(Winter) Baseball Is Back!

Baseball exhibitions started up this weekend, and I actually spent time watching most of the first two Yankee games, mostly to see which veterans looked like they were getting in shape for the upcoming season, and seeing what minor league/rookie prospects the Yanks might have in the offing. I mean, who knew about Miguel Andujar at this point last year amirite?

And look at the Spring Training Schedule, where only the final 4 games are technically played during Spring. It’s really Winter baseball down there in Florida, but at least it makes me look forward to the Spring.

The first two games gave me little to go on in terms of Yankee prospects this year. Except for making “Mr. March!” jokes at Greg Bird’s expense, I guess. Some of the AAA players trying to make the team look like good prospects, tho. If we assume the PED screening is working honestly, I wonder if there are the beginning signs of a correlation between a shrinking number of boys going out for football and a growing number of really huge dudes showing up in baseball. I think we’ll see ’em soon, in any case.

If you recognize the pic above, you’re as big a baseball geek as me. And since I didn’t feel like digging out my old Strat-O-Matic board game from 1972 that I’ve got shelved up in the board game collection, I began reading online to see if there were a modern day MacOS equivalent baseball simulator, where you can play manager to current & historic teams.

Strat-O-Matic only makes a Windows version of their games, something that surprised me. You’d think they’d be more competitive.

But YE GODS did I find one that I can recommend to my fellow baseball nerds. Out Of The Park baseball will not only replay last year’s MLB stats but also comes with a historic database going back over a hundred years. It includes minor leagues, world baseball, and historic negro league teams, too. I’ve been playing with the demo and figured out how to match different teams in the same year, but not across time yet…. I played a 1932 match between the Yankees of that year (Gehrig, Ruth, Ruffing, Gomez, etc) against the Pittsburgh Crawfords (Satchell Paige, Josh Gibson, Oscar Charleston, et al), basically two of the all-time greatest teams… and it played out pretty well. But pitting the ’32 Crawfords against the ’98 Yankees or the ’32 Yankees against last year’s Red Sox…well, I haven’t figured out how to do that yet.

Out of The Park is FAR more elaborate than Strat-O-Matic, both a boon and a hinderance, though. OOTP runs a league for the entire season, has you as manager & general manager promote/demote players, deal with injuries, keeps track of relievers’ stresses, allows you to trade players, sign other executives…. it got overwhelming at times when all I wanted to do was match up a couple of historic teams and see how the stats would play out with my managerial strategery on one side. With Strat-O-Matic, you’d grab 2 card sets of teams and go. OOTP doesn’t provide any intuitive shortcuts, although maybe I still haven’t found them and I’m only playing the demo version so far, anyway.

So far, it’s played a lot of accurate games. Bucky Dent hit a winning walk-off homerun for the ’77 Yankees to defeat the ’77 Brewers. And I put Aroldis Chapman in to close & save a one run lead over the 2018 Red Sox, and he promptly walked the bases full and gave up a hit to lose the game. Now THAT’S realism!

I’ll play around with managing other teams, or seeing if I can just play one-shot games without loading all the general manager stuff. I can come up with endless combos and matchups I’d love to see, whether it’s 1968 Bob Gibson pitching to 1921 Babe Ruth or seeing if I can make Nolan Ryan bean Ty Cobb a few times. This thing certainly looks like baseball nerd nirvana.

I’ll play with the demo some more, and I’ll spring for the full version at some point, although I know how much of an awesome timewasting thing it will wind up being. But I can’t help myself! I NEED BASEBALL REHAB.


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