Fantasy Baseball Update Week 12

The Makers lost a third straight week, 370 to 416. As has become the familiar refrain throughout 2017, the pitching blew up in do-or-die spots, and the offense just couldn’t do enough to make up the ground. In the league message board, somebody pointed out that my opponent clobbered people despite the fact that six of his guys were on the DL. He got two of those back in our matchup, but the story was the same. Despite that this didn’t feel like a winnable match up to me, more like a coin toss. It came up L for me again, so, what more can I say?

Scoring Summary

Offense

The offense put up 278 points, which is a 24 point decrease from the previous week. The best hitter was Ian Kinsler with 42 points; his teammate Jose Iglesias did the worst with 2 points. On the whole, the sluggers scored 49 runs, hit 30 homers, 31 extra base hits (XBH), 153 total bases, and 40 RBIs. Rounding out the stat line: four game winning RBIs; 27 walks; 68 strikeouts, four sacs, and eight stolen bases.

Pitching

The pitching contributed 92 points, an absurd increase of 86 points from their awful week 10. The best pitcher was none other than out good friend Jose Quintana, with 34 points. The worst was the hitherto excellent Jeff Hoffman, annihilated on his turn out for negative 29 points. The Makers pitching staff managed to tally only two Wins while eating four Losses. The pitchers’ stat line looked like this: 207 IP, -60 hits, -35 ERA, -64 ER, -7 HR, -22 BB, 65 K, 5 Saves, 1 Blown Save, and 3 Holds. I’m surprised they only surrendered seven homers.

Roster Changes

I made a pair of moves on the last day in an attempt to make up the 40 point deficit with my opponent. I picked up Diamondbacks spot starter Randall Delgado as he had a favorable matchup, and the Cub’s long man turned starter, Mike Montgomery. To make space for these two, I finally let go of Lance Lynn, as he’s been awful the last few weeks, and Marco Estrada, the hero of May who turned into a pumpkin in June. Neither guy ended up making a huge difference; I think they tallied 20 points. But they did well, considering that Lynn and Estrada accounted for a net negative of 32 points during the week. In fact, if you add in Hoffman’s disaster start, these three guys cost the Makers 61 points. Just benching them would have easily put me in for the Win.

Week 13 Outlook

We’re entering into the All-Star Break, and the schedule is a tad wonky. From all the league notes I’ve read on ESPN and Fantasy Pros, it appears that the pitching matchups are pretty horrendous this week. With that in mind, I won’t be trying any sudden moves. My opponent this week is just a game better than me regarding his record. He’s done much better in the league in the past, but he’s been snakebit by injuries like most of us. He’s coming off a tough loss to the league champion in which his squad didn’t even break 300 points. I’m not sure that he’ll repeat that bad performance this week as he does have a team that can explode for points on any given day. In that regard though, the Makers are much the same.

I’m going to cautiously predict a Win for my team, given the bad schedule but favorable match ups for many of my hitters.

Season Outlook

Boy, the month of June went about as bad as it possibly could have. Three straight losses by a combined total of 55 points are hard for any fantasy owner to swallow. To make matters worse, my inattention to my team cost me at least 45 points, just by leaving key guys on the bench. What a difference a few tactical roster moves would have made to my record: I can dream of a 7-5 record right now (9-3 if the cards came up in my favor in those two BS losses in the first two months). But as it stands, the Makers are 4-8 and are still in 11th place overall in the standings.

So far, the Makers have scored 3986 points while allowing 4330 points. If you project out until the end of the season, my team will get just about 7,000 points, which is far short of the 10,000 or so I predict somebody needs to win the league. I don’t want to get into post-mortem mode yet with the season barely half over, but on the face of it, not carrying many closers (or any at all) have made things worse on the pitching front. The only category my team leads in is Loses (49). They’re dead last in Saves with 12. Something for me to consider if I stay on for next year.

Can the Makers go 7-2 the rest of the way to end up over five hundred? I doubt it. But they may yet still pick up three more wins needed to have a better record than last year. Even now that seems like an impossible goal, but after next week I should be back in my division, where the last place team and I can scrap with each other for worst-in-the-league honors for at least two more games. Wish me luck?

Thanks for reading this week.

