Baseball from the Inside Out
Originally Published on March 25, 2004
I remember being a young boy and always wanting to play baseball with my friends, or watch a Cub’s game on the tube. A day didn’t go by that I didn’t do something related to the wonderful sport of baseball. Sometime in my late 20’s I seemed to have lost the enjoyment for the sport. A real job, children, and having a wife tended to change my priorities and it seemed that baseball was the one sport that took a backseat to everything else. Well, I am happy to say that for those of you that have gone through a similar “awakening”, that Out of the Park Baseball and Inside the Park Baseball are the perfect cure for childhood dreams forgotten because of the reality of life.
This article is not intended to replace the excellent review of Out of the Park Baseball 5 posted by Scott Shirhall back in April of last year. It is intended to pay homage to the sport of baseball, and also inform the reader of the excellent sport simulations created by Out of the Park Developments. If you want to relive the baseball dreams of your childhood, read on, and see what baseball is like from the inside out.
OUT OF THE PARK BASEBALL
I must say that once I received Out of the Park Baseball version 5 (from here on known as OOTP5) and Inside the Park (from here on known as ITP), I wasn’t really thrilled with the idea of playing another sports sim. I had tried other baseball sims in the past and they had all left me feeling somewhat empty, as if I needed more of the real thing instead of a computer sim. Now granted, no computer game can completely replace the feeling of being in the batter’s box, head lowered, waiting for the pitch from a formidable opponent. But, OOTP5 and ITP can certainly bring plenty of excitement during the off-season and especially during the winter months.
I began my career in OOTP5 as a 35-year-old manager with very little experience…ok, actually no experience. I was looking for a great opportunity to make money and I didn’t really care which team wanted me. I decided to accept an offer from Detroit for a few hundred thousand dollars. Of course we all know that Detroit could really use the help, but a few hundred thousand isn’t going to get them any closer to a pennant.
I did some research on the players and after a short time I was ready for the draft. The drafting process is intense; there are stats on almost everything imaginable in baseball! I was hooked on this game after only playing it for a short time. After carefully drafting my team, we were on to spring training. Some of my players actually increased their skill levels in their very first spring training. During spring training I realized that I had some true talent, and also some not-so-true talent. My pitching staff was decent, but my team’s batting really needed some work. Over the next two seasons I conducted some trades in order to build up my pitching staff and my team’s batting abilities.
Trading can be a very difficult and complex process, however, the developer has obviously spent many hours refining the process and the interface until it is very easy to work with. The computer AI drives a hard bargain, but often I would trade one of my better players for an average player and some great rookies. I finished the first season with 83 wins and 79 losses. My team was ranked 13th out of 30 in the team power rankings. I finished 8 games back and I knew I had to do better the next season or the team owner would trade me for sure. Of course I had to pick a team that has a horrible owner. He is very unpredictable and his demands are almost impossible to meet.
During my second season I decided to experiment even more. I changed my left hand pitcher and right hand pitcher batting orders again and again until I thought I found the perfect formula for my team. And then WHAM, two of my best hitters and one of my best pitchers went down with injuries. Most players will play through injuries if they last a week or so, they just play at 80 to 90 percent instead of 100 percent. The players that got injured were not able to play at all for at least 6 weeks! Luckily, I had some minor leaguers that I was able to bring up to fill in for them for the time they were injured. We finally got past the injuries, but we sure had a long road ahead of us if we were going to make the playoffs.
I finished my 2004 season with an 89-73 record. My two best pitchers, Rodney Fowler and Mark Lieb, finished the season with 20-6 and 20-10 records respectively. I also had the highest rated prospect for first base, Steve Breton, coming up through my minor league system. I had two players finish with batting averages above .300. This was a result of my off-season trades and signings in order to get a few power hitters. My team finished first in our division and then, of course, we lost in the playoffs. Anaheim beat us three games to one in the first round of the playoffs. That was the end of the 2004 season. We had a slow start but we finished strong, ready for the 2005 season.
