Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Win a Free Copy of the Out of the Park Baseball 15

This is your last chances to pre-register for the contest to win your free copy of Out of the Park Baseball 15. The winner will get their copy of the game on April 18th. We have had over 125 people pre-register already. Once again, here is how we will do it.

  1. Fill out the form below
  2. Look for an email titled Out of the Park Baseball 15 Contest on Tuesday night April 15th
  3. Follow the directions in the email
  4. The contest will be a one day fantasy baseball contest for the first 20 people who get into the league by following the directions in the email.
Here are some blog posts previewing Out of the Park Baseball 15

Out of the Park Baseball 15 Preview: Interview with Markus Heinsohn

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Out of the Park Baseball 15: First Impressions

It is that magical time of the year again when I get an email from Brad Cook with my preview copy of the latest Out of the Park Baseball game. Merry Christmas to me!

This is not the final build of the game and this blog post will not be a review. Instead it will be my excited and scattered thoughts and impressions as I discover OOTP 15 for the first time. 

The first thing I do when I download the game is I copy all my logos, jerseys and facegen pictures from my OOTP 14 folder into my OOTP 15. I can't stand to look at anything generic. Just my pet peeve.

While doing this I saw the opening menus of OOTP 15 and I was very impressed. It has a very clean and sharp look to it. The difference from OOTP 14 is noticeable. Very nicely done.

 Here is the Red Sox team screen for OOTP 14 followed by the team screen for OOTP 15

OOTP 15 has a wider and cleaner look to it. More information yet it doesn't feel jammed in there. Same goes with the player pages. Here is David Ortiz. The first is from OOTP 15 and the second from OOTP 14. Once again, just a wider and cleaner look to it. 

When I interviewed Markus Heinsohn about the features of OOTP 15 I was really excited about the the retired jersey numbers feature. Well here it is.

This is from the startup MLB game and I went in and retired the original four numbers for the Red Sox. I wrote the years that they played for the Red Sox next to the number. You can write anything here, it has full editing capabilities. The AI is supposed to retire numbers on their own as the dynasty progresses according to Markus. However, as of this build, no team has any numbers retired. You would have to go in and manually do it yourself, which is actually fun. 

So what about 3D? 3D is a work in progress. Keep in mind that 3D is a brand new feature and it is going to take time for it to work perfect. By the time the full version of the game is ready to go it will be working. However, my realistic view is the 3D version will get better each year and may not be what many want it to be right away. I could be wrong but I believe it takes time. I will say this, from what I was able to see of the 3D playing screen, it has the potential to be really great. As I mentioned at the start of this post, the game I am playing right now it is not the final build. I will post in more detail about the 3D performance once the build is complete. So far so good. 

Out of the Park Baseball will be released to those who pre-order it on April 18th. If you don't pre-order it will be released on April 21st. Would you like to win a free copy of Out of the Park Baseball 15 and be playing it on April 18th? Here is your chance! I am going to run a one day fantasy baseball contest on Wednesday, April 16th. The winner of the contest will be given the download link and code to their very own version of Out of the Park Baseball 15.

The contest will consist of a 20 person max. You will need to register below with your name and email address. On Tuesday the 15th, I will send out an email to everyone who registered with a link and password to the contest. The first 20 people who click that link and join the contest will get to play for the rights to win a free OOTP 15 game. Sound easy enough? Go ahead and register below

Monday, April 7, 2014

Boston Red Sox Week in Review: Week 1

Week 2 - 4
Overall 2 - 4
Games Back1.5
Games AheadNA
Weekly OPS0.674
Season OPS0.674
Weekly WHIP1.309
Season WHIP1.309

The Good

Opening week of the season and there is a lot of good to find. First off, baseball is back and for the defending champion Red Sox, it meant ring time. Friday was a great day at Fenway. A great ceremony and a great day of celebration. Three titles in ten years. It really hit home as the champion banners came down one by one, draped over the Green Monster. The scary part, the Red Sox are built to win for years to come. It is a great time to be a Red Sox fan.

As the games began, the thing that struck me was how fun this team is going to be. It starts with the 21 year old Xander Bogaerts. He looks for real to me. There is nothing like seeing a budding young superstar come up from your system. Then there is Grady Sizemore, he looks for real as well. I am trying to be cautious because the odds of him remaining healthy are not great. However, the ability is still there. He looks great at the plate, in the field and on the bases. He is the answer to lead-off question. 

