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Yovani Gallardo And The No “K” Corral

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Yovani Gallardo And The No “K” Corral

Posted on 08 May 2013 by Will Emerson

Sometimes you may not notice certain things about certain players because you don’t pay attention to their every at bat, inning pitched, or whatever. Even in this wonderful age, where so much information is at our fingertips at virtually all times, things can slip past and go unnoticed to the baseball-loving masses. I mean, sure, if it is a “superstar” that is struggling mightily or a mighty struggler producing like a “superstar” then, yeah, the media and talking heads will notice and sort of force feed this information down our proverbial throats. However, for the majority of players, you know the tweeners or those on the cusp of stardom or, for that matter, mediocrity, certain statistics or information can be widely missed. All of this, as you should have guessed from the title, brings to me to the ever talented, Yovani Gallardo.

Yovani Gallardo, Milwaukee Brewers, must frustrating pitcher ever?

First, let me set the scene, even though many of you reading this are probably familiar with YoGa’s tale. Yovanni Gallardo broke into the majors with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2007, with ace-like potential. A young stud ready to become the Brewers’ ace of the future. Well, Yovani has never quite made the jump from very good to superstardom. Gallardo has been very solid in his almost six (he missed almost all of 2008) major league seasons with Milwaukee. Gallardo has not posted an ERA over four since coming onto the scene, however he also has not posted an ERA below 3.52 in the majors. Okay, well, YoGa did have an ERA of 1.88 in ’08, but that was in only four starts, so I am not really going to count that, if you don’t mind. Of course, as you may also know, I don’t hold complete faith in the statistic that is ERA, so to really paint you a picture, his SIERA has fallen between 3.22 and 4.08 in those seasons. Surprisingly, that 4.08 SIERA was during that extremely short ’08 season, so again, I don’t hold much stock in that year’s numbers. Regardless, you can kind of see that Gallardo was decent, solid, or any number of synonyms for decent or solid, but never quite made the leap to stardom. Many probably thought of Yovani as an ace coming into 2013 and, to be fair, he is the Brewer’s ace. Gallardo, definitely was thought of as a guy who was very close to becoming that breakout stud picther. Gallardo has been better than a great deal of starting pitchers in his career, that is for darned sure. Gallardo’s, ERAs, WHIPs, FIPs and K/9s have regularly been a good deal ahead of the league averages each season that he has pitched. Still, Yovani was not quite in that first tier of starting pitchers and there were still folks waiting for a big breakout season from the Brewers’ ace.

The Brewers tried to stack the cards in their favor, by adding Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum to their rotation, which would definitely take some pressure off of young Gallardo, where he would not be expected to carry the rotation on his back. Now those guys are gone and the “ace” label was now, without question, affixed to Gallardo in Milwaukee. So would this be the breakout season? Sure, Yovani does have control issues and little lapses at times, but every picther does, at least every now and then, right? Well, fast forward to today. Gallardo, possibly poised to take the next step, has struggled a bit in this young 2013 season.  Gallardo’s current ERA is 4.25, with a WHIP of 1.47, which of course will not tell us the whole story. The SIERA at 4.48 does give one pause here though. Seems like his ERA is pretty much an accurate depiction of Gallard’s season thus far. Now, it is early in the season, so generally I would not be ready to push the panic button on Yovani just yet. However, here is the thing, regardless of those fluctuating ERAs or WHIPs, bits of wildness here and there, or anything else that could be simply attributed to a slow start, my main concern falls more with Gallardo’s strikeouts, or lack thereof.

See, a lot of mistakes can me covered up/ fixed by a good strikeout picture and this tried and true mantra has certainly applied to YoGa throughout his career. Yovani Gallardo is a strikeout pitcher. Well, perhaps it should be was? Yovani Gallardo, was a strikeout pitcher. Below are YoGa’s K/9 numbers for his career coming into 2013:

2007- 8.24

2008- 7.50*

2009- 9.89

2010- 9.73

2011- 8.99

2012- 9.00

So basically throught his career Gallardo could generally be counted on to strikeout roughly a batter per inning pitched. That, right there, is a good strikeout pitcher, folks! So, what the heck (pardon my French) is happening now?

Gallardo, went into Monday night’s start not only having been very hittable in his first five starts, but posting a K/9 of 5.28. In fact in four of his first five starts, Gallardo struck out three or fewer batters. Could this be a cause for concern? Well, kind of depends on why this is happening, I suppose. First place I look, when I notice a big strikeout drop is  velocity. in 2010, Gallardo’s average fastball was clocked at 92.6. It was the exact same in 2011. In 2012, it dropped almost a mile per hour, to 91.7. This year? Another drop of about a mile per hour on his average fastball, to 90.6. All of his other pitches have also dropped roughly the same amount in velocity. I am not sure this drop should be a huge concern just yet, as it is still early in the season and YoGa may need to still work the arm out a bit. I am not entirely sure, in that regards, but here is another interesting nugget, Gallardo’s four seam fastball percentage thus far in 2013 is 31.9%, which is almost ten precent less than his percentage last year. Gallardo has instead been going to the two seamer much more than he has in the past, 25.4% in ’13 as opposed to 14.5% in ’12.  So, is it possible, that Gallardo is not as confident in the four seamer and or is not fooling many hitters with his two seamers? Or maybe he is just not fooling hitters, much at all? With any of his pitches? Batters are making contact on just about 75% of Yovani’s pitches they chase out of the zone. Now, I don’t have any data with how hard these balls have been hit, but considering this percentage was 65% last year and has only been higher than that once in his previous six seasons, I think we can make the general assumption that Yovani is just not baffling hitters nearly as much as he has been in the past.

