MLB Front Office Manager
|MLB Front Office Manager|
|Developer(s)||Blue Castle Games|
|Release date(s)||January 26, 2009|
|Distribution||DVD, Blu-ray Disc|
MLB Front Office Manager is a Major League Baseball-licensed sports management game developed by Blue Castle Games and published by 2K Sports for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. It was released on January 26, 2009.
MLB Front Office Manager allows a player to take the role of a baseball general manager over the course of a thirty-year career; the goal is to perform well enough to become inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. The player's GM is rated on eight disciplines including North American scouting, international scouting, pro-league scouting, player development, trades, contract negotiation, owner confidence and leadership. GMs also have former career backgrounds (i.e. ex-manager, lawyer, business person, former player, or talent scout) that affect the GM's disciplines. A GM's ratings improve or regress over his career depending on their performance and will have seasonal goals depending on the club they're hired by. The player will be faced with decisions such as spring training evaluation, initiate and respond to trades, develop rookies, and even bid for Japanese baseball players. The game also promises advanced AI-controlled GMs who have unique motivations.
During the game, the player may opt to manage, and can issue instructions such as intentionally walk batters, make a bullpen changes, call for steals and bunts, and pitch; the user cannot call individual pitches.
The game utilizes official SABR stats compiled over the player's career, even factoring such situational stats as batter vs. pitcher historical stats, pitcher's performance at specific pitch counts, and success with runners in scoring position, in addition to the usual situational stats. These stats extend to actual minor league players from Class AAA to short season minor league systems; due to MLBPA agreements, the players are not identified by name. Players also have personality ratings as well.
The game features Online Fantasy Mode, which allows up to thirty managers in an online league to compete against one other to develop the best team. Gamers can use modified rules, enter a fantasy draft, and optionally utilize fantasy baseball scoring systems like rotisserie, head-to-head or traditional scoring.
MLB Front Office Manager received scathing reviews, most citing its clunky interface, bad artificial intelligence, and baffling simulation and statistical results. Game Informer in its 3 of 10 review blasted, "The nuts and bolts of gameplay are apocalyptic failures, but the awfulness doesn't stop there. Managing games is utterly pointless." GameSpot noted "the decisions made by computer GMs are beyond bizarre" and player trades "are nondescript affairs shuffling minor leaguers around, [but] the game hits you with a Bizarro World blockbuster on a regular basis", giving it a 4.5 of 10. Hilary Goldstein's IGN 6.6 of 10 review was more charitable, but still complained, "Lack of three-team deals, a mediocre interface, and questionable AI logic are unacceptable even from a new IP."
Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane served as expert consultant on the GM experience and environment. Beane also appears in-game as an advisor to the player. New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was also involved in the project.
- When a runner steals a base, the pitch count increases by two pitches for the pitcher, increasing the pitch count by a total of three. For example, if a batter gets a single off the first pitch, then on the second pitch (first pitch for next batter), attempts to steal a base, the pitcher's pitch count will be four when it should be two.
- If a pitcher throws a wild pitch, the pitcher's pitch count increases by three pitches. This is especially strange when a batter has a 2-1 count, but the pitcher has supposedly thrown 6 pitches.
- If a position player bats for a pitcher, after the half inning is over, you're asked to replace the position player with a pitcher, but you have no way of telling who is up to bat or whether the batter is a lefty or righty because the banner telling you to replace the pitcher is in the middle of the screen and there's no way of removing it.
- If a position player bats for a pitcher, you have to remove the pinch hitter from the game and replace him with another pitcher. There's no way to take another person out of the game and put the pinch hitter in his spot.
- Sometimes, when an opposing pitcher walks someone with four pitches, all four pitches are removed from the pitch count. A pitcher can throw four straight balls and have a runner on first with a pitch count of zero. This only happens for the opposing team.
- If a pitcher hits a batter (hit by pitch), four pitches are removed from his pitch count.
- When an offer is made for a trade between two teams, if you accept the offer, the offer may be cancelled after being finalized.
- Bunting always works on either the first or second pitch, but the batter is always out and the runner is always safe.
