PLAYING THE SEASON            Back to Reference Index

OK, you’ve got your team and you’re ready to go … now it’s time to prepare your boys to play the season. Before Opening Day, you should enter your batting lineups, bench assignments, pitching rotations, and bullpen assignments. You may also give guidelines to your Manager as to how you want your team managed, and you may also give instructions as to how you want individual players used. You’ll find all of these settings under the “DUGOUT” pulldown menu.

BATTING LINEUPS

The batting lineups have a slot for each player position. To set your lineup, first select the player for each position, then put them in the order you want. To change the player assigned to play a position, simply use the pull-down box. Players above the line in the box have designations to play the position; players below the line do not (i.e., think about it before using one of those players in that position!). To change your batting order, simply drag and drop the position box you want to change.

WARNING! The default batting order corresponds to the numerical position order (i.e., catcher is first, then on down to right field, with pitcher or DH in the ninth slot). If you simply change the name in a slot, you are changing who is fielding that position. For example, if the catcher position is listed first in the batting order and you want your shortstop to lead off and you just change the player in the first slot to your shortstop, he’ll be leading off, but he’ll be playing catcher. Instead, to have your shortstop lead off you must drag and drop the shortstop position box to the #1 batter slot.

There are two default batting lineups: versus right-hand starters and versus left-hand starters.  You can create additional lineups (for example, a lineup to use when you play you rest your starting catcher) and specify what lineups should be used game-by-game under Dugout.  NOTE: in accelerated play leagues (9 games per day), Lineups By Game is not available; you are limited to the default v RHS & LHS lineups.

BENCH ASSIGNMENTS

It’s a baseball cliché that winning is a 25-man effort, and you can give guidance to your Manager how to use the bench. As with pitching, of course, the Manager will judge what is best in the situation, but one of the primary factors considered is your guidelines. As with bullpen roles, the Manager will look first to whom you have listed in that role until it runs out of players you list.

NOTE: Players hit left- or right-handed pitching based on their ability to do so in real life going back as far as that data is available (currently the mid-1950’s). For players whose careers started before the mid-1950’s, we applied the average league L/R differential, except for some players who our research indicates were platoon-type players, in which case the differential applied was increased.

You can also specify specialized lineups that you want used only occasionally, for instance to rest a catcher on your terms and not the simulation’s.

STARTING ROTATION

You may use a 4-man rotation, a 5-man rotation or select a specific pitcher for each of your next 40 virtual days on your schedule. You may not assign a rotation slot to a pitcher who does not have the starter (SP) designation. Keep in mind that each week includes virtual off-days after every nine games. These off-days count when determining pitcher eligibility and rest/fatigue issues. Also, each week is a continuation of the previous one, so you can’t have a pitcher start game 18 of one week and then game 1 of the next.
NOTE: in accelerated play leagues (9 games per day), Pitchers By Game is not available; you are limited to the Pitching Rotation options described below.

To set a 4- or 5-man rotation, select “Pitching Rotation” under the DUGOUT menu. To set a 4-man rotation, just leave the fifth slot blank. To set the pitchers for each individual game, select “Pitchers by Game”. Under the rotation system, the Manager will follow the rotation as you list it, unless a pitcher is injured. But if you want to micro-manage or use more pitchers than the other rotation options allow, you may list a pitcher for each of the 18 games of the week and beyond. The last pitching system saved controls; if you save your “Pitchers by Game,” the computer will ignore the “Pitching Rotation” until the schedule advances past where you set the pitchers by game. NOTE: in accelerated play leagues (9 games per day), Pitchers By Game is not available; you are limited to the pitching rotation options (4- or 5-man rotation, Spot Starter and Ace options).

Under the Rotation system, there is also what we call the “Ace Option.” This instructs the Manager to follow the rotation as you list it except if your #1 starter has 3 off-days, in which case the Manager will start your Ace instead of the pitcher whose turn it normally would’ve been and bumps that pitcher and the others down a start.

You can also use the #5 slot in your Pitching Rotation for a Spot Starter. The #5 pitcher will only start a game if there is no other starting pitcher with 4 days' rest available to start. This Spot Starter option will also work with the Ace Option. The Manager will first look to see if the Ace has had three days' rest, then to who has had four days' rest, and only then at the #5 pitcher.

