DMB News August 2004

Diamond Mind Email Newsletter

August 20, 2004
Written by Tom Tippett and Luke Kraemer

Welcome to the fourth edition of the Diamond Mind email newsletter for the year 2004. 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.

Topics for this issue:

Office hours
1994 and 1995 Deluxe Past Seasons now with transactions
Technical tip -- season disk installation
Technical tip -- web site generation
Technical tip -- NetPlay and Windows XP Service Pack 2
Cincinnati's 1985 season

Office hours

Our office will be staffed from 10am to 4pm Eastern time from August 23 through August 30. On August 31, we will return to our normal hours of 9am to 5pm Eastern.

1994 and 1995 Deluxe Past Seasons now with transactions

Today we are releasing updated versions of the 1994 and 1995 seasons, each with a complete set of real-life transactions and lineups.

This is a major milestone. As of today, we have compiled and proofed every in-season player transaction and every starting lineup for the 25-year period encompassed by our Deluxe Past Season collection.

We have begun compiling transactions and lineups for selected Classic Past Seasons, and we'll let you know more about that in future newsletters.

Technical tip -- season disk installation

In the past few weeks, we have received a small number of reports from customers using Windows XP who are no longer able to install Diamond Mind season disks.

After they select which file to install, accept the license agreement, and specify a database folder name, a window titled "16 bit MS-DOS Subsystem" pops up with the following message:

C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\AUTOEXEC.NT. The system file is not suitable
for running MS-DOS and Microsoft Windows applications.

Regardless of whether they clicked the "Close" or "Ignore" button, they received a warning that the file is not a valid DMB season.

The common cause for these customers appears to be a file that is missing from the \Windows\System32 folder.

In at lease some of these cases, it appears that the file was deleted by a spyware program. Spyware tracks the places you visit on the Internet. Most people try to remove spyware if they become aware of it, but some spyware programs try to prevent detection and removal by deleting some files from your \Windows\System32 folder. And DMB needs one of those files for season installs.

Fortunately, it's very easy to fix this:

1. Click on your Windows Start button
2. Click on My Computer
3. Open your C: Drive
4. Open the Windows folder
5. Open the Repair folder
6. Find the file autoexec.nt
7. Copy it to your Windows\System32 folder using one of these methods:

If your version of My Computer has a left-hand pane showing a list of commands ... left-click on the autoexec.nt file to select it ... on the left side, under "File and Folder Tasks" choose "Copy this file" ... in the "Copy Files" window that pops up, open your C: Drive ... open the Windows folder ... open the System32 folder ... click on the Copy button


If your version of My Computer does not show a left-hand pane ... right-click on the autoexec.nt file and choose Copy from the popup menu ... navigate up one level to the Windows folder ... right-click on the System32 folder and choose Paste from the popup menu

8. Close My Computer

If you run into this problem again after rebooting, your computer probably has a spyware program that deletes the autoexec.nt file each time the system is booted. In that case, you'll need to get a spyware detection and removal program to hunt down and remove this parasite. We can't recommend a specific spyware utility, but you should be able to find reviews of these products on the internet.

Of course, if you experience this problem and this tip doesn't solve it, let us know and we'll do our best to help.

One final cautionary note ... it's clear that many of our customers run without virus protection and/or a firewall. Someone we know has a cable modem and uses a software firewall. The firewall logs show that his system gets probed around 200 times a day!

Technical tip -- web site generation

Web site generation isn't just for web sites.

If you're mainly a solitaire gamer, you may have ignored the version 9 web site generation feature because you figured it was designed for league commissioners who maintain league web sites.

But you can also use your web browser for quick and easy access to a large set of linked reports from a season replay. Generate the web site to a folder on your hard drive, then add a desktop shortcut to the index page in that folder or add a link to it in the Favorites list in Internet Explorer. It's a great way to see a lot of information quickly.

Technical tip -- NetPlay and Windows XP Service Pack 2

Microsoft will soon release a major update to Windows XP called Service Pack 2 (SP2). We haven't installed SP2 yet, but we have learned that it contains a new firewall that will prevent you from hosting NetPlay games until you take certain actions.

Windows XP has always included a firewall, but you may not have been aware of it because it was disabled by default. Apparently, the new one is activated automatically when SP2 is installed.

If you use the Internet, you should be using some type of firewall to protect your system from intruders. Firewalls can be implemented in hardware devices such as routers or as software (from Microsoft or other vendors) that runs on your computer.

There are a number of ways SP2 could end up on your computer. You might be using XP now and have the automatic update feature turned on. You could go to the Microsoft site and download it. Or you could buy a new computer that already has SP2 loaded.