Now, again, it is early and maybe this is absolutely something that can be worked on and adjusted. Heck (there’s that potty mouth of mine again), maybe it is just an early season slump that is not indicative of how the season will pan out for Gallardo. The sample size is very small and it is always dangerous to read much into early season numbers, but I think you can see some things that may bear monitoring with Gallardo as the season progresses. Gallardo did put together a very good outing on Monday, against the Pirates, and while I don’t see updated pitch data from that game, it should be pointed out that in his previous start against the Padres, his average fastball was the fastest it has been all season, at 91.4%. Interestingly, in the Padres start, Gallardo threw far more changeups than any other previous 2013 start, but also only struckout two batters, while walking five, so not sure what is really going on with Yoga. Hopefully Monday’s outing, in which he finished by striking out three of the last five batters he faced, will be more indicative of things to come for Gallardo, even if those three batters were Gaby Sanchez, Clint Barmes and Jonathan Sanchez.

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Knuckleball hits your screens as Dickey hits his 20th.

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Knuckleball hits your screens as Dickey hits his 20th.

Posted on 01 October 2012 by Trish Vignola

Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern didn’t know much about baseball before the 2011 major league season. The co-directors of the documentary “Knuckleball!” had different views of the pitch that would be the centerpiece of their film. “I knew only that it was a disparaged pitch,” Sundberg said to ESPN. “My husband’s old friend from college had nothing good to say about the knuckleball, so that’s all I knew. It has a lot to do with this idea that it’s not a real pitch, that it shouldn’t be held up to the same effect as some of the other pitches like the curveball or fastball.”

“I walked into my kitchen and told my kids about making a film about Tim Wakefield and knuckleball pitchers, and my kids picked up apples and started knuckling them around the kitchen,” Stern said to ESPN. “They were New York City kids who grew up as Red Sox fans and so they had to be very strong in their convictions, and they love Tim Wakefield and the knuckleball, so their reaction was, ‘Woohoo let’s do it!’”

Despite their lack of familiarity with the subject, the two women, best known for their Emmy-nominated documentary films “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work” (an amazing piece within itself) and “The Devil Came On Horseback” (about the genocide in Darfur) jumped at the chance to bring the story of the controversial, oft-misunderstood pitch that has baffled batters and catchers for decades to the big screen. “We’re really attracted to the characters — the individuals and people who have obstacles and something to overcome in pursuit of their dreams,” Stern said. “For us, that just makes strong storytelling. The essence of what the symbolic meaning of the knuckleball embodies. These guys are outliers in baseball who struggle against all odds to stay in the game to pursue their dreams. They kind of clawed their way, as they say, with their fingertips — just like one holds the ball with one’s fingertips — back into the major leagues.”

“These guys” refers primarily to Tim Wakefield and R.A. Dickey, the two knuckleball pitchers in the majors during the 2011 season. The documentary also includes retired knuckleballers, Charlie Hough, Jim Bouton, Tom Candiotti, Wilbur Wood and Hall of Famer Phil Niekro, who are a handful of the approximately 80 men who have been members of the knuckleball fraternity. “You need the fingertips of a safecracker and the mind of a Zen Buddhist,” longtime major leaguer Bouton says at the top of the film, describing the talents required to master the unpredictable pitch.
With unprecedented access to Wakefield and Dickey, as well as their families, from spring training through the end of the 2011 season, Stern and Sundberg directed an endearing, engaging 90-minute documentary about the knuckleball and the men who have managed to make their careers throwing a baseball that doesn’t spin.

I challenge the idea that critics proclaim “Knuckleball” as an anti-baseball movie. Why? There’s no homerun montage? There’s no Bob Uecker?

Not that I don’t love Bob Uecker.

The film is filled with lots of beautifully shot baseball footage (MLB is a co-producer), a rich soundtrack and intricate discussions of the pitch with former players and baseball beat writers. Not only is it a great baseball movie, it’s easily one of the best baseball movies I’ve seen. This is the movie I wanted “Moneyball” to be.

“Knuckleball” is very SABR, slightly geeky and never takes itself too seriously. Does this make the film commercially friendly? Absolutely not.

Although Charlie Hough is pretty much a matinee model in my eyes.

R.A. Dickey got an ovation from the crowd the first time he appears on screen. Ok. Grant it, I saw it at the Montclair Film Festival the same day Dickey got his 20th win. That’s neither here nor there. In all truthfulness, “Knuckleball” is one of the most satisfying baseball films I’ve seen in years. If it’s not coming to a film festival near you, it’s available on iTunes and on Video On Demand through November.

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Drafting From The Dark Side: A Newbie’s View Of First Real Fantasy Action

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Drafting From The Dark Side: A Newbie’s View Of First Real Fantasy Action

Posted on 07 April 2012 by Jeff Coleman

Chapter 1: “The (Clumsy) Arrival Of The Korriban Sith Lords”

As one of the writers for Full Spectrum, and a bit of a baseball / stats nut, I jumped at the chance Daniel offered to be a part of the inaugural FSBB Fantasy Baseball League. I figured it would be a fun and interesting way to interact with my fellow writers and readers, doing something we all feel passionate about. But then it dawned on me.

