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Old 09-18-2019, 01:44 PM   #1
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An ambitious undertaking...advice requested!

Hey all...

I've been a long-time on-and-off player of OOTP who exclusively plays fictional leagues as a GM. I usually start leagues right after WWII, but after toying around with some earlier eras and enjoying learning about baseball in its earlier days, I've decided to build a fictional world starting a bit earlier.

Despite being from and still living on the East Coast, I always tend to start my leagues in California, with the intent that it evolves into a major league that spreads east. I've never let a league run long enough to get there, but maybe this time.

I'm also trying to capture some level of the chaotic aspects of early baseball leagues that lasted but a few seasons (sometimes only one) and where teams, and even the leagues themselves could fold mid-season. To make it a little easier, I'm not going all the way back to the mid-19th century, and am limited the number of leagues somewhat.

I've planned the league progression from my start year, 1890, through the mid-1950s. In some cases, I'll force certain teams to do poorly to support the relocation or fold narrative I have for them. Who the best teams will be among the rest will be up to the OOTP engine.

I have six leagues planned before the dominate major league becomes the only league to survive the Great Depression. This league will create its own minor league system after World War II.

Here's the basic setup/preview:

In 1890, four baseball clubs in the San Francisco area band together to form the California League of Professional Base Ball Clubs (or, simply, California League). Two of the clubs fail to complete the season; one is replaced, the other is not. The league finishes with three clubs, one of which does not return for the 1891 season.

Two additional clubs join to bring the league back to four teams for the 1891 season, but one club folds mid-season. It is not replaced, and the remaining three clubs finish the season. The league folds.

That same year, another league starts up. The Pacific League is formed with four teams as well, but suffers similar challenges as the California League, with only two teams surviving beyond the season's end.

The three teams from the now-defunct California League join the Pacific League in 1892, lest it fold as well, and all five clubs manage to play the entire season successfully.

And so it goes on...the Pacific Northwest League, also a four-team league, stars up in 1893, but plays only one season. The California-based Pacific League adds a sixth team in 1893, bumps along, adding and subtracting teams, through its 1896 season, when it stops play. Another California-based league, the Southern California League, starts play in 1894 with four teams in three cities, expands to six teams in 1895, but folds at year end.

Meanwhile, the 2nd incarnation of the Pacific Northwest League starts in 1896, again with four-teams. With the failure of the California League after the 1896 season, it is left as the only league on the West Coast.
The league adds two additional teams for 1897, including one in Canada, and thus renames itself the Pacific International League. No teams, however, are added from California, leaving Californians without a professional baseball league for the 1897 season.

In 1898, that changes, as the California Coastal League forms with eight teams all in cities along the Pacific Coast (or San Francisco Bay), hence the "Coastal" part of the league's name.

These two leagues operate side-by-side, with various adjustments to their memberships, for two seasons, until a new California League joins them in 1900. This league, like most before it, starts with four teams, two of them in the same market as the Costal League. The aggressive, upstart California League adds two additional teams in 1901 and manages to survive in competition with the Coastal League. Meanwhile, the Pacific International League, well outside the drama of its southern siblings, continues to chug along.

Unfortunately for Californians, the upstart California League was a disruptor -- not stable enough to surviving on its own, but just strong enough to ruin it for everyone. When one of the four Coastal League teams defects to the California League in 1902, it causes the Coastal League to fold, but bad management, improper financial support, and shady operating practices cause the California League to not survive beyond the 1902 season either. And once again, the Pacific International League (which renamed itself the Pacific League after the failure of the sole Canadian team) stands alone as the only professional league that operates in 1903.

The following year, another attempt is made to create a California League. This time, the league is better structured and funded. As no other league operates in California, the four teams of this third version of the league are not just able to survive their first season, but create longevity for the league over the coming years.

Stability finally arrives for west coast professional baseball. The California and Pacific Leagues both thrive for the next 25 years, with occasional adjustments to their membership, and some interruption due to World War I. But both survive into the 1920s.

The California League is the stronger and more profitable of the two leagues given its larger market, and opts to invade the Pacific League territory by placing two teams in the largest two cities in the Pacific Northwest. Although the Pacific League protests, ultimately it has no power to stop it, and the two leagues lock in battle for revenue in these markets.