The Bad

A 2-4 record is not a great way to start the season but I do think the Sox deserve a pass. It wasn't exactly a typical week. It was a week of distractions, great distractions but distractions nonetheless. 

Will Middlebrooks was placed on the DL with a calf injury. Anytime you have an MRI done on a calf that is not good news. Could this linger? The worst part is Middlebrooks looked good at the plate. This was important because it helped ease the idea that his spring success was a fluke. Brock Holt was called up and Johnathan Herrera took over at third base. Those are not exactly great options if this injury turns into a long term thing. It raises the question whether the Sox would consider bringing up Deven Marerro to play short and move Bogaerts to third. This also puts Stephen Drew back on the table as an option. Hopefully Middlebrooks is back soon but it does bare watching.

The catching position did not look good this week. A.J Pierzynski did not look good at the plate. David Ross did not look better and struggled throwing the baseball. I hate to question offseason moves one week into the season but it does make you wonder why the Sox just didn't give the job to Christian Vazquez. Maybe with youngsters like Jackie Bradley Jr. and Bogaerts the Sox brass felt having a rookie at catcher was a little too much youth on this team.

Shane Victorino needs to get healthy. With the loss of Jacoby Ellsbury, his importance this season is magnified. Watching a combination of Daniel Nava, Johnny Gomes and Mike Carp man the corner outfield spots this week made me a bit nauseous.

Player of the Week

I have to go with Xander Bogaerts who had a slash line of 
It will be interesting where he hits in the batting order for the majority of the season. I would put him in that #5 hole in the lineup and leave him there.

Upcoming Schedule

Busy week for the Sox. No days off and a trip to the Bronx for a four game series.

77Monday, Apr 7BOSTEX7:10 pm
88Tuesday, Apr 8BOSTEX6:10 pm
99Wednesday, Apr 9BOSTEX4:05 pm
1010Thursday, Apr 10BOS@NYY7:05 pm
1111Friday, Apr 11BOS@NYY7:05 pm
1212Saturday, Apr 12BOS@NYY1:05 pm
1313Sunday, Apr 13BOS@NYY8:05 pm

Out of the Park Baseball 15 Preview: Interview with Markus Heinsohn

Out of the Park Baseball 15 is just days from being released and I had the opportunity to interview OOTP creator Markus Heinsohn over email. Below is our email exchange which took place over a couple of weeks as we discussed the new features of OOTP 15.

MD: Let’s get right to the big news, Out of the Park Baseball 15 and the leap into the word of 3D. There are plenty of us who have been wanting this for a long time but there are also many who do not want this at all and are worried it is somehow going to ruin the game. Has making OOTP 3D always been a goal of yours for the game or was it brought on by feedback of your loyal customers?

MH: A little bit of both: We always knew we’d have to go the 3D route eventually, especially given how successful it has been for Football Manager, but we’ve also had people asking for it on our forum over the years, so the demand was there. However, we also realize that we have long-time OOTP players who have zero interest in 3D, which is why we’ve made 3D ballparks and 3D in-game ball flight optional in OOTP 15. If you don’t want it, simply turn it off and play the game the way you always have. 

The same will also hold true moving forward as we work toward adding 3D players on the field in OOTP 16: That will be optional too, so if you don’t want to see it, you can switch it off.

In the long run, leaving it optional won’t ruin the game because everyone will be happy. Personally, I’ve always said that the greatest 3D graphics engine ever created is your imagination, so I understand why some people don’t want anything to do with 3D.

MD: Great stuff, count me as one of the loyal customers who has looked forward to 3D and the best part as you said is that it can be turned off if you don't want it. Can you go into more detail about the ball flight animation? While OOTP has always been my favorite text sim, PureSim Baseball always did a really good job with their ball flight animation. It wasn't perfect but the pop ups and fly balls etc were pretty good. I also loved the pitched ball and the sound of it hitting the mitt for a strikeout. I found myself playing the 1999 Red Sox a lot on that game with the great Pedro Martinez. How much time has been put in to make that part of the game fun and authentic?

MH: Since its introduction, ball flight in OOTP has been 2D, so you would see where the ball went but you didn’t know if it was in the air or on the ground, and you didn’t know if it was an out or a hit. It served its purpose, but I knew that when we eventually added 3D to the game, we would need to address that part of the graphics too. A lot of work has gone into making sure that the ball flight is realistic, so you’ll see a ball smashed on the ground through the infield, versus a base hit that’s hit in the air and drops in the outfield. And, of course, everyone will love watching home runs end up in the seats.