This would be my first major foray into fantasy baseball. You know, with one’s credibility and heart and knowledge on the line. And since I’m writing for a fantasy baseball site about fantasy baseball…

Hoo’boy.

SO, I decided to do my due diligence and research, looked at some of my normal sites for news and views, and tried to catch the buzz around spring training. But even with all that done, I felt a little under-prepared once March 25th, 5pm rolled around. However, it was too late to turn around at that point… Well, I was the #5 pick of the draft, so I still had time to turn around.

I heard the little jingle that signified it was my turn to pick. Too late now.

So with injury reports in hand (or more appropriately, at my fingertips), a little insider information at my back, and the voice of David Stern in my head…

“With the fifth pick in the 2012 Full Spectrum Fantasy Baseball League, the Korriban Sith Lords select… Curtis Granderson, New York Yankees.”

I hear several of you saying, “Uhm… Jeff…? Wasn’t the Grandy-Man out recently with a sore elbow?” Yes. Yes he was. But not at the time of the draft.

I hear others of you saying, “Jeff…? He’s a Yankee! Why?” These are probably my fellow Indians fans… And the folks that won’t like my second round pick, either.

Granderson is a talent. Good power, above average speed… He’s a run-producer and coming into his own in the peak of his career at age 31. I wouldn’t say keeper league material; the natural fall-off of players is coming soon for him, he has a high number of strikeouts, and his average is a little less than stellar. Overall though, he’s definitely good for a one-year contract for the Sith Lords. Besides… The Yankees, the Evil Empire, Sith Lords. It all makes sense.

Grandy is my Darth Vader.

In the second round, I picked up Kevin Youkilis from the Boston Red Sox. Now this is the pick of my top five that I’m dreading down the road. Youk is known for his hitting prowess, hitting around .280 or above his whole career (save his rookie season and last season). Decent RBI numbers and a reasonable K/BB ratio give a solid overall performer. The only nagging thing is that Youk has been a bit of a ‘porcelain god’ the last few seasons. Injuries have robbed him of some time during those crucial peak years, and he’s already banged up this spring (stiff lower back a few days after the draft). To quote ESPN’s fantasy assessment of Youk: “… While the injury risk is still quite prevalent, when he is on the field, Youkilis should perform at his customary levels…”. I would expect a little tail-off of his numbers due to age and normal decline, but the injury bug distresses me. That is the one thing I can see Spring Training being a sign of, as injuries there tend to either affect a player longer, remain nagging all season, or (at worst) re-occur during the season. I’m hoping for the best from Youk (purely for my team’s sake, of course), but am already plotting out an ‘emergency exit strategy’ as we speak.

My first pitcher came in the next round in the guise of Milwaukee’s Zack Greinke. Transitioning from one league to another is usually a pain for a pitcher, having to learn new batters and getting used to not batting (or in this case, now batting). Zack seemed to take it well in stride, posting numbers (16-6, 3.83 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 19 HR, 201 K, 45 BB) that were comparable to his career averages (10-9, 3.82, 1.26, 16, 142, 41). Greinke was showing signs of steady improvement in Kansas City (save 2010), and I see no reason that Greinke won’t continue that trend with his first year in the NL behind him. Zack is 28, still young;  he bounced back from a fractured rib quite handily in ’10, displaying a resiliency that should keep him in the Brew Crew’s rotation for several full seasons to come. Barring any major arm or elbow injury, he should enjoy continued success at the peak of his career.

A couple of other solid picks in the draft were the Seattle Mariners’ Ichiro Suzuki (Round 5) and Carlos Beltran from the St. Louis Cardinals (Round 9). Ichiro had an atypical off-year batting average wise. At 38 years of age, most fans would probably say that Ichiro is on the verge of becoming a non-factor. However, he was his normal speedster self (40/47 SB), and most of the rest of his offensive production was similar to his career averages with only one game played less. While Ichiro is certainly in the twilight of his career, he is more than capable of touching .300 again, adding in solid production numbers across the board and his trademark speed. Carlos Beltran came back like gangbusters after microfracture surgery, batting .300 overall in 142 games. Beltran played in more games last season than he had since ’08 (161). Another player that has crested his best years, the fact that he played the majority of the season after major surgery gives good hope for continued resiliency and opportunity to produce for the Cards. His overall numbers may diminish, and he is definitely not the running threat he once was, but Carlos is still a viable, solid hitter. The Cards will need a good year out of Beltran to return to playoff contention in the post-Pujols era, and Carlos looks poised to deliver.

