MLB Front Office Manager

There was a time when every boy wanted to play ball for a living, and until they could, they’d play ball outside all day.

At some point, every boy stopped playing ball outside all day, and began to play action-oriented computer baseball games inside all day.

At some later point, every boy stopped playing simple action-oriented computer baseball games and started playing roto, fantasy baseball, and computer games with GM modes so that they were simultaneously pretending to be ballplayers and general managers.

That phenomenon has now reached its logical extreme.

On Tuesday, 2K Sports will release its MLB Front Office Manager, and for those addicted to the stat-heavy pastime of running fantasy leagues, being a Major League Baseball general manager may never get closer . . .

. . . There is no end to the roster of baseball video games that pay homage to the complexities of building a team from the ground up. They have mechanisms for relying on stats to determine which players are best in different kinds of situations — and many have had the endorsement of real-life players and the blessing of big league baseball.

But MLB Front Office Manager isn’t like any of them. That’s because the game is really about the process of running a team rather than the play-by-play action in which gamers have to swing at pitches, try to dive in the hole for sharp-hit grounders, and master all kinds of joystick button combinations in order to steal a base or pick someone off first.

The new 2K Sports game puts all the focus on what it takes to get a major league team going, and operates on a calendar that begins the moment the World Series ends and commences from there. That’s because that’s how it really is for each of the real-world big league general managers.

Given the direction we’re heading, at some point they’ll make a game where players simply sign checks, grouse about labor costs, and sucker municipalities into paying for new ballparks.

(thanks to Pete Toms and Crowhop, who sent me the identical link withing approximately 7 seconds of one another)

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  1. pete said...

    I’m sure a lot of the baseball nerds who stay glued to blogs like this are aware that sim baseball has been around for a long time in the form of online games like Out of the Park Baseball (OOTP). This seems like a mainstreamed version of those games, which can be incredibly complex (down to the hiring of scouts with varying talents, managing minor league teams, player-level strategies, etc).

    If anyone’s interested, we always seem to be looking for owners in the OOTP8 league I’m in:

  2. Jason @ IIATMS said...

    Can we hire sketchy insiders to be your team’s president (I’m leering at you Randy Levine)?  He’s my sleeper in my Front Office Manager 2009 Draft.

    Do you lose points if you LatAm scouts are skimming money?  What about if your #1 pick blows out his arm in a bar fight (yeah you, Brien Taylor)?

  3. Chris said...

    I wonder how this will stack up against Baseball Mogul.  With all due respect to the realism of OOTP, I find BM has more mainstream appeal due to its ease of use and more intuitive interface.  I suspect Front Office might even take the ‘lite’ sim of BM one step further.

  4. jayhawkowensjunior said...

    I’ve been a BM geek for about 10 years—ease of use is certainly the selling point.  However, I did purchase OOTP…4, I think, some time ago, and loved the absolute complexity of the whole thing, but found that my then-computer just couldn’t simulate the thing fast enough to make it any fun.  What sort of sim speed does OOTP have these days?

    (sorry to jack this thread.  love the blog, Craig.  read it every day.)

  5. Brandon Isleib said...

    OOTP did a lot of work to increase sim speed in the last 2 years…I have OOTP 2007 (a.k.a. OOTP 8) on a Dell Latitude D820 from 2006 (1 GB RAM, I think), and it runs at a great speed to me, even with minors enabled.  From my recollection, OOTP 8 runs faster with minors enabled than OOTP 4, 5, 6 did with minors disabled.

    I could be wrong, though…

  6. Chris H. said...

    OOTP sims much, much faster now.  It was rewritten a few versions back from the ground up, and is so much more complex now.  You can use (if you want) a very elaborate scouting system where you can even send individual scouts to various parts of the world looking for talent, etc.

    I’ve dabbled with Baseball Mogul but I find it rather unsatisfying after a day or so.  OOTP, on the other hand, requires a significant investment of time to play, but the payoff is worth it.

    OOTP 4 may have seemed very complex to you, but it’s definitely “lite” compared to the current iteration.  You can play it from a “GM” perspective, or a manager perspective (in the current game I’m playing, I’m a manager at the Arizona Fall League level, hoping to get promoted soon).  You can do a historical-type sim or create a completely fictional environment.

    Or—as an example—you can play almost every game by taking over the Cubs organization and turning them into the dominant franchise of the NL for decades.

    Mwa ha ha.

  7. Chris H. said...

    Brandon: yes, OOTP 7/8/9 are much, much faster even with full minors enabled than OOTP 4/5/6 was with minors disabled.

    Can’t wait to see what’s new in OOTP 10.

  8. Pete Toms said...

    I never played sim stuff, table top or the like.  I used to be in an old school pool, where you would go to the bar after work with your Bill Mazeroski or Street & Smiths and smoke smokes and drink beer and sit through 12 or 16 rounds of drafting hitters and then once a week you’d get your photocopied update of the stats.  No trades, no pitchers, pretty much just total bases + ribbies.  Loved it every year, the camaradarie and conversation between baseball geeks, following my guys in the boxscores every day….the hi tech fantasy leagues and such don’t appeal to me though….I’m just old.

    These hi tech games ( though I know zero about them ) seem to be the natural extension of no tech drafts and dice games and the like…In “The Numbers Game” Schwarz writes about Epstein and Henry ( I’m forgetting others ) being big sim players and look how they turned out!


  9. BillyBeaneismyHero said...

    Why did you mention that it features Billy Beane?  That’s fantastic!  I hope there’s a Joe Morgan character that goes around spewing garbage after every move we make.

  10. Corsairs said...

    OOTP really has come a long way over the years.  The sim speed has vastly increased, as have the capabilities.  At this point (with due respect to BM and DMB) it’s the king of the baseball sims.  I’m on the Beta Team for OOTP 10, and there looks to be some exciting stuff coming for the next version.

    If any of you want to jump into the OOTP waters, allow me to recommend the Planetary Extreme Baseball Alliance (PEBA).  It’s a 24-team fictional league that’s in the process of adding a 12-team Japanese league, and new owners are needed for the expansion.  Of course there’s much more: full minors, college and high school teams, winter leagues… the works.

    The PEBA homepage:
    The league report:
    For those interested in joining:

  11. Sam said...

    I’m a big fan of OOTP.  I’m wary of a game that comes out on the consoles being as good.  I’m guessing Chris’s estimation that this is an even lighter baseball sim than Baseball Mogul is probably true.  Hopefully it doesn’t take away too much revenue from OOTP.

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