Off-season fun

Conor · November 24, 2008 at 5:17 am · Filed Under General baseball 

“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” —Rogers Hornsby

Rogers Hornsby didn’t have a computer.

Now, I’m not saying this is going to be a dull or uneventful winter, but if you find yourself pining for some baseball this off season, here are a few computer-related remedies…

Become an armchair GM on

I’m not sure how it compares with other baseball simulations like Strat-O-Matic or Diamond Mind, but I love WhatIfSports. I’ve been playing the site’s Hardball Dynasty game for a couple years now (which equals nine HBD seasons) and I’m hooked. Unlike the other two, Hardball Dynasty is a simulation using fictional players. I describe it to my non-baseball-fan friends and family that it’s sort of like a baseball version of Dungeons and Dragons. You have to big baseball fan to commit the time and money necessary to manage an entire organization of imaginary players. You get to scour the waiver wire for cheap help, manage disabled lists, promote players, set your lineups and pitching staffs at all levels, pick players in the amateur draft and the Rule 5 draft, make trades…it’s really in depth. I highly recommend it. Any HBD players in the house?

Get lost on

I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here, but Baseball-Reference is a godsend for baseball fans. I use it daily and owe a huge thank you to Sean Foreman. It’s always fun (and easy) to just head over to Baseball-Reference and lose track of time. Sometimes it starts with a question I have that leads me to click around to other pages. Other times, I go over with no agenda, just to see what I can find. One fun thing to do is to is to put fake teams together. Put together the best team that you can using guys with the same first name … or three last names … or a team where there are only four different birthdays … or something else altogether. What else can you come up with?

Check out some baseball card blogs

I stumbled upon some of these a few weeks ago and they’re pretty fun. Any USSM readers collect cards? The industry has really changed since I collected as a kid. I collected a bunch as a kid and then picked it back up a few years ago (That has fizzled lately, although I probably have one of the top-three most extensive Mike Cameron collections on the planet.). There’s a surprising number of blogs out there dedicated to cards and here are some of the best I’ve found…

Stale Gum

Night Owl Cards

Wax Heaven

Dinged Corners

Those should keep you busy and help fill the baseball void in your life. At least until the debut of the MLB Network!


24 Responses to “Off-season fun”

  1. JWay on November 24th, 2008 6:21 am

    I’ve never played whatif before, but out of the park baseball 9 is tons of fun. You can play pretty much whatever you want with it, and you might even be shocked to how much you might like fictional baseball.

    And I had no idea MLB network was coming, hot dog! 🙂

  2. martin026 on November 24th, 2008 6:54 am

    Wow, I logged in to say the same thing as JWay. Also we need more mariner fans to add to the Mariner threads in the “talk sports” forums for the game.

    Plus we need to start an all USS Mariner on line league to allow some of the regulars here to pit there fake baseball gm skills against each other.

  3. msb on November 24th, 2008 7:57 am

    sigh. once upon a time, you knew the off-season might at least bring you lego re-enactments, courtesy of Batgirl

    baseball cards?

    check in with Pat Neshek and his baseball card collection

    other things to read?

    Joe Posnanski’s blog. And, if you haven’t read it yet, his book The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip Through Buck O’Neil’s America.

  4. galaxieboi on November 24th, 2008 8:02 am

    That’s one of my favorite baseball quotes. When friends asked me what I did all winter when there was no baseball, I told them what Rogers said.

    I play a little HBD, when I remember to keep up on it. I also tried OOTP. That’s really intense. Usually I keep myself busy with APBA (on the computer) or Diamond Mind.

  5. Squooshed on November 24th, 2008 8:19 am

    Thirding the recommendation for the Out of the Park Baseball game. Fantastic simulation. I’m in two different online leagues that are just too much fun.

  6. Oolon on November 24th, 2008 8:23 am

    My favorite is to listen to a ballgame via MLB’s Gameday Audio. For $15 you can listen to any game live during the season (or pick a game from their archives if you missed a good one the day or week before).

    And during the off season all the games from the previous season are available. I usually pick a day at random and then look over the games to see what looks interesting. Sometimes I choose by the announcer (Milwaukee with Bob Uecker, San Francisco with John Miller, or the Dodgers with Vin Scully) or listen to announcers for other teams to see what they sound like. Or look at Fangraphs and select a game with a lot of zigzags on the chart to denote a game that went back and forth with big plays. Or select a heated age old rivalry (St. Louis/Cubs, Dodgers/Red Sox, Mariners/Padres…).

