DMB News October 2000
Diamond Mind Email Newsletter #10
October 25, 2000
Written by Tom Tippett
Welcome to the fifth 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.
Topics for this issue:
All of the major features of version 8 are complete, and we're now focusing on testing, bug-fixing, polishing the user interface, and finishing the help system. We expect to begin shipping sometime in November, and we're taking advance orders now.
We're also getting started on the 2000 Season Disk, which we expect to begin shipping on or before December 14th. We'll be shipping that season disk in both version 7 and version 8 format, and we're taking advance orders for this product now as well.
Finally, we are planning to release the 2001 Projection Disk in March, but we won't be putting that item on our order forms or on our web store until January.
Starting today, and for the next two weeks, we are sending a mailing to all owners of prior version of the game and to anyone else who has contacted us in the past three years. That mailing includes a version 8 brochure, an order form, and a postage-paid reply envelope for anyone who wishes to order by mail.
If you wish to order with a credit card, you can do so in three ways. The most convenient method is to use our online store (follow the link from www.diamond-mind.com), but you can also send us a credit card order by mail or call us at 800-400-4803 during our normal business hours (9-5 eastern, Mon-Fri).
Our web site now contains a lot of information about version 8, including a list of enhancements, a guided tour with screen shots, and answers to the most common questions we've received or expect to receive about product features, ship dates, and company policies.
PLEASE take advantage of those resources. We've tried very hard to anticipate as many of your questions as possible, and we pledge to keep the site updated with new questions and answers as they arise. We think you'll find this to be the best way to get answers quickly and precisely. Of course, if that doesn't help you, contact us by phone or email and we'll be happy to help.
For a first-time buyer, version 8 will be available at the same price as version 7 -- $49.95 for the game with 12 great teams, or $69.95 for the game with 12 great teams plus the current season disk (2000).
Anyone who is a registered owner of any prior version of Diamond Mind Baseball can upgrade to version 8 for $29.95. This upgrade includes 12 great teams of the past, but does not include any other season disks.
The price of the 2000 Season Disk is $29.95 in either version 7 or version 8 format. If you order an upgrade to version 8, we'll send the 2000 Season Disk in that format. Otherwise, we'll send it in version 7 format.
We introduced our free/discounted upgrade policy on July 30, 1999. If you bought the version 7 game since that date, we will automatically send you a free upgrade to version 8 as soon as it is ready. If you upgraded to version 7 since that date, you will receive a $15 discount on your version 8 upgrade order. The mailing includes coupons that notify you of your eligibility for these free or discounted upgrades.
Any season disks in version 5, 6 or 7 format will automatically be converted to the format used for version 8, so your investment in season disks purchased from Diamond Mind will retain its value.
If you have season disks in older formats, one option is to convert them to version 5-7 first and then to version 8. If you don't have version 5, 6 or 7, we'll be offering inexpensive upgrades to those seasons when version 8 is released. We haven't yet set the price or worked out the procedure for these season disk upgrades yet.
If you are playing in a league that transfers statistics and manager profiles, you can convert mid-season if every league member converts to version 8 at the same time. It will not be possible to transfer stats, rosters and manager profiles between different versions of the game.
Version 8 will be shipping on CD-ROM only. We can continue to send season disks via e-mail and on diskette, but all new games and upgrades will be shipped on CD-ROM.
We will continue to support and sell version 7 until demand for it dwindles to a low level. If you choose not to upgrade to version 8 right away, you can continue to purchase season disks (including the 2000 Season Disk) in version 7 format.
The title reads computer drafting, and while that's clearly the most important new capability in the version 8 drafting system, there's really more to it than just that. We've created a drafting environment that allows you to:
- draft new rosters from scratch or start with partially complete rosters (such as a group of players carried over from a previous season)
- save a draft in progress and resume it later
- browse lists of free agent batters and pitchers that show many more stats and ratings than before, sort those lists on any statistic or rating, and filter those lists based on batting and throwing hand, position, playing time and more
- add supplemental draft picks for one or more teams in any round, or delete any draft pick (to punish teams for breaking league rules, for example)
- trade draft picks
- reverse a draft pick that was made in error
- ask the computer to make one or more picks automatically
- generate a report showing all of the picks that have been made in a draft
These might seem like the minimal set of requirements, but we found that they're not always present in the drafting systems in other baseball games.
Before I get into a more detailed description of the drafting process, let me take a moment to point out that you can still sign free agents individually without setting up a formal draft, simply by choosing the 'Sign' command from the roster window. But if you want to set up a formal draft, here's how you go about it.
First, you create a draft, specifying the league or leagues that are to participate, how many rounds you want it to last, and whether the teams draft in the same order each round (1, 2, 3, ... 1, 2, 3, ...) or in reverse order every other round (1, 2, 3, ... 3, 2, 1, 1, 2, 3, ...).
When you do this, the full list of draft picks is generated. At this point, you can delete picks, add supplemental picks, and trade picks. If you change your mind about the number of rounds, you can add or delete rounds as well. You can designate which teams will use a human general manager to make its picks and which teams will have the computer GM make the decisions. And you can manually change the order in which the teams will draft or ask to have a random draft order selected for you.
