SkeptiSys

May 19, 2013

OOTP 14 released: the best baseball experience outside of the park

Filed under: Sports, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — skeptisys @ 11:57 am

The software gurus at OOTP have done it again.  They improved their already outstanding in-depth baseball experience software.  OOTP 14 is the newest release of this game, available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.  As a former Mac and hopeful Linux user, I can appreciate the cross-platform dedication.  There is also an iPhone version (iOOTP) that I have yet to use.  My simulations are all based on the Windows version of OOTP 14.

New to the game?  Out Of The Park Baseball is baseball simulation software that allows the user to simulate an entire career as a team manager, owner, or GM.  Either be the super-user ‘commissioner’ who can change all  qualities, or just a manager who can be fired at the whim of his team’s owner.  If you choose to GM, you will be responsible for keeping your team’s roster and finances in order.  Initiate and respond to trades, watch over the waiver wire, and promote that young player lighting it up on your triple-A team.

Any ballclub in MLB baseball history is available, from 1871 to 2013.  Re-live your childhood by taking over the team you grew up watching.  Using add-on central, historical logos, caps, jerseys, and pictures can be uploaded.  The game also works extremely well using fictional players.  Using their cool FaceGen system, players photos show aging over time.

OOTP 14 startup screen

OOTP 14 startup screen

For me, it took no time before I was completely immersed in this complex simulation.  Is my lineup or pitching staff too imbalanced towards RH or LH?  Do I have good pinch hitting opportunities but no backup infielders to replace my starters once I pinch hit for them?  Should I trade my prospects and draft picks to try and win this season or dump my veterans?  My owner won’t give me the resources to trade for that player, I better dump some salaries.

If at any time the decisions start to become overwhelming or there is a desire for more OOTP information – current OOTP game users gather on a tremendously helpful forum.  The software developers are part of this forum, and encourage suggestions to better their software.

OOTP 14 updates worth mentioning (complete list of updates is here):

1. updated to include full 2013 major league and minor league rosters.

2. while simulating a game, the probability of each team winning the game is updated every plate appearance.  Up 4-3 in the 4th inning with 2 outs bases loaded and 2 outs?  Now you know how likely that you will lose or win this game.

3. updated scouting system.  my scout just informed me he signed a 16-year old Dominican kid with a promising fastball.  I will follow his development closely.

4. better fielding development system.  As player’s age, they more accurately move across the defensive spectrum.

5. better player development tracking.  every month I receive an update on how my players are developing.  My ever informative scout (depending on the scout accuracy level I choose) also tells me which minor leaguers should be promoted or demoted.

6. The complexities and enjoyment of being the GM are enhanced in this new version.

8. Updated game simulation experience.  From crowd sounds to pitch type, speed, and location – the immersion is fun.

recreate baseball history

recreate baseball history

For baseball fans of all ages, OOTP14 is a well-worthy pickup.

1998 mlb career milestones

1998 mlb career milestones

August 2, 2012

Patriotic Zombies

Filed under: humanity, Sports, Strange — Tags: , , , — skeptisys @ 11:04 am

New Yorkers love to make fun of people in the middle of America for blindly doing what they are told.

Stop at the intersection!  Don’t park here!  Go to war with those brown people!  Don’t be Gay!  Go to church every Sunday!  Cover your heart!  Give up your freedoms!  Do this!  Do that!  Don’t do that!  While North Korea, the old Soviet Russia, and Kansas says, “yes sir!”, New Yorkers respond, “oh yeah?  says who?”  An eerie event at the Mets game told me those days of NY pride may be over.

Eating overpriced pizza and drinking beer with my significant other on a busy hot Saturday at Citi Field before a Mets game.  Thousands of fans were bustling around us in the left field concessions, an area full of food, alcohol, souvenirs, and carnival games such as ‘dunk the poor college kid wearing the opposing team’s jersey’.  The sound of a crowd of loud baseball fans talking loudly all at once made it difficult to hear each other without shouting.  Then suddenly, it stopped dead.  No moving, no talking.  Not just some people, but literally everybody but us 2 turned to an quiet immobile statue.

As we looked up to see thousands of people stopped dead where they stood, listening to the National Anthem quietly…we panicked and ran.  Not one person seemed to notice us, the only moving people in the area, dodging their stiff bodies.  ‘How much time will our baseball caps save our lives if they start to eat our brains?’, we thought as we danced around the statues.

Then, as suddenly as it began, the silence ended.  The National Anthem had ended and the multitude of people started moving again loudly, all at once.