While I managed to avoid the “Home Team Syndrome” that new fantasy players can fall into, I did pick up two familiar names to Cleveland Indians fans: Ubaldo Jimenez and Vinnie Pestano. Pestano I have lauded over in two of my previous articles, and was a pretty easy choice to make: I have to back up all my love for the “Bullpen Mafioso”. Ubaldo, however, would seem like a head-scratcher of a choice, given the league and team adjustment after a mid-season trade, diminished velocity on his fastball, and now a looming 5-game suspension from the MLB front offices. Looking at Jimenez in Spring Training this year, he found a good chunk of the speed he had originally “lost”. This bodes well in a pitcher’s park like Progressive Field. Ubaldo also showed a bit for fire and vinegar with the plunk of Troy Tulowitzki in his last spring start. I won’t vilify or condone the action itself, but I will say that it is nice to see someone with a fire in them on the Indians squad. That kind of thing is contagious, and was something the team lacked a bit of last year as they were plummeting out of the AL Central race. Jimenez won’t be a leader in the clubhouse, but I feel he will be a much-needed spark and a more than serviceable pitcher. Not league-best, but mid-3 ERA with 150+ Ks.

Here is the complete rundown of how my draft evolved:

Pick #5 (Round #1) Curtis Granderson (CF, NYY)
Pick #28 (Round #2) Kevin Youkilis (3B, BOS)
Pick #37 (Round #3) Zack Greinke (SP, MIL)
Pick #60 (Round #4) Chris Young (CF, ARI)
Pick #69 (Round #5) Ichiro Suzuki (RF, SEA)
Pick #92 (Round #6) Howard Kendrick (2B, LAA)
Pick #101 (Round #7) Ubaldo Jimenez (SP, CLE)
Pick #124 (Round #8) Neil Walker (2B, PIT)
Pick #133 (Round #9) Carlos Beltran (RF, STL)
Pick #156 (Round #10) Brandon Beachy (SP, ATL)
Pick #165 (Round #11) Jordan Walden (RP, LAA)
Pick #188 (Round #12) Adam Dunn (1B, CWS)
Pick #197 (Round #13) Daniel Bard (RP, BOS)
Pick #220 (Round #14) Yadier Molina (C, STL)
Pick #229 (Round #15) Vinnie Pestano (RP, CLE)
Pick #252 (Round #16) Sean Rodriguez (SS, TB)
Pick #261 (Round #17) Alex Rios (CF, CWS)
Pick #284 (Round #18) Chris Davis (3B, BAL)
Pick #293 (Round #19) J.D. Martinez (LF, HOU)
Pick #316 (Round #20) Scott Downs (RP, LAA)
Pick #325 (Round #21) Will Venable (RF, SD)
Pick #348 (Round #22) Fernando Salas (RP, STL)
Pick #357 (Round #23) Alfredo Aceves (RP, BOS)
Pick #380 (Round #24) Chris Capuano (SP, LAD)
Pick #389 (Round #25) Brad Peacock (SP, OAK)

 

Overall not too bad of a draft. I only had to make one post-draft move (Brad Peacock didn’t make the Oakland roster, so he was dropped in favor of Matt Harrison, starting pitcher from Texas). But I could always use a little draft grading.

Any pick-ups that look suspect? Any sleepers I stumbled upon? Give me a comment below, or hit me up at Twitter at @JCPronkFan48!

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OOTP 13 – The Road To Release, Part 3

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OOTP 13 – The Road To Release, Part 3

Posted on 06 April 2012 by Out Of The Park

OOTP 13 – The Road To Release, Part 3:
A Bucket of Screenshots

What would Road to Release be without the obligatory screenshot round-up? John Rodriguez, also known as “Corsairs” on OOTP”s forum, snapped some shots from the perspective of his epic OOTP online league, the Planetary Extreme Baseball Alliance (PEBA), and its sister organization, the League of the Rising Sun (LRS). Let”s look at some of OOTP 13″s as-yet-unseen screens from a PEBA point of view.

Creating a League Association

League Associations are one of OOTP 13″s cool new features that lets you put different leagues under one umbrella, sharing playoffs, rules, and more. Here, John sets up an association with PEBA and LRS:

The main setup screen displays all the options available to customize the Association.

The playoffs for the Association are straightforward, but one can see the expanded realm of options that are now available.

Once setup is complete, you can review the details of the Association at any time. Here John has chosen to associate the PEBA and the LRS together into a “Leagues of the PEBA” association.

Expanded Playoffs and League Expansion Wizard

Customizable playoffs are another key part of OOTP 13. Here”s that feature in action:

As with association playoffs, the expanded playoff options increase the scope and options of playoff qualifiers.

And here”s the updated Expansion Wizard that lets you easily expand your league:

New options on this dialog include the ability to protect players with a certain minimum level of service time and a limit on the number of picks taken from any single team.

New Manager Home Screen

Many screens have been redesigned, including the new Manager Home Screen, which puts the most important information at your fingertips. Here”s a look at casino online John”s welcome screen. League Commissioners apparently have a lot to do.

In-Game Reports

You might have heard that HTML reports have been replaced inside the game with new native versions of the reports. Here”s a quick peek at one of those report screens from the PEBAverse.

In-Game Screen

We have redesigned the in-game screen in OOTP 13, replacing the default and widget views with an improved widget-based view called “BNN Broadcast”. The main attraction of this screen is that it (optionally) automatically adjusts to your current screen resolution, resulting in a much cleaner look than the previous widget screen in previous versions. Of course, you may still opt to set up the screen in any way you like, moving the widgets around and selecting different size options.

The Out of Town Scores Widget has gained a new size setting, when set to maximum it displays the complete info available from the Real-Time Simulation Mode.

Here are a few examples, using different screen resolutions:

1024 x 768:

1280 x 1024:

1920 x 1200:

Summary

We hope you enjoyed this quick peek into some of the as-yet-unseen screen from OOTP 13. Watch for more in-depth descriptions of some of these screens in an upcoming Road to Release article soon.

