Fictional Fields: Parks Department Field No. 2

An often-underappreciated part of fiction is setting and set design. We focus on the characters and special effects flying around, all of that is meaningless without a sense of place. What would Captain Kirk be without the bridge of the USS Enterprise? Would The Shawshank Redemption have worked as well if we could not see the prison walls that Andy Dufresne chips his way through? What would Mario be able to do if there weren’t blocks, castles, hills, and tubes around for him to jump on and explore? The places where our fiction takes place help dictate how that fiction occurs.

The same can be said for baseball. Alone among the major sports, massive differences exist between ball fields. They can be anything from an open field with no boundaries to a gigantic stadium with walls of various heights. How that ball field is laid out affects how the game is played: what will and won’t be a home run, how deep the outfielders will play, and how likely it is that a long hit becomes a double, triple, or out.

Now, I combine the two to look at FICTIONAL FIELDS- baseball fields from the land of fiction. We begin with Parks Department Field No. 2 from the classic Backyard Baseball.

About The Field: Debuting in the classic Backyard Baseball of 1997, Parks Department Field No. 2 (PDFN2) was in some ways the most ubiquitous and least-wacky stadium in the series. Initially only available if you played in season mode, it became available for single games in later installments. Sadly, after the 2003 installment, PDFN2 disappeared from the series.

As mentioned above, it was the least-wacky stadium of the series. While other fields in the games are generally in actual backyards, back alleys, or playgrounds, this one has a more official feeling. The fact that it was what was used in season mode suggests that it was (and perhaps still is) the home facility of the local sports organization.

Great Players: The field was used by almost every team in season mode, from the Melonheads to the Taters and everyone in-between. There were also pint-sized versions of MLB teams. The only teams that couldn’t be encountered there were those that could only be found in post-season tournament play. As a result, PDFN2 saw many of the greats: Pablo Sanchez, Pete Wheeler, Stephanie Morgan, Achmed Khan, the works! Add in the kid versions of MLB stars from the sequels, and it’s possible that PDFN2 has seen the greatest assemblage of baseball talent in video game history.

Dimensions:

So, before we figure out the field’s dimensions, there is a need first to get an idea of what type of field this is. There is reason to believe it is a Little League-size field. Why? When you see the length of home runs in Backyard batting practices, you see that the balls that die at the left-center wall are only going 196 feet (note that in BB they count the rolls and bounces for distance). Dead grounders ahead of the pitcher’s mound are in the 30s as far as distance, and a ball clearly past the pitcher’s mound is 62 feet. Look below at a screenshot of Eauxps I. Fourgott’s video:

This would suggest that this is a little league field. So about 46 feet from the mound to home and 60 feet between the bases. This is not surprising, of course, given that the Backyard Baseballers are children, but it’s still important to know as we figure out the lengths.

So, looking over various videos of home run derbies, I’ve come to the conclusion that the following distances are definitely true:

Left Field: 175 ft

Left-Center: 196 ft

Right-Center: 196 ft

Right Field: 175 ft

So, we still need to figure out how long it is down the lines and to straightaway center. To do that, we’ll need to do the highly-unscientific-but-the-best-we’ve-got method of pixel measurement. In this case, we measure something on the computer in pixels and then use that to get an idea of the scale. Since it isn’t a “straight-on” view but rather at an angle and further distorted by it cartooniness, we’ll have to use the balls closest to the area we’re aiming at to set a scale.

So, for example, it appears that the hit towards center that went 180 feet was 1274.5 pixels. This suggests that 7.080555555 (repeating) pixels is equal to one foot. Since straightaway center is about 1306 pixels, that suggests that it’s about 184.4 feet to center. This means, of course, that the right-center and left-center alleys are actually deeper than straightaway center.

Now, time to figure out the lines. The ball hit closest to the line is the 136 hit to left. So to get something close to that scale, we find 1299.1 pixels equals 136 feet. That suggests that down the lines we should assume one foot is represented by just over 9.5522 pixels. It looks like the lines are 1310.5 pixels, so that equals out to about 137.19 feet down the lines. So, the final dimensions of PDFN2 are:

Left Field line: 137 ft

Left Field: 175 ft

Left-Center: 196 ft

Dead Center: 184 ft

Right-Center: 196 ft

Right Field: 175 ft

Right Field line: 137 ft

Now, this was highly unscientific, and no doubt the “real” lengths are rounded up or down. Still, it gives a “ballpark” figure. And, yes, that wordplay is intended.

