DMB News January 2001

Diamond Mind Email Newsletter January 2001

January 18, 2001
Written by Tom Tippett

Welcome to the first edition of the Diamond Mind email newsletter for the year 2001. 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:

Version 8 update
2000 Season Disk update
2001 Projection Disk
Historical ballpark database
Team reviews

Version 8 update

Well, it's been quite a couple of months, and I want to take a moment to thank a few people for their contributions.

Because I did a lousy job of estimating how long it would take to get version 8 ready for shipment, we faced the daunting task of shipping a record number of advance orders for both the version 8 game and the 2000 Season Disk during a one-week period before Christmas. Even though they had nothing to do with getting us into this predicament in the first place, Carol and Zack dove in and worked some very long hours to get everything shipped as quickly as possible.

Unfortunately, despite their best efforts, some packages didn't arrive until after Christmas, and we've received a few isolated reports of long delays in the postal system. To those of you who didn't receive your package when you wanted it, I apologize once again.

In the past month, Luke and Zack have helped me answer about two thousand emails and several hundred phone calls with questions ranging from order status to possible bugs to getting things done in the new version 8 user interface.

We have begun developing the first of two patches that you will be able to download from our web site. This patch is intended to get a few important bug fixes into your hands as quickly as possible, and we hope to have it ready within the next 2-3 weeks.

For the second patch, which doesn't have a target date yet, we'll tackle some projects that will take a little longer. Among other things, we have promised to add the team versus team report and to see if we can add back the ability to passively watch the play-by-play for a computer-managed game.

We're tracking of all of the bug reports, questions, suggestions, and criticisms that you have directed our way. We are using that information to focus on the things that we believe will make the biggest difference for the most people.

(By the way, we always get a bunch of email whenever we send out one of these newsletters. We read them all, and most are very helpful. But keep in mind that the people who answer your email are the same people who work on the product. If you write us just to lobby for things that you've already asked for in the past, it will only slow us down.)

Yesterday, we posted a few more updates to a version 8 support page on our web site. There's a link to that page from the version 8 section of our home page, and you'll find bug reports, trouble-shooting tips, news on requested features, and suggestions on how to get certain things done with version 8. We will continue to update that page as we discover new issues that appear to be of interest to more than a few people.

It's clear from your feedback that the vast majority of you really like the new version, and for that we am thankful and more than a little bit relieved. It's nerve-wracking to spend so much time and energy without knowing whether our work will be well received.

We got a lot of things right, but we certainly didn't get everything right, so we'll be doing our best in the coming weeks and months to fix bugs, fine-tune the user interface, and improve the Help system. And we will continue to answer your questions and distribute information through these newsletters and our web site.

The ship date didn't mark the end of the version 8 project, it marked the beginning of the customer service phase of the project.

2000 Season Disk update

We have discovered two errors in the 2000 Season Disk that we'd like to bring to your attention.

First, we omitted Robert Fick's ratings at catcher. His ratings should be as follows:

Range - Av
Error - 119
PB - 6
Throw - Fr

Second, we slipped a decimal point on Trace Coquillette's salary. His salary is listed as $2,015,000, but he really made only $201,500. Since we store salaries in thousands, it should be entered into the season disk as 202, not 2015.

The easiest way to make these corrections is to use the player modification feature of the game. Here's how:

1. Choose View > Organizer to open the Organizer window
2. Click on the Players tab
3. Scroll down to the player and click once to select him
4. Click on the Modify button
5. From the popup menu, choose the information you wish to modify
6. When the modify window displays, make the change and click on OK

For Fick, you'd choose to modify his 'Ratings', and for Coquillette, you'd choose to modify his 'General player info'.

We made the correction to Fick's ratings about a week after we began shipping the 2000 Season Disk, so those of you who have purchased that disk more recently may already have the correct values. The Coquillette salary correction was made only this week. If you're not doing anything with the salary data, you can ignore this change.

We're sorry for the inconvenience.

2001 Projection Disk

We have begun work on the 2001 Projection Disk, and our target for shipping it is Thursday, March 8th. We plan to ship this disk in both version 7 and version 8 format.

Anyone who buys the 2001 Projection Disk prior to March 29th will receive two editions of the disk -- the March 8th edition and a free update in early April that reflects the opening day rosters and events from the remainder of spring training. After March 29th, you'll receive only the April edition.

There won't be any way to merge the April updates into the first disk, however, so if you start a league or a season preplay with the first disk, you'll have three choices when the update comes out -- start over with the updated disk, keep going with the first disk without making any changes, or manually integrate the updates into the first disk and continue.

After the first disk is issued, we may need to create a few new players if some long shots make the opening day rosters, and we'll be updating the rosters and manager profiles to reflect late player moves. But we don't plan to make any changes that would affect the performance of any players included in the March edition.

Historical Ballpark Database

For the past two years, we have been compiling a database of historical ballpark information that makes it easier to create your own players and use historical parks for new leagues that you assemble.

For every park that has been used since 1901, the database contains the wall distances and heights at seven outfield locations, the size of foul territory, playing surface, statistical park factors, and weather information.

NOTE: This database does not include diagrams for these ballparks. Later this year, we expect to begin creating images for old-time parks and making them available for download from our web site.

We are happy to report that we have completed work on this project and you can now purchase this database for use with version 8. It is priced at $24.95 and, like a season disk, can be delivered by email (no shipping charge) or mailed on a CD (at our standard shipping rates).

For more details on the contents of this database and how we compiled it, we have created a new page on our web site. The easiest way to follow the link from the Historical Ballpark Database note on our home page.

We once believed that accurate ballpark information was widely available and completely reliable. The Red Books and Green Books have included park dimensions for years. So have the Sporting News Guides. And we had expected to rely heavily on Green Cathedrals, which contains more information on wall distances, wall heights, and the size of foul territory than any other single source that we are aware of. But after working on this project for a year and a half, these beliefs have been shaken to a significant degree.

In the introduction to Green Cathedrals, the author writes, "You will notice many inconsistencies related to: incorrect measurements; movement of home plate; re-measurements; continued club usage of old and incorrect information; failure to measure power alleys at exactly 45 degree angles ..."

Until a year ago, we thought the people behind Green Cathedrals had carefully sifted through these inconsistencies and then published only the values that appeared to be valid. We now believe that a good number of these potentially inconsistent values made it into the book.

We spent hundreds of hours comparing the information in Green Cathedrals to other ballpark books and web sites. (Some web sites appear to have shamelessly plagiarized Green Cathedrals, by the way.) We looked at old photographs. And we got some help from a Diamond Mind customer who works at the Hall of Fame.

Despite all of this effort, we found some cases where Green Cathedrals reported a large number of unexplained changes in dimensions in a short period of time, and we were unable to verify whether the park was really being changed that often or whether we were looking at a series of inconsistent newspaper reports that nobody bothered to verify.

So our historical park database isn't perfect, and we're not sure it ever will be, though we think we're fairly close to the limit on how accurate the database can be given the sources that are available. Despite the imperfections, we think it's a valuable resource.

Going forward, you can help us make this database even better. If you spot something that appears to be wrong, please tell us about it. If you can point us toward some evidence that supports the correction you are proposing, we'll look into it and make any necessary changes.

Team Reviews

We got a very late start this year, but we are continuing our tradition of writing detailed reviews of the 2000 season. In each review, we compare the pre-season expectations to the actual performance of a team and its key players. Once again, is publishing these reviews on both their main baseball page and in their fantasy baseball area.

New reviews are highlighted on our home page along with a link to an overview page that describes our methods and lists the publication dates for all thirty teams.