If one of the first four slots of your Pitching Rotation is left open (for example, because you released a pitcher or demoted one to your IR), before your next scheduled game the system will fill the slot for you. If you previously had set Pitchers by Game, the Pitching Rotation will then take precedence. To avoid this occurring, before you set your Pitchers by Game, make sure that at least the first four slots of your Pitching Rotation are filled.

BULLPEN ASSIGNMENTS

As you probably know, pitching change decisions are among the most difficult and potentially controversial decisions a Manager makes during a baseball game. As owner of your team, you can tell your Manager what pitchers you want in the traditional bullpen roles. The Manager will TRY to follow these instructions, and when deciding whether to go to the bullpen, will also consider the game situation (who’s coming up to bat, the score, the inning, base runners, bench, etc.), the current pitcher's fatigue and stamina, who’s available and not fatigued among the relievers, who’s available to pinch-hit for the opposition, and about a dozen other factors. We allow you to list up to three options for each bullpen role. 

IMPORTANT! Our game system is designed to optimize YOUR control. If you leave a role empty, the Manager does not know what you want.  If you do not list a pitcher in any role at all, the Manager will add that pitcher to the list of Mop-Up Men. If you leave all of your bullpen roles blank, the Manager views all of your relievers as Mop-Up Men, and will not distinguish between them in managing your bullpen.  This is not an effective bullpen management strategy.

TEAM INSTRUCTIONS

As owner and GM of your team, you can indicate how you want your team run. However, as in real life, you’re up in the "sky box" and the Manager is running the show on the field, so he will still ‘manage to the talent’. For example, you may set your instructions such that your team is most aggressive at stealing bases, but the Manager isn’t likely to send Willie Stargell or Cecil Fielder very often anyway, for obvious reasons. Your Team Instructions set your team’s philosophy. Select from 1 (“Do this as often as you can, Manager!”) to 5 (“Do this hardly at all”), with 3 being neutral (“Do what you think is best, Manager”). The types of play you can affect are:

OFFENSE:

PITCHING:

STRATEGY

INDIVIDUAL PLAYER INSTRUCTIONS

You may also tell the Manager to override your overall Team Managerial Instructions with Individual Player Instructions. Again, the Manager may disregard your instructions if it thinks best under the circumstances, but it will know and weigh in its decisions your general guidelines. On the Individual Player Instructions page, use the pull-down menu to select the player for whom you want to issue instructions different from the ones you gave for the Team. There is a list of the following categories for each player on your team. Select the number you want the Manager to follow instead of the Team Managerial Instructions for that category for that player. Player Instructions have one additional setting –- 6, for NEVER, EVER do this with this player. For example, you might not want the Manager to pinch-hit for Babe Ruth. You might decide to, which is your call, but we thought you might like to send a stronger message to your Manager.

If a box is left unchanged, the Manager will assume you want to use the Team Managerial Instructions for that particular player.

FOR HITTERS:

FOR PITCHERS:

Using Relievers/Closers. These settings indicate how aggressively the Manager should go to the bullpen with this pitcher already in the game. They have no impact on how often this pitcher is brought into the game in the first place. The Never setting for “Using Relievers” and “Using Closers” doesn’t really mean never. It would be highly unrealistic to ask a pitcher to stay in the game no matter how tired he gets or how hard he's being hit. The Manager always reserves the right to lift a tired or ineffective pitcher regardless of your tendencies, though it will stick with an ineffective pitcher longer if you choose “4”, “5”, or “Never”.

Instead, a setting of Never tells the Manager to keep this pitcher in the game until he gets tired, until he loses effectiveness, or until the opposing team creates a meaningful threat, whichever comes first. With this setting, the Manager won’t go to a Set-Up Man or Closer just because that potential reliever is a better pitcher.

TIP: If you want a closer to be used as often as possible, set the team’s manager instruction for “Using Closers” to “1”.

OPENING DAY!!!