I wanted to compare them to well-trained dogs, but even dogs move in anticipation of the next command.  Trillions of dollars spent in PR have turned this country into obedient sheep, and I am afraid.  And apparently, with only 2 of 40,000 in this sample size, I am in the minority.

We are still freaked by this event.  Are we becoming the new Soviet Union, with blind patriotism and poverty replacing freedom and happiness?

April 13, 2009

A bad day for my childhood innocence

Filed under: life & death — Tags: , , , , , — skeptisys @ 6:13 pm

This afternoon I learned three icons from my childhood died.

Marilyn Chambers, Harry Kalas, and Mark Fidrych have all very sadly passed away at young ages.

Marilyn Chambers was the first mainstream adult movie star of my awareness.  I have never seen any of her movies, but she was on TV, written up in newspapers, and even had a hit disco single (No nudity in this video, but it’s very suggestive).  Marilyn Chambers was only 56.

Harry Kalas was the voice of the Phillies as long as I can remember, and had the most memorable voice in Sports.  I still get chills when I hear his voice, bringing me back to when Dave Cash and Greg Luzinski were my heroes.  Harry Kalas was only 73.

Harry Kalas (on right) with Richie Ashburn

Harry Kalas (on right) with Richie Ashburn

Mark Fidrych died in an apparent accident, at age 54.  Mark was a star sensation in 1976, about which I recently wrote in this article.

These three icons will be missed by all their adoring fans.  My heartfelt condolences go out to their families.  Hopefully they will gain some solace realizing the joy their loved ones spread to millions in their shining past.

At least Abe Vigoda and Mason Reese are still with us.

Mason Reese was a big star.  no really.

Mason Reese was a big star. no really.

Update:

The video for Marilyn Chambers’ Benihana was apparently removed (thanks to Marcy for the alert).  I was able to find a replacement clip with the song, but for some odd reason the video refers to serial killers.  Perhaps even more disturbing is that I now sing along with Marilyn.

March 31, 2009

The Legend of Mark Fidrych: baseball’s one year wonder

Filed under: Sports — Tags: , , , , , , — skeptisys @ 9:17 am
Mark Fidrych exudes boyish enthusiasm while signing autographs

Mark Fidrych exudes boyish enthusiasm while signing autographs

Mark Fidrych was a gigantic baseball star: a tremendous fan attraction seemingly created in Bill Veeck’s basement with ample portions of OCD, ADHD, and amphetamines. At a glorious time when cocaine, big hair, and disco were considered to be safe and fun, Fidrych was ultra boogie. He put his full intense positive energy into everything he did, and the fans loved him.

Before every inning, Fidrych would get on hands and knees and smooth the mound dirt with his hands. Before each pitch, he would bark at himself to stay focused; a habit often misconstrued as ‘talking to the baseball’. After good or bad plays, he would run full speed at his teammates to exuberantly pat them on the back.  If you weren’t a baseball fan in 1976, you would have a hard time believing the legend of ‘The Bird’. If you were a baseball fan in 1976, you will never forget Mark Fidrych. And then, in a flash, it was over…
Mark Fidrych was a great pitcher for only about 1 full season (I believe the standard soul contract with Satan is 1 year duration). He made his first career start about 1 month into the 1976 season, and was an active starter for about 1 month of the 1977 season before he tore his rotator cuff and was done as a dominant pitcher. This Fidrych active period lasted only 171 team games (not including his time on the injured list) producing this pitching stat line:
37 games started, 25 wins and 11 losses (.694 WP%) 2.31 ERA 319.3 innings pitched 61 walks and 136 strikeouts.
Astonishingly, of Mark’s first 37 career starts, he completed 31 games! Let’s put this in perspective, Grandpa Jaime Moyer has completed only 31 games in his entire 22 year career (584 starts)! Some people think Johan Santana is the best starting pitcher in baseball. He has 9 career complete games. CC Sabathia (26 career CG) Tim Hudson (22 career CG) and Andy Pettite (25 career CG) are considered durable pitchers by today standards, but have completed fewer games in their career than Fidrych did in his estimated one season.
Starting 37 games in a season was not uncommon in the 1970′s, but 31 complete games is such a rare accomplishment (or torture), I could not locate 1 pitcher with 31 CG in any of the last 50 seasons (1959-2008). Catfish Hunter did complete 30 games in 1975, his 1st Yankee season.  Catfish was 29 that season but only won 40 more games in his career.

