In a triumphant return for the spring semester, I talked about Johnny Manziel, Ballghazi, FrancesaCon, Corner Gas, Kyrie Irving, Cardale Jones, and plenty more. I also talked with Brad Cook of Out of the Park Developments about OOTP 16. Listen below and be sure to subscribe on iTunes and Stitcher!
Out of the Park Developments today announced a major milestone in the history of its venerable Out of the Park Baseball franchise: The inclusion of official MLB.com and Minor League Baseball licenses in version 16, which will ship in March. OOTP 16 will feature official league logos, team logos and jerseys for all 30 MLB teams, over 150 MiLB team logos, and historical MLB logos.
The company’s iOS game, iOOTP Baseball, will be renamed MLB Manager and will be available for Android too this year. It will also feature official MLB.com and MiLB licenses. More information, including its other new features, will be released in the coming weeks.
“We’re thrilled to be working with MLB Advanced Media to provide a feature that many of our fans have requested,” said lead developer and lifelong baseball fan Markus Heinsohn. “This promises to be the biggest year in the history of OOTP, and the best is yet to come.”
For more comments from Markus about how this license came to be, please see the latest post on the OOTP Developments blog:
Pre-orders are now being accepted for $34.99, $5 off the regular price, at this link for the PC/Mac version:
Pre-orders for the Linux version are being accepted here:
The special pre-order price lasts through 11:59 PM Pacific time on February 15, 2015. Everyone who pre-orders by then will be automatically entered in a sweepstakes for a chance to win one of three $500 MLB.com Shop gift certificates (or $500 Amazon gift cards).
Everyone who pre-orders will also receive the game three days before its release in March. They’ll also get a free Steam key. All pre-orders after February 15 will still be eligible for the free Steam key and the chance to download OOTP 16 three days early.
OOTP 16’s full list of new and improved features include:
2015 Opening Day Rosters
The brand new 2015 roster sets will include all Opening Day MLB rosters, via a free update released shortly after Opening Day, as well as the complete minor league system down to the rookie leagues. All major league (and certain minor league) player ratings are based on Baseball Prospectus’ industry-leading player forecasting system, PECOTA. The thousands of remaining minor league players will be rated manually by OOTP’s established research team.
New international and independent leagues added
Last year, OOTP 15 introduced seven international leagues in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Mexico, Cuba, Italy and The Netherlands. This year, OOTP 16 will add the Australian Baseball League to that list, along with several independent leagues in the US and Japan. All of those leagues will feature real rosters, with countless hours of work invested in researching realistic player biographical information, statistics, and ratings.
New team owner goals
The new team owner will give short- and long-term goals, which may include: winning the World Series within X seasons; fixing a certain weakness on the roster; extending the contract of a star player; and much more. Players’ abilities to meet those goals not only decides if they’ll be fired but also determines if their contract will be extended at a higher salary, another new feature added this year. (The “cannot be fired” option will still exist in OOTP 16.)
Improved team finances and reporting
The team finance system has been redesigned, including new season ticket sales, a team finances screen based on widgets, a new accounting screen, and much more.
Completely redesigned manager and coaches system
Managers and coaches will have certain personalities and special skills or preferences, which will result in plenty of interesting choices. Managerial choices will include easy-going stat-heads and hard-nosed veterans, while some pitching coaches will excel at working with power pitchers and others will be better suited at overseeing finesse pitchers.
Recoded team strategy system
Players will be able to set their teams’ in-game strategies faster and easier than ever before, but if they play in GM-only mode, they may find that some managers won’t allow certain strategies to be dictated.
Better playoff coverage
A new Pennant Chase screen will display the strength of the remaining schedule and the chance for each team to make the playoffs. The related news coverage was also improved.
Improved 3D ball flight
OOTP 15 introduced support for 3D stadiums and realistic 3D ball flight, which was a big step-up for the series. OOTP 16 improves on that 3D presentation and will include great-looking 3D models of all 30 MLB ballparks.
