Friday, January 23, 2015

Out of the Park Baseball 16 Preview: Big Announcement

Out of the Park Baseball 16 is set to come out in late March and just when you think it can't get any better, it does. Here is their press release:

Out of the Park Baseball 16 Features Official, MiLB Licenses, and More

Game Scheduled to Ship in March; Pre-Ordering Begins Now; Launch Sweepstakes Includes Shop Gift Certificates

Out of the Park Developments today announced a major milestone in the history of its venerable Out of the Park Baseball franchise: The inclusion of official and Minor League Baseball licenses in version 16, which will ship in March. OOTP 16 will feature official league logos, team logos and jerseys for all 30 MLB teams, over 150 MiLB team logos, and historical MLB logos.

A bundle of four screenshots, along with the official OOTP 16 logo, can be downloaded here:

The pre-order newsletter that was sent out today can be found here:

The company's iOS game, iOOTP Baseball, will be renamed MLB Manager and will be available for Android too this year. It will also feature official and MiLB licenses. More information, including its other new features, will be released in the coming weeks.

"We're thrilled to be working with MLB Advanced Media to provide a feature that many of our fans have requested," said lead developer and lifelong baseball fan Markus Heinsohn. "This promises to be the biggest year in the history of OOTP, and the best is yet to come."

For more comments from Markus about how this license came to be, please see the latest post on the OOTP Developments blog:

Friday, January 16, 2015

Curt Flood: 45 Years Later

45 years ago today, Curt Flood filed the lawsuit that eventually led to free agency as we know it today. He sacrificed the rest of his career by refusing to accept a trade to the Philadelphia Phillies. He felt that a player was more than just a piece of property. He fought for the rights of free agency, even though he would never benefit from it. I wonder just how many players in today's game know about Curt Flood. Sadly, I don't think many do. If you don't know about Curt Flood and the sacrifice he made. Here are a couple of clips from Ken Burns and his baseball documentary.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

MLB General Manager Simulation: Sox Sweep Tribe

We are moving on to the ALCS after a three game sweep over the Indians. Will Middlebrooks and David Ortiz dominated offensively while Brock Holt did a great job filling in for the injured Xander Boagaerts.

On the pitching front, Clay Buchholz and Jake Peavy were better than ever.

We will face the Athletics in the ALCS. The A's were one of the wildcard teams and finished 12 games back of the Angels in the regular season. That didn't matter in the playoffs though as they beat the Angels in five games.

In the NLCS, it will be Dodgers vs the Pirates. The Pirates were a wildcard team and finished 10 games back of the Cardinals in the NL Central yet they upset the 96 win Cardinals in five games. The Dodgers knocked out the Nationals.

Jackie Bradley Jr. has been added to the ALCS roster as he has healed from his injury. He will start in left field with Rusney Castillo in CF and Shane Victorino in RF. Grady Sizemore was left off the ALCS roster and Jonny Gomes will head to the bench.

NFL Power Rankings and Predictions: Conference Championship

The power rankings and predictions liked the Colts last week and they really like them this week. They have a power number of 17 which is tops in the NFL and of course in the playoffs. Can they really go to New England and knock off the Patriots? The Patriots have the worst power number of any team left in the playoffs. Remember, the power number is based on yardage differential and opponents played. The power ranking predictions were 2-2 last week and are now 6-2 in the playoffs.

Remember, teams get a 3 point power number increase when they are at home.

Playoff TeamsPower Number

ColtsPatriotsColts by 17Colts +7
PackersSeahawksSeahawks by 3Packers +7.5
Looks like another underdog weekend. The dogs went 3-1 last week.

Monday, January 12, 2015

NFL Betting Trends: Divisional Playoff Round

It was a great week for the underdogs as they covered in three of the four games. They only won one outright but they could have easily covered in all four game if not for some of the red zone decisions of Cam Newton. In my power rankings and prediction post last week, I felt really good that all the underdogs could cover and I even called the Colts upset. However, I also predicted the Cowboys would go to the Super Bowl if they could beat the Lions. That is not going to happen now. Here are the betting trends for last week and the overall playoff and season totals;

NFL Betting TrendsRecord
Divisional Playoffs Underdogs Record ATS3 - 1
Underdogs Playoff Record ATS5 - 3
Underdogs Overall Record ATS133 - 123 - 5
Last Week2 - 2
Divisional Playoffs Underdogs Straight Up1 - 3
Underdogs Straight up in the Playoffs2 - 6
Underdogs Straight Up Overall83 - 177 - 1
Last Week1 - 3

Thursday, January 8, 2015

NFL Power Rankings and Predictions: Divisional Round

We have continued with the power rankings from the regular season as it applies to the current playoff teams. Remember, the power rankings are based on yardage differential and the opponents played and when they were played.

Playoff TeamsPower Number

The Panthers are the biggest surprise. They are the biggest underdog this week but have really been playing well. That number reflects that. The Patriots have the worst number of the playoff teams. That illustrates that they have not been playing well for the last month of the season.

