The Mockingbird

Staring out the Window, Waiting for Spring

with 6 comments

Under 50 days until spring training starts, and baseball news is slowwww. I can’t decide if it’s a sign of truly dedicated fans, really lousy weather, or desperately empty social lives when internet discussions burst to life over the Jays signing some AAA filler who are relying on a multi-car pileup in Dunedin to see any innings this year. But anyone who is reading a summer sports blog in January has at least some time to waste, so here’s a tip to tide you over (at least until fantasy season)- Out of The Park baseball:

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If you’ve never played a simulator before, it takes a little while to get used to not seeing all those rendered polygons whizzing around the screen. But once you realize how ridiculously detailed and (sometimes brutally) realistic the game is, it becomes a far superior baseball fix. There’s a level of involvement that more than makes up for the underwhelming level of action. You have to know your team well to get the most out of it, and if the Jays make it to the playoffs in 2008, it’s because you made really good baseball decisions in key situations (who knew how compelling managing a fatigued bullpen could be!), not because you can throw a perfect game with Josh Towers at will. No amount of tapping the A button is going to make Adam Lind hit 86 home runs- you’re going to have to coax him through the good times and bad as he develops.

So if you’re ready to rediscover the joy of looking over a box score stamped with the Doctor’s trademark, or even cursing at Vernon for popping out with the bases loaded again (it’s always the strangest things you really miss…) grab the 2008 rosters (which are complete down to A-ball with one highly noticeable exception) here and run through a season for free. I also recommend grabbing the face packs to complete the illusion. And no, I’m not getting paid to plug this. I just want some Jays fans to play online with. Call me.

Written by halejon

January 10, 2008 at 8:17 am

Posted in Seriousness

6 Responses

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  1. One of my guilty pleasures is about every 2-3 years, I buy a decent baseball video game, and play through an entire season with the Jays. I actually like the 2KSports packs, because the pitching is pretty well designed. The situational factors into each pitch and at bat are not only solid, but decently representative. The batting is a too skewed (for example, Troy Glaus is now the alltime homerun champ with 127HRs in 2006.) but if you’re a pitching nerd, I still recommend the 2K series for pitch by pitch selection and enjoyment.

    My only issue with most simulations is that they tend to be somewhat labour intensive for the return, but I’ll download it and poke at it this weekend. I’ll drop you an e-mail depending, and perhaps you’ll get a chance to clean my clock.

    Bryant Telfer

    January 10, 2008 at 9:22 am

  2. Oh yes, a great game (even if it did buy the rights to MLB, thus destroying the at-the-time vastly superior and way ahead of its time MVP series), and starting to get some nice scouting and depth as well. When they finally started doing breaking balls that moved from where you aimed them instead of to, I was ecstatic. Used to be a big junkie but I got the swing timing down so pat, it kinda felt like all the baseball strategy was sucked out of the game.

    Nooooooooo question, it takes a couple of hours just to flip through all the freaking menus and figure out what the heck is going on. And then you really have to get deep into a session for it to be fun as opposed to being able to flip it on and take some hacks before bed or with a buddy.

    halejon

    January 10, 2008 at 9:44 am

  3. Used to be a big junkie but I got the swing timing down so pat, it kinda felt like all the baseball strategy was sucked out of the game.

    Don’t use the swing stick option. Using just the A button really makes you spot the right pitch, as opposed to SS, which is a lot more forgiving. I dropped it after I’d crushed a low, inside changeup 450ft with Overbay. You’ll still get a lot of contact, but no where near those constant drives into the gap.

    Randomly, since 2K8 isn’t out yet, I tossed 2K6 back in recent and after way too much effort, managed to draft and put together the Jays as they look currently going into 2008. No Marcum, but they had Litsch in AA. Ended up plunking in Clement to fill the 4 spot. Kind of entertaining. The Eckstein-Stairs-Wells-Thomas lineup absolutely destroys right handed pitching. Certainly about as far from accurate as possible, but playing around with it, you do get a kind of sense about how the Jays might work well next year; platoon heavy and situational lineups against specific pitchers.

