Saturday, July 16, 2011

Is This Heaven? No, It's Out of the Park Baseball

When I was a kid I used to create my own little baseball universe. I would take out my wiffle ball, bat, and play my own games. I would set up lawn chairs as fences and for games at Fenway Park, I would stack them on top of each other to create the green monster. All you needed was a bat and ball and an imagination. You also needed a spiral notebook to keep all the stats. Yes, even as a little boy I loved to keep stats. It is probably why I can recall just about every team's batting order from the 1980's. As I got older though I wanted the stats to be more realistic. Video games were horrible at this.Strat-o-matic baseball was great at this but it was very labor intensive to keep all stats for an entire season. Then something happened, I discovered Out of the Park Baseball. It was about ten years ago and a friend of mine told me about it. He knew it would be something I would love.

Out of the Park Baseball is a text simulation game. You don't win by having a quick thumb or by knowing some secret pitch that always gets you a strike out. You beat it by assembling the best team and making the best managerial moves. It doesn't get better than that for this baseball nerd. Even more impressive are the stats. They are detailed, realistic and track over hundreds of simulation seasons. The 12th version of the game has just been released. Each version gets the engine a little bit better. Stats become finer tuned and the artificial intelligence of the computer run franchises becomes smarter.

The other great thing about this game is the community forums. It is invaluable when you are just learning the game. It is also an incredible tool in trying to make your little baseball universe even more realistic with historic logos, caps and jerseys.

You can have it your way, that is what I believe is the main selling point of this game. You can play with fictional players and teams. You can play with actual teams, real players with dead on ratings and authentic looking caps and jerseys. You can start playing in the year 2011 and simply be the general manager and simulate all your games. You can start in 2011 and manage all 162 games. Everything that happens in real baseball, happens here. You have a June draft of high school and college players and if you do not offer them enough money they can elect to stay in college or go to college. Amazing!

History in the making! Do you have the urge to change history? Then pick a year and begin your new baseball universe. Maybe you take over the Red Sox in 1918 and keep Babe Ruth and deny the Yankee dynasty from ever happening. Historical leagues are my favorite way to play. Real players with accurate ratings and as you progress through history the greats of the game become draft eligible. How about that 1951 draft of Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle? Not too shabby. If you want to make it even more realistic you can choose to not have a draft and have the historic players simply go to their original teams. Once again, you have it your way.

I am a historical kind of guy. I have played this game for years. The hard part is deciding where in history I want to start. I am often on the treadmill thinking about some of the great scenarios to play out. Here are some of the great possibilities:

  • Take over the 1918 Red Sox and keep Babe Ruth
  • Take over the 2004 Red Sox and make that trade for Alex Rodriguez at the start of the season. This might appeal to Yankee fans.
  • Take over the 1964 Red Sox and see what happens to the career of Tony Conigliaro if he never gets beaned.
  • Take over the 1939 Red Sox and see what numbers Ted Williams could put up for his career without going off to war in his prime.
  • Take over the 1975 Red Sox and hope this time around that Jim Rice is healthy for a run at the World Championship
  • Take over the 1978 Red Sox and hang on to the lead.I am sure you can do a better job than Don Zimmer with all that talent.
  • Take over the 1998 Red Sox and re-live some exciting years of the Pedro Martinez and Nomar Garciaparra led Red Sox. Maybe you can acquire some pitching to help out Pedro in the rotation.
  • Take over the 2003 Red Sox and see if you can be better than Theo Epstein
  • Bring a 20 year old Babe Ruth into 2012 and see how he would do in the modern game.

There are thousands of scenarios you can play out in this game. I have just started a new historical universe and if you follow me on twitter you have seen me make mention of it a couple of times. I am in the process of creating a journal page where you can follow the progress of it as well. I have chosen to begin my baseball universe in 1939. It is the rookie year of Ted Williams. He joins Bobby Doerr while Johnny Pesky and Dom Dimaggio are in the minor leagues. I will track the fortunes and misfortunes of the Red Sox through the years and thee four players. Why these four players you ask? Well, my all time favorite book is The Teammates: A Portrait of a Friendship which chronicles the lives and careers of these four players. My goal is to see how many rings I can get them, well, maybe I should focus on at least getting them one to start. It will also be fascinating to see the numbers Ted Williams can put up without having to miss seasons because of war. I am really looking forward to seeing how it all turns out.

Is this heaven you ask? No it's not. It is simply a text simulation baseball game that can take you back to any time in the history of baseball. A game that can bring back ghosts. A game where the legends appear. Maybe this is heaven.

1 comment:

  1. OOTP is the most addictive legal substance in the world today.

    Heaven doesn't calculate VORP! I'll take OOTP.