The power ranking predictions were a perfect 4-0 last week. Let's take a look at what they say this week. Remember, home teams get an additional three points. I gave the Seahawks 4 additional points to signify their extreme home field advantage.

RavensPatriotsRavens by 4Ravens +7
PanthersSeahawksEvenPanthers +11
CowboysPackersPackers by 13Packers -6.5
ColtsBroncosBroncos by 3Colts +7
I agree with all of these picks with the exception of the Cowboys/Packers. I predicted on twitter last week that if the Cowboys beat the Lions they are going to the Super Bowl. I still believe that. The Packers don't match up well with the Cowboys especially in the cold weather with Aaron Rodgers who won't be 100%. I think the Seahawks and Patriots win but don't cover. I like the Cowboys to win outright and I think the Colts have a real good shot at winning outright but definitely covering. I think you are going to see a 4-0 week for the underdogs against the spread.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Celebrating Pedro and the Tragedy of Nomar

Pedro Martinez was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame yesterday getting almost 92% of the votes. He becomes the first pitcher to be inducted into the Hall of Fame who spent the majority of his career with the Red Sox.

I wish I would have appreciated him more. I was a Roger Clemens fan from an early age and Dan Duquette was public enemy number one for me when he let Clemens walk after the 1996 season. Pedro showed up in 1998 as the new ace and I was reluctant to accept him. Clemens was my boyhood hero and as great as Pedro was, I would never give him his due.

I criticized his lack of endurance and how he threw Grady Little under the bus after the 2003 ALCS. Criticisms that were and are valid, but are far outweighed by his dominance.  His dominance can be summed up by looking at two stats, his won/loss record while with the Red Sox and his career ERA+. His record with the Red Sox was 117-37. That is just ridiculous! His career ERA + is the best in MLB history. It stands at 154 which means that his ERA was 54% lower than the league average while he pitched.

Then there is Nomar Garciaparra, my favorite all time player for the Red Sox. He passed Jim Rice and he passed Roger Clemens for me not too long after he broke in with the Red Sox in 1996. He was on pace to be a Hall of Famer and then it all changed. Nomar received 5.5% of the vote which means he will remain on the ballot. It is tough to admit that he is not HOF worthy. He just didn't do it long enough. His peak seasons were a different story.

Nomar has the highest career OPS among all shortstops who have had at least 5,000 at bats. The problem is Nomar barely had over 5,000 at bats while a guy like Derek Jeter had over 11,000.

Nomar is just one of six shortstops to have 6 seasons with 6+ WAR. The problem is that Nomar only had those 6 amazing seasons and not much after. Nomar appearing for the first time on the ballot brings all of this back and it makes it all very bittersweet.

Pedro and Nomar will always be linked. They were the stars of the Red Sox in the 90s. It is fitting that they both appeared on the Hall of Fame ballot together. It would have been much more fitting if they were being inducted together.

They shared many great days and nights. None were more special than October 11, 1999. It was the deciding game of the ALDS against the Indians. Pedro was hurt but was said to be available if the Sox needed him, maybe for a couple of innings. Nomar was battling a sore wrist and had to miss a game earlier in the series. Nomar was a monster in 1999, in that series and especially that night. He homered in his first at bat, was walked intentionally his next at bat and Troy O'Leary hit the next pitch for a grand slam.

Nomar was intentionally walked again in the 7th inning and O'Leary once again responded with a homer. In Nomar's last at bat they pitched to him, he drove in a run with a screaming double off the left field wall. I will never forget the look on the face of Mike Hargrove after the double. It was a look of pure defeat.

As for Pedro, he entered the game in the 4th inning of an 8-8 game that was out of control. Charles Nagy had been lit up for the Indians while Bret Saberhagen and Derek Lowe had been lit up for the Sox. The sore shouldered Martinez went the rest of the way. He faced 21 batters, struck out 8, walked 3 and did not allow a hit, The Red Sox would win the game 12-8 and the series 3-2. They would go on to face the Yankees in the ALCS. Nomar and Pedro were the two greatest players on the planet that night. They were sure-fire Hall of Famers that night, unfortunately the fire was extinguished prematurely for Nomar.

Here is the box score of that incredible game. On a side note, Kenny Lofton was injured in the game and his replacement was a guy named Dave Roberts. I wonder what he would be doing five years later...

If you have a couple of hours to kill, the entire game is available to watch. Here you go. You're welcome!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

NFL Betting Trends: Wildcard Round

The first week of the playoffs is in the books. The underdogs split the four games against the spread while only one dog won their game outright.

NFL Betting TrendsRecord
Wildcard Playoffs Underdogs Record ATS2 - 2
Underdogs Overall Record ATS130 - 122 - 5
Last Week8 - 7 - 1
Week 17 Underdogs Straight Up1 - 3
Underdogs Straight Up Overall82 - 174 - 1
Last Week4 - 12
Underdogs Overall Record ATS in the Playoffs2 - 2
Underdogs Straight up in the Playoffs1 - 3