OOTP 13 puts a host of new tools, a redesigned and improved user interface and countless functional improvements all under your control so you can mold and shape your mega-million-dollar major league franchise or small market independent start-up to its maximum potential. The game is truly yours for the taking, so come play it your way!

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OOTP 13 – The Road To Release, Part 2

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OOTP 13 – The Road To Release, Part 2

Posted on 05 April 2012 by Out Of The Park

OOTP 13 – The Road To Release, Part 2:
Real-Time Simulation: Your New OOTP Addiction!

Remember September 28th, 2011?

Watching the day unfold, with all eyes on Atlanta, Baltimore, and Tampa, was an experience never to be forgotten.

In Out of the Park Baseball, fans have the ability to enjoy such excitement year-round. However, unless you watched one game play out, you were limited to simming out the day. It could provide a singular “wow” moment, but…well, the moment was fleeting.

Not so in OOTP13.

Welcome to Real-Time Simulation…aka, Your New Addiction!

(NOTE: The game does not ship with real logos! Screenshots containing logos were taken by using a beta version of the game and are for demonstration purposes only.)

What is Real-Time Simulation?

With Real-Time Simulation (RTS), you can watch the events of each day unfold in actual real-time. Or, if you wish, you can increase the speed of the day by factors of 2, 5, 10, 20, 60, 120, or 300. During RTS, you have the entire universe at your fingertips. You can look through any part of your league or association while the day plays out. But don”t worry about missing events as they happen: the RTS Live Update Bar, positioned atop the screen, gives you all scoring updates, as well as news of special events in the making. You also have the option of speeding up or slowing down your day, as well as pausing the action.

In this particular universe, fans woke up on October 3rd to a plethora of races. While Boston, Cleveland, and the Angels had punched their postseason tickets by winning their divisions, nothing else was settled. Here is how the standings looked heading into the final day of the season:

The key match-ups worth watching, as they involved teams with playoff aspirations, were:
7:10: Philadelphia (Worley, 7-14, 3.82) @ Washington (Gonzalez, 15-10, 3.98)
7:10: Boston (Beckett, 18-8, 3.58) @ NY Yankees (Sabathia, 12-14, 4.39)
7:35: Atlanta (Hanson, 12-7, 3.24) @ Pittsburgh (Morton, 9-16, 4.69)
8:10: Baltimore (Matusz, 6-5, 3.39) @ Tampa (Cobb, 8-13, 5.12)
8:35: Colorado (de la Rosa, 14.8, 3.67) @ Arizona (Kennedy, 15-10, 4.32)
10:10: LA Angels (Bell, 13.9, 3.73) @ Seattle (Beaven, 4.4, 2.79)
10:10: San Francisco (Bumgarner, 11-11, 2.72) @ LA Dodgers (Capuano, 13-12, 3.49)

(All times EST)

The big game, however, was found in St. Louis, where a de-facto one-game playoff for the NL Central crown was held. Mat Latos, who had lived up to the hype as a front-line starter, took his 21-7 record and 2.90 ERA against the Cardinals” ace Adam Wainwright (15-12, 2.82).

That”s a lot of channel flipping. Thankfully, with RTS, you”re only as far away as the click of your mouse.

How do I use RTS?

October 3, 2012 got off to a rousing start:

2:30pm: Justin Ruggiano hits a two-run home-run in Chicago, putting Houston up 2-0. Earlier in the day, Justin Morneau”s two homers, including one in the tenth, led the Twins to a 6-5 win over the Blue Jays.

In the screenshot below, you can see RTS Central. Note the Fenway-based scoreboards that show the entire linescore, as well as the most recent action of the game. You can also see the activity on the bases. Notice a rally taking shape? You can jump right into a game via the “Watch Game” button. You can also check out the box score to see how your fantasy players are doing.

You can look at the history of the day”s scoring updates, as well as a fluid list of the day”s top performers, at the bottom of the screen. The player names among the Top Performers are clickable and will take you to the player cards.

The day goes on and Houston holds off Chicago, 7-3, while Oakland cruises by Texas, 6-1. Now the fun begins.

The Joy of RTS: October 3, 2012

7:17: Mark Teixiera”s single scores Derek Jeter. With runners on the corners and one out, Robby Cano is the batter. With Beckett on the mound, this is a fantastic chance to see some early drama. Thankfully, with RTS, it”s easy to move in and out of games seamlessly. Click the “Watch Now” button to get into the game; after you arrive, you have an added “Leave Game” option that brings you back to the RTS screen.

7:22: The Phillies begin to mount a rally, putting two on with one out. After Carlos Ruiz pops up, Ty Wigginton”s single scores Chase Utley. Scoring updates can be found in green on the linescore.

7:36: Nick Swisher homers, giving the Yankees a 3-0 lead. Want to check up on the latest news, injuries, leaders, or just about anything related to your league while the day is playing out? You”re in luck! During RTS, you have the entire universe at your fingertips. You can look through any part of your league or association while the day plays out.