• New play modes (Manager only, GM only, and GM + Manager)
• An improved simulation engine that incorporates the latest research and trends, such as infield shifts and pitcher usage
• Rainouts with automatic rescheduling (including double-headers), adding the realism that comes with rain-shortened and cancelled games
• Better in-game sound effects
• An enhanced interface, such as a player info pop-up when resting the mouse pointer over a button which links to a player, or automatic syncing between lineups and depth charts when making changes to either of them.
• A new Find-A-Player feature: Define certain criteria (ratings, stats, salary etc.) and find the right player
• Recoded All-Star Game features with real voting (including online league support)
• Realistic OOTP Hall of Fame selection process, including simulated voting and new stats like JAWS, HoF Standards, Black & Grey Ink Tests
• More player awards
• Better playoff history tracking, including career playoff stats for all real players in the database and playoff leaderboards
• Alternate currencies (Euro, Pounds Sterling, Yen, etc.)
• The option to define background pictures for teams and leagues
• And even more: Additional new features will be announced between now and when the game ships in March.
Screenshots are below – go pre-order the game.
I was going to write about the Cavs, but that mess is something that the experts are having trouble figuring out. I’d be wasting my time adding to the pile of “hot” takes on the .500 team. Instead, I feel the need to write about Ohio State QB Cardale Jones after his press conference yesterday. Jones stunned everyone by deciding to return to school next year instead of going to the NFL. As a college student myself, I am impressed with the maturity of Jones in deciding to get his degree before going pro, but I believe that the ancillary distractions of his press conference mean he has not grown up as much as fans would like to believe.
The part of the story everyone already knows is that Cardale Jones started the season as the third-string quarterback for the Buckeyes, but injuries forced him into a starting role for the team’s final three games. All Jones did was win the Big 10 Championship game, the College Football Playoff Semifinal, and lastly, the inaugural CFP National Championship Game. His performance presented qualms for Mel Kiper Jr. and the army of draft prognosticators as the redshirt sophomore could have chosen to go pro. I applaud this decision from Jones, as his choice exemplified that of a true student athlete, taking his education seriously and putting it at least on par with playing football.
Yes, Jones did make a decision to put his education first, but I’m confused over how much of his decision is really due to the genuine belief that he should finish his degree. Hasn’t Jones been missing class for games, namely the three extra games they had to play? You know, those three that Jones started? How about all of the travel days and prep days on location in Louisiana and Texas? I am not blaming Jones for these conflicts, but I believe the quarterback is at fault with the press conference. He was able to miss class and travel to the Cleveland area for the press conference. If Cardale Jones really took his education as seriously as he wants fans to believe, he would not have missed class to hold a press conference in a different city on a Thursday afternoon! I doubt the quarterback showed up for class yesterday or today because of the trip.
That’s not the only beef I have with Jones. He showed up to his press conference wearing a t-shirt. Why was Jones criminally underdressed? He decided to wear a shirt that says “12 Gauge Buckshot” on the front, a self-referential nod at his powerful throwing arm. That’s smart branding if he gets a cut, but that isn’t allowed for an NCAA athlete. If he chose to go pro, then Jones could get a cut from shirt sales. But he didn’t so a local store will get a boost in sales and Cardale will see none of that.
All of this leads to one truth: Cardale Jones led fans on and played each and every one of us for fools. Did anyone else see this tweet from yesterday, promoting his “life changing decision” prior to the presser?
Life changing decision at 4pm
— Cardale Jones (@CJ12_) January 15, 2015
Just calling a press conference is Jones giving fans the assumption that he is going pro. Tweeting about it just added to the drama. Those 29 characters were sent at 1:37 PM, less than two and a half hours prior to the press conference. Could Jones have changed his mind in this short window? Yes. Did he? Probably not. That press conference just comes across as slimy, a spectacle on par with LeBron James’ infamous 2010 “Decision.”