The impact is not good for the Pacific League. Despite being the older of the league, the superior organization and finances of the California League enable its northwestern teams to do well, and the attendance and profits of the same-city Pacific League teams begin to wane. One team folds after the 1923 season, forcing the Pacific League to create a traveling team to keep the league schedule balanced in 1924. It doesn't work, and in 1925 the league operates with only five teams.

But the other team competing directly with the California League doesn't survive either, and like its sibling, goes out of business after then 1925 season. Relegated to all but a minor league, the Pacific League resigns to its fate and continues to operate as a four-team league for the rest of the decade.

And then...economic collapse. The crash of the stock market in 1929 ripples through the leagues, and threatens both of their existences. By the end of the 1932 season, neither league can survive intact. Neither of the two northwestern teams of the California League can afford the regular travel to California, and in an effort to survive, merge after the season. The Pacific League, still reeling from the loss of its largest market fares worse. The west coast's longest running league ceases operations before the 1933 season.

Now the only league standing, the California League tries to solve having an uneven number of teams by granting a third franchise in Los Angeles. But this oversaturates the market and team only plays a single season. Further, with the cost pressures on the remaining northwestern team still too great to bear, it folds as well, reducing the California League to six teams, all in California. Had the California League not invaded the northwest, perhaps professional baseball would have continued there, but alas, it did not. The northwesterners would have to be content with following baseball from afar for the next 13 years.

The end of World War II brought hope and prosperity to America, and to west coast baseball. Still the only league in operation, the California League expanded in 1946, re-entering the largest two markets in the Pacific Northwest, and changing its name to to the West Coast League.

This was not the only significant event for the league that year. To ensure the continuous quality of play, the league created its own minor league and awarded each of its now eight teams a development team in a smaller market city. The model proved successful, and quality of play, fan interest, and profits increase significantly.

Six years later, a second level was added to the development model, expanding the "minor leagues" to 16 teams total, 8 at the "high" level (officially, Class A) and 8 and the "low" level (officially, Class B).

Team movement and other changes continues to occur, primarily within the development leagues, and the league remained stable. The league expands off the continent when a team relocates to Honolulu in 1954.

In 1956, the league expands significantly by adding four teams (along with eight development teams), starting the year with twelve organizations. Two teams are promoted from their development league status to join the parent league and two additional teams, including one as far east as Dallas, are added. Given the league's expansion beyond the west coast (and Hawaii), the league again changes its name to the Continental Baseball League. Oddly, the fact that the league has a team in Hawaii seems not to factor into the naming consideration, given that Hawaii is neither on the "West Coast" nor on the "Continent" at all.

And that's where my planning stops. Once (or if) I get this league closer to the 50s, I'll begin to think about its future from here. I think 67 years of baseball is enough to plan in advance!!

I'd love to hear any comments you have, and any thoughts or suggestions on how to get OOTP to handle this set-up, particularly in the early days of the league. Obviously, I'll have to do a lot of customization -- schedules, financials, database files, etc.

Tell me what you think!!
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Old 09-20-2019, 02:50 PM   #2
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This certainly is ambitious

Looks like you have everything planned out. Once you get into playing the games, I recommend posting in the Dynasty Forum. That forum rolls over every time there's a new version of the game, so a dynasty that spans multiple versions won't get lost in the shuffle. The Fictional Forum, in contrast, is tied to the current version of the game. So if you posted your dynasty here, it would get consigned to the island of lost forums once OOTP came out with version 21.

Another point: you mention San Francisco, Dallas, and Honolulu as having teams in your leagues. You should check historical population statistics so that you're placing teams in appropriate locations. Los Angeles, for instance, had a smaller population than Evansville, IN in 1890, or about one-sixth the size of San Francisco and only slightly bigger than Oakland. San Diego was even smaller - it didn't crack the top 100 cities in the US until 1920. That, in fact, is one of the reasons that the PCL never quite made the jump to the big leagues - it didn't have the same sort of population base that the NL and AL had until the 1950s, about the same time the established leagues invaded the west coast.

Here's a census bureau list of the top 100 cities in every census from 1790 to 1990. You might also take a look at a spreadsheet I compiled a while back that converts historical population statistics into OOTP-usable numbers.