Like the addition of 3D stadium support, this is just the first step in the long walk toward full 3D action on the field in OOTP.

MD: You have been working on Out of the Park Baseball for over a decade now. I jumped on board for OOTP 5 and really got hooked on OOTP 6.5. What is the most difficult aspect/feature to get right when creating a baseball simulation game? Have the problems changed over the years? 

MH: The hardest thing to get right is making sure that all the different pieces of the game work together to create a seamless world. AI GMs need to make realistic decisions based on so many different factors (their team’s current win/loss record, payroll, the contract status of their stars, their owner’s attitude, etc.), the players need to behave in natural ways as their careers ramp up and eventually decline, the managers, coaches, and scouts need to make proper decisions, and so forth. All of those things need to mesh just right and make you feel like you really are sitting in the GM’s office, and/or in the dugout, making the decisions your real life counterparts face all the time.

When it all comes together, it’s beautiful. I love hearing from people who say they pulled off an amazing mid-season trade and made a run at the division title before experiencing some incredible player heroics in the playoffs. They talk about those things the same way all baseball fans talk about iconic moments in the sport’s history, which is how I know OOTP is working the way it should.

In the early days, the problems involved getting basic baseball mechanics to work. Teams needed to manage their rosters properly, they needed to know when to put on the hit-and-run, etc. These days, the problems are more complex because the last several years have seen OOTP add all kinds of minutiae that most games gloss over or abstract in some way. For example, in OOTP 15 we’re going to have real international leagues with real teams and players, so that adds a layer of complexity to everything: It needs to feel natural when, for example, a star pitcher decides to leave Japan for the majors in the US, or when an aging veteran in the US heads overseas to get another shot at extending his career.

MD: In my opinion the greatest thing about OOTP is all the different ways you can play. It feels like 20 games within one making it impossible to get bored. I have several dynasties and in each one I play different ways. In one I go into George Steinbrenner mode where I control everything, in another I am strictly the GM and hope my manager does a good job with my lineups and in another I am just the manager and play out every single game and hope my GM goes out and gets me more talent. I know OOTP tracks the way people play the game, what has the information that has been collected tell you about how people play the game and has that information had any effect on the features in OOTP 15?

MH: In OOTP we track basic user activities (if the user accepts it). For example, which screens are visited most often and what game types are created. This way we can figure out how the average user plays the game and what parts of the game are most important. For example, the player profile screen is by far the most visited screen in OOTP, so it has to be as close to perfect as possible. But we can also conclude if certain areas of the game are not properly designed. If a certain screen that we think is rather important does not get utilized by many users, we should think about improving it or placing it in a more prominent spot.

One example of that in OOTP 15 is the Manager Home screen. We discovered that it wasn’t used as much as we wanted, so we reworked it and made it more functional.

MD: Can you give us an idea of your schedule when creating an OOTP game? Obviously you are now hard at work putting the finishing touches on OOTP 15 but when did the work begin on OOTP 15? When will you start on OOTP 16?How many others do you have working on it with you and has the schedule and timetable changed over the years?

MH: I solicit ideas for OOTP year-round. People post their wish lists on our forum and I keep a running list that I prioritized based on what’s easy to implement and what will be a bit tricky. (Sometimes something that seems simple affects other parts of the game, so putting it in OOTP isn’t as easy as some may think.)

Even though we put out OOTP updates the entire year, I usually start work on the next version of the game in the late summer. I come up with a feature list and start the basic programming work after the World Series ends. Our graphic designer, Daniela, works closely with me during that time to make changes to the user interface and the overall look and feel. OOTP’s co-founder, Andreas Raht, also works with me on the game. He’s a very talented programmer too, and he handles all the technical areas of the game, like online leagues, FaceGen, database issues etc.

The schedule for OOTP 15 pretty much fit in with what I described above, and work on OOTP 16 will likely proceed according to the same timetable 
(although I may start on that earlier because 90% of the work on that version will related to the 3D game visualization engine). That process really hasn’t changed much over the years. The only time there have been deviations have been when other things have taken up some of my time during the offseason, such as when I was helping Sebastian get iOOTP development off the ground during its first year, or this past fall when I spent three weeks ripping all baseball-related elements out of the OOTP project so Francis had a good foundation for our upcoming football game, 'Beyond the Sideline Football.'

