Make-believe manager

I can’t figure out the Cleveland Indians have played only three games this year while all the other teams have played six.

A little early to be talking baseball? Maybe, but I have a reason for this slight eccentricity.

I’m playing a game called Strategic Baseball Simulator. You’ll find the link to the site in my Blogroll. I’ve just started to simulate the 2007 MLB season, with my computer programmed to let me manually manage the Cleveland Indians.

The graphics in SBS are nothing to write home about. It’s just text overlaid on top of a photo of a Major League ballpark. But still, for the price—free—it lets you do quite a few of the things a major league manager does. And it quite capably decides the outcome of every at-bat, taking into account the statistics of the real Major League pitchers and batters involved.

You get to tweak with the batting order at the beginning of the game. I don’t. The batting order is already set up in an order predetermined by an existing manager. I don’t like to mess with success that much.

You get to decide when to yank out the starting pitcher in favor of a reliever. It works like this: when your starter has pitched a few innings, you bring up the command by typing either V or H, depending on whether you’re the visiting or home team, and select “Visit Mound”. The program will then tell you the pitcher’s current pitch count and a percentage figure of how tired he is. Around 80% of the pitcher’s endurance I like to get two relief pitchers going in the bullpen with an eye on relieving the starter at the start of the next inning. Darned if I don’t get too caught up in the game and forget to relieve the guy.

You get to decide when to bunt, steal bases, and put in pinch runners and hitters. You also get to decide when to pitch-out to try to pick a runner off of first base, or bring the infield in whenever you’re expecting a bunt, when to give a batter an intentional walk, and several other things that escape my memory right now. I’m still trying to get a feel for when in the game to properly do these things, and I’m not quite sure how to explain these things to you anyway.

You’ll also be given some situational options. You’ll be asked questions like “Run from 1st to 3rd?” or “Score runner from 2nd?” or “Attempt double steal?”, and be given a percentage figure how how likely the move is to succeed.

You’ll be given some help in making decisions. A player on the batting team with have a special speed number tacked onto the end of his name. For instance, in the case of “Lofton/6”, the 6 is Kenny Lofton’s speed number. The bigger that number is, the bigger a threat he is to steal and stretch base hits for extra bases. A big base-stealer might be picked off the bag by selecting “Pitch Out”, while a slower runner may need a bunt to get advanced around the bases. Bringing in your infield might be helpful against this.

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