Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Day in the Life of Jim Smith, (Fictional) GM of the 1915 Brooklyn Robins

Nothing can replace baseball cards as my hobby of choice, but one thing does come close. Out of the Park Baseball. The 2016 version was just released this week, keeping me glued to my laptop 24/7. If you're not familiar with OOTP, it's a (mostly) text-based baseball simulator that allows you to take hold of your favorite franchise at any point in their history and manage them using real players (literally 140 years worth of real major league players). 

If you want to run the 2015 New York Yankees, you can take control of the current organization, including full rosters for every minor league club. If you want to run the 1978 Pittsburgh Pirates, you'll have everyone from Bert Blyleven to Kent Tekulve at your helm. Not happy with your roster? Make some moves. Propose trades, sign free agents, or leave everything intact for a true recreation. OOTP lets you literally manage every aspect of the team you could dream of and THEN some. If that sounds overwhelming, trust me, it's not. The friendly user interface and tutorials will have you playing at full-speed within minutes, though you'll still be discovering new strategies for months.

Now that you have a feel for what OOTP is, let me introduce you to Jim Smith, the GM of the 1915 Brooklyn Robins. Jim is living in the first day of my fantasy world. I've set OOTP to shuffle players from history around to have them debut at random times. Babe Ruth may appear in 1980 and Mike Trout could show up in 1920. I have zero way of knowing and neither does Jim Smith. It's his job to draft and sign the best available talent to carry the Robins to the pennant.

(click images to expand the size)
Jim Smith's desk-top.
 Jim's first order of business is to gather with the other GM's to draft teams based on the outstanding talent that has entered their names into the draft pool. We would call this a "Fantasy Draft". Smith would call it a "Humdinger Draft" or something like that. He examines the top talent and gets to work building a dynasty.

The draft leaves him scratching his head on numerous occasions. His #1 target, Henry Louis "Lou" Gehrig was snatched up before the Robins first pick. Smith ultimately made a 23 year old named Roy Halladay his first round choice. Mixing age and youth, Jim built a powerful lineup and rotation.

Batting cleanup will be 31 year old Jose Canseco. It'll be interesting to see if he regresses as fast as the real Canseco. If so, the pick won't look so hot. Jim Thome will be one of the more interesting prospects to watch. At only 21 years of age, he'll likely spend a season or two on the reserve roster to develop his talent. The same can be said for high-ceiling prospect, Ben Paschal. The question is whether or not Jim Smith will last long enough to see them mature into the phenoms they could become.

Smith meets with his bench coach, Will Roberts to discuss philosophy for the season. They decide on a speed-happy quick-trigger approach that will surely piss off fans on a daily basis.

The financial situation is looking strong. Being the Deadball Era, attendance will likely increase slightly over the 1914 average of 4,046 fans per game. 

Smith ends the night with a newspaper. Word has just come in that Jimmy J. Cooney, shortstop for the rival New York Giants, has been eating a bit too much... music to Jim Smith's ears.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Super TTM Spring Days 17-26

Super TTM Spring has slowed down quite a bit, but I'm way behind on sharing my autograph spoils. Here they come with more photos and less words than ever before!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Super TTM Spring Day 16

Day 16 may be the best day yet for TTM autograph returns! Great players and one return that has me feeling very guilty. Read on...

Robbie Ray autographed my card and was kind enough to include one of his own with a bio on the back. I appreciated his story, but especially loved that his card was printed in half-tone dot grid style which we hardly ever see anymore. I blew it up so you could see what I mean.

Eugenio Suarez went to Cincy in the offseason where he'll be added depth behind Zack Cozart. If Cozart struggles we may see Eugenio break through sooner than expected.

The always reliable Michael Cuddyer autographed this from his new address with the Mets. Great signature and a great guy.

Stephen Vogt is coming off foot surgery and is expected to DH early in the season. Thankfully his hands are fine and he was able to autograph the above card in gold Sharpie. It really pops in person, something I wouldn't have expected.

You reached the guilt cards. If I have extra cards, I send them along and write in big letters "PLEASE KEEP EXTRA CARDS FOR YOURSELF OR YOUNGER FANS". Those words exactly, every time. For Spanish speaking players, I attempt to write it in Spanish. Gonzalez either didn't see that or decided to be the nicest guy ever and signed all SEVEN cards I sent his way!

Don't get me wrong, I really appreciate that he'd take the time to do that, but I just hope he didn't think I wanted him to sign every single card. There are TTMers who do this for profit (don't ask me how) and try to milk it for all it's worth. That's not me. If I send more than one card, I ask they sign two. That way I have one for my collection and one for trading purposes. If anyone needs a Gonzalez Germen autograph, please let me know. 

I used to go watch Conor when I was in college at Wichita State, so it's exciting to see him have success.

Brandon is a pitcher I'm intrigued by. He's yet to get a real chance at the MLB level, but has earned one if you look at his resume. 

Poor Josh looks like Wreck It Ralph with a beard in this photo. He busted out big time in 2014 and I hope he continues that going into 2015.

Edwin isn't the most popular guy in Chicago after last season, but he's too talented to continue struggling like he did. His advanced stats say he should be better than his ERA and record stated, but it'll be tough to crack a loaded Cubs rotation this spring.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Super TTM Spring Day 14

Five more returns made their way to Kansas today, starting with...

A formerly touted prospect, Jacob Turner has bounced from Detroit to Miami to Chicago, yet will still only be 23 on Opening Day. He's been pretty bad at the Major League level, but there's plenty of talent and time for him to figure it out.

When Chavez was a Royal back in 2010, I never would have expected him to still be in the league four years later, much less as an effective starter.

Maurer was sent to San Diego in the offseason for Seth Smith. Brandon supposedly has excellent stuff, but has struggled to put it together as a starter. 

Kole came of the shadows last season to put together a helluva year. He showed a lot of power, especially to the gaps. 

I really hope this is the year we get to see what AJ Griffin has to offer. He's had terrible luck with his health over the last few years, but maybe that will turn around this season.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Super TTM Spring Day 13

Day 13 saw six more quality pitcher returns. Without further ado...

Rarely do pitchers with an ERA barely above 2 have to fight for anything, but this spring Cody Allen is fighting for the closer role in Cleveland. It's #37's to lose.

I like how Danny Farquhar writes his D. It's like " | > ".

Nick has a busy signature and I like it. Try forging that one.

Matt Thornton spent half of 2014 with the Nationals and looks to slot in as a LOOGY behind a pretty good rotation.

Chances are you have a Pat Neshek autograph. If not, I encourage you to send a request to the Astros. Pat genuinely enjoys signing and opening mail and he rewards you with the coolest signature in baseball. 

Little was said about Alfredo Simon's move to Detroit in the offseason, but the Tigers made a pretty good pick up. He's no Max Scherzer, but he's good for 6+ solid innings every fifth day.