I love baseball simulators. I don't want to play the games, I just want to be the GM. I want to trade for Jim Thome to be a pinch hitter. I want to have fire sales that would cripple a franchise. I want to develop a super team of young, cheap talent and watch them flourish. I like to take a crap team and make them amazing. It's fun for me.
For years I've been playing Baseball Mogul and those games are fun, but after the 20th season you can sort of predict what rookies will become stars and which ones won't. This season I first tried Out of the Park Baseball on my iPhone and proceeded to destroy my battery and an entire afternoon in the process. After that I tried out the full version of a friend's and fell in love. This game had it all. Rule 5 Draft, negotiations with amateur draft picks, all the minor league levels, compensation picks and everything else. OOTP blows Baseball Mogul out of the water. This is the game I've always dreamed existed and I fell in love. And I love it so much that I decided to keep a diary of the 2012 Brewers.
There are many possible outcomes to a 162 game season. For instance if Axford had run into a little better luck and the bullpen not been made up of reanimated corpses the Brewers might have still be in contention right now instead of... this. Things are bad now, but they could be a lot worse. Doug Melvin has done a really good job putting a good team on the field and never giving up when it comes to improving the team in any way he can. But like what if he didn't? What if he was really bad at his job, had a bunch of injuries and let Ron Roenicke do whatever he wanted? What then?
Well, luckily for the game Out of the Park Baseball 2013 we are able to find it out. I'm now going to play an entire season as the 2013 and do my best to make it as horrible as possible. You know, for perspective and what not.
This will not be easy. For instance look at Mark Attanasio's expectations.
Me too, Mark. Me too.
To fix this we're going to actually up the injury expectations from their default setting to “High (Realistic Modern Day)” (which I don't agree that it is realistic at all.) Then we are going to set the in-game strategy to something more akin to Ron Roenicke's wet dream.
That should do it.
The Opening Day rosters, rotation and lineups are exactly as they were on that fateful day four months ago. Everything is exactly how it was. Now let's make it a hell of a lot worse.
OPENING DAY 2012: The Brewers... win? Talk about art not imitating life.
The Brewers went on to sweep the Cardinals in the opening series (lol) and then split the first two games in Chicago. I was beginning to worried about just how bad this season was going to be until I got my first bit of bad news of the season.
This causes Doug Melvin to call up Taylor Green to take over, but Ron Roenicke decides to make an interesting decision to correspond with it.
He puts Alex Gonzalez and Cesar Izturis in a lefty/righty platoon situation. Yes, the Cesar Izturis with a .607 career OPS with RH pitchers. That Cesar Izturis.
That didn't deter the Brewers from winning though as they took the series from the Cubs, swept Atlanta (lol) and then won two of the first three against the Brewers. Umm, this isn't the worst season ever that I ordered. I am trying to feel better about the real 2012, not worse. This is actually making me upset. Can I get another injury please?
I asked Ron Roenicke what to do (in my imagination) and he said “Let's call up Corey Patterson!” but I didn't feel he was worth a spot on the 40 man roster so instead went with Logan Schafer. Not that it matters as Roenicke has decided to go with Carlos Gomez as the everday starter keeping Aoki as backup and Schafer as the 5th outfielder.
By the time Aramis is ready to come off the DL on 4/25 the Brewers are in 1st place at 12-6, three games up on the 9-9 Cubs with the second best record in the league. Ryan Braun is tied for fourth in homeruns and second in RBIs. Our rotation looks like this:
So basically the best season ever.
The Brewers settle down after that going just 3-5 in their next eight games, but remaining in first place. The simulation is stopped by an important email. A trade offer? Another injury? What could it be?
I don't even bother replying to that which must have pissed Izturis off so much that he took matters into his own hands.
There we go with some art imitating life! (Unfortunately he is only out a week. Boo. I want to watch the world burn.) I decide to just go with one less for a week instead of making a roster move and before the week is up we have another injury. Aoki is out for 5 weeks so it looks like Logan Schafer is making his way back to Milwaukee.
Meanwhile, the Brewers have slipped to 17-13 now hold only a two game lead over the Cardinals. (See? This is awful right? In April we were booking World Series tickets.) Oh, and Alex Gonzalez sufffered a setback so my lack of a roster move has cost me some serious fatigue in my infield. Nice.
Needing to make a move to shore up my infield until Gonzalez gets better I hit the trading block, but there is nothing worth mentioning. I check on Ransom, but he's injured. I'd rather not call up Farris because he can't play shortstop so I need to do something different. It's not until I check free agents before I find my answer. The answer?
THAT JUST HAPPENED.
Bill Hall takes Alex Gonzalez's place in the left hand side of the platoon and becomes the backup at just about every other position.
The Brewers continue to struggle until Alex Gonzalez is ready to come off the DL at which point I DFA Cesar Izturis in an attempt to save my manager from himself. His reaction? Starting Bill Hall everyday at SS with Alex Gonzalez as the backup. No, really.