MD: I blogged about the Community of OOTP a while back and gave them a lot of credit for making OOTP such an incredible game. From my perspective, they have always been there with so many great mods. It makes a computer and programming illiterate such as myself get so much more out of the game. When did you first start to notice the talented community of OOTP and has it changed how you go about programming the game?

MH: It took a couple years of sales growth and word of mouth to spread before the community began to gather around OOTP. After all, OOTP 1 sold just 250 copies. I knew early on that I wanted the game to have as much customizability as possible, since so many other kinds of games have benefited from community involvement. Look at Doom, for example.

I first started to really notice the community a couple years into the game’s existence, when our forum opened and a lot of regulars starting setting up accounts there. I can’t say they’ve changed my approach to programming the game, since their presence was always part of the plan, but having such a great community made it easy to, for example, put FaceGen in the game. I knew as soon as we announced it that our community would step up and create a realistic player images, and they did just that. It was amazing.

And, of course, the current state of our community made it a no-brainer to put customizable 3D stadium support in OOTP 15. As soon as we put that on the feature list, we knew the community would step up and create all kinds of amazing stadiums, past and present. From what I’ve seen on the forum, they can’t wait to get started, and I can't wait to see what they come up with.

MD: The facegen that the community has come up with is amazing. I love looking at my 1939 Red Sox and how authentic Ted Williams and Bobby Doerr look. The authentic uniforms they have created to go along with the facegen are also incredible and is the icing on the proverbial cake. I spend more time setting up uniforms than anything else. My wife makes fun of me and equates it to playing with a barbie doll and playing dress up. She might have a point, but I still love to do it. 

While 3D is the big feature news for OOTP 15, the feature that I am really excited about is the ability for teams to retire numbers. Is it insane for a 39 year old grown man with kids to be this excited about being able to retire numbers on a text simulation baseball game? Probably, but who cares. 

Anyway, it seems like a relatively simple idea but was it a simple feature to add to the game? Can you give me an idea how the retired number feature will be displayed? Thank you, thank you, thank you and thank you for this feature! Can you tell I am excited?

MH: I’m glad you’re happy about that feature. Let your wife know that playing with uniforms in OOTP is more like playing with GI Joe. :-)

It wasn’t a very difficult feature to add to the game, so since it was an oft-requested one, I thought I would add it to OOTP 15. I’ve added a Retired Numbers screen to the Info tab in the Team Home Screen, and that’s where each number is displayed inside a circle, like they do in baseball stadiums. There’s a basic editor that lets you choose a number to retire, and you can write a description where you can put the player’s name and other information. AI-controlled teams will automatically retire the numbers of players with Hall of Fame quality stats, and in commissioner mode you can retire other numbers too.

MD: That sounds incredible especially the AI-controlled teams also doing it. I can't wait! It is now time to voice my one pet peeve.  As you may know, I blog a lot about my different OOTP dynasties and I love all the different options OOTP gives me. As I have said before, it is like 10 games in one with all the different ways you can play.  However, I wish there was a way I could start up my OOTP and instantly replay the 1986 postseason or replay the 1975 World Series or see if the 2004 Red Sox could beat the 1927 Yankees in a Best of 7 series. I know there are "workarounds" to set these scenarios up but it takes a lot of time. Is this something that is possible in OOTP 15 or in the near future? Is this the first time you have heard this type of request? 

MH: No, that’s not the first time I’ve heard such a request, and I doubt it will be the last. :-)

From a programming perspective, the problem with putting such functionality in OOTP is the same as the issue with manually setting up those scenarios: time. Given our limited resources, we need to make the most of the time we spend programming OOTP, and putting something like that in the game isn’t worth the hours it would take, from a cost vs. benefit perspective, given that we would have to not only program it but also deal with all the roster setups. Andreas and I would rather spend just as much time implementing a feature that would get us more bang for the buck, so to speak, such as the 3D stadium support in OOTP 15.

While the feature you describe would be a lot of fun, it’s something that really only appeals to a small subset of our customers, and even among them, it has limited interest. What I’ve found is that someone usually wants to replay a specific postseason for various reasons, and just limit it to that. For example, they want to replay the 1986 World Series (I know I’m in that camp :-) but after they’ve done it a couple times, they lose interest in such a feature.