EDIT: you should also check the PCL schedules that have been posted in the historical minor-league schedules thread, including the ones posted by Outlaw Jim. The PCL traditionally played seven-game series from Tuesday through Sunday, with double-headers on Sundays and holidays. Mondays were set aside as travel days. That was due to the long distances that teams had to travel by train to get to their opponents. Note that California teams frequently played double-headers on Admission Day (Sep. 9).

Last edited by joefromchicago; 09-20-2019 at 03:18 PM.
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Old 09-20-2019, 03:43 PM   #3
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This sounds awesome. Are you planning to play as a GM or is your enjoyment going to be to watch your vision unfold from a distance? I really like the premise of your story, and to be honest, you have way more of the specific details planned than when I do stuff like this. I use random.org a lot to tell me who is going to stay and who will fold or move. Then I create the story around it many times doing research into things that may have contributed to it. Having an already established plot line like you have is probably smarter and way more efficient, I just like random!

I'm out of town at a wedding this weekend so I do not have my gameplay notebook with me but I think I recall that if you care to keep the historical index of a league in tact in your game then you cannot delete the league. You can have zero games scheduled and have zero teams in it, but if you want the history, do not delete it. Like I said, I don't have my notes in front of me but I think I learned that the hard way one time. Maybe someone else could chime in and verify my claim.

If you were curious here is a link to a baseball-reference page that has all of the historically known major and minor leagues dating back to the early 1870's if you want to get a feel for just how much was out there. It is a pretty cool look. https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/league.cgi

In closing. This sounds like a fantastic endeavor and would make a great dynasty report should you choose to write about it. Good Luck!
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Old 09-21-2019, 06:53 PM   #4
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Thanks. I'll take your collective points seperately:

RE: Posting about the dynasty

I'll definitely post the league's progression on the boards just in case anyone cares (probably not, but it will be fun anyway). I decided I'm going to do it through newspaper articles...should anyone actually follow my dynasty, it will be like following the sport in the early days through the newspaper articles that discussed the league. In the earliest days (19th century) many details were included, and the articles pretty immersive. Maybe as the league gets newer, I'll switch formats.

RE: The PCL schedules and city populations

I'm not going for historical replication here, obviously. To do that would require numerous more leagues and starting even earlier. I have a spreadsheet I've built of every league in the U.S. from 1871 onward, and the years of existence. I've sometimes thought of cataloging the history a bit more completely by editing some of the BR Bullpen articles -- as you saw in one of my other posts, so much can be learned from reading the newspaper articles of the day.

But, that's too much work!! So, I'll create some--but not too much--work for myself by having an alternate reality.

I do try to keep historic city populations in mind ... but take some liberties to allow the fictional growth of league and not simply follow the actual leagues and teams that operated). As you probably know, professional baseball in California started in the San Francisco area, it being the largest city in the state for many years, but leagues and teams did form in many minor cities in the day, although most did not have longevity. For example, the real Southern California League had teams in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and San Diego in 1899, although the league only lasted one season. But LA had a team at least as far back as 1892 as part of the 3rd version of the California League. And, of course, you'll find 19th century teams in tiny locations such as Stockton, San Jose, and Santa Cruz, although, again, most were in San Francisco.

RE: Keeping the history of defunct leagues

I'll test drive the league deletion again before I start. I know it works, and the teams show their inclusion in the league, but a deeper look is worth it before getting started. I don't really want the league history to be 1890-1999 though, if it really only lasts two years.

RE: being a GM

I'll probably switch between being a GM, being a casual spectator, and being a completely-involved-in-everything players. I'll use multiple human managers and the OOTP "prevent" and "allow" AI functions to rotate roles and my universe unfolds.

RE: Progression of the league

I support random for league progression, to a point ... but I'm not willing to stray too far from reality. For example, it would be highly unlikely for a SF or LA team to fold while a Stockton or Fresno team survives. Hence forcing the smaller market teams to fold in my plan. This parallels real life (even back then!) although the cities and teams are not identical.

Thanks guys! I hope you'll follow along as this gets built! I may take another week or two before I'm ready to officially launch, and possibly even a restart or two before progressing. It's hard to anticipate all of OOTP's peccadillo when trying something like this!!
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Old 09-21-2019, 06:56 PM   #5
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BTW, Hrycaj, your dynasty site looks great! I'm going to spend some more time there looking around!
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