DMB News December 1999

December 16, 1999
Written by Tom Tippett

Welcome to the fifth edition of the Diamond Mind email newsletter.  Through these newsletters, we will try to keep you up to date on the latest product and technical information about the Diamond Mind Baseball game, related player disks, and our ongoing baseball research efforts.  Back issues are available on our web site (

If you don't wish to receive these messages in the future, please send an email response with the subject line "unsubscribe".  We'll immediately remove your email address from the list.  And if you know someone who would like to subscribe to this newsletter, we'll be happy to add them to the mailing list if they send us an email message with the subject line "subscribe" and their name and street address in the body of the message.

1999 Team Reviews

We've begun publishing our team reviews for the 1999 season.  Each review consists of a detailed comparison of projected to actual stats for all key players on the team, team and player comments, and a brief look ahead to the 2000 season.  They'll be published more-or-less simultaneously on our web site ( and on  Two new teams will appear each week until early March.

1999 Season Disk Update

I'm happy to report that we'll begin shipping today, as previously announced.  If you've been waiting to place your order for the 1999 Season Disk, please keep in mind that any new orders will have to wait until we've shipped all of the advance orders.  It'll take us a few days to get everything out the door, so we cannot guarantee delivery of new orders by Christmas.  We will, of course, do everything we can to ship everything by Tuesday, December 21, so most items should be there for the holidays.

Real-life Salaries

For 1999, we've added real-life salaries to the season disk.  A few years ago, we made space in our player file to store the salary and contract expiration year for each player.  It was never our intent to fill in these slots with information on real-life contracts.  Rather, we added them so Diamond Mind Baseball leagues that use salary cap systems would be able to enter their salaries, see those salaries on screen and in reports, and have those salaries carried forward from year to year by our season disk migration feature.

But we've been asked by quite a few of our customers to add the real-life salary information anyway.  And that's what we've done this year.  We're grateful to Doug Pappas, a longtime Diamond Mind customer and member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), who agreed to let us use a salary database that he has meticulously compiled for the past few years.

NOTE:  Because the salary slot was originally designed to hold the salary assigned in your league draft, not the real-life salary, the migration feature carries forward the salary from last year's league disk.  This means that if you run migrate, the real-life salaries on your 1999 disk will be wiped out and replaced by the salaries from the league disk you are migrating from.  We are aware that this may not be the behavior you wish to see, so we plan to enhance the migration feature in version 8 of the game so you have more control over how salaries are handled in the migration process.

Player disk notes

Please remember to read the player disk notes when your 1999 Season Disk arrives.  They contain a lot of useful information about how we develop our ratings, and they talk about specific players whose ratings might differ from the past or from the perception created by the baseball media.  Many of the questions that people ask us this time of year have already been answered by those notes.

In version 7, you can find them by choosing Info from the main menu, choosing Source and picking the player directory, then using the View command to display the notes.  From there, you can print the notes if you choose.

Reminder for league commissioners and managers

The 1999 Season Disk is a copyrighted product of Diamond Mind and contains real-life statistics that are copyrighted by STATS, Inc.  If you give a copy of this season disk to someone else, you're violating the law and harming both Diamond Mind and STATS.

Having said that, it's also true that our recommended procedure for running a Diamond Mind league is for the commissioner to set up the league and make all transactions on a master copy of the season disk, and then to send copies of that disk to league members, PROVIDED THOSE LEAGUE MEMBERS ARE REGISTERED OWNERS of Diamond Mind Baseball and the season disk.

We don't want to put league commissioners in the position of having to police the copyright laws on our behalf.  All we ask is that the commissioner send us a list of league members so we can check our database of registered customers and indicate which individuals are entitled to receive the league disk.

I believe the vast majority of our customers are honest, and that's one of the reasons why we have never been forced to copy protect our disks.  But we do get calls from people who believe they don't need to buy the season disk because they'll be getting it from their league.  In most cases, the individual is simply unaware that this is a violation of our copyright, and when we explain the situation, they're happy to buy a legal copy.

Frequently asked season disk questions

This seems like a good time to answer a few of questions we get each year about the season disk.

Q:  How do you decide whether to rate a player at a defensive position?

A:  Generally speaking, a player gets a rating at any position where he's started at least one game or played more than a few innings.  If someone has played only a few innings at a position, it depends on the player and the position.  If he has established his ability to play that position in recent years, we'll generally give him a rating.  If he got only a cup of coffee in the big leagues and doesn't have any other defensive ratings, we'll give him a rating if it's his primary position.  But if it's an especially difficult position (such as CF, SS, or C), we generally won't give the rating to someone who hasn't established the ability to play there, especially if he's a very good hitter.  For that reason, Chipper Jones isn't rated at SS this year, even though he played an inning there.

Q:  If a player is used at a position where he has no range rating, how well will he perform defensively?

A:  It depends on the position and the player's other defensive ratings.  The game looks to see whether the player is rated at a similar position and then assigns an adjusted rating accordingly.  That means that players can move to similar and easier positions without much of a penalty.  For example, you can move a good defensive CF to another outfield position and he will continue to play well at his new position.  And you can move a good shortstop to second or third and he'll continue to play well.  But if you move someone to catcher, or put a first baseman in the outfield, or move your right fielder to third, you can expect to pay a price defensively.

Q:  Our draft league uses players from both leagues.  Does that mean we should use the Neutral Era for league play?