Nobody seems to be looking at the whole story revolving around Cardale Jones as a student athlete. Most fans are applauding him for returning to school without considering the classes he missed to hold a presser, let alone the idea of holding a press conference to make an announcement that did not need a press conference. Don’t get me wrong, I genuinely applaud Cardale Jones for deciding to return to Ohio State for another year. He is a resilient kid and I’m sure he meant well in this endeavor. His maturity showed in the decision itself, but the ancillary issues that came with holding a self-promoting press conference cloud the sincerity of returning to school.
I am glad winter break coincided with the server switch because I had time to restore all of my old posts. I also wrote a few posts and will probably have one more article published before I return to Denison for the spring semester. Thank you for sticking with NSF during the restore. Here’s to plenty more posts, podcasts, and sports coverage on Neurotic Sports Fan!
First off: congratulations to THE Ohio State Buckeyes on their win in the first ever College Football Playoff National Championship Game. It was an impressive result for the fourth-seeded Buckeyes, led by third-string quarterback Cardale Jones. Ohio State fans were able to watch the victory in one of 12 (12!) different ways through ESPN television channels and WatchESPN. I took the time to watch every single feed I could (curse you, tiered cable!) for at least a little while, in part because there were just so freaking many! Since I spent more time on the televised feeds, I will focus on those, though I do have thoughts on all of the different ways I watched the Buckeye victory.
Traditional Telecast: The ESPN feed of the game was very good, but there was nothing adventurous about it. For people like my father, this was perfect since there were no bells and whistles. Clearly he was not alone based on the 18.5 rating on ESPN alone. I like the work of Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit, but with so many different ways to watch the game, I felt that the main telecast was kind of boring.
Spanish Telecast: I could not watch this feed because I do not get ESPN Deportes. It’s a shame because I’m a Spanish major and I would have been able to give a legitimate critique of the broadcast. I wish ESPN could have allowed for WatchESPN use of this feed for people with most ESPN networks aside from Deportes.
Film Room: The analysis had an “inside baseball” feel to it because of all the coaches breaking down the film. My big disappointment was with Dan Mullen, the Mississippi State coach, for dominating the conversation every time I turned on ESPN2. His analysis was fine, but there was no reason he should have been dominating the conversation, especially considering he is not a full-time ESPN employee with a ton of media experience. I think that a single ESPN analyst hosting and mediating between a few coaches would have worked better than The Dan Mullen Experience I watched last night. It’s a shame because the Film Room was the most promising part of the Megacast.
ESPN Voices: Did John Skipper just pull random names out of a hat for this feed? It had that feel between a baseball analyst (Aaron Boone), a college basketball analyst (Jay Bilas), a hockey analyst (Barry Melrose), and Michael Wilbon (Michael Wilbon). That said, the idea has some promise because of the “living room” vibe it gave off. The social feed was a nice touch as well. But when the conversation drifted far away from sports – such as Melrose talking about Sons of Anarchy – it lost me. Maybe if ESPN has a more football-focused panel, this channel will improve. Then again, I’m not so sure anything could improve upon this (courtesy Screengrabber):
Off the Ball: If you thought the Film Room was over your head, the ESPNews feed would be like a completely different language. It isn’t for everyone because a lot of fans do not appreciate what happens away from the ball, but the analysis was solid and overall twitter reaction was positive, especially for fans who preferred an “All 22” view of the game. Personally, this channel didn’t do much for me.
Sounds of the Game: It was the exact same broadcast as ESPN, except with amplified field sounds and no broadcast. I think that this feed would make sense in a packed bar or similar venue because the commentary is already useless when people are talking and cheering. It’s a simplistic way to watch the game if you don’t want to be bothered by Fowler or Herbie.
Command Center: I do not subscribe to ESPN Goal Line so I could not watch this channel, though it sounds like a dream come true with split screens, replays, and no commercials. The only weird part is that this feed used the ESPN Radio call of the game as opposed to the ESPN feed. I have no clue if this made a difference because I could not watch the game this way.
SpiderCam: This was a worse version of Sounds of the Game because of the single camera angle. In 2015, there is little reason to watch a football game from one shaky camera showing a high-angle view.