    While I’m puttering in the garage I’ll string some speakers in and listen to the “Game of the Week”. It’s just like summertime…

  7. BillP on November 24th, 2008 8:38 am

    Hardball Dynasty is strangely addicting in a buggy, not-at-all-like-real-baseball kind of way. I don’t think the WhatIfSports engine can hold a candle to Diamond Mind, though. I spend too much time and money at, which uses the Diamond Mind engine to play games between leagues of historical players (up to guys who are still playing but whose peaks are past, like Pedro and Maddux, and including several Negro League players). Completely addicting.

  8. lightsabermetrician on November 24th, 2008 11:44 am

    On the topic of baseball cards, is there any local charity that takes them as a donation? I’m looking to dump off the majority of what I have boxed up, and obviously I’d like someone to enjoy them before they end up in the recycle bin. Any suggestions?

  9. OppositeField on November 24th, 2008 12:17 pm

    My cure for the no-baseball blues? Being able to watch my Seattle Supersssss………………..

    Never mind.

  10. msb on November 24th, 2008 12:44 pm

    On the topic of baseball cards, is there any local charity that takes them as a donation?

    dunno about a charity, but there is a nice fellow who runs Brown’s Cooperstown; they recently moved from Fremont to Queen Anne … he might even give you something for them

  11. msb on November 24th, 2008 12:56 pm

    oh, and re:, they have the AFL Championship game online, as well as daily free content most mornings

  12. wabbles on November 24th, 2008 1:06 pm

    Yeah, as I’ve said before, after the final out of the World Series every year, I announce the number of days until Feb. 13, which is th e approximate date that pitchers and catchers report. FWIW, the current tally stands at…82 days!!!!

  13. JerBear on November 24th, 2008 2:19 pm

    Hey, they just put up Game 5 of the 1995 ALDS in Baseball’s Best archive on That’s always fun.

    I still just stick with EA Sports MVP 2005 for my offseason fix. I get pretty nerded out with that game.

  14. Terminator X on November 24th, 2008 2:24 pm

    I’m hardcore addicted to Hardball Dynasty (aka whatif). I’ve got 3 teams right now all built with completely different strategies doing pretty well. In one world I’ve completely loaded up my minors with TONS of depth and tonight’s AM cycle is the DitR cycle for that world, so I’m hoping this is the season I get a good one.

    What worlds are people in here, for those that play? I’m Edmonds/Branch Rickey/Continental League (world with alot of problems that I’d dump if I hadn’t spent the last couple seasons turning the worst team in the league into one of the best)

  15. wabbles on November 24th, 2008 2:52 pm

    The Arizona Fall League will be (or is) winding down but there’s always the Carribean Leagues! Go Caracas!

  16. xeifrank on November 24th, 2008 2:59 pm

    Josh Wilker’s Cardboard Gods has to be one of the best baseball card blogs. It is not your usual baseball card blog, it’s a must read though.
    vr, Xei

  17. msb on November 24th, 2008 3:24 pm

    does speculation about the coaches by Larry Stone count as off-season fun?

  18. John D. on November 24th, 2008 3:42 pm

    “People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” —Rogers Hornsby

    The Times and P-Ihave done all they can–and then some–in dragging out the reporting of the GM and Manager searches.
    The Rule 5 draft is only a couple of weeks away; then there are some Free Agent acquisitions (or speculations about potential acquisitions). Then there are trades (or speculations about potential trades).
    With more dragging-out by our ink-stained wretches, it looks like we might get to Spring Training without a lot of staring out the window.

  19. Dobbs on November 24th, 2008 4:11 pm

    Is there anything like HBD on the Xbox 360 by chance? It sounds fun, but 15 bucks for a 3 month season… well I’d want to play my season quicker and for less in the long run.

  20. Conor on November 24th, 2008 4:17 pm

    Is there anything like HBD on the Xbox 360 by chance? It sounds fun, but 15 bucks for a 3 month season… well I’d want to play my season quicker and for less in the long run.

    There will be soon.

  21. Benne on November 24th, 2008 5:59 pm

    Hopefully 2K Front Office will be better than NFL Head Coach, but 2K makes some pretty awesome sports games, so I’m sure it will be good.

    As for online simulation games, I highly recommend Sim Dynasty, a simulation loosely based on the 1950’s, so there’s no DH, no free agency and no interleague play. I’ve been playing it nonstop and sunk countless dollars into it for almost 5 years now.

  22. msb on November 25th, 2008 8:52 am

    this morning it’s 1986 NLCS Game 3– Astros & Mets

  23. msb on November 25th, 2008 1:01 pm

    Larry Dobrow tours new Yankee Stadium

  24. NBarnes on November 25th, 2008 2:09 pm

    I’ve been all about the Out of the Park Baseball 9 the last few weeks. I’d try Diamond Mind, but it doesn’t have a Mac version and OOTP does. I am starting to be sufficently addicted that I’m thinking of looking for a OOTP-based online fantasy league and try out my defense-walks-doubles-and-groundballs approach against real people.

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