Just for fun, given that Little League fields are 2/3rds the size of adult fields, we can figure out what the MLB equivalent of PDFN2 is with a little math. That comes out to…

Left Field line: 205.5 ft

Left Field: 262.5 ft

Left-Center: 294 ft

Dead Center: 276 ft

Right-Center: 294 ft

Right Field: 262.5

Right Field line: 205.5 ft

You’ll notice that this is still hilariously small (and also that the shape would become more exaggerated). Doing some work with the OOTP Parkgen website suggests it’d be the ultimate hitter’s park:

Yes, if you are reading that right, it should literally be impossible to hit a double in play on that field. So this leads to the question: why was it so small? Even going by the Little League standards (where the deepest parts are 196), the deepest parts of PDFN2 are far closer to the plate than the walls at Lamade Stadium in Williamsport. Given that Pablo Sanchez can smack it over 700 feet, it becomes even more absurd.

Alas, we have no way of knowing. Still, we now know the dimensions for PDFN2, so use this knowledge only for good.

Capacity and Amenities: By default, 16 people are seen in the stands when seen from overhead in Backyard Baseball. Based on the empty spots, it looks like another 16 probably could fit on those stands for a total capacity of 32. It’s possible that additional stands existed outside of camera view, but those were never seen, at least in the classic games. And, of course, there probably is room for blankets and other standing-room options.

As far as amenities, PDFN2 is and was top-of-the-line. Perhaps even over-the-top. It possesses a large scoreboard in dead center for replays and statistics, as well as a blimp that flew over to celebrate home runs. It also had an awesome sound system to blast out the theme songs of all the players. Some sort of broadcast facilities are/were also present since Sunny Day and Vinny the Gooch were able to cover all games.

For fans, less is known. However, given the Gooch’s chili dog, we must assume that some concession stands are/were present.

Other Notes: PDFN2 is part of a series of fields run by the Parks Department. Parks Department Field No. 3 is used for (American) football, while Parks Department Field No. 7 and Parks Department Field No. 8 are used for soccer (although PDFN8 lacks grass and is instead a sandy field).

Final Thoughts: The Parks Department Field No. 2 is a classic of Backyard Baseball, but lacks much of the charm that other fields in the series have. This is, admittedly, by design. While other playing fields are odd and quirky, PDFN2 is fair, without giving an advantage to left-handed or right-handed hitters. It also had a more professional look, like an actual youth stadium on steroids. This made it the perfect stadium for the season mode that Backyard Baseball had. It may not have been the place you’d want to play with your friends, but it was definitely the place you’d want to play against your opponents.

Introducing “Glick on Gaming”

Back on the 4th of July, I said that that I wanted to start doing some non-baseball stuff on here as well.

This new feature, Glick on Gaming, is one such feature.

As the name suggests, it is about gaming. Video gaming, to be more precise. It’ll be an irregular feature with no real schedule, basically coming along whenever I finish a video game or want to talk about it. The form it will take will also be highly variable: sometimes it could just be a few short lines, other times it may be a long essay, review, or rumination.

Among the games you can expect to see covered in the opening parts of the feature are Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Kingdom Hearts, and Red Dead Redemption II.

So keep an eye out!

The Hall of Very Good has added four, and I helped by honoring Jose Canseco’s Bizarre Baseball Cultural Life

The Hall of Very Good has added four new members: Bill Buckner, Jose Canseco, Russ Grimsley and celebrity inductee Thomas Ian Nicholas (AKA Henry Rowengartner), with the Glenn Burke Memorial Courage Award set to be revealed on Friday.

As part of the celebration of this eclectic group, I did a rundown of Jose Canseco’s many bizarre appearances in Pop Culture, from Reading Rainbow to the upcoming movie Slamma Jamma. Check it out.

(Blogathon ’16!) The Sliding Scale of Fictional Baseball Realism

This post is part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page.

Earlier today, in my look at Touch, I mentioned that you can make a 0-10 scale of baseball realism in works of fiction, with zero being baseball-in-name-only and ten being actual footage of a game.

Well, I’m going to expand upon that:

0: Baseball In Name Only

In this category, it’s not really baseball at all. They may call it baseball, but it certainly isn’t the actual sport that we know. The Moe Cronin version of baseball fits here.

1: Utterly Absurd

In this category, while it’s clearly meant to be baseball, the rules of the game and the laws of physics have clearly taken a vacation. Some classic cartoons fall into this category.

2: Very Absurd, but still with some realism

In this category, the work might have cartoonish physics and occurrences, but it still is grounded in reality enough to have the rules of baseball still be mostly the same. In theory, a baseball movie where the rules are not consistent or are wildly different but where everything else is played straight could also qualify here. Classic cartoons that aren’t “utterly absurd” usually fall in this category.

3: Absurd, but mostly consistent

Works in this category are clearly absurd and cartoonish, but are at least consistent: the laws of physics may not be what they are in the real world, but they don’t suddenly change mid-game, nor do the rules suddenly change simply because the story demands it. Most “cartoon” baseball video games, like Backyard Baseball and the Mario Baseball series, fit in this category.