Fantasy Baseball Update: Weeks 10 and 11

The Makers are coming off two tough back-to-back losses, and now have a record of 4-7 on the season. They’re sitting in 11th place. I want to avoid the pity party shuffle to woulda-coulda-shoulda; suffice it to say I’m not pleased with losing by a combined total of 9 points. Anyhow, here’s the breakdown of weeks 10 and 11:

Week 10

Recall that I was not confident going into Week 9, and the Makers delivered on that end. That is, until Saturday, when they put up an astonishing 120 points against my opponent’s 14. Suddenly they had vaulted into the lead. They outscored him again on the last day, 54 to 46, but I ended up losing by one point: 332 to 331. A bad performance by Adam Wainwright on June 6 against the Reds – to tune of -30 points – sunk me. I also stupidly left Andrew Miller riding the pine on a day he picked up a save – for 10 points – that would have made the difference. C’est la vie. The offense scored 243 points while the pitching tallied 88 points for the week. Tough loss.

Week 11

Instead of getting to 0.500, I was now 4-6 and smarting from the agony of a one-point loss. With E3 going on I paid little attention to my team, and that’s on me. Despite the loss, I could feel the momentum shifting toward me. The first day confirmed that for me, on what was an off day for most teams, the offense put up 72 points. I knew the match was going to be a tough slog, but the next day they scratched another 63 points. The score stood at 145 to 95. Not exactly a huge lead, but I was confident enough to let my team stay on autopilot while I watched E3 coverage. A bad portent though: Andrew Miller, who had been solid all season, exploded in back to back appearances.

I left Quintana languishing on the bench, but he turned in a good start. I would come to regret this as Cueto, Wainwright, and Lynn were all horrendously bad. Estrada was also terrible. For all that, the Makers stayed in the lead until the weekend. By Saturday, my opponent had closed the gap to a mere 10 points. Wainwright started in Baltimore, so I left him on the bench and dodged his disaster start (-35 points). I thought I had weathered the storm, but I noted that my opponent had two starters going Sunday. I was nervous about Lynn but had to take the chance. Alas, like his teammate Wainwright, he was knocked out for -22 points. At midnight, I still led by 8 points, but a late win from Dave Price put my opponent ahead. Some other guys put up an additional 6 points to wrap up my defeat.

So the Makers took their seventh loss in the midnight hour, 316 to 308. My offense contributed 302 points. The simple arithmetic should be enough to show you how breathtakingly bad the pitching did.

Season Outlook

I’m going to skip the usual Week Outlook since it’s already started, and there’s not much for me to say. On paper, my opponent and I are evenly matched, but with my pitching personifying High Risk, Medium Reward, there’s not much to analyze. Every matchup feels like a crapshoot. Including this week there are ten games left to play. To get one game over five hundred and accomplish my goal, they need to win seven games. Can the Makers play .700 ball the rest of the way? We’re going to find out.

Return of Samus E3 2017

I was very excited to see a reimagining of Metroid II Return of Samus at E3 2017. As you can see from the video, it’s been slightly rebranded as “Samus Returns.” Besides Metroid Prime, Return of Samus is perhaps my favorite of the entire series. Yes, I know, Super Metroid annually appears on all the “Best of” lists. But the old Gameboy cart has a special place for me.

I’ll have a more complete breakdown of this year’s E3 in a couple of days, but for now, here’s the Gameplay reveal from this past Tuesday during the Nintendo Treehouse.

Contra NES Longplay

Contra for the NES, as played by RavenLord. Satisfy your nostalgia cravings below. The video is about 23 minutes long. You can consider yourself a hero if you watch the whole thing.

Contra Analysis

I’m sure there are other run-and-gun games I’m forgetting about, but I’d be hard-pressed to name a more memorable series than Contra. Like a lot of early third party NES games, Konami ported this one from the arcades. A perennial rental for me in the 80s, I remember this game frustrating the hell out of me. If only I had known about the Konami Code back then. Anyway, to list Contra’s particulars: it’s an action platformer, two players simultaneous, ten levels, a power ups system, lots of projectile shooting (and dodging) and many graphical nods to a certain movie franchise.

