The Golden Age of Baseball Cards™

...its influence on society and the game

 

Vintage Baseball Card Blog

Baseball Boss - Virtual Baseball Cards

October 23, 2008

by William Szczepanek

Baseball Boss has since shut down operations on March 10, 2010. At this time Challenge Games will cease to exist. Continue to read if you care.

Baseball Boss LogoWhy would someone who has dedicated their site to the “cardboard baseball gods” be interested in online images of baseball cards?  The answer lies in the possible affect that these virtual cards will have on the individual. What influence will these new cards have on the lives of the collector?  How will they change how we think?

I grew up playing with baseball cards, not just collecting them.  When personal computers hit the market in the 1980s my mind was spinning with the possibilities.  Simple games evolved into classics like,
Earl Weaver Baseball http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earl_Weaver_Baseball and
Tony La Russa Baseball http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_La_Russa_Baseball

These games challenged you to think, but were ultimately replaced by video games which put you in the batter’s box in the arcade style.  Dexterity became more important than thinking.

Then there is the Baseball Mogul http://sportsmogul.com/games/baseball2k9.html, a game that I have played for hours, making decisions on how to carry my team through a game, a season, or a lifetime.  While the graphics are limited, the imagination takes over and the game is compelling and addictive.

That brings us to the next level of game play.  Big Boss has introduced a game that combines the features of fantasy leagues with virtual baseball cards.  The concept is very intriguing.

According to the press release I received from them:

Baseball Boss is one of the most innovative baseball games to hit the genre in many years. It is a free to play game that combines baseball card collecting with fantasy baseball simulation games. Its short-form design allows it to be played in 5-15 minute increments, and is an ideal format for both casual and hardcore players wanting a quick gaming experience. Players can challenge other teams asynchronously, meaning they do not have to be online at the same time to go head to head. Gamers may also play in a variety of other formats such as leagues and class (ladder) play. Players can acquire more cards by trading with other players, winning cards from other players in the game’s auction house, or by purchasing new packs, cases and boxes of cards in the  store.

To play Baseball Boss for free, visit www.baseballboss.com.

Baseball Boss Cards

What could be better?  Computer gaming, combined with fantasy leagues, combined with baseball cards from the baseball eras of the past. Cards are available for 1907 and 2007 and the 1957 players have recently been added. Cards are stored in shoeboxes on the site. This whole concept deserves a careful look. Baseball Boss has obviously invested a considerable amount of money into this endeavor with licensing of MLB logos and baseball player images.

Techcrunch has given Basball Boss very favorable review. http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/07/02/baseball-boss-if-you-dont-love-baseball-yet-you-will-now/

The Golden Age of Baseball Cards Reviews Baseball Boss

It takes a lot of effort to get going and in the long run I’m not sure it will deliver enough fun after all the work. The site has some of the same problems as with real baseball cards, only in reverse.  Bob Buhl 1957 wears a Cubs hat even though he was with the Braves at the time. He became a Cub later.
There were a few annoyances in getting started:

  • Taking the Assisted Path got me in a loop with no clear instruction.
  • Only 15 of 40 cards can be viewed on the collection screen, but I can see all of them when I modify the roster and lineup.
  • The Help section is a blank screen.  This is one area that could really help with this game.  I think that many people could become frustrated with not knowing what to do next even though the game tries to take people though the whole process.
  • Often the pressing of a next page button will just put the game in a constant “waiting for reply” state with you needing to guess what button to push to get you out of it.

Frank ChanceAfter answering a few questions including admitting that my favorite team was the Cubs I was given 40 cards for a starter roster.  The teams available were from 2007 and 1907. I thought that for once being a Cub fan could be an advantage since they fielded a good team in 2007 and a Championship team in 1907 winning the World Series over the Detroit Tigers. After awhile I was able to view my team and was surprised to see a few players that could provide some punch. Alphonso Soriano was an excellent find along with Frank Chance, a good hitting first baseman from 1907.  The roster also included a card of Tris Speaker from the 1907 Red Sox which I thought was to be a great asset; however, after a little research I found that Tris was a rookie in 1907, hit a measly .158 and the abilities on his card reflected this.  So, the player with the sixth highest all-time average was a lowly sub on my team; whereas, a card for Harry Anderson, a rookie in 1957 for the Phillies, has really good stats.  Harry the Horse had great potential, but really only played for a few years.  This could be a really great aspect of the game if statistics for the same players have different values on different cards.

My first challenge was made against a weak team, and I managed to win 5 consecutive games.  The game results were interesting with one 20-1 victory and three others by a one-run margin.

Alphonso SorianoA second challenge was accepted from a team with better numbers than mine. I won 2 out of 5, which was respectable. I will continue with the challenges and will try to acquire more cards and see if I can get a good feel for the game.

I challenged another weak team and won all 5 games.

I did not accept a challenge within 24 hours and it appears that I forfeited all 5 games.  I didn’t know I needed to respond to challenges within 24 hours.  Maybe these games were played and I lost, but I did not see the results. Where are the rules?

Overall, I am a little disappointed.  The games don’t generate a lot of excitement and I don’t really have a real affection for the cards that I have.  That could change over time as I continue to play and get new cards.

The site could use a better help system to guide people through the process.  There is a lot of clicking on links and then seeing what happens.  I was able to generate a 25 man roster from my 40 card team and set up a lineup, rotation and bullpen, but haven’t been able to see a cumulative set of stats to see how my players are doing.  I can see the results on a series by series basis.

The cards themselves are often too small to really see who is who when setting up a game, though they are quite good when you can scan your collection. Also the cards from 1907 and 1957 are in back and white.  I’m sure this is due to the lack of available color photos of players from these times and the fact that they are to be considered old, but I much prefer color pictures.

Hank AaronFrom a gaming perspective it’s a good concept, but lacks immediate feedback and the feel of real baseball.  From a card collecting perspective the virtual image just doesn’t hack it for me.  It’s just not a baseball card. It’s just an image of a player.  From a fantasy league point of view it has great potential.  I’ve never been much of a fantasy baseball league fan but I can see that many people would like this approach. Over time, I can see where teams will be more competitive as more and more people get more and more cards and the rosters become stacked with stars.

The jury is still out on this one.  Baseball Boss tries to be many things to many people, but often only satisfies part of the equation.  I give them great credit for putting together a game that can merge the ages and increase interest in players from the past. I will continue to look at it and append to this article as my impression changes, which I expect will.

At his point I give it 7 stars out of 10. It is the best out there so far and if improvement in the site is continual it has the potential of being a great game.

An update to this article was written in October of 2009 and is entitled Baseball Boss Revisited ─ What a Difference a Day Makes.

 

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