“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.”
Play Any Way You Want
“I’ve always been a little nuts when it comes to baseball stats,” Adams recalls. “I missed more than a couple days of school when I was a kid **cough, cough** to play Strat-o-Matic. I had the 1987 season, so I stacked the deck with a Murderer’s Row of hitters (McGwire, Dawson, Bell).”
He says there was something missing, though. “The limitation of dice-and-card games is you pretty much have to play it the way they laid it out for you,” he says. “In OOTP, you can play any way you want. Sometimes I’ll run an historical replay from the 1990s, or pick up in current time with a team, or even run a league full of fictional players.”
He continues: “I remember running a fictional league once with an insanely talented pitcher named ‘Parker Gooch.’ Every year he was a lock for 22-25 wins and 250 K’s. To this day, I regret letting him walk via free agency. Any time I play a fictional league now, I’m always looking for the next Parker Gooch. Nobody has come close.”
“This Game is Way Too Much Fun”
Adams’ current project is a replay of the 1990s Oakland A’s. “I wanted to create a ‘What if the San Francisco Giants relocated to Tampa Bay and the A’s had territorial rights to the Bay Area?'” he says. “It’s fun playing them as a larger market team and being able to go after big free agents during the offseason. My team is just now getting its homegrown players like Eric Chavez, Tim Hudson, and Miguel Tejada on top of our free agent acquisitions like Ken Griffey Junior and Mike Piazza. It’s the closest thing to pretending you’re the Yankees.”
Adams has drawn on personal experience during the replay, he explains. “You have to understand, as an A’s fan you are always a second-class fan in the Bay Area. So it was the ultimate ‘screw you’ to the Giants for me being able to sign Barry Bonds to a free agent contract. It was even sweeter when Bonds and McGwire led my A’s to a World Series sweep of Barry’s old team, the Pirates, in the 1994 World Series.”
But as in real life, it wasn’t possible to steamroll the opposition every season after that: “You go from a high like that to a low where my team won 122 games in the regular season and then promptly lost in the playoffs and didn’t even reach the World Series. All it takes is running into the wrong team at the wrong time. Funny how that works in real life and in OOTP.”
Adams adds: “I love the occasional randomness of this game. Jose Cruz Jr. just turned in a near 30-30 season with a .300+ average after taking over for the departed Ken Griffey Jr in CF (signed by me to a mammoth contract). This game is way too much fun.”
Crazy About Stats
Adams has avoided one area of real baseball in OOTP, however: “One tweak I’ve used is altering the game world stats so Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds aren’t bombing 70 home runs a year. ‘Steroid-proofing,’ if you will. It took some doing, but I think I finally have it where the numbers closely resemble today’s stats. If both the AL and NL have ERA’s in the high 3.00’s to low 4.00’s, I’m a happy camper.”
Despite the steroid use, McGwire still is a big part of his baseball memories. “I’ve been a baseball fan ever since I can remember,” Adams says. “My first game I ever went to was in the upper deck (before it was tarped off) between the A’s and Yankees when Dave Winfield was wearing pinstripes in the mid-1980s. Those were some pretty bad teams, but it was incredible watching the team grow up right before my eyes. Terry Steinbach, Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire — all home-grown guys who became All-Stars. I even decided on my college (Arizona State) based in large part on going to Arizona to watch the A’s in spring training. I’m a sportscaster now because of it, and my favorite part of my job is getting to do play-by-play on TV broadcasts.”
Adams leaves us with this final thought: “Thanks for making this game! I grew up playing Joe Montana Football on Genesis and Baseball Stars on Nintendo. I used to keep track of all the stats and try to play a full season.
“OOTP, I feel, is made for guys like me: Sports fans who are crazy about their stats.”