The Mouse is Mightier
than the Bat
“It’s not whether you win or lose, as long as you win.” That’s always been the axiom of professional sports no matter what they tell you. It’s always the losers that say, “It’s just a game.” When you’re responsible for millions of dollars and hundreds of people’s livelihoods, it’s all about winning. And it takes more than a few homeruns to be the big winner in this industry.
Baseball Mogul 2009 takes you behind the scenes of professional baseball and into the business world of professional sports. Baseball is the all-American sport. While the concept of this sim is similar to that of a hockey franchise mode, there are some major differences in terms of marketing and demographics. Of course the games are worlds apart in terms of structure, but they share many similar business strategies. It’s all about how you play the game. I’m not talking striking out the side or hitting one out of the park each time you come to bat. This game isn’t about playing baseball; it’s about making baseball pay. It’s a stat-driven style of gameplay where you’ll be accessing an interface, rather than cavorting around on a diamond, spitting out chew, and scratching your…self.
Baseball Mogul 2009 is a nerd’s delight. Those who are familiar with the series, which is in its eleventh year now, are likely hooked on it and will purchase this regardless of what I have to say. Others may want to heed my warning that there’s not much improvement over the last two versions. Sure, the roster is changed, and the interface is a little more user-friendly, but I was more than a little disappointed with the lack of new features. If this is your first introduction to the series, then this is as good a place to start as any. There’s a lot to learn, but you can always learn from your mistakes.
One must learn to be frugal with their money. Allocations of funds have to be made to various areas such as trades, drafts, coaches, management, equipments, upgrades, and medical staff, to name a few. Then there are the hard, cold decisions that must be made. How much should a ticket cost? You have to be careful not to price yourself out of the market, but you can’t give things away either. The price can be increased if your team is doing well. Then you can really gouge the suckers. Concession prices are also a consideration. Once you’ve got your crowd in the stadium, you have to continue to fleece them. There are some 70 different categories that require your input. That’s a lot of depth.
But there are some elements that play out in a predictable pattern, which tends to diminish the realism. Events should be more random to appear natural. For instance, you can always count on your stars missing a certain number of games per season. Whether it’s a star pitcher or batter, it’s almost as if the CPU doesn’t want you relying on them. That’s the whole reason you cultivate these guys; they win games. Your entire empire thrives or crumbles on wins or losses. It’s to be expected that these high-performers will get injured from time to time, but not on such a routine basis.
Trying to make a losing team a winning team is a lot of work. It’s not impossible, but there’s a reason that teams are losers in the first place, and this game won’t let you forget it. First of all, there is usually a lack of capital. Most poor teams are just that; poor. They can’t buy the players they need. And you can’t shop for them out of the country in hopes of getting them for a song. Second, the team could be suffering from poor management and/or coaching.
It doesn’t matter how many big names you have on your roster. If you can’t motivate them properly, they are nothing more than expensive liabilities. A big name won’t develop at his potential if the team is experiencing lack of funds or bad management. You also can’t find prospects for older players. Some of the stats on the older players, like from 50 years ago can be confusing. They don’t necessarily relate to the stats of today. Whether you’re trading, drafting, or courting free agents, the CPU is careful to ensure you don’t get anyone that is literally out of your league. In other words, there are no magic bullets in this game. You can expect to take years and years to turn a losing team around.
Thanks to the straightforward interface, selecting options for a game such as rotations and line-up are a breeze. You can choose to run through several seasons quickly and automatically, or you can take part in each and every decision in the Manager mode, where you call all of the shots. You can enter into Player mode where you’ll take part in batting and pitching, right down to making decisions on what kind of pitch will be thrown. This mode isn’t comparable to the arcade-style console games such as the Major League Baseball 2K series, but it’s a nice diversion once in a while. For the most part you’ll wind up letting the seasons play out automatically so that you can quickly determine how your decisions affected your business.
This is a game of stats. There’s really nothing offered as far as action is concerned. When the actual game of baseball takes place, the only thing that moves is the ball. You’ll hear the same crowd noises over and over. The announcer sounds forced, and after a season or two, you’ll never want to hear his voice again. There isn’t much in the way of ambient sound effects, and the music is elevator rock. The menus are the stars of the show. They are well laid out, colorful, and easy to access.
Baseball Mogul 2009 is not for everyone. Baseball fans should be warned that this is the sports equivalent of Dungeons and Dragons.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 2.0 Graphics
It’s mostly menus. The 2D graphics are colorful but flat and uninspiring. 3.3 Control
The interface is easy to use. Some unrealistic CPU issues take away the true sim feel. 1.1 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Not much in the way of sounds. The announcer will drive you nuts. 4.0 Play Value
A good management sim that plays well despite some flaws. 2.9 Overall Rating – Average
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.