4: Many absurd elements

While clearly meant to be a realistic world that has our baseball’s rules and our laws of physics, the amount of absurd, cartoonish or unrealistic elements in the work make it more strange than realistic. Consider Mr. Go, for example, which has two baseball-playing gorillas, a little girl acting as a first-base coach and a finale that involves the baseball coming undone into a million pieces, which sort of overwhelms what would probably otherwise be a 6 if, say, it only had one gorilla.

5: Equal Mix of Realism and Fantasy

A work that sort of teeters between being realistic and being bizarre. This is more of a transitional spot on the scale, as it’s rare that anything ever stays at 5, inevitably going to 4 or 6 instead.

6: Realistic, but with one or two “big lies”

This is mostly realistic but it has one or two big elements (or the equivalent of one or two big elements made up of lots of smaller elements) that keep it from being something that you can honestly expect to ever happen in the real world. Sidd Finch could fit here, as could most of the movies in which a kid becomes a big league skipper or ballplayer.

7: Realistic, but highly unlikely

There’s nothing in this work that couldn’t happen, but it’s highly unlikely and any real event like this would probably instantly become one of the most notable things in baseball history. You could argue that Major League fits here, sort of.

8: Near total-realism

While some rules might be bent or not enforced on a strict basis, and some things might happen that are unlikely (although not nearly as unlikely as things that fall at seven on the scale), this is pretty realistic. Casey At The Bat, the classic poem, could be considered as this, with only the ability of everybody to seemingly hear everything keeping it from being a nine.

9: Utter realism

The only things that are not realistic in works of this category are omnipresent techniques like camerawork and editing for time, or stylish touches added in to indicate, say, that a player is angry. Bull Durham could, in theory, fit in this category, as could most (but not all) fairly true-to-history biopics and most realistic baseball video games.

10: Actual Baseball Footage used/Documentary

If you are watching an actual baseball game, or watching a documentary that uses baseball footage and does so without changing things for dramatic effect, you are watching a 10.

 

Feel free to consider where on the sliding scale your favorite piece of baseball fiction would fall!

6 PM: First References

This post has been part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page.

 

Breaking OOTP, Episode 4: The Seattle MARIOners vs. Pablo Sanchez and the Backyard Kids

BreakingOOTPlogo

In BREAKING OOTP, I push Out Of The Park Baseball to it’s limits in various scenarios. Some will answer questions, some will settle scores, and some will push Out Of The Park Baseball to it’s very limits, to see if I can literally cause the game engine to beg for mercy.

Last time, we made the Seattle Mariners be full of Mario and Donkey Kong characters. This week, though, we have a exhibition series between the MARIOners (minus any Mariners) and… the Backyard Baseball kids (shown here to be on the Dodgers, because reasons)! Yes, Mario vs. Pablo Sanchez. At stake: The title of GREATEST VIDEO GAME BASEBALL TEAM OF ALL TIME.

Or something like that. Go below the jump, and be sure to check the previous post to see how I created the Mario characters- I used an almost-identical process for the Backyard Kids:

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FALLOUT 4 BASEBALL UPDATE: “Big Leagues” Microteaser

Note: The following may have minor spoilers about Fallout 4.

Like many gamers, I am eagerly awaiting the release of Fallout 4, the latest in the line of quasi-50s retro-futuristic post-apocalyptic action-adventure RPGs. Heck, I’ve even splurged for the collector’s edition! But it’s not just the opportunity to fight post-nuclear abominations that have me hyped… it’s also due to the fact that this installment of Fallout will be in Boston and will feature a society (“Diamond City”) that lives in a post-apocalyptic Fenway Park.

However, it appears that Bethesda Game Studios, the creators of this installment of the series, have gone even further, and baseball will actually be a part of the game. Take a look at this leaked achievement (you can get achievements for doing special things in-game):

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 11.04.35 AM

Yes, apparently, you can hit a homer in Fallout 4 (there’s also an achievement for scoring a touchdown, but this is a baseball blog).

And, what’s more, Bethesda has gotten into the World Series spirit by tweeting this out:

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It appears that there will be a special “perk”, called “Big Leagues”, which will make it easier for you to use baseball bats and other “melee” weapons in combat, perhaps leading to what the game describes as a chance to “grand slam their head clean off!”. Needless to say, this game is rated M for Mature.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 11.12.36 AM

I want that vault-boy baseball uniform to wear for Halloween next year. Assuming, of course, I don’t just go with the BASEBALL ARMOR THAT IS IN THE GAME:

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 11.14.13 AM

And, say, look behind the vault-dweller here. It looks like while the Green Monster itself has some holes in it, the hand-operated scoreboard still exists in the Fallout Universe, and there was a AL East, which is somewhat surprising since in the Fallout Universe most cultural progress (music, television, fashion, car design, etc.) ended around 1960, so I would have thought that they never would have implemented divisions in baseball there and oh-my-god-I’m-considering-the-pre-apocalyptic-baseball-set-up-of-a-fictional-post-apocalyptic-video-game-universe-this-is-the-geekiest-thing-I’ve-ever-done.