Would Fidyrch have been a great pitcher if he remained healthy?  Bill James opines, “…in fact, it was always very unlikely that Mark Fidrych would have a career of more than a few seasons.  There is simply no such thing as a starting pitcher who has a long career with a low strikeout rate” – The New Bill James Historical Abstract. Bill James is probably right, but his analysis ignores the 1977 season, and Bill has also said that strikeout rates that increase in the pitcher’s 2nd season could be more indicative of long term potential. Prior to hurting his arm(and after he tore the cartilage in his knee) Fidrych pitched in 8 games in 1977, with these dominant results: 6W 2L 1.83ERA 69IP 61H 8BB 39K 234ERA+.  We should also take into account the following:

1. Fidrych’s strikeout rate was 5.1 k/g, up significantly from 3.5 k/g in 1976 – and above the 4.5 k/g threshold Bill noted in his article.  Also the 4.9 strikeout to walk ratio is extremely high (the career record in this category is only 4.4 by Tommy Bond).

2. Offense in 1977 was up significantly from the previous year (league ERA went from 3.70 to 4.28), and Tiger Stadium was an extreme hitters park.  Also, Fidrych was maneuvered to pitch at home, where he could draw the largest income for the Tigers.  In his first 37 starts, 24 were at Tiger Stadium.

3. Unique players, like Fidrych, are much harder to predict than more common types.  I looked for the most ‘Fidrych type’ seasons of the last 50 years, as a basis of comparison.  A Fidrych type season contains: a right handed pitcher with many complete games; excellent ERA+; an average to below average strikeout rate; good strikeout to walk ratio; young in age and major league experience.  By far, the most similar season I found was by Mike Mussina in 1992.

Mussina 1992: 32GS 8CG 18w 5L .783wp 241 IP 212h 2.54era 16hr 48bb 130k

Mussina won 20 games last season, to bring his career win total to 270.

Nowadays, a pitcher like Mark Fidrych could not exist.  His pitch count would be reduced to save his arm from injury.  The tiniest show of emotion on the baseball field would be criticized and possibly fined, and he would be pumped full of Ritalin before he puts on his first little league outfit.  Heck, maybe he is a baseball Big Foot, not existing at all except in grainy photographs and the memories of whiskey smelling sportswriters.

I ate Sugar Fristed Flakes until I got diabetes, and all I got was this baseball card

I ate Sugar Frosted Flakes until I got diabetes, and all I got was this baseball card

Photo via Corbis, and Vintage Baseball Cards.

Image: © Bettmann/CORBIS
Collection: Bettmann
Standard RM
Date Photographed: August 3, 1976, Bronx New York

March 18, 2009

Puerto Rico and False Patriotism

Filed under: Sports — Tags: , , , — skeptisys @ 11:20 am
Roberto Clemente American Baseball Hero

Roberto Clemente American Baseball Hero

Puerto Rico is under United States rule, and has been since 1898, when Spain ceded Puerto Rico to the United States.  For over 91 years, Puerto Ricans have been U.S. citizens and have fought in wars with U.S. involvement, including WWI.  The head of state for Puerto Rico is President Barack Obama.  Everyone born in Puerto Rico is eligible to be President of the United States.

So why are there screams that Americans need to root against Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic (WBC)  in order to be Patriotic Americans?

Puerto Rico played against team USA twice in this year’s WBC.  In those 2 games Puerto Rico outscored team USA 16-7.  Even so, all major American news sources acted like Puerto Rico was team Al-Qaeda.  See some of the crap Sports Illustrated or Wall Street Journal squats out.

In population numbers, Puerto Rico is similar to Oregon or Kentucky.  Imagine Oregon fielding a baseball team that crushes the rest of the United States.   I am sure the mainstream news wave would then flood us with pro-Oregon underdog emotions.  Why not for Puerto Rico?

I know rooting for a Baseball team is empty patriotism, but it does have emotional value at a time when truly important patriotic issues are waning.  Freedom of speech is dangerously low.  Our government does not represent the American people over large faceless international corporations trying to suck our money and rights away.  Unemployment and poverty are up dramatically.  Distrust in government and media is at an alltime high.  Food and water quality are dropping as quickly as quality of health.  Other countries no longer see us as kind, generous, and helpful – but instead dangerous killers.  We have to search underground sources just to find art quality better than Rocky X or Mall Cop.  Real patriotism is working for these causes, not rooting for muscular men in tights.