Fortunately, the new firewall in SP2 is more advanced than the previous one because you can configure it to allow certain types of traffic while blocking all others. This is the key to hosting NetPlay games without opening yourself up to unwanted traffic. Here's the procedure suggested by Microsoft:

1. Click Start, click Run, type wscui.cpl in the Open box, and then click OK.
2. Click Windows Firewall.
3. On the Exceptions tab, click Add Port.
4. In the Add a Port dialog box, enter 32158 in the Port number box, and then click TCP.
5. Type a name for the port, and then click OK. For example, type DMBPort.
6. To view or set the scope for the port exception, click Change Scope, and then click OK.
7. On the Exceptions tab, notice that the new service is listed. To enable the port, click to select the check box next to the service, and then click OK

To read the detailed article on this issue in the Microsoft Knowledge Base, go to:

After SP2 is released, we will test this out and post instructions on our web site.

If you have a router with a built-in firewall, it would be tempting to disable the SP2 firewall and trust the router to block all unwanted traffic before it reaches your computer.

This strategy carries a small amount of risk. To host NetPlay games, you must configure the router's firewall to permit traffic on port 32158. For maximum safety, you should disable that port when you're not using NetPlay and enable it only when you're playing games.

But this leaves you with a small vulnerability while you're playing your NetPlay games in that a hacker might discover that this port is open for the time being. We don't use one of the standard ports that are commonly targeted by hackers, but an attack through this port cannot be ruled out altogether.

A more secure strategy is to use both firewalls in combination. When you're ready to host a NetPlay game, enable port 32158 on both the router and your software-based firewall. Immediately after your opponent has connected, disable the port in the software firewall but leave it open in your router. Your DMB traffic will still get through but others will be blocked by the software firewall. After you have finished your NetPlay session, disable the port in both firewalls to make your system as secure as possible.

Please understand that all of this applies only to the HOST of a NetPlay session. If you are not the host, you do not need to open any ports or lower your firewall, and doing so would expose you to intruders for no reason.

Cincinnati's 1985 season

"It's a brand new ball game"

This marketing slogan, adopted for the 1985 season by the Cincinnati Reds, was a mixture of truth, hope and irony.

Much about the Reds was indeed brand new. The club had a new owner in Marge Schott. Pete Rose was running spring training as player-manager for the first time, having taken the reins in mid-season the year before. And the roster featured a number of promising new faces. (More on them in a moment.)

The hope was that all of these changes would bring about an improvement in the team's performance. One of the elite franchises of the 1970s had fallen on hard times. In 1981, Cincinnati posted the league's best record but was denied a postseason berth because they had the misfortune of placing second in both segments of a season torn in two by a bitter strike. The next three years saw them finish fifth, sixth and sixth.

Oh, and there was the small matter of Rose being only 95 behind the immortal Ty Cobb on the all-time hits list. Even if the team wasn't competitive on the field, the Reds faithful could hope to see their hometown hero bang out that magical hit.

The irony stems from the fact that the basis for much of that hope was anything but new. Rather, it was an attempt to defy Father Time by reassembling the Big Red Machine. Rose, 43, extended a non-roster spring training invitation to 42-year-old Tony Perez. Rose also elevated Dave Concepcion, 36, from utility infielder to his former role as starting shortstop. And Joe Morgan was making his debut as a Reds color commentator after putting the finishing touches on his Hall of Fame career with the Athletics in 1984.

The club Rose inherited was nothing to get excited about. Cincinnati won only 70 games in 1984, allowing 120 more runs than they scored while finishing ninth in the league in scoring and eleventh in runs allowed. But Rose was excited anyway. Despite the recent track record, he refused to set the bar any lower than winning the division, and his enthusiasm quickly caught on with the players and the media.

The catcher position was seen as a problem. It didn't appear that anyone would hit, so Rose declared that he would look for defense first and treat any offense as a bonus. As a result, the competition centered on Dann Bilardello and Brad Gulden, both coming off seasons in which they batted under .230 without walks or power.

The infield looked set with Rose at first, Ron Oester at second, Concepcion at short, and a platoon of Wayne Krenchiki and Nick Esasky at third.

The outfield was a different story. Veterans Dave Parker and Cesar Cedeno had the inside track on the corner positions, but the other spots were wide open. The favorite for center field was Eric Davis, a 22-year-old with outstanding power and speed who clubbed 10 homers and swiped 10 bases in a 57-game trial the year before. Gary Redus and Eddie Milner, both starters in 1984, were in the mix. Duane Walker was coming off a fine .292/.391/.528 showing in 193 atbats. And a kid named Paul O'Neill was trying to show that he belonged, too.