But don”t worry about missing events as they happen: the RTS Live Update Bar, positioned atop the screen, gives you all scoring updates, as well as news of special events in the making. You also have the option of speeding up or slowing down your day, as well as pausing the action. During my time spent looking at the standings, the Red Sox rallied to tie the score. Getting back to RTS is easy: just click the League pull-down menu, then click on “LIVE SCORES” under Special Event. That brings you right back to the screen. You can also click on the RTS Update bar atop the screen, which will bring you right back to RTS Central.

7:54: Matt Hague doubles home two, giving the Nats a 3-1 lead over the Phillies. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh scores in the bottom of the first as Neil Walker singles home Andrew McCutchen. Braves fans are hoping lightning doesn”t strike twice.

8:05: The Yanks score two on ground-outs in the third to go up 5-3, while Washington adds another on Danny Espinosa”s single, giving the Nats a 4-1 lead. Miami has a 5-0 lead on the Mets, on Aaron Rowand”s three-run homer, while Cleveland is up 2-1 on the ChiSox.

8:17: Carl Crawford singles home Ryan Sweeney, then scores on Darnell McDonald”s two-run single, giving Boston a 6-5 lead in the fourth in the Bronx. Also, the Game Of The Day begins in St. Louis with a silencer: Joey Votto hits a three-run jack off Adam Wainwright, giving the visiting Reds a quick jump on the Cards.

8:27: The Phils load the bases on Gio Gonzalez in the fifth, only to see Ryan Zimmerman make a brilliant stab of John Mayberry”s liner, ending the threat. 4-1 Nats as the game is now official.

8:36: Kendrys Morales, acquired by the Angels earlier in the year, singles home a run, giving the Indians a 3-1 lead. Meanwhile, Jhonny Peralta hits a two-run jack, giving Detroit a 2-1 lead over the Royals in the second.

8:39: In Arizona, Carlos Gonzalez doubles home Todd Helton and Marco Scutaro, giving the Rockies a 2-0 lead in the top of the first. The Rockies need a win, plus a Giants loss, to force a one-game playoff for the NL West title.

8:41: B.J. Upton”s ground-out scores Matt Joyce, giving the Rays an early 1-0 lead against the Orioles. The Rays are in the same spot as Colorado: they need a win, plus a loss by the Yankees, to force at least a one-game playoff for the Wild Card. So far, so good.

8:42: Michael Cuddyer hits a solo shot. 3-0 Rockies.

8:50: A-Rod scores Teixeira on a single. Tie game at Yankee Stadium after five.

8:54: Atlanta plates two in the fourth, the key being Drew Sutton”s triple, giving them a 2-1 lead in Pittsburgh. Sutton, used semi-frequently in a few cups of coffee to the show, has come through in a key spot in the game. You can see his 2012 stats in the screenshot below. A careful observer would also notice that Adam Wainwright”s single has gotten St. Louis on the board in the second. The Reds still lead 3-1, but the Cardinals are not going quietly into the night…not with a title on the line.

8:59: Ben Francisco hits a sac fly, scoring Miggy Cabrera and giving the Tigers a 4-1 lead over the Royals.

9:02: The Phils are at it again, putting two on with one out in the seventh against Gonzalez. The lefty strikes out Matt Diaz, then gets Dom Brown to ground out to first. Threat over…the Nats still lead 4-1. They are getting closer to paying back the Phillies for their fans invading their park over the years.

9:07: Helton blasts a two-run bomb, giving the Rockies a 5-0 lead in the second. The underachieving D”Backs seem to be rolling over.

9:18: Miggy Cabrera is 3-for-3 with a homer and 3 RBI. His two-run job gives the Tigers a 7-1 lead over the Royals.

9:12: Pedroia continues to be Captain Clutch. His third hit of the game nets RBIs three and four. Kelly Shoppach and Carl Crawford cross the plate, giving the Red Sox an 8-6 lead in the sixth.

9:28: The Red Sox have loaded the bases with one out. McDonald is at the plate against Boone Logan. This deserves a look-in, so we simply enter the game with a click of a button.

The crafty lefty got the K, only to face Adrian Gonzalez. Fortunately for Yankee fans, Gonzalez ripped it hard…but right at Cano. They go to the stretch at Yankee Stadium…Red Sox 8, Yanks 6.

9:35: And just like that, the Yanks have stormed back to the lead, behind A-Rod”s 29th home run of the year. The three-run jack gives him four RBI for the night, 104 for the year, and hands the Yanks a 9-8 lead. The Zoo is going crazy.

9:36: Daniel Murphy hits a homer. It”s too late to help the Mets, who fall 5-1 to Miami.

9:37: Matt ejphelps Holliday”s two-run homer ties things up in St. Louis.

9:38: The Nats add a run on Rogert Bernadina”s single, giving them a 5-1 edge over the Phils. Meanwhile, the Braves tack on a run, making it 3-1. Fans are closer to a 163rd game to decide the NL East.

9:46: Diaz scores Wigginton on a sac fly. It”s likely too little, too late for the Phils, who are about to become huge Pirate fans. Meanwhile, Justin Masterson was masterful, coming within one out of a three-hitter to get his 16th win as Cleveland wins 5-1 over the White Sox. Alex Cobb of Tampa is trying to grab the top performance of the day; his six innings of three-hit ball have him third on the list, behind Masterson and Anibal Sanchez (7 IP, 3 H, 0 R 6 K, 2 BB).

9:50: Sean Rodriguez” solo homer gives the Rays a 4-0 lead in the sixth.