A:  The Neutral Era represents the 20th century average in several ways -- overall level of offense, composition of offense (rates of doubles, triples, homers), pitcher durability, and error rates at each position. 

If you use the Neutral Era instead of the "1999 A" or "1999 N" era, you'll get less offense, fewer homers, more complete games, and more errors.  In short, you'll get "20th century average" baseball instead of 1999 baseball.  There's nothing wrong with using the Neutral Era for your league, and some people do this just because they don't like the offensive explosion we've seen in the past few years.
But there's no need to use the Neutral Era just because you're using players from both the AL and NL.  After removing pitcher hitting stats from the NL, the AL and NL stats have been virtually identical almost every season in recent memory.  That means your league can use either the NL era or AL era from the current season and get essentially the same results, because Diamond Mind automatically adjusts for the effects of the DH.

Q:  How well does Diamond Mind adjust for the player's home ballpark in real life?  For example, last year Pedro Astacio had a 5.04 ERA overall but it was 7.16 at Coors Field and 3.60 away from home.  If Pedro plays in Dodger Stadium in a Diamond Mind Baseball league, will he be closer to the away numbers or close to the overall numbers?

A:  Our system for rating players takes full account of real-life ballpark effects.  Last year, Coors Field increased scoring by 63% and Dodger Stadium was close to neutral.  Astacio's personal home-road splits were wider than for the park as a whole, so he won't be projected to go as low as his road ERA of 3.60, but the change in parks will help him a lot.  In fact, I've been thinking I might try to draft him or trade for him in my league.

On a similar note, our system also adjusts for the DH rule.  The ERA in the AL generally runs about a half a run higher than the NL, so a pitcher with a 4.00 ERA in the AL performed about as well as someone with a 3.50 ERA in the NL, assuming their home parks are similar.

When you're evaluating players for your league draft, keep the park and DH factors in mind.  Colorado hitters won't be nearly as good in other parks, Rockies pitchers will be much better in other parks, AL pitchers will see their ERAs drop if they move to a non-DH league, and so on.

Q:  STATS, Inc. publishes a player's batting average depending on where in the order he hits, how he hits against certain pitchers, how he hits with certain counts, etc.  Some our managers are convinced that where a player hits in the order on his Diamond Mind Baseball team will be affected by his ML average in the same spot.  Also some managers think that if player A is 0-20 vs a certain pitcher that that will be reflected in the game.  Are they right?

A:  The statistics that determine batting and pitching performance in Diamond Mind Baseball are park-adjusted totals and left/right splits.  If you start adding in other splits -- such as batting order position, day vs night, grass vs turf, and month-by-month -- you quickly reach a point where the data is statistically meaningless because the samples are too small. 

Chances are, a given player had only a few appearances in a season against a left-handed pitcher, on artificial turf, in a day game, and while he was batting in a certain position.  And anything can happen in a few plate appearances.  Heck, anything can happen in a week's worth of games (just look at the weekly leaders in USA Today) or even in a month's worth of games (check out my article on the meaning of monthly stats at  And it's bad game design to build a factor into a game when that factor is based on data containing huge amounts of random variation.

It's even worse for individual batter/pitcher matchups.  In the 1999 season, there were 189,692 plate appearances, and there were 72,438 different batter/pitcher matchups.  That means each matchup involved an average of 2.6 plate appearances.  There's no way to do anything meaningful will small amounts of data like this.  And even if there was, it would still only make sense to build this feature into the game if it was true that past performance in a matchup was an indicator of future performance, and I'm not at all sure that it is.

So the factors we use are the ones that actually mean something:  overall performance, park effects, and left/right splits.  Even so, some of the sample sizes are on the small side for part-time players.  That's one reason why I like our projection disks, where player performance is based on three years of major-league and minor-league data.  In a single real-life season, there are always a few guys who hit .385 against left-handed pitching solely due to chance, and these guys become too valuable in your Diamond Mind Baseball games.  That doesn't happen with the projection disk.

Understanding our Player Ratings

When interpreting our ratings, please keep the following things in mind:

An Average rating is a compliment.  We rate players relative to other major leaguers at the same position.  An average rating means that the player has performed at a level attained by only a handful of other professional baseball players.

Don't read too much into a range rating.  When we say that a player has Very Good range at a position, it means he gets to more balls than the average player.  It's not an overall evaluation of his defensive ability.  We have separate ratings for errors, throwing, and passed balls, and it's not unusual for someone to have an Average range rating and much better ratings in the other categories.

Our ratings reflect the ability to make plays, not raw athletic skills.  A very fast outfielder might still be rated Average or below if he doesn't get a good jump on the ball.  An infielder needs many skills -- positioning, quick feet, good hands, a strong and accurate arm, and good judgment -- to make plays in the big leagues, and a deficiency in any of these areas might be enough to turn a very flashy player into an average playmaker.  Someone with average speed might be an excellent baserunner because he has great instincts about when batted balls will fall in for a hit.  An outfielder who doesn't have a strong arm may still be successful in slowing down the running game if he gets to the ball and gets rid of it quickly.  That's why we study real-life play-by-play data to see which players are actually getting the job done.

Some positions are harder to play than others.  If we give player A an Average rating in center field and player B a Very Good rating in left field, it doesn't mean we think player B is better than player A.  The standard for center field play is much higher.  Conversely, a player who is not regarded as a great outfielder may still get a decent rating in left field, because that's where managers often put the guys who can't play a more demanding position.