At this point we are just trying to get through May without anything else bad happening. At 21-20 on May 21st now 2 ½ games back in third place our simulation is stopped for an important message.
The Brewers get hot to end May and are tied for first with the surprising Cubs at 28-23. The Reds are just a game back at 27-24 and the Cardinals sit at 23-28.
Things are generally quiet for the next week until Aoki returns from injury that causes us to send Schafer back down and then two days later Gomez gets hurt causing us to call him back up. (I feel like this yo-yo'ing will come back to haunt us later.) Roenicke, of course, decides to go with Nyjer every day instead of using Aoki or Schafer in a platoon. (Aoki is starting to get more starts though.) It is June 12th and the Brewers are now tied with the Reds at 34-26 for first place. Playoff odds are looking good until...
Corey is out for two weeks so we decide to bring back Taylor Green who was killing it in Nashville as a super utility player. In head scratching fashion Roenicke plays Aoki in RF vs. lefties and BILL HALL (hitting .161) in RF against righties. Oh well, at least that $4.25M we spent on Alex Gonzalez won't be completely going to waste and, hey, we're in first place!
And then we got 2-7 in the next nine games. I can imagine what twitter would be like in this imaginary world and I hate it already. Gomez is ready to come back so instead of messing with Schafer some more we decide to make a move. Trading Nyjer Morgan to the White Sox for Zach Stewart. We then send down Mike McClendon (shocked he made it this long, really) and put Gomez back on the team. These moves force Roenicke's hand and Logan Schafer is now the everyday starting RF until Hart comes back. Unfortunately, he forces it right back on me taking Alex Gonzalez out of the lineup and again going with Hall at SS everyday. The same Bill Hall who is hitting like this:
See? Isn't this the worst?
The Brewers are 42-35 on July 1st and hold a slim one and a half game lead over the Reds (and Cubs). The Cardinals appear out of it at 37-41, but still close enough to have hope. Sound familiar?) Fed up with the Bill Hall situation I change his position back to 2B which makes him the backup at every position and puts Alex Gonzalez back in as everyday SS. I can't help it. Even though I want this team to do awful I don't want it to be that awful. With Corey Hart due to come off the DL I decide to DFA Travis Ishikawa because Gamel's .761 OPS is decent and I might consider Hart at 1B occasionally with Schafer hitting well.
The All-Star Break comes and the Brewers are now 45-39, but a game and half back behind the Cubs in third place. (Really, OOTP?) The good news is that the Brewers have THREE All-Stars in Weeks (absolutely killing it with 16 homers and a .882 OPS), Greinke and Braun. You know what? Forget this fake game sucking. I want to go and live inside of it like the Take On Me video.
The NL won the All-Star game so if we somehow make it to the World Series we will have home field advantage.
Then as if I couldn't love this fake Rickie Weeks anymore this happens.
And then I realize that Bill Hall will take his place in the lineup. *unswoon*
It is now July 29th. The Brewers are 3 GB of first place and a half game behind the Wild Cards at 53-47 meaning since starting 11-2 we've been 42-45 or the most average team ever. We have to do something at the deadline. Our bullpen, much like in real life, kinda sucks. Estrada has a 5.87 ERA and Stewart has a 6.00. We could use another arm. So we did this:
Admit it, you love that move. K-Rod, Street, good Axford is the sexiest thing ever.
Then on July 31st we make a second move. Trading some low A arm to the Padres for Jason Bartlett and DFA'ing Bill Hall. I'm sorry I just couldn't take it anymore. I've become obsessed with this season and desperately want us to win it all. Roenicke, of course, makes Bartlett his everyday SS. Did Gonzalez sleep with his daughter or something? Seriously.
On August 6th the Brewers enter into a tie with the Cubs for first place while the Reds sit two back. At this time Zack Greinke approaches us about an extension. We offer 5 years/$100m with the fifth year being a player option. We also make a waiver claim on David Aardsma (who seems to have recovered nicely from injury) and get it. We demote Marco Estrada and place Aardsma in the bullpen. Our bullpen is now amazing. I AM SO INTO THIS GAME. WE ARE TOTALLY WINNING THE WORLD SERIES RIGHT NOW.
On August 13th Greinke accepts our contract offer (!), but the Brewers are still 3 and a half games back of the Cubs. The Cubs, really. Thankfully we are currently one of two Wild Cards. The playoffs are so close I can smell them so I decide to intervene into the manager's decision (forget what I said earlier, we are winning this thing!) and make Aoki the starter vs lefties. I also make Logan Schafer start every fourth game against righties. WORLD SERIES FEVER. I HAVE IT.
I feel like King Hippo getting punched in the stomach right now, but I am not giving up. Schafer now plays everyday and Gomez/Aoki platoon in CF. We can still do this. I know it. Five and a half back in the division, but we are still a Wild Card. NEVER GIVE UP JOHN CENA TAUGHT ME THAT. ALL IS WELL.
