Season Ticket Baseball 2003 Review

Baseball is more than a sport or pastime, it is a statistician's dream.  From standard benchmarks such as batting averages and ERAs to more obscure stats such as slugging percentage with men on third in night games, everything has been meticulously tracked for every player that has ever played major league baseball.  These statistics fuel the imagination of baseball fans who pour over box scores in the paper every morning or who enjoy debating who were the best players to ever play the game.  This elegant game that can be so well described by numbers is a natural for computer modeling, and that's just what Season Ticket Baseball 2003 (STB) does, and does in a wonderful and addictive manner.

There have been computer baseball games on the market for years, but they have almost always focused on the game's action, letting gamers control the individual players.  STB takes a different approach, and places you in the role of owner, GM, and manager, and in doing so has created one of the most accurate simulations of a major league sport in computer gaming.

In STB, you can take control of one or more franchises in a baseball league and guide that team from season to season trying to build a winning franchise.  When creating a new league, you can choose to let the computer distribute players to the teams or to go through a 50 round draft, handpicking your own players.  After the draft, the game goes through a 30 'day' signing period in which you make offers to available scouts and coaches, and can tender trade offers to other teams.  Good scouts will help you to get accurate estimates of players' abilities, and coaches can affect the development of hitters and pitchers.  From there the game moves to a free agent signing period where teams compete in bidding wars for the best players on the market.  At the conclusion of the free agent signing period the game moves to the amateur draft, where you can sign hot prospects to minor league contracts.  After completing all of these team building exercises, spring training opens.  During spring training you can specify what each team member should focus on, whether it be making contact, defense, power, or something else.  Once spring training is complete, a training report lists the successful player improvements after training camp.

Before the season begins, you can specify which players will fill out the major league team's roster and which will be relegated to the minor leagues at the AAA, AA, or A level.  With the major league roster set, it's time to set the depth charts, starting lineups versus right and left handed pitchers, and the pitching rotation.  For those who might feel a bit overwhelmed at this point, the game provides an auto-set feature for each of these line-ups.

At this point, the team will be ready to open the season and being play.  If you are content with being the owner and GM, you can let the game automatically simulate the season and watch the scores come across the wire.  Should the team need your attention because of a player injury or trade offer, the simulation will pause to allow you to deal with the situation.  If you'd rather also manage your team, you can control your team's strategy for each and every one of its 162 games.