The ace of the pitching staff was 28-year-old Mario Soto, who averaged 16 wins (for a bad team) and 256 innings while completing 44 of 101 starts from 1982 to 1984. Soto's ERA was in the 2.70s in the first two of those seasons before climbing to 3.53 in 1984.

Jay Tibbs, 23, figured to be the #2 starter. In 1983, after going 14-8 with a 2.92 ERA in the minors and finishing second behind Dwight Gooden in the Carolina league in strikeouts, he was plucked out of the Mets system by the Phillies in the rule 5 draft. Philadelphia returned him to New York before the end of spring training, but a few months later the Reds acquired him in a trade for Bruce Berenyi. In 14 starts for Cincinnati, Tibbs went 6-2 with a 2.86 ERA.

Another promising newcomer was 24-year-old lefty Tom Browning, who dazzled as a September call-up by going 1-0 with a 1.54 ERA in three starts.

Rounding out the rotation was John Stuper, 27. After being cast aside by the Cardinals, Stuper hired a personal trainer and pursued a rigorous offseason conditioning program that included lifting, lots of running, and 2,000 sit-ups a week. He lost more than 20 pounds and made it through spring training without any of the shoulder pain that had plagued him the year before.

The bullpen was headed up by righty Ted Power, who posted a 2.82 ERA with 11 saves while leading the league in appearances the year before, and second-year lefty John Franco. Yes, the same John Franco who is still dominating left-handed batters for the Mets.

Perceptive readers undoubtedly noticed that our discussion of the rotation included only four names. There's a reason for that. One of the big stories in Reds camp that year was the desire of Rose and pitching coach Jim Kaat to go with a four-man rotation.

Soto had mixed feelings about the idea. Early in spring training, he said, "We did that a little late last year, and it's OK with me. But it's one of those things we'll have to try to see how it works out for me and my arm."

A couple of weeks later, Soto felt some tenderness in his elbow during his fourth spring training start. He left that outing after five innings and skipped his next turn.

Despite this setback, Rose did indeed begin the season with a four-man rotation. Soto was the opening day starter and managed to work seven innings and pick up the win despite two snow delays. After an off day, Tibbs started game two, losing 4-1 to the Expos.

After another off day, Rose went right back to Soto on three days rest. This began a stretch of 17 games in 17 days when every starter worked on three days rest.

Well, almost. Browning missed two starts after he split a finger catching a fly ball in batting practice. Frank Pastore made a spot start the first time, but an off day on April 29 allowed Rose to skip Browning's turn and use the other three men on their normal three days. Another off day (May 9) allowed Browning an extra day of rest, but his next three starts were back on the three-day program.

Meanwhile, Tibbs didn't get his first extra day of rest until May 25. After a bad start on May 20, Tibbs was knocked out of the box in the second inning of his May 25 start. Naturally, that early exit gave Rose a perfect opportunity to bring Tibbs back on two days rest for his next start. Whereupon he got shelled for the third time in a row, pushing his ERA for the season above the 5.00 mark.

Eight of Soto's first nine starts were on three days rest, the other following an off day. He went at least 7 innings in the first six of those starts, completing two of them and pitching extremely well. Soto allowed exactly one run in five outings and only three in the other one. His ERA stood at 1.50 and his record at 4-1.

Oddly enough, his first rough outing was the one on four days rest. The Mets touched him for 6 earned runs in five innings of a 9-4 loss. Three days later, Soto bounced back with seven shutout innings to pick up his fifth win.

The first sign of trouble appeared on May 11 when Soto carried a one-hitter into the sixth inning before Houston sent him to the showers with a five-run outburst. A few days later, Soto said that his arm was hurting and that he wanted four days between starts.

Rose responded by saying, "I didn't expect the four-man rotation to last all season. The schedule broke right for us and we didn't need a fifth man."

Come again? How can you argue that 17 games in 17 days is a favorable schedule? Truth is, Rose went out of his way to keep everyone on three days rest for the first five weeks of the season. In the first week, he used the two off days to bring Soto back for game three. Later, when Browning was out, he used an off day to skip Browning's turn and keep everyone else on their regular day.

After missing one start with his sore arm, Soto rebounded with a complete game victory in which he carried a shutout into the ninth inning. And he got his wish. For the next two months, Rose added a fifth starter and gave Soto four days rest for all but one start.

Unfortunately, Soto's performance was quite poor during this stretch. He allowed at least four runs in seven of nine outings from June 9 to July 18 and lost eight straight decisions.