(For those wondering I called up Ishikawa (who cleared waivers) to take Hart's place on the roster.)
We're going to be fine. I haven't lost my World Series fev--
We bring back Estrada and thank the lord that we made that Huston Street trade when we did. The Brewers now sit at 61-56. Six games behind the Cubs and a half game behind the second Wild Card. The comment system on the game's Brew Crew Ball just went down.
The Brewers go 2-2 in their next four and then...
WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME!?!?!?!!?
Lacking options we call up Brooks Conrad (who somehow never got traded). Immediately following this the Brewers win a game and then...
NO I AM NOT CRYING.
We are so desperate at this point that we attempt a waiver trade with the Giants (who are out of it) for Aubrey Huff, but have to wait for him to clear waivers. So until then it's Brooks Conrad: starting 3B. Fans on message boards are now questioning our decision to cut Bill Hall. THIS IS MY LIFE.
Green is out 3-4 weeks, but luckily the Huff trade goes through and fans are spared the full Brooks Conrad experience.
The Brewers get hot at the end of August going 8-2 over their last ten games and now sit only 1GB (!) of the Cubs in the Central and in a three way tie for the top two Wild Cards. The fake MPD is gloating so hard about his “relax” post right now. Maybe everything isn't awful?
September 4th sees Aramis Ramirez return from the DL (Maybe I overreacted with that whole Huff thing?) and the Brewers at 73-61 still 2GB of the Cubs and still in a three-way tie for the Wild Cards. The roster expansion sees Maldonado, Eric Farris, Caleb Gindl, Wily Peralta and Mike McClendon make their way to Milwaukee, but none of them should be expected to play much. THIS IS IT. THIS IS OUR RUN.
September 7th sees K-Rod return from the DL and the Brewers only a single game back. It's all happening. I want to go inside this game and stay there forever. Everything is just so great right no--
Dude, seriously. Playoff race. What is your problem?
Normally this would have bothered me. Now? Who cares. It's September 16, the Brewers are in first by 2 and a half games. We're going to the playoffs. World Series fever is sweeping the nation.
Friday September 21. The magic number is 10. We don't play a .500 team the rest of the season. This is real. Nothing can stop us now. This game is my home now. Goodbye cruel world.
Dude, seriously. Playoff race. Stop getting into fights all the time. You know what? I'm not even mad. We got this.
I said WE GOT THIS. Jesus. Come on.
Umm...guys.... I don't like this.
PLAYOFFS! WE DID IT! WHO CARES IF WE LIMPED IN? NEXT STOP WORLD SERIES!
The playoffs begin and the Wild Card round sees the Braves beat the Phillies. They go on to face the Marlins. The Brewers draw the Rockies who won the West with an identical record to ours. The AL teams are Texas, New York, Oakland and Cleveland. The Rockies were 5-1 against the Brewers in league play this season. Great.
The Brewers take game 1 at home 8-4. The Rockies were up 4-2 entering the seventh, but the Brewers scored three in back to back innings to take it. Ramirez, Braun and Schafer all hit homeruns. I'm thinking about finding a Sims girlfriend and settling down inside this gam. The virtual world is my home now.
Zack Greinke gives up only three earned runs, but five total in game 2 thanks to a Jason Bartlett error (Roenicke!!!!!) and the Brewers drop game 2 at home 5-2. Both Brewers runs were scored by Aramis Ramirez who also hit a solo homerun. In related news my Sims girlfriend broke up with me citing “issues.” These games are almost too realistic sometimes.
The Brewers head to Colorado for game 3 and despite what we saw in the last game my optimism is still running high and for good reason. The Brewers go off for seven runs and take the game 7-4. Aramis hits another homerun (!) and Wolf picks up the win. 15,000 Aramis Ramirez shirseys were sold shortly after.
With the Marlins taking their series 3-1 everyone's mind is on taking this thing in game 4 and moving this thing to Miami. Unfortunately the Rockies had other plans. Yovanni pitched an absolute gem with 7.2 IP only allowing a single run, but this time it was the Brewers bullpens turn to fail. Roenicke, oddly, went with Manny Parra (umm, what!?) in the ninth with a three run lead who then gave up two singles and a double to tie the game. He then brought in Street who gave up a single to lose the game 4-3. THIS IS NOT THE PLAYOFFS I ORDERED.
Buttholes are tight heading into game 5. Honestly, I don't even want to click the button right now. Gomez and Marcum are healthy now and they'll be back for the next series, but I don't even want to know if we're going to make it. This sucks. I.. just.. don't....
EXTRAS?! You gotta be...
Oh, come on. Seriously?
Your mom can do better, jerk.
See? Wouldn't that be worse? We didn't even make it to the NLCS and we (again) lost to the eventual World Series champs. That would have sucked.
Despite the awful end to the season I am completely hooked on this game and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys regularly wasting 3-4 hours at a time. Or anyone who loves baseball really. This game is insanely deep and a lot of fun. Highest recommendation.