Thursday, February 28, 2008

1980 Topps

My apologies for waiting so long to post. It's been a crazy week, capped off by a 20 page paper on "the pre-industrial origins of Japanese nationalism." As interesting as I find the theories of Ernest Gellner, Benedict Anderson and Anthony Smith, I won't bore you with the details. Let's just say that I'm happy to get that paper finished with.

Anyway, since I'm at school right now, this post won't be about my Diamond Mind league. Hope you can deal with it.

As you may have guessed from the links on the side, I'm a big baseball card fan. I started collecting cards when I was really, really young. My dad bought me a pack or two when I was two years old, cards which (unfortunately) were either eaten or colored on. I can remember spending allowance money on pack after pack of 1990 Topps (50 cents at the local Harmons) and 1988 Donruss. Sure, that's nothing spectacular, but it sure brings back a lot of childhood memories.

Recently, I bought this Rickey Henderson rookie card for $4 on EBay (scan is from the auction):
As you can see, the card is in far from perfect condition. I'm guessing it would register a 2 at the highest. Still, despite the edge and corner problems, it's a nice looking card. I like cards that I'm not afraid to handle, cards that I can touch and put into binders without worrying about losing money.

Anyway, this card got me interested in collecting 1980 Topps. I bought a few team sets, as well as an EBay lot of about 350+ commons (only $10!). Hopefully I'll be able to complete a set before graduation in August.

Here's the back of the Henderson:

Anyway, there you have it. I'll try to write more later today.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Schedule and League Setup

After completing some homework, spending time chatting with my wife, and sifting through EBay auctions promising to help me earn $70K/year online, I'm ready for another post.

My league setup is quite simple. I'm creating two leagues, with two divisions each, 8 teams per division. As I am obsessed with China, most of the fictional teams will be located in Chinese cities. I'll write more about the cities and teams later.

I'm a big fan of uneven, erratic schedules. I've always liked the thought of teams having to deal with an inordinate number of doubleheaders, especially late in the season when things are on the line. I've never really been a big supporter of balanced scheduling. Thus, for my season, I'm not going to use DMB's automatic schedule creator.

In addition, I like the idea of not having any interdivisional play. In this league, a team will face the teams within its division exclusively, as if each league had its own pre-1994 American / National League setup. I figure this will allow divisions to take on their own personality, and will make postseason games more meaningful.

These factors force me to import schedules by hand. Inputting schedules by hand is one of the biggest weaknesses of Diamond Mind Baseball. The game input method is anything but intuitive, especially when it comes to inputting doubleheaders. I'd much rather use APBA's schedule editing program, but it's too late for that. Due to my unique divisional setup, the program does not allow me to import old schedules automatically. For that I would have to create two separate organizations, which would further complicate everything else. It's just easier to input the schedule by hand.

I've decided to use the 1933 schedule for one league, and the 1934 for another. 1933 is one of my favorite seasons to read about, primarily because of the awful storms that knocked out huge stretches of games in April.

I once found an interesting poem written by the oft-forgotten John Kieran, sports columnist for the New York Times in the early 1930s. This is from the April 20, 1933 Times:

(The Lost Battalion).
When they open the gates by Coogan's Bluff
And the Giants step out to do their stuff,
(If it doesn't rain or sleet or blow
Or the call the game on account of snow!)
There are some who will watch with vacant stare
A host of players who aren't there,
There are some who will close their eyes and gaze
At the Lost Battalion of Other Days
They will see McGinnity, Dan McGann,
Gilbert and Dahlen and Bresnahan;
George Van Haltren, who broke his leg;
Redtop Murray - and could he peg!
Devlin and Donlin - those are names!
Dummy Taylor and Leon Ames;
Georgie Burns - could you ask for more!
Snodgrass, Shafer and Josh Devore.
Big Jeff Teareau, mighty of limb,
Arthur Fletcher and Heinie the Zim;
Out on the mound a figure tall,
Big Six; Matty, the king of them all!
Down by the far off right-field wall
Pep Young leaping to spear the ball.
These will be seen through memory's haze:
The Lost Battalion of Other days.

More later.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

So what's this all about?

To begin, let me explain what my Diamond Mind project is, and why I'm doing it. Hopefully I won't bore anybody. I'm going to assume you already know some basic things about baseball history.

My latest Diamond Mind project is a pure fantasy league, including the best players in Major Leauge Baseball History, as well as the best in the old Negro leagues and in Japan. Although such a league has no connection with the real world, I want to make the replay as "realistic" as possible. To me, my definition of "realism" in this case is obvious; however, outside observers (especially those who don't care for statistical sport simulations) are sure to be confused. Therefore, before I begin anything, let me explain what I'm trying to do here, and why.

One of the most important parts of any project is understanding why you're doing it, and what the scope of your project is. Explaining your motives helps observers understand what is going on. When I buy an unopened box of 1987 Topps Wax Packs, it helps if I explain my motivation to my wife beforehand. It also helps narrow the scope of the project. When I write a 20 page paper about Ernest Gellner's theories and the development of Japanese nationalism, it's easy to go off on tangents, and thereby bore the reader, if the scope is not well defined. If you don't let people know what you're doing and why, nobody will understand your project.