If someone did not make any errors at a position in real life, it doesn't guarantee that they won't make any in Diamond Mind Baseball.  Beyond a certain amount of error-free playing time, we feel they've earned an error rating of zero.  Below that level, the rating is based on a weighted average of zero (for the time they played) and the league average (for enough playing time to bring them up to the level where a player would earn the zero rating).

The error ratings that appear on the game screen (and the roster report) represent the projected number of errors this player would make at this position in 100 full games (900 innings) in the era the league is playing in.  If you move this player to another era (or run the roster report from the Exhibition League, which is linked to the Neutral Era), the e rating changes accordingly.

The Prone injury rating doesn't necessarily mean that the player will miss a lot of playing time.  In fact, our injury system is pretty mild compared with real life, and you won't see Diamond Mind Baseball players going down with season-ending injuries in April.  We give the Prone rating to anyone who (a) was on the disabled list at any time during the season or (b) missed 15 or more games due to injury without going on the disabled list.

The Clutch and Jam ratings are given to players who (a) performed at a very high level in the late innings of close games during the season and (b) performed at a level higher in these situations than in other situations.  But the most important thing to remember about these ratings is that they DO NOT play a large role in the game.  Personally, I would never use a weaker player over a better one just because the weaker player has a better Clutch or Jam rating.

Manager profiles for draft leagues

One very important thing to remember is that if you draft new rosters (either by hand or using the draft utility from our web site), you need to create a manager profile for each team.  The computer manager is designed to work hand-in-hand with the information in the profile, and it will get confused if you do not at least set up a starting rotation, bullpen roles, and saved lineups.  And remember that the computer manager will always choose lineup #1 against a lefty starter and #2 against a righty starter, no matter what you happened to name those lineups.

On the pitcher profile, there are three mode available to you -- Strict, Skip, and Time.  The Time setting is used to give each player the number of starts they had in real life.  But this usually doesn't work well in draft league settings because most teams don't have a group of pitchers who started exactly 162 games.  Instead, set up a rotation and use either the Strict or Skip mode, and the computer manager will follow your rotation, making adjustments only when necessary to handle injuries.

On the batter side, you can choose GameByGame or TrackStarts for your depth charts.  TrackStarts mode was designed for replays using real-life rosters, and it makes sure that every player gets the right number of starts at each position against left- and right-handed pitchers.  The GameByGame setting was designed for draft league situations.  In that mode, the computer manager will faithfully use your saved lineups, making changes to those lineups only if a starter is injured or if you've established non-zero spot start percentages for some players.

When I set up my draft-league team, I usually start by using the manager profile generator to create a profile.  (I would never use that profile as-is, because the generator is designed to produce profiles for real-life season replays.  But it's faster to start with that profile and make changes than to create a profile from scratch.)  Then I set up a Strict rotation, put my depth charts into GameByGame mode, and change all of the spot start percentages to zero except for a few positions where I'm trying to spread the playing time among a few players to avoid going over our leagues playing time limits.

Parting thoughts

In parallel with our work on the 1999 Season Disk, we've been working on version 8 of the game.  We'll discuss more of the new features in the next newsletter.  Until then, I hope you enjoy playing with the 1999 Season Disk as much as I enjoy working on the ratings.

DMB News-October 1999

October 14, 1999
Written by Tom Tippett

Welcome to the fourth edition of the Diamond Mind email newsletter. Through these newsletters, we will try to keep you up to date on the latest product and technical information about the Diamond Mind Baseball game, related player disks, and our ongoing baseball research efforts. Back issues are available on our web site (

If you don't wish to receive these messages in the future, please send an email response with the subject line "unsubscribe". We'll immediately remove your email address from the list. And if you know someone who would like to subscribe to this newsletter, we'll be happy to add them to the mailing list if they send us an email message with the subject line "subscribe" and their name and street address in the body of the message.

Topics for this issue:

New baseball articles
1999 Season Disk and 2000 Projection Disk
Two tales of woe from north of the border
Version 8 news


New baseball articles

We've written three new articles in recent weeks. The first was a quick review of the 1999 season, focusing on teams and players who performed much better or worse than expected. The second was a shorter piece that looked at some interesting (and in my mind questionable) moves made by the managers in the critical Friday night games on the last weekend of the NL season. The last shows how the Diamond Mind projected standings for 1999 stacked up against those of 31 other analysts, writers and publications. (We weren't #1, but we did quite well.)

You can find these articles on our web site at:


1999 Season Disk and 2000 Projection Disk

We've begun sending out letters announcing the availability of the 1999 Season Disk (December 16) and the 2000 Projection Disk (early March). It will take us about ten business days to get them all out the door, so many of you won't receive yours until the end of October. If you wish to order any of our products by mail, this mailing includes an order form and postage-paid business reply envelope. By the way, please note your customer number -- it's above your name on the mailing label -- so you can write it on the order form.

If you wish to order by email or phone, there's no need to wait. We can take your order whenever you're ready. The prices are the same as last year:

  1999 Season Disk           $29.95

  2000 Projection Disk       $29.95

  1999 and 2000 combo        $44.95

Shipping and handling is $3 for delivery by first class mail and $2 for delivery via email. If you order the 1999 and 2000 combo, you'll receive both for a single shipping and handling charge. Feel free to phone or email us for the prices of priority mail or overnight shipping.

