DMB News April 2000
Diamond Mind Email Newsletter #7
April 27, 2000
Written by Tom Tippett
Welcome to the second edition of the Diamond Mind email newsletter for the year 2000. 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 website.
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:
We've now shipped both editions of the 2000 Projection Disk. As usual, there were a few players (ten of them this year) who unexpectedly made the opening day rosters, so these players were added to the Final Edition of the disk that was shipped last week. The Final Edition also included updated rosters and manager profiles that take into account any player moves and injury updates that were announced from March 10th until opening day.
Last year, a number of people asked us whether we planned to release any updates to the projection disk during the season. We may start doing that in the future, but for now, the answer is no. The next time we plan to release new ratings for players and parks is in December, when our 2000 Season Disk should be ready.
On March 16th, we published our projected team standings for the 2000 season. Using the 2000 Projection Disk, we simulated the season fifty times and averaged the results. Much of what came out was to be expected, but there were some surprises. If you're interested, and if you haven't already seen the article that presents our results and comments on all thirty teams, you can find it at http://www.diamond-mind.com/articles/proj2000.htm.
This article always generates a few angry emails from readers who think we've short-changed their favorite team. Almost invariably, these fans assume that everything -- I mean everything -- will go right for their team. Every young pitcher who did well in four starts last September will be a star this year. Every injured regular will come back at full strength. Every veteran will rise to his peak level. Every off-season acquisition will improve the chemistry in the clubhouse.
I must say that I find no fault with fans going into the season with high hopes. It's always possible that their team will indeed have one of those magical years where everything falls into place. Every season, there are a couple of teams who win 10-20 more games than we projected, and a couple that lose 10-20 more. So it's quite possible that these diehard fans will be right. I just hope they're not too disappointed if their team merely reaches their true potential.
I'll end this segment by printing (verbatim) my favorite of the emails that I received in response to this year's projections article:
Your are wrong and as usual, all the outcomes will be significantly different. Your predictions are stupid and have not merit. Go do something useful. Your annoying."
Gee, if I'd known this back in February, I could have saved myself a lot of time and energy.
Regular visitors to our web site will have noticed that we adopted a new design for the site in March. We've added a lot of material to the site since it was first launched in March, 1996, and we felt it was getting a little unwieldy. So we've made the following changes:
- the top of every page now shows a banner that contains a number of handy navigation links that make it much easier to move around the site and find what you're looking for
- within some sections, there is a second set of navigation links just below the banner
- we've added a new form to make it easier for people to sign up for our email newsletter
And we plan to add a new online store in the coming weeks, giving you another convenient way to order Diamond Mind products, any time of day or night, whether or not our office is open at the time.
I just finished reading a very enjoyable book called Baseball Dynasties that was written by Rob Neyer and Eddie Epstein. As the title suggests, it tells the story of fifteen of the greatest teams ever built, teams that were very good for several years in a row.
For the past few years, Rob has been writing a regular column on ESPN.com, and I go out of my way to read whatever he writes whenever I can, which has been just about every day in recent weeks. Eddie, who has spent most of the past dozen years with the Baltimore Orioles and the San Diego Padres, is one of a handful of people who has built a successful career doing baseball analysis.
Their book is a very nice blend of statistical analysis, historical research, and good writing. Even though I've been involved in rating many of the teams they discussed, I learned a great deal, and I was entertained throughout.
By the way, I've known the authors for years, and I have a lot of respect for how they think about baseball. I first met Rob about six years ago when he was working at STATS, Inc, and I met Eddie in the late 1980s when he was an active user of our game and had just started working with the Orioles. This is the first time I've ever had the pleasure of reading a book that was written by folks I already knew, but I would definitely recommend this book even if I didn't happen to know the authors.
Even though some of our time went into the 2000 Projection Disk, we have made good progress on version 8 since the last newsletter. In this edition of the newsletter, I'd like to talk a little about the system requirements and take you on a tour of the new version 8 game screen.
General characteristics and system requirements
Version 8 has been designed to run on Windows95 and its successors. To this point, we have tested it on both Windows95 and Windows98, and before we're done, we'll also test it on Windows NT and Windows 2000.
First, let me emphasize that version 8 is a true Windows program. Like all true Windows programs, it offers you the ability to display multiple windows, select from pull-down and popup menus, drag-and-drop where appropriate, print to any Windows printer, and share the desktop with other applications, among other things.
Why do these things matter? Multiple windows give you the flexibility to do more things, such as viewing two reports at the same time or viewing a report while you are playing a game. Popup menus make it easier to access game features. Sharing the desktop with other applications makes it possible for you to check your email while autoplaying games in the background, or switch easily between viewing Diamond Mind reports and working on your league newsletter.
Although we are not yet finished with all of the version 8 features, we're close enough to get a good handle on the system requirements. As has always been our policy, we've tried to design the game so that it requires very little from the computer. Ideally, if your computer can run Windows95, we want it to be able to run the game.
I just finished testing the game on one of our older systems and was very happy with the results. It's a 4-year-old Pentium with a 200MHz processor and 32 MB of memory. Before starting the game, I loaded a large document into Microsoft Word, started up an Excel spreadsheet, and opened a couple of web pages in a web design tool. Even with these other applications eating up memory, I had no problem playing a single game, autoplaying an entire season (less than 15 minutes for a 12-team league), and generating reports.
We'll be recommending that you have your screen resolution set to 800x600 or higher, but we've taken the time to make sure everything is still readable and well laid out at 640x480.
Windows monitors can be set to work with different color settings -- 16 colors, 256 colors, 16-bit color, 24-bit color and 32-bit color. Version 8 will run with any color setting from 256 on up, though it looks better with 16-bit color than with 256.
As I mentioned, we expect the game to work with any Windows printer, and we've printed successfully on several different laser and ink-jet printers.
It appears the game will require no more than 10-15 MB of disk space, and that's pretty small by today's standards. Each season disk you install will require anywhere from 1 MB to 30 MB, depending on the size of your league, the length of your schedule, and whether you choose to generate game-by-game statistics and/or save the boxscores and scoresheets for every game.
We plan to ship version 8 on CD-ROM and (in case you don't have a CD-ROM drive on your computer) on 3-1/2" disks. Time permitting, we'll be looking into electronic distribution (i.e. downloading from the web) as well.
Version 8 game screen
I'd like to give you a tour of the version 8 game screen, but it's hard to paint a complete mental picture for you. It's much better if you can actually see what it looks like, but we can't really do that in this forum since a lot of email readers can't handle embedded images. So we've prepared a web page with some annotated screen images, and I invite you to visit http://www.diamond-mind.com/products/version8/v8gmscr.html to check it out.
By the way, our last newsletter contained a lengthy description of the new reporting system that we've added for version 8. Back issues of all of our newsletters are on our web site, and I mention this one because it contains a few screen shots of the reporting system. At the time we sent out the last newsletter, I hadn't made the decision to include them, so many of you are probably unaware that they were added to the web version of that newsletter. Now you know, and I invite you to check them out at your convenience.
About ten times a day, we're asked when version 8 will begin shipping and when we'll begin taking orders for the new version. We're very happy to know that many of you are as anxious to see version 8 as we are to get it finished, but I'm afraid we don't yet have a firm ship date to announce, nor do we have a firm date for the beginning of beta testing. I assure you that we'll announce these dates through our newsletter and web site just as soon as we can.
It's time for me to get back to work on version 8. I'll be back with an update on our progress in the next few weeks.