Taco Bell Student Section: For anyone who wanted to watch football without watching football, this was the feed for them. The ancillary coverage of fans and cheerleaders took away from the game, in my opinion, and really didn’t work as a channel. Taco Bell should sponsor a better option on next year’s Megacast.
Ohio State/Oregon Radio Call: These two get grouped together because they had the same format with opposing biases. I didn’t need to see so much of the coaches, but as someone who listens to a nice amount of Ohio State football on the radio, hearing Paul Keels over the broadcast was a nice touch.
DataCenter: This was my favorite of the feeds, mainly because of the potential. There were plenty of stat graphics that made nerds like me feel at home. I think that this type of feed would work perfectly on ESPNews if the graphics are redesigned to fit on screen like the NFL Draft border. For younger fans who enjoy following sports with a second screen, a social feed and data graphics alongside a broadcast of the game just makes sense in 2015.
Overall, the Megacast was a success for the Mothership. ESPN had an option for everyone from the most casual fans to the hardest of diehards on each side. Most every option had its niche target demographic, and, though some were more successful than others, I hope that every big game from now on has so many options. Just don’t show Aaron Boone picking his nose.
Between packing for next semester and restoring posts on the site, it’s tough to find enough time to write. I have the rest of the week to publish before classes begin again, so my goal is to have most of the site restored along with three (yes, three!) new posts. Two of these are going to be published hand in hand, about what I got right and what I got wrong last year. I made a lot of bold statements, plenty of which made me look smart and plenty that made me look stupid. Here are a few that made me look smart.
LeBron James will return to Cleveland
#ComeHomeLeBron was a success at the world’s greatest basketball player returned to Cleveland last summer. In a coup for old-style media, he broke the news with an “As Told To” piece by Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated. I devoted a full article to the return last July.
Kyrie Irving is a flawed player
I wrote about the All-Star point guard not deserving a max extension last summer. Since then, his defense has not improved, his shooting has plateaued at best, and the Cavs have struggled all season because he’s not a winner. On a per-36 minute basis, he’s having the worst season of his career, a surprise considering this should be Irving’s best supporting cast in his fourth NBA season. He will probably still be an All-Star because fans are silly and his counting stats look solid. I believe Irving has topped out as a good but flawed point guard because of his “efense” and inefficient shoot-first tendency.
The Major MLB Awards
Guys with initials CK won the AL Cy Young, NL Cy Young, and NL MVP, while Mike Trout won his first MVP in his worst season yet. Jose Abreu was a runaway AL Rookie of the Year candidate as well. These were all easy decisions aside from Corey Kluber, which I was worried at the time would be a biased selection. Considering Clayton Kershaw has a Koufaxian three Cy Young Awards and an MVP within a four year span, he was a no brainer lock for both top awards in the senior circuit.
Johnny Manziel would fail
TOLD. YOU. SO. Did anyone really think a playboy lifestyle, a lack of urgency, a lack of height, and a weak arm would combine to make Johnny a great quarterback? Come on now, Browns fans, we’re better than that. I can’t wait to see him on Hard Knocks next fall.
Curt Schilling Missing Out on Cooperstown
I explained my decision in my ballot, a decision that seemed to reflect the overall BBWAA and IBWAA sentiments. Then he decided to trash John Smoltz and rub everyone the wrong way with what may or may not have been a political joke. The criteria for Hall of Fame voters includes a character clause and it is Schilling’s own fault that he fails this measure. He proved the voters right with his reaction to missing out.
The Cavaliers’ Regular Season Struggles
I said it on Big Red Sports Talk at some point last semester, but I cannot tell you exactly when. I do have this tweet from November if you’re lazy like me and don’t want to go through all of the old podcasts.
I said Cavs would go 48-34, but could still compete for a title.
— Alex Kaufman (@NSF_Alex) November 23, 2014
Currently sitting at 19-19, 48 wins might even be too high. But I foresaw the chemistry issues along with the defensive struggles. That said, the season isn’t even halfway over, so there’s plenty of time for the Cavs to jell and evolve into the dominant team LeBron envisioned last summer and the championship run Cleveland fans have been clamoring for since 1964.