Some quick notes on how we handle these advance orders:

- we ship the orders in roughly the same sequence that the orders were received, so there's a bit of an advantage to getting your order in early. Any orders for email delivery or priority shipping (including overnight) will be sent out the first day the disk is available.

- we will do our best to ship all of the advance orders so that they arrive before Christmas, but we cannot guarantee Christmas arrival. We expect to BEGIN shipping on December 16th, but it will take a few days to get everything out the door.

- if your order includes a mix of currently available items (past seasons, version 7 games or upgrades) and these new seasons, we will ship what we can right away and send the new disks as soon as they are ready (unless you ask us to do it differently). In these cases, we'll cash your check or charge your credit card for the full cost of the order. Even though we'll be shipping more than once, you still pay only a single shipping charge.

- if your order consists solely of advance orders for these season disks, we will wait until about a week before the ship date to deposit your check or charge your credit card. That week gives us time to resolve any credit card problems without having to delay any shipments.

Thanks in advance to all of you who choose to order these products.


#1 tale of woe from north of the border

Thanks to Diamond Mind customer Steve Turner for sending this:

Before I begin this story, I must make one fact very clear. I am a jinx for my favorite baseball team. Sure, other people cry loudly that they are a jinx for their favorite team, but I have proof! Examine the following facts:

1977-1991 - Steve living in and about Toronto; Toronto Blue Jays never advance to the World Series

1992-1993 - Steve living in primeval forest in Northern Ontario (300 miles from nearest professional baseball team, which happens to be the Jays); Blue Jays win first back-to-back World Series since the '77-'78 Yankees.

1994-1999 - Steve moves back to Toronto; Jays have yet to make the playoffs since '92/'93.

Compelling proof or sheer coincidence? Let's delve further into the story...

October 1992. The Jays finish first in the AL East. Throughout Canada there is hope that maybe, just maybe, this might be the year that the Jays go all the way. In fact, their chances have risen exponentially because Steve Turner has moved away from Toronto (not to take anything away from Jack Morris, Dave Winfield et al.), although this little-known fact is not mentioned in the media.

Canadian Thanksgiving Day, October 1992. Literally, in the middle of a forest, I sit there listening to Game 4 of the ALCS on my radio. Toronto overcomes a 6-1 deficit to beat the A's 7-6 in extra innings. In the flush of victory, I run over to a nearby swamp and let out a traditional Ojibway cow-moose call. A large Bull breaks through the bush about 20 metres opposite where I was and joins in the victory celebration.

It is impossible to describe one's feelings at such a time. Your team is one game away from its first World Series appearance and the thrill of potential victory lifts your soul to unimaginable heights, and yet at the same time, in another small part of your mind, a little voice is reminding you that the bull moose a stone's throw away is at least 1500 pounds bigger than you, you have no weapon and your celebratory cow call has probably driven him into the opening stages of intense sexual urges that will remain unfulfilled because, as you increasingly realize, you and the moose share nothing in common other than the fact you are both male.

Having survived that ordeal, I have to wait till I return to my office a couple of days later to witness the Jays (televised) clinch their rightful berth in the 1992 World Series.

Chapter 2. My cabin in the bush had two things that separated me from the manner in which my ancestors lived: electricity and radio. Relying on these items enabled me to experience something that very few people born after 1960 ever encountered, listening to a World Series on radio.

In fact, I was ordered by family members to remain at my cabin for the duration of the series. Their intimate knowledge of my intangible impact on the outcome of important Toronto playoff games gave them the right to ban me from watching games at their houses. So be it, I thought.

However, I paddled across the lake to my cousin's house to watch Game One. Unfortunately, Jack Morris decided to give Damon Berryhill an early Christmas gift as Berryhill's sixth inning homer brought off an Atlanta Braves victory. No sooner had the game ended than the phone rang at my cousin's house. It was my sister. She wanted to know if I watched the game there. My cousin replied in the affirmative, after which I could hear my lovely sister screaming and cursing and, in not so many words, telling my cousin NEVER to allow me over to his house to watch a Jays game till next April.

The Jays won the next three games. This I learned from listening to my trusted radio at my little bush cabin. The Jays could win their first World Series with a Game Five victory, so I HAD to witness this event. I conspired to watch the game at my cousin's once more.

Sure enough, within minutes of Lonnie Smith's grand slam, the phone rang at my cousin's house. It was my brother, calling from Toronto. "Is Steve there?" I could hear him say. "Yes", replied my cousin. My poor cousin was then submitted to an extreme tongue lashing. My cousin's sister called next, and it was confirmed that yes, indeed, Steve watched the game. Now my relations in North Bay knew. I was beginning to feel like Custer at this point.

Nobody on the lake I lived on extended me an invitation to watch Game Six. I was left to listen to the game the old-fashioned way; at a cabin in the forest with a radio that could barely pick up the signal.

After the Braves tied the game in the bottom of the ninth, I couldn't stand it anymore. I turned off the radio and looked outside at the stars, content to go to bed and enjoy the solitude of the forest in which I dwelt.

Yeah right, who in their right mind would do that! The radio was turned back on, then off, then on, then off again. The tension was unbearable. The radio was turned on once more and, finally, Mike Timlin fielded Otis Nixon's bunt and threw to Joe Carter for the final out.

