Thursday, July 21, 2011

More than just a game

Came across something I thought I should share with my readers, and I wasn't sure whether to post it here  or on my Red Sox Nation Alberta blog.

This blog has stories of interest to baseball fans in Alberta.  Whether it's about a local team or academy or tournaments or camps or tryouts, or players who have moved on and are enjoying success elsewhere, or famous players who are in the province for whatever reason, the common theme is that it's about baseball and is of particular interest to Albertans.

The RSN blog has stories that are of interest to Red Sox fans.  It's slightly geared towards Albertans or Canadians, but is also of interest to fans from elsewhere, whether it's Boston or Bangladesh.  Red Sox Nation knows no borders.

This story isn't about anything to do with Alberta.  Or the Red Sox.
For that matter it really has very little to do with baseball.
So why am I writing about it?  Because it's about more than just a game.  And in the grand scheme of things way more important.

So I'm posting in both places to try and reach a wider audience.

Please read it by clicking on the link to the Seamheads website below:

And if after reading it you suddenly find out that all that dust in your computer must have gotten in your eyes and they're watering, please click on the donation widget at that page and help if you can.  And pass the link along to anyone else who might be touched by it.

The writer of the article above also passed along the following information:

A Luncheon will be held for Jim and his family in early August and items will be auctioned off.  If you can contribute something to the auction or know someone who might be willing to, I'd be forever in your debt.  I didn't know Jim well but we share mutual friends and I hope to get to know him better over the coming months.  None of us knows his fate but he's fighting as hard as he can and everything we can do for the Orr family will help.

If you want to donate an item (or items) to the auction, please send it to me and I'll make sure it gets where it needs to go:

12630 SE Stephens St.
Portland, OR 97233 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Albertans representing Canada at World Baseball Challenge

The 2011 World Baseball Challenge is under way, and Alberta is well represented on the Canadian National Team.  Among the Albertans selected to the squad are Calgary natives Colin Moro and Geoff Freeborn, who have both played for their hometown Calgary Vipers and Dustin Northcott from Rocky Mountain House.  Another player with Albeta ties is Jordy Alexander, who although a BC native, currently resides in Calgary.

All these players have helped Canada so far.  Colin Moro was a big part of the offense, scoring in a 4 run 1st inning,  and knocking in a run and scoring in the 4th inning, when Canada put up 4 more runs, en route to an easy 13-7 victory over Bahamas on Sunday.   On Monday, Dustin Northcott and Geoff Freeborn both pitched scoreless frames, helping Canada preserve a 6-2 victory over Beijing.  On Tuesday, Jordy Alexander threw a hitless inning and Moro knocked in another run, but it was not enough as the undefeated and always tough Cuban squad defeated Canada 9-4.

Play continues with games against Japan on Wednesday, and the round-robin play finishes on Thursday with a match against Chinese Tapei.  The playoffs start on Friday with the championship game being played on Sunday afternoon.

Best of the luck to these Albertan players and the rest of their teammates on the Canadian National Team.

Friday, July 1, 2011

What to do when it rains? Play!

I love baseball.  I used to play and coach, and now I watch – both as a fan and parent -  and I umpire games too.  I would to go to a game every day if I could.  But living in Alberta, the weather isn’t very co-operative.  We only have a few months where baseball can be played, and have to deal with our share of rainouts (and snowouts, hailouts, lightningouts… you get the idea).   So what to do when it’s winter, or you have an unexpected free evening in the summer and you can’t get to the ballpark?  The next best thing is to play a baseball simulation game.

When I initially got a PC one of the first programs I installed on it was Earl Weaver Baseball.  I thought this was the best baseball simulation game that could ever be made. I could set up lineups and make trades.  How could a game possibly ever be any better?   (At the same time I thought that an IBM XT PC with 640 K of RAM was more than I could ever possibly need.  After all, I wasn’t NASA- why would I ever need a whole MB of RAM on my home computer? But I digress).   Well, comparing the latest version of OOTP to this initial baseball simulation game would be like comparing PONG to Call of Duty.  Sure they’re both video games, and you can control what you see on the screen through some type of interface – but that’s where the similarities end.  I did a very quick summary of how much I liked this game the night I got it, and now that I've played it for a bit, I thought I'd expand on my initial review.

With OOTP 12, you not only get to set your team’s lineups, but pretty much everything else that a real live GM needs to deal with.  In fact, if I was a baseball owner looking for a new GM, I might skip the interview process and judge the applicants on how well they do playing this game.  Setting your lineups, pitching rotations and bullpen roles are just the tip of the iceberg.  You not only draft players, but you decide where to spend your scouting budget on.  Do you want to just concentrate on the typical  baseball hotbeds, or do you want to spend a little bit of money scouting in, say, Portugal, so you get a leg up on competition if there’s any talent there?  You have to keep your eyes open on waiver wires, be careful who you try to sneak past them to send to the minors lest they be stolen from you, and deal with contract negotiations.  The game is flexible enough that you can bypass all of these details, and simulate a season fairly quickly, or you can literally take hours to simulate a single day.

I initially played a quick season, recreating my childhood 1975 Red Sox pennant winners, to see if I could get a different outcome.  In the simulation they won their division and had to face the A’s in the playoffs, just like in '75.  However, there is a limit to how much the game mimicked real life events, and in this simulation Vern Ruhle did not break Jim Rice's wrist which a lot of fans think would have been the difference between winning and losing that Classic Series to the Reds.  Alas, the A’s beat us in the ALCS and I didn’t get a chance to recreate history against Cincinnati.   I then played the 2011 season in detail, as the Sox GM and took care of every detail.   John Henry’s expectation was to win a Championship and when the team was floundering into June, he was unhappy and I felt the pressure and was worried I was going to get fired.  I made a series of moves – which may have depleted my farm for the future – and managed to win the pennant, and save my job.

This game lets you play a virtual infinite number of different modes.  You can set up your own leagues and teams.  Realign divisions and change rules.  I could do an expansion draft and bring the Calgary Vipers and Edmonton Capitals into the league and see how long it would take me to make those teams competitive.   

Now that I have OOTP 12 installed, instead of dreading any upcoming rainouts, I might secretly be hoping for them, so I have more time to play!

Take a look here for more information on the game and how to buy it.