I can’t imagine putting that feature in OOTP any time soon, but as we grow and possibly add programming staff, we could devote someone’s time to putting things like that in the game. That’s a way off, though.

MD: Ok ok ok, I refuse to pout. Moving on, As many people know and I am sure many others don't know, you were born, raised and currently live in Germany. I have heard some of this story before but it is worth repeating. How does a guy who grew up in Germany create the greatest baseball simulation known to man? 

MH: In 1991, a friend of mine took a trip to Miami and returned with a glove and a bat, so we started hitting tennis balls around. We found a few others who liked baseball too and eventually formed a baseball club. Then we got into organized baseball leagues around 1994. I was a decent pitcher with a fastball in the low 80s, but I knew I was never going to make a living at the sport, especially since the top professional baseball players in Germany (yes, there are some) make what minor leaguers in the US earn.

Meanwhile, I played a variety of computer baseball games and was learning programming. By 1998, I had played enough baseball games to realize that there were none I really liked, and my programming abilities had gotten to the point where I could write complete software, so I decided to create my own game. It was finished in 1999, and I decided maybe I could publish it and see what might happen from there. I was fortunate enough to do this as the web was rapidly increasing in popularity, so I was able to connect with other like-minded baseball fans and get the game to many of them.

As the cliché goes, the rest is history.

MD: I have heard that story before but always find it fascinating. The other thing you did not mention is you are not a big fan of American Pro Football. Many have asked over the years, including myself, when you would make a Pro Football simulation game that is as great as Out of the Park Baseball. I had given up hope because you always explained that you don't have enough knowledge of the sport to make a simulation game of high quality. Things have changed though, would you mind giving my readers the latest news about a football simulation game?

MH: About 2 years ago, we decided to expand our product line as Sebastian (our iOOTP programmer) introduced us to his buddy Malte and told us about their hockey game, which they had been developing in their spare time - Franchise Hockey Manager. Now, the game was released a few months ago, and apart from a few hiccups and lessons learned, FHM is a big success for our company.

Early in October 2013, Andreas and I discussed why we shouldn't try the same approach with the most popular sport in the US, football. I personally enjoy watching football games on TV, but my knowledge about the sport is far from good, so I wouldn't be able to develop a good football game. But, sometimes in life things just fall right into place, and a couple of days after Andreas and I had the conversation, we found out that a very nice and clever English chap named Francis Cole, who is a lifelong football fan who I've known from my days working for Sports Interactive in London, has been developing his own little football game for about a year. And after talking for a few days in October, Francis agreed to join Out of the Park Developments and develop a football game with us.

The game is called Beyond the Sideline Football. Trust me, it was quite a ride until the whole team managed to agree on a name. And this is it. We feel that it is a good match for our product lineup and "BTS" sounds like a pretty tasty sandwich (in our graphic designer Daniela's humble opinion), and what can possibly be wrong with tasty sandwiches?

BTS will be based on the complete OOTP code base, which means that the GUI of BTS will be very similar to OOTP and that it will have all the great technical functionality that we've developed for OOTP in the past (FaceGen, online leagues, HTML output, text engine, storylines, world database etc.) and which are tested & verified to work quite well.

Obviously, football is a different game than baseball, so the game flow will be different too. After all, the teams just play one game per week, so there has to be stuff to keep you busy on the 6 days that you are not playing. But we'll talk about all that once we reveal more info in the coming months.

There is no scheduled release date. We will release the game once we feel it is rock solid and has a good set of features. Francis already had an impressive football code foundation with an awesome 2D engine and will save plenty of time because he will use parts of the OOTP code, but still it's way too early to make a good estimate on how long this whole project will take.

Here are the features we’ve announced for BTS Football. We encourage people to follow the BTS Football Twitter account for the latest updates. There’s also an FAQ here:

  • A realistic modern day American football experience with all current rules and regulations.
  • All 32 real American football teams with their real players and current rosters.
  • A realistic 2D game engine that represents all the action on the field, with the ability to call plays and watch them unfold, complete with the roar of the crowd and other sound effects.
  • You dictate the action on the field: Set depth charts and develop strategies around your preferred style of play.
  • FaceGen support allows realistic images of all players.
  • A complete box score for every game played in the league during its history, so you can always look back on thrilling victories and agonizing defeats.
  • The ability to sim decades into the future and watch teams' fortunes rise and fall as dynasties emerge, crumble, and eventually renew themselves.
  • You call the shots from the front office: Participate in the draft for your team every spring; trade players; and negotiate contracts with draft picks and free agents.
  • All of the (non-playable) Division I colleges as well as many more, with real players, so you can draft the next crop of superstars every year.
  • A living, breathing world full of news articles from around the league and a message system that lets you field offers from other GMs and hear what your players have to say.
  • Complete histories, including stats, transactions, injuries, and contracts, for all players who have participated in a training camp during the past decade.
  • Nearly 50 tracked stats, allowing you to go beyond the usual numbers and dig deep into players' performance.
  • Each player features a Health Scan that lets you quickly assess their current situation by showing you which areas of their body are hurt, which areas are okay, and which ones are worn.
  • Customization options, including the ability to change team names, the number of teams, the league structure, the league's country, and a variety of settings.
  • Many benefits from utilizing the OOTP code base, like the user-friendly interface, online league support, HTML output, customizable text database and much more!
MD: That sounds incredible. I am a baseball fan first but football is a close second and imagining a football game that is built using the same basic principles that have made OOTP so great is really exciting. Markus, I want to thank you for your time and responding to all of my email questions. I have really enjoyed it and am looking forward to playing OOTP 15 and blogging all about it. Is there anything you want to add that you didn't get a chance to talk about?

MH: I think we covered everything, so I don’t have anything to add except: I hope everyone enjoys OOTP 15 as much as we enjoyed creating it. It’s by far the best version of OOTP yet; we are very proud of it. Thanks!

Thanks again to Markus. I am anxious to get my hands on OOTP 15 and I will be blogging about my early impressions of the game in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.

Out of the Park Baseball will be released to those who pre-order it on April 18th. If you don't pre-order it will be released on April 21st. Would you like to win a free copy of Out of the Park Baseball 15 and be playing it on April 18th? Here is your chance! I am going to run a one day fantasy baseball contest on Wednesday, April 16th. The winner of the contest will be given the download link and code to their very own version of Out of the Park Baseball 15.

The contest will consist of a 20 person max. You will need to register below with your name and email address. On Tuesday the 15th, I will send out an email to everyone who registered with a link and password to the contest. The first 20 people who click that link and join the contest will get to play for the rights to win a free OOTP 15 game. Sound easy enough? Go ahead and register below

Sunday, April 6, 2014

2008: Alex Rodriguez to the Boston Red Sox

Another season of Alex Rodriguez in Boston and another dominating regular season for the Red Sox.

Alex would put up MVP like numbers once again but would be beaten out in the MVP race by his teammate,  Hanley Ramirez. I hate to be an AROD apologist but Alex was robbed again. Hanley now has 2 MVPs playing DH while Alex wins gold gloves playing shortstop.

Alex would reach a milestone in 2008 hitting his 500th homer. Manny Ramirez would also hit his 500th homer in 2008

Both Manny and Alex are behind their pace in real life. Alex hit his 500th homer in real life in 2007 while Manny hit his early in 2008 not late in 2008.

However, all the personal stats mean nothing. The regular season dominance by the Red Sox means nothing because once again they failed in the playoffs. Since AROD arrived in 2004 the Red Sox have won over 100 games in every season except 2004 when they won 99 games. Yet, they have only made it to the ALCS once and never the World Series. In 2008, they would fall again in the divisional round. AROD has been really good in the playoffs for the Red Sox but in 2008 he struggled against the A's and definitely wore the goat horns.

Will 2009 be the year? In real life, it was the season when Alex finally got his ring. Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Betting Major League Baseball: Opening Day

Betting baseball is a bit different than betting football or basketball. It isn't so much about your win/loss record but the value of your selections. You can win big in baseball if you can take advantage of the odds. The selections I made for Opening Day are a prime example. If I win just 33% of the games I picked below I will break even. If I can get to 50% I clean up. The realistic goal is to hit on about 45% and make a very nice profit.

