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Old 02-07-2013, 08:07 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Tales From the OOTP Multi-Verse: Union League Baseball

Tales From the OOTP Multi-Verse: Union League Baseball Takes on the MLB With a Mix of Well-Known and Unknown Players

Sports history is littered with failed attempts to compete with established professional leagues. The Federal League, which shut down in 1915, was the last such attempt in baseball, and in other sports, American football's USFL and XFL were high profile failures. However, Out of the Park Baseball doesn't have to contend with the economic realities of the real world, and thus players can create their own fanciful alternate realities, like Union League Baseball (ULB).

The premise of the ULB is that the 1995 baseball strike presented an opportunity for Fay Vincent, Michael Bloomberg, Vince McMahon of the WWE, Bill Gates, Nike CEO Phil Knight, and others to start a rival league. Fay Vincent is the ULB's commissioner, and Richard McNeal plays that role, complete with an email signature that says "From the Desk of ULB Commissioner Fay Vincent."

"For the first few seasons, the league was primarily a lot of scrubs," McNeal says. "We had Nolan Ryan pitch until he was 50. He signed up with the San Jose Jedi and went 14-10 with a 3.10 ERA. Then he would retire, tool around until his wife started asking him to do some chores, and decide to unretire again. He pitched three seasons in the ULB with three different teams."

McNeal notes that the ULB's alternate history also gave a second chance for some real life top prospects: "Darryl Brinkley reached the majors thanks to us, and had some outstanding seasons with the Boston Colonials. B.J. Wallace never had major surgery and made the majors with the Houston Apollos before being traded to the San Jose Jedi." (Sadly, the real B.J. Wallace has had a much rougher time, and the real Darryl Brinkley saw his shot at the majors derailed by the 9/11 attacks. )

McNeal adds: "A guy named Kenneth Payne is our current home run champion. In real life, he hit a total of 14 homers in two seasons, one with a Rangers affiliate, the other with an independent league called the Mid-America League." (The league's single season and career leader board is an interesting mix of well-known and unknown names.)

Getting the Better of the MLB

"In the first couple of years, we really got the better of the MLB," McNeal says. "Fans were very unhappy with them, and Fay Vincent's ULB was an outstanding success, supplied mainly by the fact that, well, we didn't have a lot of good pitching. Bud Selig took a lot of heat for teams losing stars to us, and the owners eventually replaced him. They forced him out, and he sold the Brewers in 1999. In a final act of pure spite, they allowed the new Brewers owner to move the team to Quebec. Figuring that if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, Selig was awarded an expansion team, the new Milwaukee Brewers, in the ULB in 2001."

Some MLB players have migrated to the ULB, but with varying degrees of success, McNeal relates. "Barry Bonds signed with the Houston Apollos but was not a good fit in the league. He signed with the Phillies in 2003. Just last season, the Apollos boasted a middle of the lineup that featured Albert Pujols, Barry Bonds and Jim Thome. After trading for Thome, they sunk to the bottom of the standings and finished in the basement with a 76-78 record in the Players League. I guess that can happen when your ace is named Randy Choate."

The ULB uses a draft lottery that's similar to what the NBA uses, McNeal says. "All of our draft classes are designed by myself to include real life players who never made the MLB," he explains. "It's a lot of work, but I think it adds a lot to the game when you can look up some guy you drafted as a scrub in the 10th round, and find out he became an auto mechanic after his arm fell off. I'm also working on adding reporters to the league, so there are plenty of spots open to unleash your inner Skip Bayless!"

Simply No Other Competition

McNeal first started playing OOTP with version 5 and says "it's been an addiction ever since." He keeps playing it because "there is simply no competition out there. I don't mean that in a bad way. OOTP simply has the best community of gamers and modders. If I wanted to start up the Mordor Baseball League, I could probably do a search and find everything I need already made for me. Plus once you get into the modding aspect, there's no going back."

He adds: "One fun aspect of the ULB is that I enjoy designing stuff, so as the league progresses, team uniforms get updates, minor league affiliates move and change, and so forth. I like to pay attention to the small things."
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Last edited by BradC; 02-07-2013 at 08:18 PM.
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Old 02-12-2013, 07:43 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Thanks Brad! You can follow us on twitter @ULB_Commish
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Old 02-26-2013, 09:04 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Just a note that if anyone reading this is interested in joining the league, we are expanding next season. We'll have the New Mexico Suns available as an expansion team, and one owner is switching from the the Boston Colonials to the Charlotte Eagles. So Boston will be available in 2004..
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