In the course of the “research” for this blog I came upon a website called Out of the Park Baseball. Out of the Park Baseball is a company that makes a baseball simulation game, currently called Out of the Park Baseball 14.
As far as baseball simulations go, this is pretty high-end. It’s full of all the historical data, and allows you to manage any team in baseball history for any number of seasons, and into an imaginary future. There are numerous minor league levels, and players can work their way up into the majors.
OOTP can be used on its own, as a single player game, where you match wits against the machine. Or you can join an online league, which I decided would be perfect for The Year of Baseball.
First problem: which league? There are all sorts of leagues out there, playing by all sorts of different rules. There’s a league that compresses a whole season’s simulation into two weeks. There are historical recreations, starting way back at the dawn of baseball, and there are leagues who started up with the 2011 rosters and went from there. There are fictional leagues based on NHL teams. (This came up during the NHL strike, I believe.) There are Canadian leagues, international leagues, interplanetary leagues, and, well, you get the picture. The large number of options in OOTP means an endless variety of leagues.
All the leagues post notices on the OOTP forums when they need new players. For example:
Sample Baseball League
Sample Baseball League (SBL)
Commissioner(s) OOTP Forum Username(s):
OOTP Version: OOTP13
Game Needed: Required
Players: Modern (real/current)
# of Teams: 30
Export Deadlines Days And Times: Monday (7AM), Tuesday (7AM), Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sat at 8 pm EST
League Time Per Sim: 3 Days, varies in off season.
First Season: 2011
Current Season: 2015 Playoffs, getting ready to enter the offseason
Special Rules & Settings:
Waiver Wire: 4 Days
DFA: 10 days
Interleague Play: Yes
Salary Cap: No
Revenue Sharing: Yes
Franchise Players: No
DH: Yes, AL Only
Available Teams: [B]Rangers, Astros, D-Backs [B]
The sim schedule is unique from most leagues in that the SBL has action happening every night of the week – just like the MLB. With the length of the sims being only 3 days long, the SBL enables you to closely follow and manage your team throughout the rigors of a 162-day baseball season. As you’ll find out, a lot of our GMs are very involved in their teams and also are a part of the OSBL,
(I note that two of the three available teams are in my Division of the Damned. Probably coincidence.)
So I spent a bit of time looking these noticed over, trying to figure what sort of League I would want to try. I finally settled on the National Pastime Baseball League, in part because the league has existed so long (over 50 seasons!) and in part because they have the financial aspect of the game turned off. = one less thing to worry about. Maybe sometime I’ll try a league with financials, but for now… baby steps.
There were a couple of teams available, and I was fortunate enough to wind up as the owner/gm/manager/chief bottle washer of the Louisiana Blaze. I gotta say, everyone in the league was very nice to the new guy, and the commissioner of the league is as helpful as can be. I took the reins of the Blaze in mid-season of 2050, and coasted into the playoffs, where we were quickly eliminated. In the off-season, I pretty much stood pat. I needed help at catcher, and so I drafted a catcher in my first round, a young kid with plenty of power but years away from the big leagues. Another thing I like about the NPBL – live drafts. The owners who are able to get together in an online chat room and make their selections and shoot the breeze. Nice. In the off-season I also moved the Blaze out of their crumbling Blazerdome, and into a quickly refurbished Pelican Park, an outdoor park modeled on Forbes Field. With high hopes I entered 2051 season…. and got clobbered. The pitching just fell apart. The ERA in ’51 was about a run higher than in ’50. Hence, the 63-99 record. (I think we won the last five in a row, and so avoided the century mark in the loss column.) Ouch. Could I turn this around in ’52?
The only highlight from the ’51 season was young Masuhiro Yoshida, who I brought up to the majors in mid-season to play first base, and who quickly became our top hitter. No, there was one other highlight – our 34-year-old catcher, Hector Silva, came into the season batting about .220 lifetime, and in ’51 hit .280 and was the team MVP. While others disappointed, Silva had the best year of his career.
In reviewing ’51, I was a bit… perplexed. Were the Blaze as good as they were in ’50? A playoff contender? Or were they as bad as they were in ’51? A cellar-dweller? Preseason predictions indicated the latter, but I wasn’t sure. I pretty much stood pat. I brought up a few young arms from our Triple A club in Baton Rouge, and hoped for the best.
2052 started nicely; the hitters hit everything that was thrown, our pitchers gave us enough to win. We were in first place, and ten games over .500 for a while, and then, well, we faded. Faded badly. Towards the end of the season it was the out of control death spiral. Looking on the bright side, we finished 10 games higher than predicted, at 73-89, a full 10 games up over ’51. This was due in large part, I think, to Masuhiro Yoshida, who improved on his rookie effort. Also on the bright side, our first round pick from the off-season, starting pitcher Dale Smokervich, showed a lot of promise and pitched well both in single A and double A ball. And we did not finish in last place. Still, it was in no way a successful season. Our hitting is weak. Our pitching is unreliable.
in our next installment: it’s the ’53 draft, and 2053 is getting under way…