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OOTP: A baseball blogger’s early pandemic hero

A year ago, we were desperate to fill a sports void

Daily Life in New York City Around The One-year Anniversary of The COVID-19 Shut Down Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images

Just over a year ago, Spring Training shut down. In a time of chaos, we had little idea that many of our jobs and lives would be quick to follow, and we’d spend much of the spring of 2020 locked inside our homes. Personally, my day job was closed for most of March, all of April, and again for most of May. It left me with a lot of time on my hands, and unfortunately, no baseball to watch, to write about, or to follow at all. A double whammy of sorts — both my day job, my side gig, and one of my favorite hobbies were all completely gone. Of course, there wasn’t much of anything else to do, either. And it was in this void that OOTP—that is Out of the Park Baseball—reached out.

I’m not being paid anything to write this, but last season, they did give us a few free copies of the program (two of them went to Matt and myself, and the third was given away to one of our readers.) As a XBox user, I picked up a copy of RBI baseball, but OOTP is a much more powerful simulation tool, and boy, did they manage to provide us with some content. Many of you probably remember our simulated Twins season—every game from what should have been opening day until baseball came back, I simulated, and provided a game recap for you on the site. I wasn’t the only one—it was a common feature across SBNation blogs, and elsewhere as well.

We also used OOTP to run some fun special features. Matt ran tournaments to determine the best-and-worst Twins teams of all time. I experimented with the idea of a team made up solely of pitchers, and of a team without any pitchers. Both those experiments had horrifying results. I had a lot of fun doing it though, and writing about it— and I hope you enjoyed reading it. It kept us busy, it kept us sane, and it gave us something to talk about. By June, things had settled into a bit of a rhythm, and we started getting rumors of sports restarting. Baseball came back, for real-ish, before July ended. But the early pandemic, a time of boredom, uncertainty, and an utter lack of sports was made tolerable thanks to a nifty little computer program.

Looking back at the early pandemic can be a little painful, but lets also celebrate the bright spots. In March, 2020 we had no idea what was in store. A year later, the Texas Rangers are primed to open the season in front of a full-capacity stadium, and most teams are allowing some number of fans. By the end of the season, there is hope that things could be “normal.”