The uniforms are clean, the grass is fresh and green, but there is still a chill in the air – maybe even snow! Yes, Diamond Mind Online® takes the weather into account, and that weather depends on how far along you are in the season. By now, you’ve set up your batting lineup, pitching rotation and bullpen roles, bench assignments, and Managerial instructions. Now, it’s time to…

PLAY BALL!!!

YOUR SCHEDULE

The season is 162 games. The number of games you play against each team depends on your league configuration. There are 3 games each day, Monday-Saturday, or, in accelerate leagues, three 3-game series each day. The first game (or series) will finish and be posted at about 3 am Eastern time, the next game at about noon Eastern time, and the final game at about 6 pm Eastern time. The season plays out much like a real one on the calendar. So, games early in the season will have the home park’s weather effects for, say, April, and likewise September weather for late in the season. We don’t have rainouts (although we do have rain delays), but weather matters. Wind can affect whether long fly balls stay in the park or not, and hot weather can fatigue pitchers a bit faster. Pitchers’ arms can tighten up during a rain delay. Hitters have more difficulty in cold weather. You might want to plan accordingly. Of course, the same weather affects your opponents!

WEEKLY INCOME

If you are in a Standard League or a Custom League with weekly income, the new money will appear in your team’s account every Saturday after your league starts.  (In an accelerated league, this "periodic" income is added ever two days, after 18 games have been played.) Your Bank Account will grow with the added income and any salary refunds when releasing players, and decline when you sign players. Your account balance also will be credited daily with interest, which in Standard Leagues is 5% per week (which is the "effective rate" of interest, so that the total at the end of the week of daily interest payments will equal 5% of your balance at the beginning of the week).  Note that in accelerated leagues there is no daily interest payable.

CASH ADVANCES

You may take out loans against future weekly income, but it’s expensive. In Standard Leagues, the Bank of Imagine Sports charges 15% interest … PER WEEK! But many baseball franchises mortgage their futures in go-for-broke gambles, so you can try it, too. Those interest charges can eat you alive, but it’s another tactical element for you to employ if you feel you need to sign a player now rather than waiting. Click on the link for “Bank Account” to see your current cash balance, income payment schedule, and maximum loan allowed. If you wish to take out a loan, simply follow the instructions and enter the amount. Once you agree to the loan, the interest is automatically deducted from your next week's income payments. Our system will limit your loan to the maximum amount you can borrow, including interest. In other words, you cannot go bankrupt!  Note that in accelerated leagues loans are not available.

WARNING! You cannot repay a loan and recoup your interest payments if you change your mind or borrow more money than you end up needing. HOWEVER, interest you earn on money in your account will partially offset interest you paid on the unused portion of your loan.

FREE AGENCY

Unless your league chooses different rules, you may release players and get a refund of 100% of their salaries at any time up until the season starts. Once the season does start, however, you only receive a refund of 75% of the salary in Standard Leagues. Custom Leagues can modify these percentages when setting up the league. Your Bank Account is increased by the amount refunded and reduced by the salary of the player you sign instead. (Single-Season leagues that use the Playing Time Limitation system have different rules; see the Introduction to the Single-Season Version of Dimaond Mind Online for more details.)

To release and sign players, use the Cash Worksheet (see below) or click on “Free Agency” under “FRONT OFFICE”. Follow the instructions there to sign and release players. The system will first ask you to specify the player you want to release and whether you wish to replace him with a position player or pitcher. The system will then provide you with the same selection methods available when drafting. When you wish to sign a player, click on that player just as when you draft. Keep in mind that our system will not allow you to do a release-and-sign if it would result in your having too few starting pitchers or too few pitchers overall. If the release-and-sign is acceptable, however, the system will then ask for confirmation. Once you click “YES”, there’s no turning back. The new player is on your team, and the released player rejoins the free agent player pool.

You can also do release-and-sign transactions using the Cash Worksheet.

CASH WORKSHEET

You can explore different approaches to improving your team with this tool. The "Cash Worksheet" (found under “FRONT OFFICE”) allows you to "bookmark" players you are considering signing, and calculates how much cash would be required for various free agency transaction combinations. If you don't have enough cash, it will calculate exactly how large of a loan would be required. You can then execute multiple transactions (sign/release/take loan) at once. Select a player you want to keep your eye on, and you will receive a notification email whenever this player is signed or released by another team, and he is added to your Cash Worksheet page. You can remove him from your Cash Worksheet page if you are no longer interested in him.