The perspective changes are an interesting aspect. I had forgotten about the pseudo-3D levels that are sprinkled here and there. Usually, these culminate with a boss fight. It’s a nice break in the action without radically altering the structure of the game. The graphics and sound are still surprisingly good for a 1988 NES game. I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the ample sampling of HR Giger. The last boss is essentially the giant head of a Xenomorph. Even face huggers get a cameo.

Contra's final boss
Contra’s final boss, a Xenomorph knock off

Apparently, there’s a whole tortured history behind the console ports and regionalization of the game. Germany got a censored version, while the development team dumbed down the sprites for player characters Bill and Lance on the NES. If you’re interested in this, I recommend checking out Contra Encyclopedia. The site has a huge amount of information and trivia about all the games in the franchise, and some cool concept artwork too.

And yes, for the trivia buffs, the Iran-Contra affair may have inspired the name.

Development

A quick Google search reveals surprisingly little about Contra’s development history. There’s not even any sort of post-mortem on Gamasutra. I figured there would be something around, considering it’s the 30 year anniversary of the arcade game. So, perhaps Konami is letting the franchise lay fallow for a while. On Mobygames none of the team members listed in the credits have any bios or trivia sections. No linked media for interviews or things of that nature. The only thing of note is that the majority of these guys worked on basically every game I played in my youth, from the Ninja Turtle games to Castlevania, and even oddball titles like Blades of Steel. I wasn’t surprised to see one programmer also worked on Snakes’ Revenge. You know, the unofficial-official US sequel to Metal Gear. The games feel similar.

I suppose it’s not uncommon, especially for these 80s arcade games, that the developers had little to say about their work. We can rely on others to give us some insight though. A recent article on Gamasutra talks briefly about the power-up system and clever strategizing it forces on the player. And of course, there’s the Konami code. Technically Gradius was the first game to include it on the NES, but Contra is the more famous example. I also didn’t know that the game gets harder with each playthrough, a tidbit I gleaned from one of the fan sites.

Critical Reaction

Folks liked Contra quite a bit, as indicated by the number of sequels that it spawned. Here’s what Retro Game Reviews has to say about it, circa 2014:

The smooth controls, impressive level design and variety are key to what makes Contra such an amazing game. The addition of co-op play is a huge plus for an NES title and Konami should be applauded for making a game that is practically flawless in all areas.

Ok, maybe “practically flawless in all areas” is a tad too fawning, but we get the point. For what it is, Contra is a great game. But here’s a more critical review, from Mean Machines, circa 1991:

The problem with this is that it’s not particularly challenging. It takes a few goes to get used to the slightly ropey control method, and after that it’s simply a case of blasting your way through the pretty weak alien defences. It’s fun at first, due to the fact that you can get pretty far into the game, but once you’ve completed it, it all gets rather predictable. Gryzor fans might enjoy the action, but really you’d get far more out of something like Snake, Rattle ‘n’ Roll or Megaman 2.

This reviewer must have been a much more skilled gamer than I was in my elementary school years. Just from watching the longplay, I think what he’s getting at here is that gameplay is repetitive. That’s a fair criticism. Repetitive doesn’t necessarily equal easy, but it can.

Legacy

How about 11 sequels and a Vampire Weekend album as a legacy? Infogalactic notes that:

Contra was followed by Super Contra a year later. It was the only Contra sequel for the arcades developed in-house by Konami. Following the success of the NES adaptations of both, the original and its sequel (which was retitled Super C in its American release), subsequent sequels would be produced specifically for the home console market such as Contra III: The Alien Wars for the Super NES and Contra: Hard Corps for the Genesis, becoming one of Konami’s landmark series.

Indeed, Contra remains one of Konami’s landmark series, even if they’re just making PES and casino games these days. Where would you rank Contra among powerhouse franchises like Castlevania, Silent Hill, and Metal Gear? Perhaps it doesn’t quite hit those levels in gamer culture today. But I recall that Hard Corps was considered a coup for Sega in the midst of the Console Wars. So, Contra was quite significant in the 90s. And I challenge you to find somebody who’s familiar with the Konami Code and doesn’t think of Contra.

Up Next

Next week I’ll take a different tack and venture to the PC world for an extended longplay look. Not to give too much away now, but it’s a Sierra game. Thanks for taking a trip down memory lane with me.