Risk 5.00 to win 7.50 [901] Chicago Cubs +150 vs Pittsburgh Pirates
Risk 5.00 to win 7.65 [904] New York Mets +153 vs Washington Nationals
Risk 5.00 to win 7.50 [905] Atlanta Braves -1.5 +150 vs Milwaukee Brewers
Risk 5.00 to win 7.50 [907] St. Louis Cardinals -1.5 +150 vs Cincinnati Reds
Risk 5.00 to win 7.85 [917] Toronto Blue Jays +157 vs Tampa Bay Rays
Risk 5.00 to win 7.85 [919] Minnesota Twins +157 vs Chicago White Sox
Risk 5.00 to win 8.00 [910] Miami Marlins -1.5 +160 vs Colorado Rockies
Risk 5.00 to win 8.00 [922] Oakland Athletics -1.5 +160 vs Cleveland Indians
Risk 5.00 to win 8.75 [924] Los Angeles Angels -1.5 +175 vs Seattle Mariners


Mariano Rivera and the Red Sox

Can you imagine Mariano Rivera on the Red Sox? With Out of the Park Baseball you don't need to imagine it because it has happened.

When Out of the Park Baseball 14 came out last spring I took over the Red Sox as the GM. I would act only as the GM and leave it to my manager to manage the games and set up the lineup. It was a good first year, a 96 win season, captured the AL East but lost to the Tigers in the ALCS. It was a successful year but because of what the real Red Sox did it feels a bit hollow. So I got to work on the offseason trying to make the best of the many difficult decisions.

As we close in on Opening Day, here is the 2014 Out of the Park Baseball version of the Red Sox

I am a big fan of Brian McCann and I made him a free agent offer and he accepted. The plan is to play him at catcher for this year and next and slowly move him into the 1B/DH role. The deal is for 5 years and $80.5 million.

Jesus Montero was acquired early last season for Jose Iglesias. Montero would spend much of the season in AAA where he would lead the minor leagues in homeruns with 35. He would get called up for late in the year and the playoffs when Mike Napoli would go down and he would struggle. Napoli wanted a long term big money deal. Unlike real life he was not looking for a hometown discount. Montero is making the league minimum. Montero is work in progress at first base. We gave up on him as a catcher because he was horrible behind the plate. He is really a DH and should be the successor to David Ortiz. It will be great if Montero becomes a star since he was once a prized prospect for the Yankees. Napoli would end up signing with Oakland for a lot less than he was asking.

Ryan Kalish got some good news in real life this spring and that was the case in OOTP as Kalish was great in spring and was also great last year in the minors once he got over all his injuries.

Jackie Bradley is the centerfielder. Unlike in real life, JBJ did not struggle last season as he won AL Rooke of the Year. The Sox had injuries in the outfield much of the year allowing JBJ to play all three outfield spots and get over 500 at bats. Letting Jacoby Ellsbury walk was an easy decision as he would go on to sign with the Texas Rangers.

Xander Bogaerts gets the opening day nod at SS. Stephen Drew was allowed to walk. Drew would sign with the Mets on a four year deal. This was also an easy decision because of the year that Will Middlebrooks had in the world of OOTP in 2013. Middlebrooks appears to be a bona fide star. Drew was the odd man out. In real life, I still have my doubts when it comes to Middlebrooks and I am a big Stephen Drew fan.

The 2014 Red Sox rotation looks a lot different than the real Red Sox rotation. Jake Peavy was never acquired last season in the world of OOTP even though I tried. John Lackey recovered his career in real life last year but in OOTP he appears to be all done. He was placed on waivers and was not claimed. He is now a very expensive pitcher in AAA. Clay Buchholz struggled last season so the goal in the offseason was to upgrade the pitching. The number one target was Josh Johnson. Johnson was traded to the Mets during the 2013 season and was dominant as the Mets almost made a miracle run to the playoffs. I signed Johnson to a 5 year $80 million deal.

James Shields was signed to a three year deal for $17 million. Love the guys who are battle tested in the AL East. Ryan Dempster had a good year in 2013 and unlike in real life he is not retiring. Felix Doubront gets demoted to the pen but provides depth along with all the live arms in AAA. 

The bullpen is real interesting especially with the addition of Mariano Rivera. Mo lost his closer job with the Yankees last season and did not retire. Instead he was a free agent. What better way to mess with the Yankees by signing their legend. It is a move the Yankees make in real life with Red Sox players. Rivera signed a one year $5 million deal. I have no idea how much he has left but it will be cool to see him in a Red Sox uniform.

Joel Hanrahan was the closer for the OOTP Red Sox last year and he had a great year. So great that he wanted to be paid greatly in the offseason. I passed and instead used the fully stocked arms I already had. Koji Uehara had a good year last year, nothing like the year he had in real life though. He is the closer to start the season but will have plenty of help if he struggles.

This is just another great way to play Out of the Park Baseball. I am trying to win it all but also keep my job. I will keep you posted as we go.