Oh, and the guards of Diamond City look like catchers or umpires, albeit ones wearing helmets that look like they just walked off the set of a Mad Max movie:

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 11.18.38 AM

I wonder what other sort of baseball references they will have in Fallout 4? Will some Red Sox greats have voice roles (don’t laugh, Wayne Newton did voicework in the game that was set in Las Vegas)? Will there be a big friendly green monster named Wally who lives in Diamond City? Apparently the plot involves your character being put in a cryogenic freeze, so maybe they will make a Ted Williams joke?

Time will tell. Time will tell.

Breaking OOTP, Episode 3: The Seattle MARIOners

BreakingOOTPlogo

In BREAKING OOTP, I push Out Of The Park Baseball to its limits in various scenarios. Some will answer questions, some will settle scores, and some will push Out Of The Park Baseball to its very limits, to see if I can literally cause the game engine to beg for mercy.

The Seattle Mariners are owned by Nintendo. This is well known. The Seattle Mariners are also coming off a very disappointing season. This is also well known.

But what if the Mariners had had Nintendo’s own playing for them?

MarinersMarioWONDER NO MORE!

(AND GO BELOW THE JUMP TO SEE THE ARTICLE, AND CLICK PICTURES TO MAKE THEM BIGGER)

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Looking at the new stuff that will be in OOTP ’16

It’s coming again. Out Of The Park Baseball. Are you hyped? Because I’m hyped. Oh, sure, they didn’t pick any of my suggestions for their tagline, but the one they did pick is pretty good. And, what’s more, OOTP 2016 is coming and it already is looking like a big leap over even the improvements that OOTP 2015 brought.

Because, for the first time in quite awhile (if ever), it’ll be officially licensed. Yes, Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball are officially licensing the latest OOTP games, due out in March. That means that instead of having to import logos and stadiums, etc, it’ll all come pre-packaged (although, of course, we’ll still be able to make our own if we want). What’s more, it definitely gives OOTP more clout and officialness- in fact, it’s mobile version will be renamed “MLB Manager”. That will expand it’s reach to more people, bringing OOTP head Markus Heinsohn one step closer to world domination.

Some other things I’m excited for:

  • More leagues! They are adding the Australian League and Independent Leagues in both America and Japan! I love the global scope of OOTP and glad to see it’s default settings continue to grow.
  • Team Owners are more realistic: apparently now instead of simple “win now” or “win later” things, the owners will have both long-term and short-term goals and from the look of what the press release says they might not always make sense (for example, signing a star to a long contract, which as we’ve seen in the real world can be a total disaster).
  • Better finance and coaching systems. They are, of course, completely separate from each other, but I’m combing them because I’m looking forward to seeing more about them. The finance system apparently will be much bigger and involve season ticket sales, etc, while the personnel and coaches will now have personalities and the like. I’m interested.
  • Changes to team strategies, playoff news coverage and the 3D modelling. I’m especially looking forward to the last of these- OOTP 15’s modelling was a good first step but definitely had room for improvement. Fingers crossed it delivers! That fact that they’ve confirmed they will have the 30 MLB stadiums in from the start makes me very optimistic.
  • Little things like rainout rescheduling, different currencies (Yen, Pesos, Euros, etc.), improved HoF and All-Star Voting, etc. etc.

I, of course, will write more about the latest OOTP as more info becomes available.

Note: While I received no compensation for writing this preview, in the past I have received complimentary copies of “Out of The Park Baseball” from it’s developers.

Best of 2014- A History of Player-Licensed/Sponsored Video Games

This was originally a piece of a “Wisdom and Links” article at Hall of Very Good. Thanks to Shawn Anderson for giving me permission to put it up here.

Let me tell you of a time. A time before the sports video game-scape was homogenized and turned into a few companies putting out slightly different versions of the same game every year. In this wonderful time, lasting from the late 80s to around the turn of our century, there were countless baseball games. And they were often branded to a certain player. This wasn’t just baseball, of course- to this day you can find John Madden’s last name on Electronic Arts’ NFL franchise- but for baseball, it seemed to have it’s own special charm. Maybe it was the fact that many of them didn’t have any real players other than the sponsor, or maybe it was just because I was of the age where, to paraphrase the “The Lego Movie”…“everything was awesome”. Or maybe it’s just because baseball was and is my favorite sport and thus I am biased.

Still, let us travel back to that wonderful time and look at some of the greatest player-or-manager sponsored games in history.

(JUMP)

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