The Turner house exploded into euphoria! (Well, to be honest, it was just me) I ran outside and began jumping up and down in the clearing beside my camp -essentially the same leap for joy Joe Carter would mimic after hitting his historic homer in the '93 Series. Circumstances left me to share my exhilaration with the immediate flora and fauna. I could have hugged the pine trees, high-fived the alderbush and had my cries of joy responded to by the horned owls, but unlike the estimated one million people who poured onto the streets of Toronto to join the Series celebration, I only gave a few of the local bears and moose the fright of their life that night.

I have yet to watch Game Six of the '92 Series. Been over seven years now.


#2 tale of woe from north of the border

This is my (Tom Tippett's) own story.

As many of you know, I was born and raised in the suburbs of Toronto. I first became interested in baseball in the late 1960s, and because my town did not have a major league team then, I rooted mainly for the Red Sox (Yaz!), Expos (first Canadian team), and Reds (just because I liked the name Cincinnati).

My beloved Red Sox broke my heart in 1972 when they lost the division title to Woodie Fryman and the Tigers on the last weekend of the season. They did it again in 1975, but that blow was softened by the fact that another of my teams (the Big Red Machine) did them in this time.

The Blue Jays came to town in 1977, and I went to 23 games that year. They lost 21 of them. One of the wins came on a rainy September evening when Earl Weaver pulled his Orioles off the field after five innings because he claimed the field was unsafe. He later admitted that it was a ploy -- Toronto starter Jim Clancy was up 4-0 and nearly unhittable, and Weaver figured he had a better chance of winning the protest than the game. The other win was against the Red Sox in the heat of the pennant race, and I was rooting for the Sox that night.

The final tally: twenty-three games, zero nine-inning wins by the team I was rooting for. I soon began to feel I could help my team most by staying home.

During those early Blue Jay years, they were definitely my favorite team. But they were usually thirty games out by mid-August, so I didn't feel any guilt about switching my allegiance back to the Red Sox for the stretch drive. And those Red Sox broke my heart in 1977 by coming up 2-1/2 games short and again in that famous 1978 Bucky Dent playoff game. (I left work early that day and listened to the last three innings on my car radio in a downtown Toronto parking lot. I can still feel the anguish as Yastrzemski's game-ending popup settled into the glove.)

Over the next few years, the Blue Jays began to improve and the Red Sox settled back into the pack. Finally, in 1983, the Jays contended for the first time. I still have a clipping of the AL standings from an August day when the Jays were atop the division for the last time that year.

Steve Turner can undoubtedly relate to the next part of the story. I moved to Boston (to attend graduate school) in August, 1983, and have lived here ever since. The moment I left Toronto, the Jays began a streak of ten consecutive seasons in which they finished at least ten games over .500.

After spending a decade as a Red Sox fan living in Toronto, I was now a Blue Jays fan living in Boston. And the heartbreak continued. First, the Jays blew a 3-1 series lead to KC in 1985 (Bobby Cox NEVER should have tried to get three starts out of Dave Stieb). Then the Red Sox let the 1986 World Series slip through their fingers (or legs, as the case may be). Not to be outdone, the Jays blew a 3-1/2 game lead to the Tigers in the last week of the 1987 season.

At that point, my nerves couldn't take it any more, and I vowed that I would never ever get so involved with a team that I would lie awake at night sweating over what might happen next. I continued to root for my team (the Jays were #1 in my heart), but I tried not to get carried away.

From 1988 to 1991, the Jays and Sox took turns winning the division, but neither team was strong enough to contend with their western rivals (the powerful Athletics teams and the 1991 Twins) in the playoffs. This brings us to 1992.

My wife Jodi and I got engaged in June of that year. Not wanting to postpone the wedding until the following spring or summer, we set the date -- Sunday, October 25th. A few weeks later, one of my baseball buddies pointed out that I'd be getting married on the day game 7 of the World Series was to be played. When I admitted that the thought had never occurred to me, he figured I must really be head over heels for this woman. (He was right.)

Sure enough, the Jays went on to win the division and the AL pennant, and there was a real chance that I'd miss the event I'd been waiting for since I had become a baseball fan 25 years earlier. If the series went the distance, I would be honeymoon-bound and without radio or TV while flying cross-country for the entirety of game seven.

Fortunately, it didn't come to this. Saturday night, on the eve of my wedding, the Jays and Braves were locked in a nail-biter. Toronto carried a 2-1 lead into the ninth but gave up a run to send the game into extra innings. It was about 11:30pm. My wedding was at 10:00 the next morning. What do I do now? Do I stay up and watch the end of the game, not knowing how long that might take? Or do I turn off the tube and get the sleep I need for the big day?

I thought about this for a couple of minutes, and then . . . clicked off the set and went to bed. And, whaddya know, my guys won. Oddly enough, the winning run was scored a little after midnight, so I can truthfully say that my team won a World Series for the first time on my wedding day.

(They won #2 a year later while my wife and I were on a mini-vacation to celebrate our first anniversary. I didn't watch that deciding game either, but I did catch Carter's homerun on the radio as we drifted off to sleep.)

Did they win because I wasn't watching? A part of me, remembering all the near-misses and my 0-for-23 record in 1977, will always wonder if my decision not to watch somehow removed the curse my teams always seemed to be under.

Truth is, I don't really believe I'm a jinx, and in an era when only one of thirty teams can take the prize each year, I'm content with the fact that a team I've rooted for has won two World Series in my lifetime.