Maybe I do know a thing or two about sports. Or maybe I got lucky. Regardless, here’s to another successful year for both Cleveland sports and my prognostications.
Between packing for next semester and restoring posts on the site, it’s tough to find enough time to write. I have the rest of the week to publish before classes begin again, so my goal is to have most of the site restored along with some new posts. Two of these are going to be published hand in hand, about what I got right and what I got wrong last year. I made a lot of bold statements, plenty of which made me look smart and plenty that made me look stupid. Here are the ones that made me look…well, dumb.
Browns will not win a game during Josh Gordon‘s suspension
Oops. I was extremely pessimistic on the Browns entering the season, and plenty of my concerns were legitimate. Once All-Pro Center Alex Mack went down with an injury, the team could not recover, losing their final five games and six of the last seven. Turns out, they won six games without Josh Gordon compared to just one while he was after his reinstatement. Brian Hoyer impressed early on, keeping Johnny Manziel on the pine for longer than fans expected. My rationale behind this started with a pair of rookie running backs and a below average quarterback. Teamed with subpar receivers, this made me think the defense would be on the field for a long time. Instead, Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West formed a solid rushing tandem that allowed for a pleasant surprise from Hoyer. I made a bold prediction and I whiffed.
Some Minor MLB Awards
At least I got most of the larger ones right, so I’m not too pissed about whiffing on the NL Rookie of the Year and the awards on tiers below that. There are worse things to get wrong. See above. And below.
My Crazy NBA Draft Preview
I went a bit overboard, then Ari and I went overboard together. Okay, maybe more than a bit, but it’s always fun to play with the Trade Machine. Too bad not a single one of my trades mentioned Kevin Love otherwise I could have pretended I was psychic or something like that. I also expected the Cavs to pick Jabari Parker over Andrew Wiggins, which was a really silly mistake in hindsight. Maybe I’ll get it right this year. Probably not.
My IBWAA Hall of Fame Ballot Compared to the BBWAA Results
Granted, I did include all possible inductees on my ballot, so I don’t consider that a huge whiff. However, I expected more traction for players such as Jeff Bagwell, Jeff Kent, and
Jeff Fred McGriff. I blame the 1994 strike for the exclusions of McGriff, Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Kenny Lofton, but I also blame myself for thinking these players had better cases than they do. That doesn’t mean I don’t think they are HOFers, but rather that I shouldn’t be surprised over the duration of candidacy.
My NFL Against the Spread Picks on Big Red Sports Talk
Every single week Steven and I picked NFL games head-to-head, he beat me. A few times, it was by just one game, but there were weeks where he wiped the floor with me. I had to buy Steven a lot of pizzas last semester and my parents were none to pleased upon seeing all of the “Papa John’s” on my credit card bill. Lucky for me, now that Steven has graduated and joined the labor force, I will not have to worry about losing to him anymore. Hopefully my next co-host is not as good at picking games.
I can’t complain over what I got wrong in 2014 because my only real losses were paid for in pizza. I’m glad I looked bad about the Browns because it means they won games. I’d rather look foolish covering a 7-9 football team than be right in covering a winless squad, even if some of you find that hard to believe. I’ll make plenty more predictions in 2015, so be on the lookout and keep me honest.
Welcome to Neurotic Sports Fan 4.0! There isn’t too much of a difference between NSF 3.0 and NSF 4.0 besides new hosting courtesy of Web Hosting Hub. For the first time since I started NSF nearly four years ago, I am actually paying for hosting. I lost all of my posts once again, but at least I (sort of) backed them up, so I will be slowly but surely adding
all most of my posts from NSF 3.0 retroactively. Because of how the backup worked, the posts will be restored in a random order. Publication dates for each post will stay as they were, though every restored article will be tweeted out as it is re-published. It will take some time, so bear with me as I work to get NSF back to full strength. Thank you for all of your support.