…but I do feel a little better watching Puerto Rico do well in the WBC.  Congratulations, Team Puerto Rico, for playing so well and representing the United States so proudly.

Puerto Rican Pride Day parade in Manhattan

Puerto Rican Pride Day parade in Manhattan

Roberto Clemente Wheaties Box from Hispanic PR Wire.

Puerto Rico Pride Day photo via Baltimore Sun.

December 2, 2008

Cicotte was forking around before Bush

Filed under: Sports — Tags: , — skeptisys @ 9:24 am
Eddie Cicotte won 50 games over his last 2 seasons in MLB

Eddie Cicotte won 50 games over his last 2 seasons in MLB

Walking through the Guggenheim museum is always a pleasure, and I had the opportunity today while I was waiting for friends to arrive for lunch.  A recent brilliant exhibit included photographs of human hands, taken from the collection of Henry M. Buhl: Speaking With Hands.   The photographs are stunning, and I recommend the exhibit to everyone (and everyone should visit New York).  I believe the exhibit book is available here, but the issue I saw had a different cover.

One noticeable photograph I saw in this collection is of the great BlackSox pitcher, Eddie Cicotte gripping a baseball in 1913, taken by Charles Conlon.  The text explains that Cicotte was gripping his famous ‘knuckleball’ – but it is very clear from the closeup photo that the grip was not a knuckleball.   The grip was more of a split fingered pitch or forkball (index and middle fingers spread on opposite sides of the ball).   This photo is the only photographic evidence I have seen that Cicotte threw a splitfingered pitch, and that that pitch was thrown prior to Joe Bush in 1923, although Rob Neyer, in “the Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers”, provides compelling evidence that the pitch was thrown by Bert Hall as far back as 1908.

The forkball and splitter are different pitches, held in a similar manner.  Apparently, the forkball is thrown at a slower velocity, with the ball resting deeper between the fingers.  Most likely, Cicotte was gripping a forkball.

I could not find another photo of Cicotte with a grip similar to the one in the “Speaking With Hands” book.  I neither reproduced the photograph nor bought the book, so the photo is unavailable here.

Here is a photo of Cicotte’s knuckleball from Knuckleball 101:

eddie cicotte knuckleball grip

eddie cicotte knuckleball grip

And this is the type of grip he displayed in the “Speaking with Hands” book (this photo is not from the book, but from The Pitching Professor:

forkball grip baseball

forkball grip baseball

Nothing in the “Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers” suggests Cicotte threw a splitfingered pitch or forkball, but they quote Ty Cobb as saying Cicotte threw a ‘sailor’ that could mimic a forkball action – if thrown sidearm.

As the photo of Cicotte from BlackSoxFan mentions in the caption, Cicotte won 50 games over his last 2 seasons before being banned from baseball in the BlackSox scandel.  David Strathairn played Cicotte in the 1988 movie, “Eight Men Out”. Here he is, via Broadway World.

Nilaja Sun, David Strathairn, and Daphne Rubin Vega

Nilaja Sun, David Strathairn, and Daphne Rubin Vega

I have no idea who plays Eddie Cockcute in the porn movie “Ate men out”, nor do I know of the existence of such a movie.

October 7, 2008

MLB clutch performances: pennant races 2008

Filed under: Sports — Tags: , , — skeptisys @ 10:41 am
young Manny Ramirez rookie card

young Manny Ramirez rookie card

With one third of the baseball season left to play, the L.A. Dodgers picked up one of the greatest hitters to ever play the game, Manny Ramirez.  Manny was simply Manny over the playoff run, hitting an incredible: .396 ave 17 HR 53 RBI 1.232 OPS over 53 games, leading the Dodgers into the playoffs.

Here are some other notable hitting performances during the stretch run (August 1st to end of season):

Denard Span: Twins: 46 runs in 55 games

Ichiro Suzuki: 77 hits in 54 games, 1805 hits in American MLB career

Dustin Pedroia:  in 50 Games, 22 doubles, 40 runs, .353 ave., .585 slg.  Bosox were only 2.5 games ahead of Yanks on Aug. 1.

Miguel Cabrera: Tigers 18 HRs

Jimmy Rollins: 21 SB, 2 CS

Carlos Pena: 13 HRs, 52 BB – helped Tampa Bay to their 1st playoff ever.

Melvin Mora: .388 ave, .657 slg.  Trading Melvin Mora cost the Mets more playoff appearances than trading Tom Seaver!  Speaking of the Mets:

Carlos Beltran: .322 ave with 16 D and 12 HR

Ryan Church: .219 with 2 HR.  ugh!