- When looking at the league leaders, sometimes, the wrong information is shown. As an example, one player may be shown as having 39 HRs, but when you look at his stats, he only has 6 HRs. This is especially true with a player who is called up from the minor leagues. The game will not differentiate between his minor league and major league statistics. For example, if a player was zero for four in the minors and has one at-bat accounting for one hit in the majors, he will have a batting average of .200, even though it should be 1.000.
- When someone is brought up to MLB from the minors, his average shows what he did in the minors along with his time in MLB for the season, including total number of hits, batting average, and other statistics.
- No one ever gets tagged out at second base, except when they were already on first at the beginning of a play. Often, the ball gets to the second baseman with plenty of time that looks like the runner should be out, but he's safe.
- When a pitcher is injured and a substitute must be brought in, there is no way to see who is batting next.
- A player may show up on the roster somewhere, but in the game mode (during a baseball game), the player can't be found. At the same time, the player can be moved up and down in the farm system, but won't show up on any roster other than the "call-ups" roster.
- A starting pitcher may be given credit for a loss if he's winning when he's taken out of the game in the sixth inning and his team was ahead when he was taken out.
- Situational hitting or situational pitching don't seem to exist.
- When looking at the "Pause" menu, the play-by-play doesn't always show the last plays.
- The "Pause" menu may also show blurry statistics.
- At times, going to the bullpen feature to put in a new pitcher, the pitcher won't be there. He's nowhere to be found on the roster.
- The manager's avatar can change without warning and there is no way to change it back. For example, after setting up the general manager's avatar as a white man, the avatar changed to an Asian after about five seasons and there was no way to change it back.
- A relief pitcher may be given credit for earned runs that should have belonged to a previous pitcher.
- When a game is played in "Auto Play" mode, when a pitching substitution is made, the pitcher that is chosen is most often the worst choice, having the highest ERA, highest WHIP, or both, rather than a pitcher with a lower ERA, WHIP, or both.
- In clutch situations, the opposing team will often walk a poor batter intentionally, then pitch to a better batter rather than attempting to get the poor batter out.
- During Spring Training games, the game engine doesn't track any statistics other than win-loss.
- A position player can't be converted to another position. For example, if a player is a third-baseman and spends an entire season playing second base, his "position familiarity" at second base will not increase despite having played the position for the entire season.
- To move a player up and down the farm system, there must first be an available spot on one of the rosters. This means a simple switch is not possible, such as moving a player down from MLB to AAA. To make a transaction such as this, a player must first be released from one of the team's rosters, creating an open spot on the roster. After all the transactions have been made, a new player will have to be drafted to fill the newly-vacant position.
- A player can't be brought off the disabled list onto a team in a league other than the team he came from. For example, if a player on the MLB roster is put on the 15-Day Disabled list and a player is brought up from the minor leagues to take his place, after the original MLB player is finished with his time on the disabled list, to bring him back, a spot must be available on the roster for him in MLB only.
- A player on the disabled list may not be traded, even if he's recovered from his injuries.
- Making trades is nearly impossible, even when a trade makes perfect sense for both teams involved.
- Most trades initiated by opposing teams will be lopsided and rarely make any sense. For example, an opposing team may offer to trade a shortstop with a $5 million salary and he's batting below .200 when the player already has two shortstops on his roster and neither is receiving anything above the league minimum while both are hitting over .300.
- Players may price themselves right out of the market and there is no way to negotiate the salary of a player.
- When facing an opposing batter, there is no way of telling if the batter is a switch hitter or not. For example, if a left-handed pitcher is brought in to pitch to a left-handed batter, the batter may simply switch to batting right-handed after the pitching change.
- Two players on the same team can have the same number on their jerseys.
- The in-game email feature will sometimes have emails for the entire year go from the "read" state to an "unread" state despite having been read.
- During the off-season, when the team's owner sends his monthly email to the manager, he may send one stating that he's disappointed in a decline in the team's performance despite no games having been played.
- The team you are managing may end up with a record-breaking season with 118 wins and 44 losses and the general manager may still send you an email saying he's disappointed in the decline of quality of play in the team despite having the best record in all of MLB and making it to the post-season.
- If a pitcher is injured and must be taken out of the game, the relief pitcher doesn't get any additional time to warm up. Similarly, if a pitcher needs to be removed from the game, there's no way to stall to allow a bullpen pitcher more time to warm up.
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