Sam Adams Reviews 'Out of the Park Baseball 17' for MLB Opening - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Sam Adams Reviews 'Out of the Park Baseball 17' for MLB Opening Day

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It’s MLB Opening Day 2016, and I can think of no better way to celebrate the occasion than with my first run-through of the end-all, be-all baseball simulator, “Out of the Park Baseball 17.”  Simply put, there is no better game of its kind.  Period.

Out of the Park (OOTP) is a text-based computer simulation game that dates back to 1998.  Thankfully, it’s a game that has only gotten better with age.  Every year, the small group of developers has upped the ante, improving the core of the game while adding several new elements to the game.  Last year, the venerable franchise added MLB licensing and a fledgling 3D graphics engine.  This year, the game has taken those features to the next level and added even more lumber to its lineup.

One of the additions to OOTP 17 is the “Historical Exhibition” feature.  Ever have a game or a series that you wished you could replay from days gone by?  How about that epic 1991 World Series between the Twins and the Braves?  I replayed that pairing in a matter of seconds, and was rewarded with a walk-off, series-clinching homer by Shane Mack, as Minnesota topped Atlanta in 6 games.  Or maybe you’d prefer a fictional match up of Babe Ruth’s 1927 Yankees against the Big Red Machine of 1976.  The Pinstripers won this time machine battle, despite an un-Ruthian performance by the Bambino, hitting a paltry .200 in the series.  But for me, there is a particular baseball moment that holds a special place in my heart… and not in a good way.  To this day, I still have flashback nightmares of Kirk Gibson’s pinch-hit homerun against Dennis Eckersley in the 1988 World Series.  I always believed if Eck hadn’t given up that homer, the A's would’ve won the game and the World Series for the beginning of a true baseball dynasty.  Luckily, this feature let me replay that pivotal game and the ’88 Series.  In my simulation, there was no Gibson homerun in Game 1, though he certainly did his share of damage with a 4-hit performance in a 5-4 Dodgers loss (in reality, L.A. won Game 1, 5-4).  After Jose Canseco bashed two homers in the A’s 10-0 win in Game 2, it was back to Oakland for a chance at a World Series sweep.  And that’s exactly what the Athletics did, making quick work of the Dodgers in two decisive victories to clinch the ’88 championship.  Just as it should've been.

But enough about the past.  Let’s focus on the future.  OOTP truly shines in this department.  Think of this game as a Magic 8-Baseball.  Just shake it up to see what the future holds for the 2016 season.  Will the Royals repeat their unlikely success of last season?  Will the Giants hold true to their even-year championship history of 2010, 2012, and 2014?  Or will this be the year the Mariners finally bring a title home to Seattle?  If Out of the Park Baseball is to believed, none of the above.  Our beloved M’s finished dead last in the AL West, thanks to devastating injuries to Felix Hernandez (elbow), Nelson Cruz (fractured fibula), and Hisashi Iwakuma (shoulder).  The Giants?  Their 79-83 mark was second-to-last in the NL West.  And the Royals barely made it to the postseason, only to be knocked out by Cleveland in the ALDS.  No, folks, if we are to trust this computer game, then the 2016 World Champions will be… the Chicago Cubs.  Powered by Jason Heyward’s MLB-best .328 batting average, the Cubbies won 100 games during the regular season en route to their first championship since 1908.  Cubs win, Cubs win, Cubs win!

OOTP’s greatest strength is its versatility.  It is a baseball junkie's virtual field of dreams.  By no means do you have to end with the 2016 season. You can choose to guide your favorite ball club for decades and decades down the road.  If you’re a hands-on micromanager, you can pull the trigger on trades, sign free agents, and even set season ticket prices.  Or if you’re tired of the real world, you could always immerse yourself in a completely fictional baseball universe set in the land of Game of Thrones.  Create a league with teams from Winterfell to King’s Landing in a baseball version of Starks vs. Lannisters.  The possibilities are endless.

Out of the Park Baseball is playable on PC and Mac (ootpdevelopments.com), and has a portable version available on tablets and phones, titled “Baseball Manager 2016" (Google Play & Apple App store).  If you stay up until 4am playing OOTP, this is completely normal.  Just don't tell my wife.

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