The same can be said for baseball replay projects. My opinion is that anybody interested in undertaking a simulated baseball season must first understand why they are doing it and what the scope of the project is.

First, let me explain why I'm doing this simulation. I've been playing with various baseball simulation games ever since my dad introduced me to APBA 15 years ago (I was 8). I'm sure there are deep philosophical reasons for me to replay baseball games, including associating such replays with growing up, a wish to understand players I never saw live, and so on. For me, though, replaying old seasons is fun, first and foremost. It provides a welcome distraction from the depressing, overhyped world of contemporary baseball. Arguments about alleged steroid use, teams bullying cities into building controversial public stadiums, nauseating financial battles between extremely rich owners and rich players, ever rising ticket prices and other problems have no place in the world of baseball simulation. The game is most important, first and foremost, and the only limit is your imagination.

Still, I want a simulation at least reasonably grounded in reality. Naturally, I could spend hours playing games like Baseball Stars, RBI Baseball, Triple Play Baseball and so on, and still be able to escape into a world of baseball fantasy. For me, a replay ought to be realistic. Players ought to perform close to the way they did in real life. Ballparks ought to have a realistic effect on the game. I shouldn't expect a lot of runs while playing in Pittsburgh's old Exhibition Stadium; likewise, I shouldn't expect a few runs while playing in the Kingdome. If my players play in a 1908 baseball environment, I want to feel like they are playing in 1908, with few home runs, low scoring, dominating pitching and so on. If I take 1908 players and move them to 2008, I expect the game to resemble 2008 baseball.

This is why I've decided to use Diamond Mind Baseball. Unlike many arcade baseball games, Diamond Mind is based on recreating player's performances based on their statistics, not the skill of the human player. Unlike many other baseball simulators, Diamond Mind is able to make the necessary ballpark and era adjustments to some degree of accuracy (though it struggles in the deadball era). Diamond Mind also features a very sophisticated pitch-by-pitch mode, which adds immensely to my enjoyment of each simulated game.

I've always been wary of greatest player simulations. APBA's famous OFAS set, for example, betrays weaknesses in the game's construction. A disproportionate number of base hits will be extra base hits in that APBA season, since generally good pitching takes away all singles. Other Diamond Mind homebrewed greatest player disks suffer from similar problems: the great hitters hit well over .400, homeruns abound, and the great pitchers end up pitching way above the rest of the league. The results of such seasons merely mirror weaknesses in the design of the simulations.

This is why I'm using Diamond Mind's adjusted AGP 2006 disk, as well as the adjusted disks the Mortimer brothers made. These disks avoid problems inherit in other similar disks. For example, the players' ratings are based on averages over a number of seasons, rather than the best season for a given player. This avoids controversies such as George Brett's "outlier" .390 1980 batting average ensuring him one of the highest averages in the league. Rather, Brett's ratings are based on an average taken over several seasons. Players are also adjusted for a level playing field, which means that great pitchers from the deadball era don't have an advantage over pitchers from the 1990s just because they pitched in a better pitching environment. Basically, I'm using these disks because, in my mind, they compensate for statistical and systematic biases that plague other similar simulations.

Now, the scope of my project. I don't intend to answer any theoretical questions about who the greatest player of all time was, what the best lineup ever was, how a draft of the best players of all time should take place, etc. I will use an eccentric schedule, one that will require some teams to play more doubleheaders in a year than others, which certainly could influence the results. I also won't play hundreds of simulations to determine which team is best on average. I'm trying to do this purely for entertainment, and, as a result, this project may not appear to be as "realistic" as it could be.

Also, of course, this is a single season project, unlike year-to-year simulations such as the famous Boothby Marsh project on the Diamond Mind Baseball Yuku forums.

Anyway, sorry for all the theoretical mumbo-jumbo. I'll get around to more specifics next time.


Welcome to my blog. Despite years of experience on the internet as a teenager, this is my first blog ever. Please be patient as I get the hang of things.

I created this blog chiefly to publish information about my various Diamond Mind Baseball replay projects, including both results and my thoughts. Having seen and enjoyed various replay websites over the years, I finally decided to create one of my own. My first project will be creating a season combining the All Time Greatest Players disk with two homebrew disks, the All Time Greatest Negro League Players disk by John Mortimer, and the All Time Greatest Japanese League Players disk by Ed Mortimer. Both of these disks are available for free at 2DBB's wonderful website,

I'll also post on other topics, including my rekindled love for baseball cards, my eccentric collection of baseball games on video and audio, and perhaps even my views on politics and Chinese society. I'll try my hardest, though, to keep the politics to a minimum.

Please forgive me if I don't update this blog frequently. I'm currently a senior at BYU, double majoring in International Relations and Chinese, with a German minor. As such, my academic commitments have priority over blogging about simulated baseball. Neverthless, I'll try to update often enough to keep readers coming back.