Baseball history is littered with teams who posted league-best records during the regular season only to fail to win the big prize. This second season of the Grand Championship League (GCL) has added to that list as Play at the Plate (PATP) topped all other clubs with 101 wins and defeated ASBA in seven games to win the first round of the playoffs, only to fall in six to USBL in the GCL Finals.
Nothing livens up a performance like a little audience participation. Eddy Vegas has created a new twist on the idea by incorporating the names of his viewers in the fictional OOTP league that he broadcasts on Twitch.tv. He provides live commentary on the action, with a voice that sounds a bit like famous Dodgers announcer Vin Scully, as he guides the Las Vegas Mudcats through multiple seasons of the Eddy Baseball League.
Vegas says he “got totally addicted to casting” a couple years ago, when he discovered how easy it was to set up and run a Twitch.tv channel. “It totally blew me away!” he recalls. “I had no idea it was that simple; I thought you needed equipment and expertise. So I put a game up, Space Pirates and Zombies, and actually got a viewer to watch! The rest, as they say, is history.”
He decided to start broadcasting OOTP games because: “I wanted to cast games that no one else cast. I figured the Starcraft/Call Of Duty/League Of Legends market was already saturated, and anyway, I suck at those games.” In his search for intriguing games to cast, he stumbled across OOTP 8, which he used as his testing ground for setting up an OOTP league. He later moved on to OOTP 14 and established the Las Vegas Mudcats.
Shane Callahan may not be a household name, but he’s one of many Hollywood actors who sustain themselves with a steady stream of minor roles in movies and TV shows. Since 1989, he has amassed 42 acting credits, with 35 of them after 2000. He has played everything from Rookie Cop in a made-for-TV movie to a medic named Jimmy in five episodes of the TV series “Revolution.”
“I think I traded Stephen Strasburg away while on the set of ‘Revolution,'” Callahan says. He runs team in the MLB Pro and PBL online leagues, and he says playing OOTP while on the set helps while away the lengthy stretches of downtime that are typical of an actor’s life. “I check PMs from leagues I am in all the time while sitting in a trailer I am checking,” he says. “Checking reports. Looking for possible trades and so forth. It’s quite addicting.”
The Old Days
Callahan began playing OOTP in 2007, but it wasn’t his first experience managing digital baseball teams. He recalls an experience that many older OOTP players will probably appreciate: “Back in the Sega 8-bit baseball days, I used to keep track of stats and records and make schedules in notebooks with old console games. I’d have piles and piles of notebook papers on baseball stats from all the games I’d play. I’d set up the schedules and everything.”
“I’ve always had an interest in maps from a young age, in particular street maps, as I really believe they tell a story,” says Ian Silva. “In my opinion, fictional maps create a talking point: people want to learn about the nation and decide where they would want to live and that sort of thing.”
Silva is an Australian OOTPer who has built an elaborate baseball system that resides in a country dubbed the Koana Islands, which is home to 93 million residents, nine major cities, and 11 baseball leagues containing nearly 200 teams. A recent Wired magazine article shows his intricate maps and explains more about life on the Koana Islands, which Silva has envisioned down to the little details, including the transit system, the residents’ primary ethnic background and language, and much more. (A wiki gives even more information, and a thread on the OOTP forum lists all the teams and contains a link to a quick start you can download.)
“I never set out to go around calling my maps ‘artwork’ or anything like that,” Silva says of his handiwork, “but I’ve had such a strong response from people asking for a printed copy to hang on walls that I guess I have to go with the flow and call it art!”
“The great thing about sports is that you never really know what’s going to happen,” remarks Civilization V lead designer Jon Shafer, who is now the CEO of Conifer Games. “Your ace pitcher could go down just before the playoffs, or a scrub you thought had no chance of making it could blossom into a star. I love this unpredictability and possibility for crushing defeats, as most entertainment today is designed to end with a happy ending. In my opinion, an experience isn’t truly rewarding unless there’s the possibility of failure.”
Getting drafted is a dream of many young baseball players, but being drafted by their favorite team is extra special, as Adam (A.J.) Pettersen knows. He grew up rooting for the Minnesota Twins and was drafted by them in the 25th round of the 2011 June Amateur Draft. He worked his way up the minors and, as of early July 2013, is playing for the Twins’ AA affiliate, the New Britain Rock Cats. (He’s @apettersen1 on Twitter.)