Fantasy Baseball Update Week 9

The Makers managed to win though it didn’t feel easy at all this past week. My opponent and I scuffled through it all. The team turned in three bad days on the back of some bad starting pitching. But his squad had worse days. May 31 was disastrous for him while the Makers regained their balance, putting up nearly 70 points on their foes. They took the lead that day and wouldn’t relinquish the rest of the way. It’s a satisfying win. As a result, the Makers moved back up to 10th place overall in the league.

Scoring Summary

The Makers won the game 345 to 295. None of my guys did spectacularly this week. That’s a worrying trend for me. I’m still being undone by bad pitching, though not a few of my late round picks are coming back to earth. The injuries aren’t helping, but that’s been everybody’s problem this season. Anyhow, here’s the breakdown:

Offense

The bats put up 241 points. That’s an 11 point improvement over Week 8. Ender Inciarte contributed the most with 34 points. First round pick Cabrera did second best with 31 points. Newcomer Maybin gets the worst player distinction with 2 points, but since he landed on the DL on his first day, he doesn’t count. That leaves this dubious honor to Nick Markakis with 5 points.

Overall, the offense scored 32 runs, clubbed 12 homers, had 26 XBH, 44 RBIs, and 126 total bases. Additionally, they got four GWRBI, 26 walks, 56 strikeouts, seven sacs, and four stolen bases.

Pitching

The hurlers scored 104 points. This is a 14 point decrease from last week. Jeff Hoffman ended up turning in the best performance with 33 points. He was a last day pick up, an insurance gamble that paid off for me, for once. Almost makes up for the Corbin debacle last week. The worst pitcher award goes to our old friend Jose Quintana who gave us -27 points. He and Marco Estrada cost the Makers 51 points this week. Awful.

Across the board, the staff pitched 58.1 innings, allowed 27 runs (27 earned) on 60 hits. They coughed up ten home runs and issued 15 walks against 67 punch outs. They also managed two pickoffs! All told they tallied four wins, four losses, 0 saves and six holds.

Roster changes

Last week I crowed about four Monday morning acquisitions. So how did they do? As you read above, Cameron Maybin hit the DL on his first day. Diamondbacks reliever Archie Bradley surrendered his first homer and took his first loss of the season on his first day. Excellent. Starter Daniel Norris put up three whole points. Fantasy Pros touted him as a stealth pick and a two-start pitcher to boot. He ended up missing his second start anyway. Starter Junior Guerra, on the other hand, did very well. And on the last day, we picked up Hoffman, and you’ve already seen how he did. Two out of five ain’t bad?

Meanwhile, the injury bug turned the Makers into the Walking Wounded. Segura landed on the DL after a nasty collision. Harrison took a pitch on some part of his anatomy and is now DTD. He wasn’t the only one during the week to ride the pine to recover some dings. My infield is dangerously thin, and I’m short an outfielder, thanks to my previous maneuvering and Maybin busting. Kinsler remains on the DL, and of course, we’re all patiently waiting for Bumgarner.

Pickups

I have my eye on a pair of guys: Cleveland rookie Bradley Zimmer and White Sox sub, Leury Garcia. Both guys are outfielders and flying under the radar in the league. Zimmer is a platoon guy who’s losing AB against lefties while Garcia is playing over his head.

For now, I’ll gamble with Zimmer. The Indians have better matchups this week, though they’re up against two lefties. Hopefully, he’s not benched in those games. Then again, one of those games is against my very own Quintana…I’m dropping Cervelli to make room for the guy. I hate to lose any Catcher depth, but he’s served his purpose, and his points are trending downward. I’ll take Zimmer’s 56 points these past two weeks over Cervelli’s 23.

I have way too many pitchers now, and it’s time for at least two of them to go. I think you know who’s going to get the boot. But I have to think about it for a while. I’ll have more in next week’s update.

As for the rest, I’m hoping Kinsler comes off the DL this Tuesday, so my infield gets some help.

Week 10 outlook

This week’s opponent is currently tied for first place in his division, ranked third in the league. Last week his team put up a smidge over 400 points in a loss to the league champion. He has a few monsters on his squad, including Manny Machado, Ryan Zimmerman, and Max Scherzer. Individually I have nobody who matches that caliber of talent. But the Makers are getting better as all the spare parts perform better and I trim away the scrubs. Still, I’m going to say I’ll need over 420 points to win. If I can avoid any more disaster performances from the pitching staff, it’s within reach. That said, I’m not confident of a win though so I’ll put the Makers in for a Loss in Week 10.

