It’s a sure sign of spring. No, not the first robin (or Oriole, or Cardinal, or Blue Jay). Not the flowers blooming or Spring Training coming to a close. It’s the release of Out of the Park Baseball. If you’re not familiar with OOTP, they’re a developer that creates sports management games for multiple sports. OOTP Baseball has been their longest running program, which lets you either manage or general manage a baseball team. A few days ago, the 2015 edition of the game came out, OOTP 16. I decided to give it a whirl and take my shot at being the GM of the Seattle Mariners. (Spoiler alert: it didn’t go well.)
A big milestone for OOTP Baseball was finally acquiring an MLB license and MLB.com license, which finally lets them use official team logos, uniforms and stadiums. They also provide access to managing past seasons. Due to my inability to see current lineups and not try and make everything match, I took control of the (officially branded) Seattle Mariners early in January of 1989, hoping to lead the playoff-starved club into relevance. Things looked good early on, with a core of Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez, Harold Reynolds, and a hopeful future with Omar Vizquel looking to break through. Boy, was I wrong. After peaking in early April, Seattle meandered around .500 or below for the rest of the season, and finished with a 72-90 record, 15 games back of the first place California Angels. Over the season, I dealt Reynolds (on a contract year and underperforming) and Vizquel (underperforming) to, you guessed it, the California Angels and acquired pitching. It also didn’t help that Edgar Martinez, Ken Griffey Jr. and almost any other player that could hit above .250 got hurt. Things just didn’t work out for the boys in yellow and blue that year.
The game itself is better than ever. While I rarely touched the live gameplay (which was left to my virtual manager) due to the fact that I wanted to spend more time trading and signing than controlling game strategy. The interface is sleek and does a good job of encompassing all the tools a GM would need on one page. It also provides a handy-dandy inbox, giving you messages from all around the league, including this gem.
When I did play around with the live gameplay, it was decently entertaining although confusing and tedious at times. This could be solved by some streamlining, although I suspect the die-hards could navigate through a game in their sleep. Other than that one little problem, the game is better than ever, and for anyone who dreams of running a ballclub – this is as close as you can get to the real thing.