TRADES

After your league's draft has run and the 24-hour hold period expires, you may make trades if your league allows it. You may trade as many players as you like, and cash may be part of the deal. In order to mitigate the risk of collusion, however, we require that you trade an equal number of players, and any difference in the salaries of the players traded cannot exceed the Trade Deficit Limit (90% in Standard Leagues) or must be made up in cash. If there is not sufficient cash for a trade, you may want to consider a loan against your future income. Trades must also maintain the minimums regarding number of pitchers (total and Starters).

To propose a trade, click on the link for “Trades” under “FRONT OFFICE,” which is where you can find any trade proposals in the league. Click on the link for “Propose,” enter the other team, and check the box for the players you give up and the players you get. Our system will calculate the cash given up or received, which can be adjusted within the Trade Deficit Limit. Then click on the box to submit a trade offer, and the proposed trade will appear under “TRADES,” and the other team will also receive an email with your proposal. The other team may accept or refuse the trade offer, which will stay open until you withdraw it by clicking on the Withdraw link in the list of trades, or if either team makes a change that renders the proposed trade impossible (e.g., one team releases one of the players involved). If the other team accepts, the trade will take effect immediately. NO TRADE WILL TAKE EFFECT UNTIL ONE TEAM PROPOSES AND THE OTHER ACCEPTS.

NOTE ABOUT COLLUSION: Some people make transactions to help their friends. This is wrong. However, there is not much we can do to stop it. We’re on the honor system here. Collusion is a bit difficult anyway, since you must maintain roster size and stay within the salary cap. However, you may email us (support@ImagineSports.com) to report gross and/or repeated incidents of collusion or improper play. We reserve the right to make changes or reverse trades or other moves “not in the interest of fair play”. We cannot guarantee that we will take any action – we can’t possibly stay in business if we tried to monitor everything – but, we will try to check it out. If there is clear cheating going on, we reserve the right to suspend or expel owners and/or to reverse the offensive actions.

INJURIES

When a player is injured, you’ll receive notification on your FRONT PAGE when you sign on to your team and in your Box Score where the player was injured telling how many games the player will be out. You can change your line-up or rotation, or you can let the Manager do it for you.  When the player returns from injury, you will be notified as well, so you do not inadvertently overlook reactivating him should you wish to do so.

INACTIVE RESERVE

During the regular season, you will have injuries and may want to promote someone up to the active roster for a while. That’s the purpose of your Inactive Reserve, or IR. Think of it as your AAA team. To activate someone, click on “Activate Players” and follow the prompts to activate someone from your Reserve and deactivate one of your roster players. You aren’t required to move injured players to your Inactive Reserve, but you’ll be playing short-handed if you don’t.

NOTE: The only sure way to protect a player from injury or to make sure he gets rest and isn’t used by the Manager in a game or more is to put him on the IR.

TRANSACTION DEADLINES

You may make changes up until a few minutes before each game. The games start to run at their specified times, and any changes you make before that time should take affect immediately. HOWEVER, you are playing with fire if you wait until the last minute. You probably won’t make changes before each game or even each day and could go without making any for quite some time … it’s up to you.

WARNING! Whatever you do, we STRONGLY recommend against waiting until the last minute. We are not responsible if the internet is slow that day, your clock isn’t exactly the same as ours, or there is some hold-up in the processing right before a game.

THERE ARE TRADE AND FREE AGENT DEADLINES during the season! The trading deadline is 3 am ET the Monday before the first game of week 7, and the free agency deadline is 3 am ET the Monday before the first game of week 9. Please plan accordingly.

