There’s an old saying, “may you live in interesting times.” These times are certainly interesting. Novel Coronavirus is inundating health systems. The roaring economy has ground to a halt. Unfortunately, our sports-based distractions from bleak reality haven’t escaped the specter of COVID-19. Major League Baseball has announced at least a two-week delay to the 2020 season.
This is a truly terrible situation with life or death implications, and it is not my intention to make light of it. However, you know the saying about the lemons and the lemonade. So, as fantasy baseball junkies, how should we use our spare time?
A longer preseason (and a possibly shortened regular season) means we have more time to draft! The draft is, in many ways, the best part of the entire fantasy exercise. Double down with more leagues. Maybe try out a new format you’ve never gotten around to giving a go. How about ottoneu?
If you’re a veteran of the fantasy wars, this is an excellent opportunity to explore whichever Highly Custom Leagues suit your fancy. The link in the previous sentence includes at least 13 such unusual formats with more than enough mental fodder to design something on your own.
If, like me, you already have too many teams for active management, you should consider playing Best Ball. These points leagues require no intervention after the draft. Your best performers are automatically scored. There’s no better way to enjoy a draft without any ongoing consequences.
I’m planning a series of Best Ball auctions in the near future. More information will be available as details are confirmed. I strongly recommend playing your Best Ball leagues on Fantrax – they are best-equipped to handle the format, especially if you plan any customization. You can use their native scoring (which, admittedly, is a little odd), or you can update the settings to mimic Ottoneu’s FGpts.
There are many wonderful baseball simulations out in the wild. I have secondary experience playing with Diamond Mind Baseball via a commissioner who does the heavy lifting. We’re currently playing through the 2009 season. My team, based at Coors Field, is a contender headlined by the best pitching staff to ever grace a Denver dugout – Zack Greinke, CC Sabathia, James Shields, Ricky Nolasco, and Wandy Rodriguez with a bullpen to match.
The game I truly can’t put down is Out of the Park Baseball. The 2021 version is set to be released on March 20, though there are rumors of a wide-release beta as soon as March 17. That’s soon! They’ve announced some exciting updates for the new version too.
In their words, OOTP is “the infinite baseball sandbox.” But let’s just focus on…
Three Ways To Play
Perfect Team: This is a card game for which I’ll be putting together some YouTube content this spring. Packs cost a few seashells apiece or you can take a free-to-play approach (I’ll be demoing f2p).
You’re initially gifted six card packs to build your basic roster using current and historic players. There is an auction house where you can buy cards from other players, sell your unwanted cards, and complete “missions” to earn rewards.
The core of the game is not-unlike a traditional simulation. Each week, a full season is played from Monday through Saturday with playoffs on Sunday. You can update your lineups, rosters, and game strategy at any time throughout the week. Perform well enough, and you’ll be promoted to a tougher league. Flounder and you’ll face relegation.
You can invest as much or as little time (and money) as you want in this game mode. It’s possible to be competitive with as little as five minutes a week. Or you might instead spend hours working the auction market.
Single Player: This is my favorite game mode. Start with a present day franchise or rewind to the hoary past to play through an endless cascade of games, drafts, playoffs, and free agent periods. Rinse and repeat. Rinse and repeat. Rinse and repeat. Be mindful, it’s addictive.
Compared to other games, OOTP does a spectacular job with player development. It truly approaches realism with a few unexpected breakouts (Johan Camargo turned into the best player in the league in one playthrough), sudden collapses, and a rare smattering of ageless wonders. Turn on the 20/80 scouting scale for more immersion.
Every nook and cranny is customizable. The 2021 version promises a Game Flow feature to help new players adapt to the mind-boggling array of options.
Online Leagues: Admittedly, I’ve yet to jump into this functionality as I find myself more than satiated with Perfect Team and single-player mode. Plus, I have that aforementioned Diamond Mind League. However, OOTP does offer the option to form online leagues with your friends or randos from the internet.
To cope with the lack of real baseball, we’ll obviously need to form our own league to simulate the results.
You can follow me on twitter @BaseballATeam