One of the other great features of OOTP5 is the ability to select managers for your Single, Double, and Triple-A teams. You can also select batting and pitching coaches, and a scout to find new talent and to evaluate the current and older talent already on your team. You select the coaches that you are interested in during the first part of the off-season, and then you bid on them just like you do for the players that you want to draft. I had excellent selections for my hitting and pitching coaches. My scout was top-notch as well. I had a very strong Triple-A and Double-A manager; the only manager weakness was in my Single-A league. Unfortunately, I didn’t sign my hitting and pitching coaches for more than two years due to financial reasons, so they left at the end of the second season.
My 2005 season started off with a bang! Besides having to find new batting and pitching coaches, I also had to find a decent replacement pitcher after one of my top pitchers was hit by a pitch and broke his hand. Frank Temple, my injured top pitcher, had just finished a one-hitter! Unfortunately, he would be out for eight long weeks. I brought up a rookie from Triple-A and he performed better than I expected. My pitching staff was stronger this year than it had ever been.
I had 8 players from my roster finish the season with batting averages above .280. I also finished 1st and 2nd in the league in stolen bases. I had many players tie or break records that had been set by a previous player in the league in the preceding years. I finally had a team that could get me to the World Series! We won the Divisional Series by beating the New York Yankees. We then won three straight games to beat the Yankees. Detroit was finally the Division Champion!
The American League Series proved to be much more of a challenge. We played Boston for the chance to get to the World Series. The series started off with Boston winning the first two games. I had to make some minor adjustments to my pitching staff and also my batting order in order to finally win a game. I was finally able to tie the series at three games apiece. I was feeling pretty confident going into the final game. The game was way to close to call. I played through game 7, inning by inning, trailing in the top of the ninth. I was finally able to pull off the win with a few runs in the bottom of the ninth. I was now on my way to the World Series!
I have to admit, I was expecting the same type of last minute win for the World Series that I played through in the American League Series. Boy was I wrong! I started off by losing the first game in the Series to Montreal. I then proceeded to win the next four games straight to win the World Series! My Detroit Tigers were finally the best team in the world. Granted, this outcome is only possible in a sim game. We all know how good the Detroit Tigers really are.
As I mentioned before, the stats in this game are astounding. My league is set up to keep track of each season and all of my seasonal reports are available through the Almanac screen. Be sure to check out this link to see some of the reports generated by OOTP5. If you truly love baseball, this game is for you. The price of OOTP5 has recently dropped to the low price of $19.95. For those of you that already own OOTP5, you can pre-order OOTP6 from their website for the low upgrade price of $25.95. You can bet that I will be ordering my copy! Both versions of OOTP are available to buy on the developer’s website at http://www.ootpdevelopments.com/ootp/. If you would like to see some screenshots of the new OOTP6, visit this link: http://www.ootpdevelopments.com/newsletters/nl0008/.
INSIDE THE PARK BASEBALL
Now, for those of you that are looking for more than a baseball management sim, you should try the new Inside the Park Baseball game from Out of the Park Developments. Inside the Park sells for only $19.95. I can tell you that this new game is great fun, and for only $19.95, it’s a great deal. After winning the World Series in OOTP5, I started my own career as a player in Inside the Park Baseball.
Obviously, when you begin ITP, you need to pick your player’s name first. Once you have done this, you then need to select the type of player you would like; hitter or pitcher. You then select if you were drafted out of high school or college. Now you’re ready to pick the position that you want your character to play. Once the basics are finished, you begin to build your character’s skills by adjusting the values of six abilities. In the game, these are called RPG Abilities. You begin with twelve points that you have to distribute between the following abilities:
- Strength – Indicates your character’s basic physical power.
- Intelligence– Determines how well your character learns and reasons.
- Dexterity – Measures hand-eye coordination, agility, reflexes, and balance.
- Constitution – Measures your character’s health and stamina.
- Charisma – Measures your character’s force of personality, persuasiveness, and attractiveness.
- Luck – A little something that every ballplayer needs.
Next you get to pick your talents. There are eight different talents to choose from. These talents will determine if your character can hit against lefties, hit homeruns, steal bases, and many more. During the next phase your player is able to select the equipment he is going to use while first starting off. The equipment that you select can have positive and negative benefits to it. You will have to select what is best for the player that you have created.
ITP also has the ability of importing an OOTP5 season into it. This allows you to play in a league that you are familiar with. I have to admit that it’s a lot of fun to come into a league where you already know the best and worst players, the needed positions, and best of all, the teams you would like to play for.