Miguel Tejada: 18 GIDP in 52 Games! Take that, Jim Rice!  This did not prevent the Astros from achieving the best record in baseball over this stretch, 35-18.  On August 1, only half game separated the Astros and the Pirates.

Melvin Mora swan dances for the Mets.

Melvin Mora swan dances for the Mets.

photos via HomeRunCards and Creative Loafing.

October 5, 2008

Phillies bounce Brewers, move to NLCS vs. Dodgers

Filed under: News, Sports — Tags: , , — skeptisys @ 3:33 pm
garry maddox Philadelphia Phillies

garry maddox Philadelphia Phillies

Just minutes ago, the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Milwaukee Brewers in 4 games to win their first playoff series since 1993, and move on to the NLCS.

The Phillies face the Los Angeles Dodgers for the 4th time ever in MLB Playoff history.  From 1976-1978, the Phillies won 292 games in 3 years, but did not get to the World Series – losing to the Dodgers twice and the Reds once.  In 1983 the Phils beat the Dodgers before losing to the Orioles in the World Series.

This NLCS promises to be a classic, pitting East Coast vs. West Coast, and old Joe Torre fans vs. Joe Torre old fans.  Go Phillies!

Greg Luzinski Philadelphia Phillies 1977 all star game

Greg Luzinski Philadelphia Phillies 1977 all star game

Pics from Baseball Fever and Bronx Banter at Baseball Toaster.

July 26, 2008

Quick baseball port-o-potty joke

Filed under: humor, Sports — Tags: , , — skeptisys @ 10:02 am

Ladies, if you have a fantasy league and you acquire Dick Pole or Peter LaCock- make sure you also receive Pat Meares to prevent taking on Rusty KuntzHarry Colon.

Pat Meares

Pat Meares

Rusty Kuntz Tigers

Rusty Kuntz Tigers

Pete LaCock

Pete LaCock

Dick Pole Boston RedSox

Dick Pole Boston RedSox

Dick Pole picture from Cardboard Gods, also see for other penis jokes.

You can get a Pap Smear here or here.

Pete LaCock and Rusty Kuntz pics from Flumesday.

June 17, 2008

Mets fire Willie Randolph in the middle of the night

Filed under: News, Sports — Tags: , , — skeptisys @ 8:34 am

Joe Torre Willie Randolph Mets Yankees managers

I fell asleep during the 8th inning of last night’s Mets/Angels game, with the Mets leading 8-6.  When I awoke at about 4:30 AM EST, the TV was reporting Willie Randolph and 2 coaches were fired.  “Wow”, I thought, “I must have missed a heckeva 9th inning”

Did Willie deserve to get fired?  The best argument for keeping him is that he was a very successful manager.  But the Mets routinely fire their best managers:

Yogi Berra, 3 winning years in 4 and a World Series appearance – fired.

Davey Johnson, most successful manager in Mets history, winning 59% of his games and a championship – chewed-up, spit-out, then canned.

Bobby Valentine, a World Series and then the door.

The Mets seem to be happier as losers, with Casey Stengal or Joe Torre, than they are as winners.  Look at Randolph vs. Torre as Mets managers.  Torre managed 151 more games than Randolph (even though 1 season was a strike shortened 1981), but still won fewer games.

Record as Mets manager: Torre 286-420 .405.

Randolph: 302-253 .544

Expectations?  Year before Randolph took over Mets were 71-91.  Year before Torre, 86-76.

So yes, Randolph deserved to get fired – he was successful.

Another question.  Last year the Mets collapsed at the end of the season, and lost the title.  Did this cost the Mets their Willie?  Bill James, in his latest book Bill James Gold Mine 2008 lists the 5 biggest collapses by James’ reasonable method.  Let’s take a look at how the managers fared after the collapse:

1951 Brooklyn, Chuck Dressen managed 2 more seasons and won NL title each year, before quitting over contract duration.

1964 Phillies, Gene Mauch managed Phils for 4 more years, wining records each season.

1978 Red Sox, Don Zimmer managed 2 more good seasons in Boston.

1914 Giants, John McGraw continued to manage the Giants for 18 more years.

And the 2007 Mets, the only team of the 5 to dump their manager.  That’s fine, I am sure the Mets would have fired John McGraw too, if he won for them.

Willie Randolph 1977 Yankees baseball card

Photos: top Torre/Randolph- from the Gothamist.

bottom: Sporting News

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