“It’s a dream to play for the Twins; I have always been a huge fan,” Pettersen says. “I remember rushing home from school in October to catch the 3 PM playoff games in the ALDS. The Twins made it fairly consistently in the early 2000s and my friends and I hung on every moment of those games.”
Growing Up With Baseball Videogames
Pettersen and his brothers and friends also grew up with baseball videogames, but the Pettersen household always approached them a little differently. “My friends always used to make fun of my brothers and I because we would never play any games in franchise modes — we would only simulate them,” he recalls. “We loved being the GM and making all the moves.”
“I grew up in Dallas area, and my first games were watching the late 80’s/early 90’s Texas Rangers,” recalls Peter Burns, who co-hosts The Press Box weekday mornings on Denver’s Mile High Sports Radio (AM 150/FM 93.7). “My first season I put together in Out of the Park Baseball, I was so excited to have Nolan Ryan as my ace and build around him.”
He continues: “I made a few offseason moves and put together an incredible starting rotation. In the fourth spring training game, Nolan tore his rotator cuff and was gone … forever. I sat in front of my computer for a good 10 minutes, feeling like I was slapped in the face. It was then that I knew OOTP was the game for me.”
Thus began Burns’ love of OOTP, which he says he discovered through Twitter, where he maintains an active presence as @peterburnsradio. “I kept seeing people tweet about OOTP like it was a real life game,” he says. “I figured I had to check it out and once I got the game, I knew exactly what everyone was talking about. It consumed me like no other game ever has.”
Pinch hitter Brent “Fang” Perry, whose pinch-hit three-run home run defeated the mighty MLB Pro in Game 7 of the Semi-Finals, came through again with more heroics: his eighth-inning double scored Jonathan Moxon from first and sent PEBA to a 2-1 victory over Federal International in Game 5 of the OOTP Grand Championship League Finals. PEBA wrapped up the series, 4-1.
While PEBA had set the tone with early-inning runs during the series, this time it was the Fed that struck first in the top of the second inning. Left fielder Claudio Negron worked a full-count walk off PEBA starter Bill Chambers, who was the losing pitcher in Game 2, and advanced to second when center fielder Ernesto Acosta grounded out.
DH Alberto Gonzalez then flied out, but catcher Stephen Anderson pounded the second pitch he saw for a single that scored Negron, who was running on contact with two outs. Shortstop Arthur Jones grounded out to end the threat, however, and Chambers could be seen breathing a sigh of relief as he walked off the mound.
When George Barr McCutcheon wrote the novel “Brewster’s Millions” in 1902, little did he know that it would eventually not only be adapted for film ten times but also offer the inspiration for an online OOTP league. True, the Montgomery Brewster World Baseball Association (MBWBA) actually draws on the 1985 Richard Pryor film, not the book, and, yes, McCutcheon would have been hard-pressed to imagine something like a baseball management game, let alone the Internet, but it’s amusing to think that his work could reverberate across decades and find its way here.
“Having watched and loved the movie ‘Brewster’s Millions’ many times, I decided to use the premise of Montgomery Brewster shelling out money from his inheritance to form a new professional baseball league that would ‘defeat the baseball system,’ as he said in the movie,” explains MBWBA commissioner Matt Rectenwald. “Throughout the years we occasionally brought in MLB players as ‘defectors,’ given the premise was we were directly competing with MLB, but we stopped that practice in the late 1980s of our league.”
“Baseball has always been a huge part of my life,” says Sam Adams, who has served as the director of sports at KHQ TV in Spokane, WA since 2009. He grew up an Oakland A’s fan in the Bay Area, and his childhood love of Strat-o-matic Baseball, Tony LaRussa Baseball, and other games eventually led to his discovery of Out of the Park Baseball in the late 90s.
“OOTP has gotten progressively better and better through the years and I never really stopped playing it,” he says. Adams has reviewed the last two versions of OOTP: “Video Game: Yep, Mariners Still Stink” and “Out Of The Park 14: Sam Adams’ Quest As A Major League General Manager.”