Rose concluded that Soto's problem was the extra day, so he went back to a four-man rotation. And Soto began pitching well again. In his next four starts, all on three days rest, he allowed a total of five earned runs, completed three games, and lowered his ERA by 39 points.

Contrary to Rose's view, Soto attributed his recent success to a decision to abandon his new slider. Back in spring training, he said that he had been a two-pitch pitcher, fastball and changeup, during the first eight years of his career. But he felt he needed a third pitch to stay ahead of the hitters. That experiment lasted for about half of the 1985 season, but after getting knocked around for a few weeks, he returned to the two-pitch formula.

With the exception of one start following an off day, Soto continued to pitch on three days rest until early September. But he lost more than he won and his ERA drifted back up, almost to the point at which it had peaked in July. He then missed three September starts with a sore foot and tender shoulder before striking out 14 Giants in his final outing.

Overall, there was a lot of good news for the Reds that season. The team won 89 games and finished only 5-1/2 back of the division champion Dodgers. Much of their success was due to a tremendous record in one-run and extra-inning games, as their run margin was only +11.

Rose did indeed pass Cobb with a base hit (a single, of course) on September 11. Tony Perez made the team and started at first base against left-handers, posting an impressive .328/.398/.470 in that role. Dave Parker led the league with 125 RBI.

Tom Browning became the first rookie to win 20 games since Bob Grim in 1954. John Franco won 11 straight decisions in relief, finishing with a record of 12-3 with 12 saves and a 2.18 ERA in 99 innings.

There was also some bad news. The seasons of pitchers Frank Pastore and Joe Price ended early when both needed elbow surgery.

Soto experienced arm pain three times, once in spring training and twice during the season. He wound up making 36 starts, a number you typically see from an ace in a five-man rotation. In other words, he could have pitched just as much with four days rest each time out.

Cincinnati's weakest offensive positions were catcher, center field, first base, and shortstop. The catchers weren't expected to hit, so this was no surprise. In center, Eric Davis started slowly and wound up in the minors for a stretch. At first base, Rose's total lack of power canceled out his impressive .395 OBP and Perez's production. Concepcion's OPS of .664 at short was in the bottom half of the league.

Gary Redus blasted Rose for playing himself so much instead of moving a better hitter to first base. With a surplus of hitters at third base and in the outfield, Redus felt there were better candidates for the first base job.

Still, when you consider that the team finished last or second last in each of the past three seasons, there was a lot more good news than bad for Cincinnati fans. Of course, for the injured Reds pitchers, the bad news outweighed the good.

After the season, Rose responded to questions about trading Soto by saying, "Soto remains a good pitcher and it is a matter of getting him straightened out both physically and mentally. Yes, I was disappointed in his reaction to the four-man rotation. But when a man tells you that his arm hurts pitching on only three days of rest, you can't keep sending him out there."

Well, he did keep sending him out there on three days rest, and this was to all intents and purposes the end of Soto's career. He made only 19 starts in 1986, 6 in 1987, and 14 in 1998. His ERA was closer to five than four in all three of those seasons, and he was out of the majors before his 33rd birthday.

It would be easy to blame Rose's insistence on a four-man rotation for the end of Soto's career, but is it obvious that the four-man rotation was the culprit? Maybe his new slider, not the workload, caused the arm soreness. Perhaps the damage was already done with those 770 innings over the previous three seasons. Besides, most of his best starts came on three days rest, and he struggled often on four.

All things considered, my guess is that the 1985 pitching load was partly responsible. But I can't prove it. After all, Tom Browning fared pretty well in a four-man rotation all year and went on to make at least 31 starts in each of the next six seasons. And while it didn't work out for Tibbs, either, was that because of the four-man rotation, or was he just not that good to begin with?

It's hardly surprising that Rose and Kaat would share a belief in a four-man rotation. Both spent the majority of their careers in an era when the league leader in innings was always over 300 and the game's top starters were expected to throw at least 275 innings a season and complete a significant percentage of their games.

Still, you have to wonder how much damage they did. We've already talked about Soto. Tibbs saw his career end a few days before he turned 28. Stuper didn't pitch in the majors after 1985. Pastore's career lasted only 49 innings more and he was done by his 30th birthday. Joe Price made it back to pitch in five more seasons as a reliever and occasional starter, but his pre-surgery numbers were much better.

We're writing about this because we're considering a change in the game's fatigue system that would add injury risk to the performance adjustments that are already being made. If we go ahead with it, this change would appear in version 10 or perhaps in a version 9 patch.