9:53: The Phils lose in Washington. Now the scoreboard watching begins for the Phils.

9:55: They”re getting nervous in Tampa…a Yanks win ends any drama in the AL. Boston is running out of chances, ending the eighth on Cody Ross” double-play. Shawn Marcum is tossing a three-hitter in Milwaukee, handcuffing the Padres so far.

9:59: Chris Heisley hits a solo shot, putting the Reds back out in front of the Cardinals, 4-3. They continue to threaten with two on and one out. After loading the bases, they pull ace Mat Latos for pinch-hitter Todd Frazier. He promptly grounds into a double play, ending the threat and costing Dusty Baker his ace.

10:05: They go to the ninth in the Bronx…Yanks lead, 9-8. It”s Sweeney-Aviles-Shoppach for the Sox against the timeless Mariano Rivera. He promptly strikes out Sweeney.

10:10: Jarrod Saltalamacchia grounds out. Boston is down to their final out. David Ortiz grabs a bat.

10:10 (cont”d): Rivera throws a fastball, belt-high, on the inside part of the plate. It”s a mistake that he never makes. And Ortiz hits it a long, long way…but not long enough. Granderson catches it at the wall in right-center. The Yanks celebrate around their closer, who notched his 37th save. New York wins the AL Wild Card. The fact that it”s a come-from-behind win over the hated Red Sox…well, that”s a bit sweeter.

10:11: In Tampa, things just got very quiet.

10:12: David Ross walks for a RBI in Pittsburgh. The Braves are threatening to break it open, with the bases loaded and one out, owning a 4-1 lead.

10:13: Jason Grilli worked out of the jam, getting Michael Bourn to pop up before striking out Martin Prado. Still 4-1, Braves.

10:15: First pitch is thrown in Seattle. Thanks to the Yanks, it is a suddenly meaningless game.

10:21: The Giants and Dodgers are scoreless after one. The Giants need to win to avoid what the Phillies are hoping to escape: a one-game playoff. Unfortunately for their fans, the Rockies hold a 5-1 lead in Arizona.

10:25: The Braves are threatening again with two in scoring position and nobody out. Grilli appears to like pitching in tough spots…he just struck out Brian McCann.

10:28: Chipper Jones is walked intentionally, bringing up Sutton (2-3, 2B, 3B, RBI, BB). Sutton walks, giving the Braves a 5-1 lead.

10:33: They”ve played seven in St. Louis. 4-3, Cincinnati leads.

10:35: Milwaukee 2, San Diego 1 (F): Marcum is fantastic, tossing eight innings of four-hit ball, striking out eight.

10:41: Jake Fox lines out to open the bottom of the ninth in Pittsburgh.

10:42: There are no theatrics in Tampa, but Alex Cobb finishes off a five-hit shutout of the Orioles. He struck out 13 against no walks, taking his place atop the top performers list.

10:45: Garrett Jones doubles, scoring Walker. 5-2, Braves. The Pirates have two on with two out and a pinch-hitter coming up for Chris Resop. Jonny Venters is on the mound for the Braves.

10:47: Miggy Montero walks home with a run for the Diamondbacks. 5-2, Rockies, in the seventh.

10:48: The pinch-hitter for the Pirates is Pedro Alvarez. It doesn”t matter. He strikes out to end the game and keep the Braves” season going for at least another game. Braves win, 5-2, and force a one-game playoff in Philadelphia tomorrow.

10:49: The nation”s eyes now shift to St. Louis, where the Cardinals cannot get any offense going. They trail the Reds 4-3 as they go to the ninth. Remember, the winner of this game wins the NL Central.

10:55: Drew Stubbs triples to open up the casino online top of the ninth for the Reds.

10:56; Brandon Phillips singles Stubbs home, giving the Reds a 5-3 lead. Fernando Salas immediately throws a wild pitch, then walks Votto.

11:00: Carlos Gonzalez homers for the Rockies, giving them a 6-4 lead over the D”Backs, who woke up in the seventh.

11:04: Another Salas wild pitch scores Phillips. He has totally unraveled here in the ninth, and it may cost the Cardinals. 6-3, Reds, as they head to the bottom of the ninth.

11:06: AJ Ellis homers for the Dodgers, giving them a 2-0 lead in the third over San Francisco. Will the Rockies begin to celebrate too early?

11:10: Rafael Furcal grounds out to open the bottom of the ninth in St. Louis.

11:12: Tyler Greene hits a pinch-hit bomb, cutting the Cards” deficit to 6-4. Sean Marshall is trying to finish things off for the Reds.

11:13: Chris Young homers for the D”Backs. 6-5 Rockies in the bottom of the eighth. It needs to be asked again…are they celebrating too early?

11:15: Yadier Molina lines out. Runner on first with two outs for Matt Holliday.

11:16: Holliday flies out to right, ending the game and the Cardinals” season. The Reds win the game, 6-4, as well as the NL Central. Latos picks up the win to go to 22-7 on the year, perhaps taking the Cy Young Award in the process.

11:17: Cole Gillespie”s triple scores Ryan Roberts, tying the game 6-6 in Arizona. The Rockies celebrated too early.