Season Outlook

We’re near the midway point of the season, and the Makers stand at 4-5 with 12 games left to play. On the whole, they’ve scored 2977 points and allowed 3266 points. That’s a losing ratio to be sure. Still, the team is doing much better now, and we await the return of Bumgarner. I realize that it’s sad to hope to do just one game better than 0.500 this season, how I could have known my pitching would be that bad out of the gate, and have my top draft picks hit the DL for extended periods of time? Besides, at this point last year the Makers’ record was 2-7. So they’ve already improved two games this year. In fact, if the coin had come up for me in those two hard-luck losses they’d be at 6-3 and tied for the best record. So it goes. Anyway, the goal is still alive. Thanks for reading this week’s update.

Volvo The Game Longplay

As played by Mihaibest, Volvo – The Game for PC. A free game released in 2009. See Mihaibest’s playthrough below, it’s about 21 minutes long.

Volvo The Game Analysis

Where to begin? This is a racing sim played from first person perspective. There are six cars, two tracks, and that’s about it. That I can remember, I have played five racing games seriously in my life: Mario Kart, F-Zero, Cruisin USA, Midnight Club, and Gran Turismo PSP. Of the five this is closest to Gran Turismo. On the surface, that is, it’s closest to GT. As far as I can tell from the longplay, there’s no sort of career mode, no car mods. So there’s none of the “extra” stuff we expect from the more sophisticated racers.

Indeed, this is a straightforward game. There are several modes to choose from the menu. Mercifully Mihaibest spared us the overview of them. The race parameters and select screens are unambiguous, which is nice. In game, you race against 11 other AIs which don’t seem overly bright. The physics aren’t very believable, as some of the YouTube commentators suggested. There’s a simple speedometer to tell us how fast we’re going, and a Timer indicating where everybody is in the race. That’s it for the GUI. In short, the gameplay is to the point and boring. The crowd may be made up of lifeless sprites, but even they appear to be bored at the proceedings.

The graphics are drab, the sound effects, basic. I suppose there’s a soundtrack but it all kind of blurs for me. I appreciated the attempt to put some company logos on the track overheads, but they were a tad small for the scale. It’s all very competent I suppose. The presentation feels more like a year 2000 game than a 2009 game. As I’ve never played this game, I can’t speak to how well it controls. I assume there was an option for gamepad as well as using the mouse and keyboard. I would hate to try any racing game with the classic PC controls, though.

The Developer

The credits list SimBin Development Team AB as the shop that made this game. Their current website is entirely in Swedish, but a quick Google translate tells us they’ve moved onto Online Casino games. Apparently, the original team which put Volvo The Game together is no longer there. The original ownership also has moved on, but that may something lost in translation for me. According to Mobygames, one of the original founders, Henrik Roos, was three-time Swedish GT champion. That explains the racing emphasis of the original incarnation, I guess. It sounds like an impressive resume to me, anyway.

Not to get too far off the beaten path here, it appears one of the founders left and formed his own company and took most of the studio with him. Eventually Mr. Bell’s business morphed into Slightly Mad Studios and gave us GTR, Project Cars, more Need for Speed titles along the way.

Looking deeper into the credits, John Wikberg designed the game. He did some work on the more recent Need for Speed games. The leads in other areas – programming, art, and physics, all worked on the same projects. A smattering of racing games I never heard of, presumably by the same company. I noted some work on Battlefield 2 by the lead artist, but other than that no other Triple-A games.

It’s possible the Mobygames website hasn’t been updated for any of these guys in a long while.

