Diamond Mind Baseball

Diamond Mind Baseball is a text-based baseball sim. I’m going to explain why I like it so much, but I should state that I’ve been in a league with seven other guys for the past five years. I’ve played 84 games a year and the game hasn’t become stale yet.

Diamond Mind Baseball 9 by Imagine Sports

I once tried to get everyone to talk about their favorite games, or what they consider the best games ever made are. Fussbett once said, “I don’t consider competitive multiplayer games to be part of this discussion at all because they rely on so much outside of the initial design of the game: your competition day to day, your skill level, the community, and ongoing developer support. Those are less interesting discussions too, as they just boil down to ‘the game you were good at so you spent a lot of time on” or “the game people played in your dorm’.” Fussbett is a wise man, and this is totally what’s going on with my love for Diamond Mind baseball. I play with a group of friends that love baseball and love Sabermetrics. Well, as much as any group of guys into Sabremetrics can feel the autistic equivalent of “love” from their parent’s basement. HURM. But Fussbett is correct — there are outside factors at play that make Diamond Mind so perfect. I am going to discuss those factors.

I need to provide some backstory, however. Our league is a keeper league, with 20 of 32 spots eligible. We only play with the American League. (So if a guy gets traded to the NL, he’s out of the game.) We hold a draft every November. We’re basically two seasons “behind,” meaning this November, when we pick, I’ll have two seasons worth of data (the real-world 2010 and 2011 seasons) on who is available. The last bit that might be confusing is one of “usage.” We play just about half as many games as the real MLB does, because Jesus Christ MLB. We can use a guy for 60% of the batters he faced (if a pitcher) or plate appearances he made (if a batter). So I can’t have Andrew Bailey of the Oakland A’s close every single game and leverage his dominating stats at a rate greater than what the A’s did for the season we’re playing through.

In four years of play leading up to this latest one, I had never made the playoffs. I… made some grevious errors in our initial draft. I took Vernon Wells in the second round when Vladimir Guerrero was still available. I had almost no left-handed bats. Drafting early each year, I had crushing disappoinments tied to high picks like Alex Gordon, B.J. Upton and Josh Beckett (who is awful every other season in real-world baseball). All that being said, in the final week of our season this year, I was barely keeping my team’s playoff hopes alive. I had to win the last two games of the regular season in order to EVEN force tiebreaker games, and in the last one I was down 8-1 going into the bottom of the eighth. I rallied in the most outrageous way possible (it is really, really hard to mount comebacks of that magnitude in Diamond Mind — just like real baseball) and scored six runs in the 8th. My guys won 9-8 when Adam Lind hit a walk-off two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth. So I am already flying high on house money. I had a game with my friend (and Baseball Prospectus author Neil deMause) and whoever won was going to go to the playoffs proper.

I’m Rochester in the recap below.

The Skydome roof was closed as the Brooklyn Ice Weasels came to play the Rochester Radiation in the second tiebreaker for playoff eligibility.

Taking the mound for Rochester was Felix Hernandez, who had a tiny bit of usage left. Lefty Joe Saunders started for Brooklyn.

Brooklyn took a 1-0 lead in the first inning as Nick Markakis singled and Justin Morneau drove him home. In the top of the second, Gordon Beckham homered deep to left center to make it 2-0. Felix struck out Markakis to end the inning, but he had thrown 40 pitches and was at 60% usage. He had to leave the game.

Joe Saunders had little trouble with the Radiation lineup initially, tossing five clean innings.

Scott Feldman started the third inning for Rochester. He let up a run in the 4th to make it 3-0 Weasels, and pitched a crazy fifth: after Adam Jones struck out: Feldman hit Morneau in the head, causing him to leave the game. Luke Scott stuck out, as did Big Papi to end the inning. A Gordie Howe Strike-Out-The-Side Trick. Only… Big Papi, no doubt apoplectic about Morneau getting beaned, unleashed a multi-lingual stream of abuse toward the home plate ump, getting himself ejected! Two enormous threats on Brooklyn were gone from the game. I’ve never seen two guys leave in such a manner in all the years of playing DMB.

Back to the game — in the top of the 6th, the pissed-off Ice Weasels hammered Scott Feldman, chasing him from the game: Jhonny Peralta doubled, Beckham walked and Markakis homered. It was now 6-0 in favor of Brooklyn.

The fans began throwing both pizza pizza and garbage plates onto the field, as it’s never really been explained how the team from Rochester plays in Toronto.

The Radiation bats woke up in the 6th inning – Matt Tolbert homered deep down the left-field line. Jason Varitek, who had been cut and re-signed multiple times over two seasons by Rochester, homered to left as well. With this, team stadium expert Neil deMause surveyed the park dimensions and said into owner chat, “Here it comes.”

Andrew Bailey entered for the Radiation and quieted the Weasels in the top of the 7th. With two outs in the bottom of the 7th, Miguel Cabrera scotched, I mean, scratched out a walk and Adam Lind homered. 6-4. Brett Cecil entered to pitch for the Icemen, but Travis Hafner lined to right and Matt Tolbert hit another home run. Tie ball game, 6-6.

Andrew Bailey induced a couple of ground outs from Chad Moeller and Jhonny Peralta in the top of the 8th. Luis Valbuena tripled, but Gordon Beckham struck out.

Brett Cecil pitched a scoreless bottom of the 8th. Matt Thornton entered for Rochester — in the top of the 9th, Howie Kendrick grounded out, Adam Jones walked, Nelson Cruz popped out and Luke Scott swung struck out.

Bottom of the ninth, and Cecil was remained on the hill for Brooklyn. Adam Lind flied out, Travis Hafner walked. Hafner took second and Matt Tolbert got to first on an error, and Jason Varitek smacked a double down the third base line to score Hafner. Rads win 7-6, thus earning them victories in their fourth-straight do-or-die game, falling behind by 7 and now 6 runs in the last two.

I’ve been playing video games since I was about five years old and my dad gave me a quarter & bar chair to shoot some Space Invaders. I’ve been playing them poorly for almost as long. Having never made the playoffs in DMB before, this is the most unbelievable, exciting and heart-pounding thing I’ve ever experienced in this hobby in my entire life.

Complete box score here.

Is Diamond Mind Baseball a great game? Yeah. Does it rise into an absolutely legendary experience with the right group of guys? Absolutely.

Ice Cream Jonsey