Special Updates During RTS

11:19: They”ve played four-and-a-half in Los Angeles and Chris Capuano has thrown five no-hit innings. The game will let you know of special events going on, such as four hits, three home runs, or, in this case, a no-hitter being tossed. You can find these among the scoring updates.

11:20: It may be a meaningless game now, but don”t tell that to the Seattle faithful. A packed house of over 43,000 are there to cheer on the M”s. So far, their team leads 1-0 over the Angels, who clinched the AL West title two days before in Seattle. A little under an hour ago, they found out they were eliminated from the playoffs altogether. Rough few days for the M”s and their fans, but they aren”t showing it.

11:22: Gerardo Parra singles home Gillespie. Suddenly, things get very tense in the Colorado dugout. D”Backs lead 7-6 in the bottom of the eighth. This was a 5-1 game at the seventh inning stretch.

11:25: They go to the ninth after Montero strikes out looking. 7-6, Arizona. Dexer Fowler, Helton, and Scutaro will bat for the Rockies in the top of the ninth against JJ Putz.

11:28: Fowler doubles on a 1-2 count to open the ninth.

11:29: Helton singles home Fowler. 7-7 game.

11:31: Eric Young Jr., in to pinch-run for Helton, steals second, and moves to third on Scutaro”s ground out. Gonzalez is walked intentionally for Troy Tulowitzki. That”s like bypassing Mike Tyson to fight George Foreman.

11:33: Putz walks Tulo, loading the bases for Jamie Hoffmann (.235-15-36), who entered as a defensive replacement for Cuddyer earlier in the game. Hoffmann has not had as big an at-bat in his professional career.

11:36: Putz works him to 0-2. Hoffman gets him to a full count before striking out swinging.

11:38: Tyler Colvin is the pinch-hitter. He promptly grounds out to end the threat. But the Rockies salvaged their season…for now.

11:40: Capuano: Six no-hit innings. The M”s still lead 1-0, on the strength of one hit, against the Angels after six innings.

11:43: James Darnell”s two-run homer puts the Dodgers up 4-0. A triple and a wild pitch later and it”s 5-0 Dodgers.

11:45: Aaron Hill walks with two outs, bringing up Chris Young. Young, who has homered already, hits a bomb to straight-away center…only to see the ballpark swallow it up. They”ll play free baseball in Arizona.

11:50: AJ Ellis strikes out, ending the sixth in LA. 5-0 Dodgers. Capuano heads back out to the mound.

11:52: Putz goes back out for another inning and is greeted by a Jonathan Herrerra single. Fowler to the plate.

11:54: Fowler triples home Herrera, putting the Rockies up 8-7.

11:55: Freddy Sanchez singles off Capuano, ending 6 1/3 no-hit innings for the Dodger starter. Meanwhile, Jordan Pacheco is hit by a pitch against new pitcher Bryan Shaw. Runners are on the corners with one out for Scutaro.

12:00: As the clock strikes midnight, Scutaro walks to load the bases for Gonzalez. Seattle still leads 1-0 (still with only one hit), while the Dodgers lead 5-0 against the Giants.

12:03: Gonazlez doubles home two runs, giving the Rockies a 10-7 lead. He also sets a regular season record for doubles in a game with his third. He is 4-for-5, 3 2B, HR, BB, 5 RBI on the day. Not bad when your season is on the line.

12:05: Hoffmann grounds out, scoring Scutaro. 11-7, Rockies, as they go to the bottom of the 10th.

11:12: The D”Backs finally lay down. Rockies 11, Arizona 7. If the score holds at Chavez Ravine, there will be another one-game playoff, this one for the NL West title.

12: 16: The Dodgers-Giants game goes to the eighth, LA up 6-0. Seattle still leads 1-0 as Blake Beaven is two outs away from his first-ever complete game shutout.

12:20: Mike Trout, who singled, has moved up to third base on a steal. He is the tying run for the Angels with two outs and Bobby Abreu at the plate. Brandon League has come in to shut things down. The question is…can he?

12:24: Nope. Abreu smacks a two-run homer off League. The Angels finally break through: Abreu”s round-tripper was the team”s tenth hit of the night. Angels lead 2-1 as they go to the bottom of the ninth.

12:35: With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, John Jaso takes Jordan Walden deep, tying the game. It his Walden”s fourth blown save and Jaso”s first home run of the season. In his defense, he spent most of the year in AAA Tacoma while Jesus Montero got the at-bats in Seattle.

12:36: And there will be another one-game playoff. Capuano pitches eight innings of one-hit ball before letting the bullpen finish a 6-0 victory over the Giants. The one-game playoff will be in Colorado tomorrow night.

1:31: Alex Liddi”s double scores Michael Saunders, sending Mariner fans home happy. Seattle wins 3-2 in 12.

The Wrap-Up (AKA “I Need A Cigarette”)

With Real-Time Simulation, you don”t have to let your world zoom by. You can stop to smell the roses and watch the action unfold before your very eyes. On one day, there were several games with severe playoff implications, along with comebacks, no-hit bids, the kind of clutch hitting you would want from your MVP candidates, and the types of moments that make us all baseball fans.

And you get to enjoy it all throughout the year.

OOTP 13 puts a host of new tools, a redesigned and improved user interface and countless functional improvements all under your control so you can mold and shape your mega-million-dollar major league franchise or small market independent start-up to its maximum potential. The game is truly yours for the taking, so come play it your way!

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