These days, I root for good baseball. Each spring I pick a different team to follow, usually a young squad that has a chance to surprise people. Last year it was the Reds, this year the Royals. I was a year early on the Reds, so maybe the Royals will make their move next year. Or maybe another team will pique my interest before the first pitch is thrown in 2000.


Version 8 News

In the last newsletter, I promised that we would begin to talk about some of the new features that would be coming in version 8. I'm going to share a few of the goodies with you in this issue.

Before I do, I want to point out that we're talking about these features first because they're among those that are finished and tested, not because they're the most important things we're working on. As we put the finishing touches on other enhancements, we'll talk about them too, either through the newsletter or via our web site.

SB/CS/PO for pitchers and catchers. Responding to one of your most frequent requests, version 8 compiles pickoffs, stolen bases, and caught stealings for pitchers and catchers.

Holds. In addition, we're now compiling Holds for relief pitchers. I'm not very fond of the Hold, because a reliever doesn't have to pitch well to get one, and because it just doesn't seem right to give a reliever a hold and a loss in the same game. (That happens when the reliever puts runners on base, leaves the game with the lead, and is charged with the loss when those runners later score.)

In the end, however, I decided that Holds are useful even if they're not perfect. We all seem to be able to live with the flaws in other pitching stats (e.g. you can get a Win or Quality Start even if you pitch poorly), so why not add Holds and live with their imperfections, too?

The boxscores and scoresheets now list blown saves and holds in addition to the W/L/S stats that you've seen before.

Computer manager options. In version 8, you'll have the ability to choose whether the computer manager (CM) or a human manager handles four different types of decisions -- selection of starting lineups, substitutions, game tactics (swing away, steal, and so on), and running/throwing decisions.

Some of our customers have expressed the view that the game shouldn't ask the manager whether to take an extra base or where a fielder should throw the ball, because in real life these decisions are made by the players or coaches. This new feature allows you to let the game make these decisions for you while retaining control over subs and game tactics.

Others have said that they like have the CM make tactical decisions but prefer to make substitutions themselves. In version 8, you'll be able to do this.

Longer player names. To conserve space on the 80 x 25 screens in the DOS world, we chose to limit player names to 10 characters (short names for screen display, reports, boxscores) or 18 characters (full names). In Windows, we have more freedom to choose fonts and type sizes, so we've expanded the name fields to enable us to store all known player names without abbreviations.

DH-specific saved lineups. With the advent of inter-league play, teams now play some games with the DH and some without. In version 7, the computer manager always chooses the first saved lineup if a lefty is on the mound and the second if a righty is pitching. It then adds or subtracts the DH from the lineup as necessary. But that doesn't give you much control over how to set the lineups for inter-league games, so version 8 adds the ability to save DH and non-DH versions of each of these lineups as well.

Weather. When our weather model was first developed, we thought we were being quite clever when we added logic that would automatically decide to close the roof on a retractable roof stadium whenever it was raining or too cold. It never occurred to us that baseball would put a team in a place where they'd close the roof when it was too HOT. So we've enhanced the weather system to make that decision and to create realistic temperatures for cities like Phoenix where the normal summertime highs are well over 100 degrees.

Schedule templates. Our friends in the commissioners office have made life very difficult for the people who prepare league schedules. At one time, you could count on teams playing each other an equal number of times, with an equal number of home and road games. Now, with three-division leagues, inter-league play, and one league having more teams than the other, these conventions don't work. Today's real-life schedules are unbalanced and include inter-league matchups where all the games are played in one city. This makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to design a schedule generator that will match what the real-life schedulers are forced to do.

For this reason and others, we've introduced the concept of a schedule template. A schedule template is just like a real schedule but uses dummy team IDs. When you apply this template to a league that you created, your team IDs are substituted for the dummy ones and presto, you've got a working schedule.

Version 8 will include templates for a variety of schedules that you might want to use in your league. We'll include all of the formats that have been used in real life (one 8-team league playing 154 games, one 10-team league playing 162 games, and so on up to today's complex inter-league formats).

Furthermore, you'll be able to create a template from a schedule you've already created. This provides a handy way to move a schedule from one league to another (provided the leagues have the same structure, of course) even if the teams are different.

Schedule editing. We've also added a few features to make it easier to hand-craft your schedules. The most important of these is to copy a block of games. In many league structures, you can put together a balanced schedule that has everyone play everyone else for a period of time, then do it again with the home and road teams reversed. Our block copy command has a "reverse teams" feature that lets you do just this.

Choosing lineups and making substitutions. I've always thought that our lineup screen was a good one -- lots of relevant data a couple of keystrokes away plus handy tools for working with saved lineups and manipulating the batting order. I still feel that way, and we've tried to retain as much of that as we can in the more mouse-oriented Windows world. In addition, we've added some important new features, including these three:

i) a little check box will allow you to toggle between seeing (a) all of the batters or pitchers on your roster and (b) a list of players who are available to enter the game. This is quite handy when you're seeking a pinch hitter, pinch runner, or defensive replacement and need to see who's on the bench.

ii) when working with saved lineups, you get to see the lineups themselves and not just a list of the lineup names. And you can rename these lineups from this window, instead of going over to the manager profile editor to do it.

iii) during a game, you have a chance to undo any mistakes you might make. In version 7, when you inserted a player, he was in the game, period. In version 8, you can make a bunch of moves, then click on the Cancel or Restart button if you decide you made a mistake or simply change your mind. As in real baseball, there is a point of no return -- once you click on OK, it's as if the subs have been announced to the stadium crowd, and you cannot back out at that point.