VIEWING YOUR RESULTS

When you sign on to your team, you may choose to view the basic box score with scoring summary or “watch” the game unfold. If you choose the latter, a play will be displayed every few seconds as if you were reading a radio announcer’s play-by-play calling of the game while you follow along. You don’t need to do this to enjoy Imagine Sports’s
Diamond Mind Online®, and you certainly don’t need to do so to win. But we thought it was a little something to add to the fun. If you want to watch the game with the suspense of not knowing the result, you can turn on our “Suspense Mode” by clicking on that link on your FRONT PAGE. When in Suspense Mode, the results of your games won’t appear until you click on “Box Score” or have watched the game, and your standings will not appear in your MY TEAMS or FRONT PAGE.

NOTE: To compress the game to a more reasonable length and keep the pace moving, the play-by-play skips pitches and plays that are incidental to the course of the game, such as some balls and strikes, some foul balls, and some pick-off throws.

THE END OF THE SEASON

When the season finishes, the division winners advance to the playoffs. If your team is in a Standard League or a Custom League that has the wild card, the best second-place team in the league will make the playoffs as well. Each round of the playoffs is a best-of-seven series.

TIES. If there is a tie for a playoff spot at the end of the regular season, there is a tie-breaker system to break the tie. That system is:

1. Best head-to-head record

2. The greatest run differential for Wild Card; Division record for Division

3. Division record for Wild Card; Greatest run differential for Division

4. Coin toss

NOTE: We do realize that real baseball uses a 1-game playoff to break ties, but this is difficult given the limitations of online automated play. At some point in the future, we hope to add this feature.

In case of a three-way tie, or greater, the first tie-break is whether one team had a winning record against each other tied team, in which case it wins the tie-break.  If not, then if the tie is for the division lead, the next tie-break is division record, then run differential; if the tie is for the wild card, the next tie-break is run differential, with coin toss to break any remaining ties.

THE PLAYOFFS!

May you need to know about this section often!

The number of rounds depends on the number of teams in your league. In Standard Leagues, there will be 2 rounds, the LCS and the World Series. Each is best of seven in a 2-3-2 format, meaning that Team A (the one with home-field advantage) hosts games 1 and 2 and then, if necessary, games 6 and 7, while the team without home-field advantage hosts games 3 and 4 and, if necessary, game 5. Games are played one series per day (except Sunday) (Turbo leagues have the same virtual schedule but an accelerated sim schedule).

There two virtual days off between the end of the season and the first game of the post-season; two virtual days off between the LCS and World Series; and one virtual day off between games 2 and 3 and games 5 and 6 of each series.  Successive series will always start on the virtual date they would have started had the preceding series gone seven days, regardless of whether the preceding series finish earlier. The team with the best record will have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, except that the wild card never has home-field advantage. The team with the best record will host the wild card, unless the wild card comes from the same division, in which case the team with the best record will host the team with the worst record that is not a wild card. The team with the second-best record will play the other playoff team.

In Custom Leagues, the number of teams and whether there is a wild card determines the number of rounds.

In two-team “leagues” there is no World Series, but if the league ends in a tie, there is a one-game winner-take-all playoff. Four and six-team leagues comprise a single division, with a best-of-seven World Series between the first and second place teams. Eight-team leagues are comprised of two four-team divisions, with the winner of each division squaring off in a best-of-seven World Series.

Home-field advantage is determined by won-loss record in the regular season. If there is a tie for home-field advantage, the tie will be broken by the same tie-breaking system as for playoff spots described above.

MANAGING DURING THE PLAYOFFS

The deadline for setting your playoff roster is 12 midnight PT on the date Game #1 is played. You cannot make any roster changes during a playoff series. However, you can make roster changes between playoff series. All of the same rules and controls for managing your team during the regular season apply during the playoffs and World Series.  Injuries, pitcher and catcher usage carry over from the regular season to the playoffs. You cannot start a pitcher on fewer than 3 days’ rest, and you should assume fatigue factors will apply to pitchers. So if you start a pitcher who’s not very durable on 3 days’ rest, you might pay a price for it in performance, perhaps a severe one. There may be injuries during the playoffs, so be prepared.

Good luck!

In a 24-team league, the winners of the championship series in each association are awarded 1000 tokens (500 in Accelerated leagues; 250 in Turbo leagues).  If you win the World Series of any league, you get a free team (tokens to the value of a team for the type of league - custom, standard, accelerated, turbo) to try to do it again!

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