    Bryant Telfer

    January 10, 2008 at 3:42 pm

  4. Hmmm….good point. When I first started with the stick it seemed so cool but then I remember doing EXACTLY the same thing- and I think it was Overbay, too.

    That’s one thing that simulating really pulls you towards- because there’s no penalty for messing with the lineup every game, there’s a tendency to have massively different lineups for R/L pitchers. Is Overbay at cleanup really such a bad idea against righties?! His numbers are just amazing. It really kinda makes sense when you think about it, I wonder if baseball players would ever “buy in” to having two totally different lineups.

    One other trick the Jays will be pulling next year I learned is a nifty little double swap. If stairs is batting low in the lineup and gets on base late in the game, you can pinch run for him with McDonald. Then you swap Reed into the leadoff spot and you’ve made both your defensive substitutions, Johnson as a leadoff guy is fine, and it’s unlikely Mac gets up again or if he does he’s not far off from where he should be.

    halejon

    January 11, 2008 at 11:35 pm

  5. It really kinda makes sense when you think about it, I wonder if baseball players would ever “buy in” to having two totally different lineups.

    You’re right. I built double combinations and a heavily platooned system. For example, it goes against RHP:

    Eckstein – brutal speed, high contact
    Stairs – oddly enough, the game gives him excellent speed too. Weird glitch, hits for very high contact
    Wells – good contact, plus speed
    Thomas – power, power, and more power

    Second group
    Overbay – good contact, murderous against lefies, high OPS, used to move Thomas over because he hits for extra bases a lot.
    Hill – much like Overbay, with more speed.
    Rios – like Wells, speed plus power
    Glaus – power, power, and more power 2.
    Zaun – high OPS, excellent eye.

    I don’t know if this would work in real life, but I found the top and the bottom of the order performed pretty much identically in the game. There’s a speed gap after Thomas, but Overbay and Hill aren’t much for stealing bases, and both Thomas and Glaus cleared the bases with frightning regularity. The most common scenario was walk/single/HBP to lead off, double into the gap, single/ground out to move the runner, long sacfly/HR. Rinse, repeat.

    Getting Wells on to 2B meant they’d walk Thomas, and get crushed into the gap by Overbay. Or they’d walk Glaus, only to get Zaun punching one the other way. Against lefties, I’d stack Eckstein and Johnson, most of the time setting Wells up at the plate with one or two runners on. Eck/Johnson performed the double steal successfullt four times in a row very Wakefield.

    That’s one of the things I’ve always really enjoyed about simulators, is that you can play around with just insane things and see what happens. Occasionally you get a situation that makes you break out the stats and actually run specific scenarios.

    Bryant Telfer

    January 12, 2008 at 9:08 pm

  6. “I’m not getting paid to plug this. I just want some Jays fans to play online with. Call me.”

    Jon, I don’t know if you’re interested in a fictional league (non-MLB cities/players), but I run a small one – twenty teams – that currently has three Jays fans involved (including myself; hence my interest in recruiting a fourth ;)). We’ll be completing our eighteenth season in a couple weeks, and I know we’re going to have at least one opening.

    If that sounds interesting, you can check out our website at http://www.ggnl.org (there are links to our web reports, rules, and league file there, though the latter won’t do you much good without a password) and you’re welcome to drop me a line at asharak@gmail.com with any questions.

    That shameless plug aside, I obviously enjoy OOTP as well. As you wrote, I find the roster machinations that go into building a winning team – OOTP’s focus – much more interesting than the hyperactive on-field antics that are the hallmark of most of the arcade games.

    OOTP definitely has a steep learning curve for new players, though. It’s designed to let you play in practically any baseball world you can imagine, which means there are several boatloads of options on the league-setup front end to sort through (though many can be skipped using a setup wizard). One tip for anyone – like Bryant – who is considering trying the game out is that the current version (OOTP8) is the first version in the game’s history to come with a built-in MLB quickstart/roster set (for the 2007 season). Using that is probably a much more friendly way to get started than trying to set up a unique world of your own.

    – Brian

    Brian

    January 12, 2008 at 9:15 pm


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