Once you're happy with these things, you can freeze the draft order and get ready to start choosing players. At this point, you can still add, delete and trade picks (though you cannot delete or trade a pick that has already been made) to reflect events that occur during the draft.
A human general manager selects a player from the lists of free agent batters and pitchers. These lists use our new reporting system to provide a powerful sorting and filtering capability that makes it easy to focus your search on the types of players you're most interested in. And there's a ton of data at your fingertips to help you make your decisions.
But you can also invoke the computer drafting feature to make one pick, make all picks up until the next team that has a human GM, make all picks through the end of a round, or make all picks through the end of the draft. As each pick is made, the name of the player is immediately added to the draft pick report, allowing you to follow along.
When evaluating the available free agents, the computer GM looks at the needs of the team to make sure that it fills all of the roles (starting pitchers, relievers, players rated at each defensive position, and so on). And it looks at the ability of each player to help the team win in ways that go beyond hitting and pitching to include things like defense (range, error rates, throwing, holding runners), speed and bunting.
All hitters and pitchers are judged on a park- and league-neutral basis so the true ability of the player comes through. This is appropriate because Diamond Mind Baseball makes these adjustments when you play the games, and it doesn't make sense to ignore them when choosing talent in the first place.
If, for instance, a pitcher was effective despite facing the DH and/or playing in a hitters park in real life, he may well be chosen higher in the draft than someone whose stats look better but who had a more favorable real-life environment in which to do his work.
And you might see a slugging first baseman drop lower in the draft than you might expect. Why? Because first basemen are expected to produce more offense than players at other positions, so it's harder to stand out. And because some 1Bs don't supply the other things -- defense, speed, bunting, the ability to play more than one position -- that make a player more valuable to a team.
We believe we have come up with a pretty comprehensive way to evaluate the overall contribution that these players make to a team, and for that reason, we think the computer GM will provide a worthy companion in your drafts, whether you're trying to out-think it or whether you're asking for its help in choosing players for your team.
As each pick is made by the computer manager, it also generates a new manager profile that includes this player. That way, when you view the roster for this team (which you can do at any time during or after the draft), the manager profile is already there to give you an idea of what role the computer has assigned to each player on the roster.
As part of our work on the drafting system, we've also overhauled the manager profile generator. Those of you who have played previous version of Diamond Mind Baseball know that the manager profile generator was designed to match real-life playing time as closely as possible. This doesn't make as much sense for newly-drafted rosters, since you may draft a player who played more than one position with the idea of using him in a different way than he was used in real life. The new manager profile generator looks at the talent on your roster, considers a variety of ways those players can be combined, and chooses the arrangement that produces the best chance to win.
As with any system that attempts to emulate the process that human GMs go through in something as complex as building a baseball team, there's more we can do in the future to make the computer GM even more sophisticated. At present, it has no way to know which players are considered to be future stars despite mediocre-to-awful stats. So it relies only on current year performance. Some way to assess future value is one of several ideas that are on our list of future enhancements, but even without these improvements, we think the current version will give you a run for your money.
Yawn. Oh, sorry. It's just that I'm a little tired. You see, I stayed up and watched the last two World Series games until they ended in the wee hours of the morning, and I've been living in a state of sleep deprivation for the past three days. It didn't help that I also stayed up to watch the end of the Jets-Dolphins game Monday night, the one that broke the record for the longest Monday Night Football game ever. (When that game was approaching the four-hour mark, Dennis Miller joked that it was just like a baseball game.)
But this isn't meant to be a diatribe on the length of these post-season games, though I do think it's a serious problem when even the most avid adult fans need to abandon a game for the sake of being able to function the next day.
Instead, it's about Tim McCarver's game-three comment that Mike Bordick "is not a good baserunner."
As it happens, we started working on the baserunning ratings for the 2000 Season Disk yesterday. As long-time readers know, we purchase play-by-play and pitch-by-pitch data from STATS Inc. and analyze those data using software that we developed for evaluating various aspects of player performance. Our baserunning program examines how often runners took an extra base on singles, doubles and fly balls, with adjustments for such things as the location of the batted ball, the number of outs, whether the playing surface was grass or turf, and whether the runner's progress was impeded by other runners that were ahead of him.
Well, it turns out that McCarver's comment was partly right and partly wrong. It's true that Bordick's baserunning results have been average to below-average for the past few seasons. On the other hand, he was very successful this year, going from first to third on singles 80% of the time and scoring from second on singles at almost the same rate. Both of these rates compare very favorably with the league averages. And he did this without once getting thrown out trying to stretch a hit or fly ball. That's a picture of a very good season on the bases.
Over the years, I've heard many comments from baseball announcers that are totally incorrect, so it's a little unfair to pick this one out as an example. But it does serve as a reminder that it's worth looking at the facts -- including recent facts -- before accepting what baseball commentators say about a player's performance. That's what we try to do when assigning player ratings for our season disks.