Critical Reception

I had to laugh that somebody wrote actual reviews for the game. But then, I’m writing this post about it, so perhaps the joke’s on me. You may be surprised to know that none of the major websites or publications gave any press to this game. But some intrepid European outlets did. GameStar Germany may have given it too high a score (87!) but here’s the most positive take on it that you can get (translated from German to English, thanks, Google):

But perhaps it would also be a bit much demanded that a commercial game for a car manufacturer shines through a detailed damage model. With its lack, we have already mentioned the only weakness of Volvo: The Game. Otherwise, the free simulation of Simbin (GTR and Race series) can easily compete with every full-price racing game, apart from its scope. Also on the track, there is everything that racing games from a Simbin simulation expect: a realistic driving physics, sturdy engine sound and exciting duels with clever computer opponents. Thanks to numerous switchable driving aids such as ABS or stability control as well as an exemplary gamepad support, beginners can also quickly achieve success.

Legacy

So I know what you’re thinking, “legacy” is too dramatic of a word for a game like this. Volvo The Game was a freebie title you could download from the Volvo website. The URL is displayed during the load scenes and menu, at any rate. Sadly for those of you who may wish to try this game out that URL no longer works as of 2017. I wish I could get some insight into the thought process of the marketing team at Volvo that decided that they needed to have a free game to promote some new car at the time. I also wouldn’t mind knowing if this kind of marketing worked for them. Were increased dramatically by a mediocre free game? Perhaps lead generation was the goal?

Video game history is littered with this type of stuff though, and at least neither the licensee nor the developer had the temerity to charge full retail price for the sim. In the past others have not been so accommodating to us. How many of you remember Cool Spot?

Next Time

I’ll try to stay away from esoteric marketing fodder for a while. But these relics are so damn interesting, no? We’ll return to the world of Nintendo in the next Longplay overview, and this one will be a slightly longer game that those I’ve been posting lately. Thanks for reading.

Geometry Wars Longplay

As played by RickyC, the original Geometry Wars for Xbox. Video below, about 11 minutes long.

This began life as a controller tech demo for the first Project Gotham Racing. It was later included as a minigame in the garage for Project Gotham Racing 2, which is this gameplay. Who knew the “evolved” sequel would be a sleeper hit for the Xbox360 when it dropped?

Fantasy Baseball Update Week 8

The Makers can’t buy a win streak this season. They dropped to 3-5 after losing last week 348 to 390 in a close match up. I predicted that I needed 400 points to beat my opponent and I came up short 50 points. Fantasy Baseball, right? Though I may have overmanaged my lineup a bit and yes, I made the infamous Corbin Gambit again on the last day, my opponent has some of the hottest hitters in baseball right now. Nobody on my team matches the caliber of Anthony Rendon and Anthony Rizzo, who alone combined for 110 points. After a respite the DL bug once again came around, costing me Ian Kinsler and Manuel Margot. My pitching turned in a mediocre performance but managed to keep me in it. In the end, one bad day ended up making the difference. A frustratingly winnable week turned into my 5th loss of the season, and the Makers remain in 11th place overall in the league.

Scoring Summary

The offense put up 230 points last week while the pitching managed 118. I can’t complain too much about that, and in fact, the pitching performed better than it has in a while. The disaster came on May 24 when the Makers scratched a mere 6 points while my opponent put up 81. The Makers would not recover from that. Still, we traded leads throughout the week, and as I said above, the whole thing was winnable. I thought as much on Sunday morning when I decided to take the Corbin Gambit once more. I’ll discuss that more in the Roster Changes section.

Offense Performance

My top offensive player for the week was Joe Mauer with 32 points, followed by Max Kepler with 27. Who would have guessed that my late draft picks would do so much for the team? First rounder Miguel Cabrera managed 11 points and had a bad 0-8 day in a Tigers’ doubleheader. To be blunt, he needs to step up if the Makers are going to have a realistic shot.

The team as a whole only hit 4 Home Runs (!) and had 26 XBH. They struck out 62 times, drew 43 walks, and stole only five bases. I suppose it’s better than my Feast or Famine approach of past seasons. But still, I’m concerned about the lack of power.

Pitching Performance

My best pitcher was Adam Wainwright who scored 33 points, followed by Marco Estrada and Johnny Cueto tied at 27 points. Jose Quintana is still doing his Jekyll and Hyde thing, bad for -18 points while Mr. Corbin burned me for -25 points in his return to the Makers.

Still, the pitching staff managed to win five games while picking up six losses. That sounds awful and it is, but I’ve been starved for Wins all season. The relievers notched 1 Save, 1 Blown Save, and 4 Holds. All told they struck out 67, walked 12, coughed up nine homers, 59 hits, and allowed 31 runs.