Dual-role players. Some of you use older seasons that have players who did a significant amount of pitching and playing in the field the same year. To conserve memory and disk space, the game has always allowed only one set of ratings for each player (either batting or pitching), so we've been forced to create two copies of these players. Version 8 allows a player to have a full set of ratings for both roles, so we'll be able to do a better job with these older players and with the handful of modern position players who are occasionally used as emergency pitchers.



There's lots more to talk about, but this is already getting pretty long, so I'm going to stop here and resume the discussion in the next newsletter. Thanks for reading.

DMB News-August 1999

August 12, 1999
Written by Tom Tippett

Welcome to the third edition of the Diamond Mind email newsletter. Through these newsletters, we will try to keep you up to date on the latest product and technical information about the Diamond Mind Baseball game, related player disks, and our ongoing baseball research efforts. Back issues are available on our web site (

If you don't wish to receive these messages in the future, please send an email response with the subject line "unsubscribe". We'll immediately remove your email address from the list. And if you know someone who would like to subscribe to this newsletter, we'll be happy to add them to the mailing list if they send us an email message with the subject line "subscribe" and their name and street address in the body of the message.

Topics for this issue:

New baseball articles
Boxscore search engine
Version 8 news

New baseball articles

As many of you know, has been publishing articles written by Diamond Mind staff for the past 16 months. Although we rarely write from a fantasy baseball perspective, our relationship is with their fantasy news staff, so whenever we write something new, it's posted on their fantasy baseball news page for a few days. Sometimes you'll see also a link to the article from their main baseball page.

During the season, our schedule is irregular -- we post something when we've got something to say or when we've completed an interesting research project of some sort -- with 5-6 articles coming out during each season.

During the coming off-season, we'll once again be posting a series of 30 articles reviewing the performance of each team and its 20-25 key players. You'll be able to find them on our web site and starting in late November. And next March, we'll release our annual season preview article.

Our two most recent articles were posted in July, and you can find them at by scrolling most of the way down our home page and clicking on the Baseball Articles link.

The first article offered some thoughts on the career leader boards, examined the growing number of low-pitch-count outings by starting pitchers, takes MLB to task for how they handled the revision to Hack Wilson's RBI record, and talks about my experience at the Jose Jimenez no-hitter in late June.

The second article starts with a look at each team's record in games against the stronger and weaker teams in the first half of the season and ends with a few random thoughts about the year to date.

Boxscore search engine

Two Diamond Mind customers, Ron Gudykunst and Tom Milne, teamed up earlier this year to write a terrific program that searches Diamond Mind boxscores (version 7, both expanded and newspaper formats) and gives you access to all sorts of interesting information about the best and worst performances by players and teams. I don't have anywhere near enough room to tell you about all of its features here, so I'll simply say that I'm impressed with its power, flexibility and speed.

It runs on Windows, it's free, and you can download it from:

Version 8 News

As you might expect, we've been getting a lot of questions about version 8. For several good reasons, we've been saying nothing more than we're working on it and it's going to be our first Windows version of the game.

Why have we been so reluctant to talk about it? Five reasons, mainly.

First, I believe very strongly that it is dishonest to sell something that doesn't exist. And version 8 doesn't really exist in any meaningful sense until we've actually built and debugged and documented and field tested it.

Second, every minute we spend talking about the next version or answering questions about it is a minute that we're not actually working on the product. And we think you'll get the most value for your money if we're spending most of our time working, not talking.

Third, I think it's bad business to hype upcoming products. I've seen a lot of companies create a frenzy of anticipation for a new release, only to be under so much pressure to ship that they end up scrapping promised features or releasing a buggy product. Nobody wins when that happens.

Fourth, there are certain things we're working on that we don't want our competitors to know about just yet. This is actually one of the less important reasons, but it is a factor, and I wouldn't be telling the whole truth if I didn't include it.

Finally, it helps control the rumor mill. Last month, for example, someone posted a totally fictitious account of a conversation they claimed to have had with a non-existent member of our staff. Many of you knew that we had said that our web site and newsletter would be the only official sources of information about version 8, so we were able to contain that rumor quickly.

On the other hand, there are a couple of very good reasons for beginning to talk about the new release now. Many of you run leagues or play in them, and if we won't talk about version 8, you're missing some information you may need to plan your next league season. And many of our non-league customers have been great supporters of our work for many years, and I feel that you have a right to know something about what we're up to.

So we're going to start releasing information about version 8, but we'll try to do it in a controlled fashion that gives you what you need to make decisions without venturing into the land of wishful thinking and marketing hype. We won't talk about features until they've been thoroughly tested, and we'll be cautious about our projections for the ship date.

Free/discounted upgrade policy now in effect

Talking about version 8 creates a dilemma for someone who's interested in the game. Do you buy version 7 now, allowing you to begin playing the game right away, but taking a chance that we'll ship version 8 next week. Or do you wait until version 8 is ready to save the cost of an upgrade?

To make this decision easier, we've always offered free or discounted upgrades for a period of time before a new version is released. And I'm happy to announce that our free/discounted upgrade policy was put in effect on July 30, 1999. Here's how it works:

- anyone buying version 7 for the first time receives a free upgrade
to version 8 when it is ready

- anyone upgrading to version 7 from an earlier version will receive a $15
credit toward the purchase of a version 8 upgrade

Please understand that I'm not suggesting that you buy version 7 now if what you really want is version 8. If that describes you, I recommend that you wait and evaluate version 8 when it's ready. On the other hand, if you've been holding off on version 7 because you're afraid we'll make your investment obsolete by releasing version 8, fear not.