After creating my player, I entered the draft. I was the eighth pick overall during the first round. Montreal needed a right fielder, and I was the man for the job. Not too bad for a rookie. During my first season I was busy learning the game interface. I spent my time exploring the different areas that my player could go to. I would go to my home and look at all of the trophies I didn’t have yet.
I would go to the Internet Café and see what items were for sale and what I could afford…which wasn’t much. I made a few trips to the front office to check out the team rosters and to see where I stood in the batting order. I spent some time at the Sports Store looking at all of the baseball equipment that I could purchase once I was successful. I was actually able to purchase a couple of books that helped me with my batting skills. I spent most of my time at Larry’s Workout Palace designing a training regiment that would help me gain strength and flexibility. You have to be careful not to over-train as your game-time performance will really suffer.
I finished my first season with a .226 batting average. I had 7 homeruns, 55 strikeouts, 22 walks, and 10 stolen bases. My OPS (On Base Percentage + Slugging Percentage) was .603. This wasn’t a stellar performance for my first year in the Single-A league, but it wasn’t bad either.
My second season proved to be better than the first. I had a .306 batting average, with 7 homeruns, 62 strikeouts, 26 walks, and 8 stolen bases. My OPS was .818. I was also injured during the 2004 season with a stiff neck, and I was out for a total of 6 days. With five games left in the season, I was promoted to the Double-A team! I finished the last five Double-A games with a .250 batting average.
After only playing 5 games of Double-A ball and progressing through the 2005 off-season, I got a call from the Montreal General Manager. He informed me that I was being moved up to Triple-A. Wow, two years as a rookie and I’m already moving up to Triple-A. I hope this kind of advancement keeps up, I could really use the money!
I played very well my first year in Triple-A. I finished the season with a .250 batting average. I had 40 doubles and 14 homeruns with 424 at-bats. I finished the season with a .755 OPS. I had a fielding percentage of .991 and .992 for left and right field respectively. Towards the end of the season I received another call from the General Manager. He told me that I was being moved up to the active roster and I would get to play in my first Major League game! I played as a replacement player in 3 games and I finally got my first Major League hit! I had a total of one hit in one at bat and I knocked in my first Major League RBI before being moved back down to Triple-A.
After that little taste of the Majors, I can’t wait for my first start in the Big Leagues. I also received my Rookie Card at the end of the 2005 season. This is a big step in the game because you have to get the value of your card to increase throughout the game. My card is currently worth two cents; yes, I was disappointed as well. The good news is that I have time to play great ball and accelerate at my position and over time the value of my card should increase.
During the off-season I decided that I needed to upgrade some of my equipment. I purchased a new bat from The Sports Store for $148,000.00. I also purchased a new batting glove and new shoes from BBay, which you can access from The Internet Cafe. I sold my old, used equipment on BBay as well. You can usually get more money by selling on BBay rather than selling it back to The Sports Store. All of this new equipment had better ratings than my old equipment and thus should improve my speed, fielding, and batting capabilities. Now I was ready to start the 2006 season in Triple-A.
I was called up to the active roster again in July of the 2006 season. After spending two months playing in the Big League, I was moved back down to Triple-A due to horrible performance. I just couldn’t seem to hit the ball and move the runners around the bases. I finished my short stint in the majors with just 5 hits in 31 at bats. My .161 batting average and .487 OPS were just not enough to keep me on the active roster. After only 10 days back in Triple-A, I was called up again.
This time I hoped I would bat better than I had in my previous showing. Well, not only did I finish the rest of the season playing in the Majors, but my team beat Chicago 4 games to 1 to win the World Series! The GM congratulated me on playing well, and I received my very first Championship Ring! I finished a great season in the Majors with a .239 batting average and a .698 OPS. I also had two Major League homeruns to end a great year. My rookie card increased in value to a whopping eighty cents. At the beginning of the 2007 season I was moved back down to Triple-A, but I am excited and looking forward to doing it all over again.
I hope all of you have enjoyed reading about my journey through OOTP5 and ITP. These are both excellent games and I cannot recommend them enough if you are a baseball fan at heart. As I said before, I hadn’t played or even followed baseball for years, but these two great games have lit a fire in me that I hope doesn’t burn out for a long time to come.