All-Star Week can be fun if one allows themselves to rekindle their childlike awe of the Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game, but it also brings four days without any Detroit Tigers baseball, so in the end it always finishes as a rather dull week for the Detroit baseball-loving fan.
For me, the extra down time this week meant the opportunity to dig into Out of the Park Baseball 15 — a computer baseball simulation game of staggering depth and infinite fun — to play out the 2014 season for the Detroit Tigers.
Baseball games have always been a favorite pastime of mine. Countless childhood hours were spent playing Starting Lineup Talking Baseball, seasons of Major League Baseball Featuring Ken Griffey Jr. for the Nintendo 64 (I swear I hit a 700-ft home run with Dean Palmer in Tropicana Field once), or getting involved with fantasy baseball.
OOTP15 allows users to take over a team and be as involved in the day-to-day operations as they choose to. You can choose to play simply as a general manager and make free agent signings, execute trade negotiations, and promote/demote minor leaguers, or get more involved and take over the managerial role as well to set lineups, depth charts, bullpen roles, and even in-game decisions. For my 2014 season with the Tigers — because what other team would I pick — I elected to play the role of the GM and allow the little digitized Brad Ausmus control the troops.
For my first season I wanted to stay somewhat realistic with my roster moves. That meant no attempts to pull off a Mike Trout trade, but I did allow myself to sign Stephen Drew to fill in at shortstop while Jose Iglesias was on the shelf (hey, I’m in it to win now). Drew hit for a .799 OPS on the season, so the gamble seemed to pay off.
My very own version of the Detroit Tigers would go on to win the AL Central with an MLB-leading 100 wins, but it wasn’t an entirely easy road to the title. Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez both went down midway through the summer with season-ending elbow injuries, forcing me to deal for two less-than-ideal replacements in Jason Hammel and Chris Capuano. Neither replacement pitcher carried the team down the stretch, but when you have Miguel Cabrera providing offense — at a season 1.130 OPS clip — you don’t necessarily need a ton of extra pitching.
My Tigers entered the playoffs as heavy favorites, but, due to the injury situation, I was down to just Justin Verlander, Drew Smyly, and Rick Porcello as my playoff rotation (the digital Brad Ausmus insisted on a three-man rotation of the postseason). That’s not exactly what I had envisioned when the year began, but all three performed very well in the regular season so I wasn’t worried heading into my series with the Wild Card-winning Seattle Mariners.
But I should have been.
My year ended just three games later as the M’s outscored the Tigers 13-4 in a sweep of the Division Series. The team was successful over the 162 game long-haul, but came up well short of Mr. I’s championship aspirations (his direction to me via in-game email was to “win it all”). I’ll have some retooling to do in the offseason; hopefully this isn’t how the season ends up for the real Detroit Tigers.
I’d heard for years how amazingly in-depth the Out of the Park game franchise was, and my experience so far with OOTP 15 certainly hasn’t disappointed (and I’ve only scratched the surface in year one). The in-game menus are sleek and intuitive, players interact with you via in-game email, and you’re afforded the opportunity to do everything a real-life GM might do (e.g. participate in the first-year player draft and Rule 5 draft, execute trades, sign free agents, negotiate contract extensions, option players to the minor leagues, and promote top prospects between minor league levels).
If you’ve ever been one to enjoy baseball simulation games — whether it be MLB The Show for PS4 or simply Strat-o-Matic baseball — you’d enjoy OOTP 15. It comes highly recommended from me.
Tags: Detroit Tigers