Roster Changes

Having lost Ian Kinsler to the DL early in the week, I decided to beef up my infield. I initially filled Second Base with Chad Pindar who was good for -1 point. When Margot went down on the DL, I didn’t initially replace him. But I did pick up Logan Forsythe and dropped Mr. Pindar. Again, he was a nonentity over the weekend, so my 2B replacements didn’t deliver.

Let’s talk a moment about Patrick Corbin. On Sunday morning I was down about 40 points, but I had two starters going that day: Johnny Cueto and Lance Lynn. Cueto is hit or miss, but Lynn has been respectable lately. I knew with a bit of luck I might be able to steal one from my opponent. So I perused the probable starters for Sunday and noted Corbin was available. With Week 4 still fresh in mind I seriously considered adding the guy. But his numbers made me nervous: he trended poorly in the last few starts. I hesitated and looked at some other options, but honestly, I knew I was going to pick him up. My gut divided, I added the man to the team, reasoning that if he was bad, my other two guys could pick him up. Well, he was terrible, blowing up in the first four innings while Lynn also stumbled. Cueto managed to keep it from turning into a total rout.

Now, I wouldn’t have won even if I had not picked up Corbin. But I’m still interested in the psychology behind my decision to get him. I may write a separate post about this once I’ve had some time to digest it all.

Anyhow, I’ve made a slew of changes to start this week which I will discuss in Week 9 post next Monday.

Week 9 Outlook

This week the Makers take on the 4th place team which is currently tied for first place in their division. They’re coming off a Win, having put away the League Champion (and now in second place in my division). On paper, it appears that I have little chance of winning. But some chance is better than no chance. He has a few monsters on his squad, but it looks like his pitching is even more precarious than mine. Had we matched up in Week 8 I only would have lost by 10 points. Yes I know, a loss is still a loss. That said, I like my odds. To me, our teams are closely matched despite his far better record. I’m excited for my roster changes this week which I hope will put me over the top. I predict that I’ll need at least 430 points to win this week, and it’ll be a close game. Mark my team down for the W.

Season Outlook

We may be sputtering out near the bottom of the rankings, but there’s hope on the horizon. As we get closer to the All-Star Break Bumgarner is just that much closer to returning. The pitching is still stabilizing, but I’m getting adept at juggling relievers. The Makers are a much better team than their record indicates. I just need a few key players to do better. They still need to go 8-5 the rest of the way to achieve my goal. That door may be closing shut, but there’s time to make it happen.

Panzer Dragoon Mini (Game Gear) Longplay

As played by JohnX895, Panzer Dragoon Mini, a Game Gear port of the rail shooter from 1996. Only Japan got this one, and it’s not too hard to see why. The longplay is about 24 minutes:

Panzer Dragoon Mini Analysis

There’s really not much to say about this game. It’s a barebones shooter with the Panzer Dragoon branding slapped onto it. In fact, there’s no plotline, no pilot character, nothing. The enemies consist of just a few models that animate poorly, and some boss characters which are recycled at the end before the last baddie. There are five stages, each with two bosses. There’s a password save system as well, not that it looks like it would need to be used often. The music is borderline obnoxious. JohnX895 didn’t take any damage in his playthrough as far as I could tell. Don’t know if that’s the way the game is or if he was using debug, or what. I’ll get to the ending in a moment.

Usually, something like this exists to cash in on the greater popularity of its big brother, and the MobyGames entry confirms that suspicion. There are no credits, so we don’t even know who worked on it. The novelty is simply that it’s a Panzer Dragoon game on a Game Gear. If I remember right, Sega’s ballyhooed handheld was long dead by ‘96 in the States. This would also be a reason why it never came across the Pacific. Perhaps a Sega historian knows if the platform lasted longer in Japan.

So, the ending of this game. Normally I don’t do this for these entries, but this was too funny not to share. I laughed out loud, I admit. Look, I know that localization is difficult, and there wasn’t really any need for it if the game was going to stay in country. But still, it was 1996. Whoever made Panzer Dragoon Mini should have done better:

Panzer Dragoon Mini's Win Screen displays one word: Congratuations!
Congraturations! You beat a stripped down portable port of a popular game.