fun and games: Baseball Boss

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If your understanding of what exactly constitutes a “baseball card” is anywhere close to mine, you may often find yourself trying to wrap your brain around the concept of “virtual baseball cards.” Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love reading other blogs that feature other collectors’ original trading card designs and retooled retro tribute artwork. In fact, I’m often guilty of that same creative process myself. However, each time I complete a design, or see a virtual card online, the thought that invariably creeps into my head is, “Well, that’s nice. Now what are you going to do with it?”

Let’s face it, the chances of a major trading card company picking up on a design style created by an “outsider” seems slim at best. Giving that designer credit or compensation then, would appear to be even less likely. Thus, if no one is ever going to actually print any of these unique cards, what purpose could they ever possibly serve?

Here is one positive application.

The brain trust behind Challenge Games has developed a nifty online baseball simulation game that utilizes virtual baseball cards as a major element of their product known as Baseball Boss. I was just introduced to this intriguing online game a short while ago, and I can already confirm that it is, well… completely addictive. If you like collecting baseball cards, the thrill of opening packs to see what you will get, and possess even the slightest interest in the history of baseball, I suggest you clear your social calendar.

The basic premise behind Baseball Boss is that you collect virtual baseball cards using various methods available within the application. That sounds like a fun time, right? Wait, there’s more! You use these virtual baseball cards to build a team (or teams) of your favorite players spanning the entire history of major league baseball. Once you have built your team(s) to your satisfaction, you enter into a fabulous cyber world of simulated games against teams from all across the globe. (I don’t think anyone is playing this game aboard the International Space Station… YET!) Baseball Boss features a number of different head to head play modes ranging from single game scrimmages; 3, 5 and best of 7-game challenges; and league play.

You are awarded tickets for playing other teams. You will want to beat those teams like an old carpet hanging over a clothesline. Tickets are currency that can be exchanged for more virtual packs, boxes and cases of virtual cards. Members are also encouraged to make TRADES with other owners, and Baseball Boss even contains an auction house where you can pretend that you have been unleashed on eBay with a monstrous PayPal balance.

Before I continue, I should point out that this game is FREE! It costs you nothing to sign up, get a few packs of virtual baseball cards and set up a team that is ready to begin playing. It is also true that you probably could have been doing all of this in less time that it has taken you to read this far. For those of you high rollers who don’t like to do things that don’t cost anything, the accommodating folks at Challenge Games have also installed various options for anyone who would like to give them some money. I’ll let you discover those options at your own pace.

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The virtual Simpsons-themed baseball cards featured here are an example of a new product that was released to unsuspecting Baseball Boss members on Wednesday, April 1st. Throughout the month of April, you can challenge a team called the Springfield Nukes to a head to head match up. Each time you defeat them, you get to add one of 14 limited “Homer at the Bat” inspired virtual cards to your collection. These 14 cards include 9 Major League Baseball players such as Ken Griffey Jr., Jose Canseco, Darryl Strawberry and the great and powerful Ozzie Smith, as well as 5 cards featuring the online game developers. Collect all 14 and you also win another pack of virtual baseball cards to help beef up your team.

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The Baseball Boss marketing folks have described their unique product as “iTunes meets baseball cards.” In doing so, I believe they have sold themselves short. Instead, I would describe the concept as 1910s Baseball Game Reproducer meets Strat-O-Matic for a pick-up Wiffleball tournament inside a Marx Toys warehouse that is raided by the entire membership of the Society for American Baseball Research just as Goose Joak begins singing the National Anthem. This definitely isn’t your father’s fantasy baseball! I do believe that I already mentioned it is FREE to register to participate in Baseball Boss, so once again I am astounded to discover that you are still reading this instead of checking out the website for yourself.

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The only reason I can think of that you are still hanging on is the hope that I will provide you with a peek at a little of the game action. Okay, you’ve earned it. But just a peek!

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If you are thinking that I may have set up a baseball diorama and taken photos to mess with your head, I appreciate that you believe I have that much free time at my disposal. In virtual reality, this image shows you a still of the LIVE ACTION of Brady Anderson hitting a sacrifice fly to center field in the bottom of the 11th inning to plate Bobo Osborne. This run resulted in a win for relief pitcher Mike Fetters of the Albuquerque Aardvarks (my team) while Charlie Haeger got charged with the loss. How about that scoreboard? If you like virtual baseball cards, you are going to be a huge fan of this scoreboard. While the live game action isn’t “perfect,” it remains highly entertaining.

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This is a fragment of the series summary page. This gives you line scores of each game, as well as hitting and pitching leader boards for the series. Full box scores are available and usually quite interesting to read. You’ll need to provide your own Cracker Jack, but otherwise, Baseball Boss has you covered.

If you aren’t sold on this game yet, let me add that the simulations can run year-round, and are not impacted by the dreaded All-Star break, player walkouts, owner lockouts or winter. It is like a perfect world made better! Baseball Boss comes complete with official licensing from MLB Advance Media and permission from the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association, so you can trust that it is the real deal.

Drop me a line when you get your team registered. I am looking forward to completing some virtual trades with you readers, and I will eagerly accept all challenges.

- Kris

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