Conversion of Season Disks

We know that each of you has made an investment in our season disks, and some of you worry that we might make that investment obsolete with the release of a new version. That's why we have always included a conversion feature in every new upgrade. Version 7, for example, automatically converts season disks from formats as far back as version 2 (which was released in 1988).

We have already written and tested the code that converts disks from version 7 format to version 8, and we plan to convert from older formats as well. But I have serious doubts about whether it still makes sense to go all the way back to version 2. Disks in these early formats are missing information that we routinely include today, so even if we built an automatic conversion for those disks, they'd still be inferior to the seasons we current ship.

Instead, suppose we build version 8 to convert from all formats as far back as version 5, and we offer you the chance to trade in any disks in older formats for the version 8 equivalent at $3 per disk plus our normal shipping charges. This would mean that the vast majority (probably well over 90%) of season disks that are out there would be converted automatically at no cost to you, since they're already in version 5, 6 or 7 format. And you'd have an inexpensive way to move to a newer and better version of the others.

If you disagree with this approach, I'd like to hear from you. If a good case is made, we'll make sure version 8 handles all formats back to version 2. If not, we'll direct that energy into new features or getting the new version out sooner.

Version 7

Our work on version 8 doesn't mean version 7 is going away. We will continue to sell and support version 7, and we'll produce new season disks in version 7 format for the forseeable future.

In particular, we will be releasing the 1999 Season Disk and the 2000 Projection Disk in version 7 format on our normal schedule (December and March respectively).

When version 8 is ready, we will release updated editions of both disks that take advantage of new features in version 8. Purchasers of the version 7 editions of these disks will automatically get these updates at no charge with their purchase of a version 8 upgrade.

None of this is new, by the way. We had the same policy in place when versions 6 and 7 were released. And even if version 8 was shipping today, we'd be releasing both disks in version 7 format, because we don't believe in forcing you to buy an upgrade in order to use the new season disks.


I'd love to be able to announce a firm ship date for version 8, but I can't do that yet. Until we get more of the work done, and until we successfully make it through the first round of field testing, we won't know for sure when we'll be finished. And because this is our first Windows release, we are planning a longer-than-normal field testing cycle.

I can say, however, that our target is a spring 2000 release. This is not a guarantee, because I can't give you one right now. We will not ship the product until it's been rigorously tested and we feel it's ready for prime time.


Version 8 might be shipping now if our goal was to get the version 7 feature set into a Windows version as quickly as possible. That would be something like taking an older house and putting a fresh coat of paint on it.

But we wanted to do much more than that. We wanted to keep the things that are great about the old house and move them into a thoroughly modern building that will support our plans for years to come.

So we've adopted a more powerful database technology that will enable us to do much more than we could with our old file system. We're completely rethinking the user interface to make good use of toolbars, popup menus, drag and drop, tabbed windows, online help and other modern tools for making things easier to find and to use. We've increased the power of our play-by-play engine and added lots of new commentary to the play-by-play library.

It's safe to say that we've added new features to just about every part of the game that we've touched so far. The most frequently-used areas of the product (game play, autoplay, league management, reporting) are better than 80% complete. As these components begin to approach 100%, we'll provide more details. But it would be a little premature to do so now.

System Requirements

Version 8 will run on Windows95 and its successors. It will not run on Windows 3.1. We've chosen this course because we feel we can build a much better product if we focus solely on the 32-bit environment and if we take advantage of the newest user interface elements. Our goal is to run on Windows/NT and Windows2000 as well, but we haven't yet tested the game in these environments.
It's too early to know what the memory and disk space requirements will be, but we always try to keep the game as small and efficient as possible.

Field testing

As you might expect, we've had a lot of requests from people wishing to be involved in field testing this new version, and we cannot possibly accept everyone. We hate to say no to people who are trying to help us, but it does nobody any good if we're so swamped with the logistics of communicating with the testers that we can't get our work done.

When we're ready for more volunteers, we'll announce it through this newsletter. At that time, we'll describe the mix of people and computers we think would provide for the most effective field test coverage, so those of you who wish to volunteer can then tell us about your interests and your computer. With that information, we'll select a group of people who we believe can provide the most thorough test of the game and it's ability to run on different computers.


We're doing our best to build a great product for you and we can't wait to show you what we've done so far. In the meantime, we'll use our web site and this newsletter to bring you periodic updates.

As many of you know, we're always interested in hearing from you. A lot of what's good about Diamond Mind Baseball sprang from suggestions made by customers. And the sooner we hear of any idea, the sooner we can start thinking about how to integrate it into the product, even if it's too late to get it into the very next release.

Please understand, however, that we're entering a period that will be the busiest we've ever experienced, with the release of two new season disks and a new game upgrade. We'll read all of your suggestions, but we won't have time to respond with more than a polite thank you. And if you send us a message asking whether features A, B and C will be in version 8, we'll politely refer you to our web site and back issues of the newsletter. I'm afraid we have no other choice.

We will, of course, continue to provide our normal levels of technical support for version 7, so please don't shy away from seeking the help you need. Your questions about version 7 and our current catalog of season disks will continue to be answered promptly.