left in a 1980 AFC Divisional playoff game that Cleveland lost, 14-12. (Associated press kit)

Each week, the simulations will be summarized in our print and online editions. Some might enjoy it. Others might frustrate. Hopefully all will be entertained as we ponder the question “What if?”