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Retro Computer Baseball Game Review – Tony La Russa Baseball II

This is the fourteenth entry in a series focusing on computer baseball simulations to supplement the chapter “Play Retro Baseball Video Games In Your Browser” from my Hardball Retroactive book along with the corresponding post at Baseball Analytics. The series focuses on baseball simulations – games in which the primary emphasis is on managerial strategy and the ability to replay entire seasons with a degree of realism. Baseball video games that are strictly arcade representations of baseball (based solely on reflex and hand-eye coordination) are excluded.

IBM PC version

Tony La Russa Baseball II (IBM PC – DOS) main display

Tony La Russa Baseball II

Publisher – Strategic Simulations Inc.

Release Year – 1993

Platforms – IBM PC

Credits

Game Design:    Don Daglow
Strategy:             Tony La Russa
Game Design and Programming:Hudson Piehl
Game Design:Mark Buchignani
Programming:Clay Dreslough
Art Director:David Bunnett
Lead Artist:David Clemons
Stadium Artists:Kenn Berry, David Clemons, Dimitri Detchev, Marina Goldberg, Wes Jenkins, Delphine Louie, Steve Paris, William M. Sullivan
Close-up Replay Animations:Steve Paris, Marina Goldberg, Kim Tempest
Music:David Govett
Play-by-Play Announcer:Ron Barr
Producer:Nicholas Beliaeff
Associate Producer:Jason Ray
Statistics Coordinator:Katie Jack

Review

Tony La Russa Baseball II, the second in a series of four titles developed by Stormfront Studios (previously known as Beyond Software), introduced major upgrades over its predecessor. Roster sizes expanded from 30 to 40 players per team, an assortment of stadiums were either included or offered in an expansion disk and Ron Barr voiced the play-by-play commentary. The user now has the ability to view scores of other games in progress along with the option to store box scores and find results that contain special events such as no-hitters and cycles with ease. Managerial profiles enhance the game by allowing you the option to customize the computer manager’s strategic tendencies for each ball club.

Originally released in 1993, an updated version (1.3R) shipped in the “1994 Edition” to accommodate MLB divisional realignment and incorporate several fixes to the original game code.  Since I have both versions I opted to install and review the 1994 Edition. The main menu consists of 5 options: Baseball, Season, Manager, Utilities and Home Plate. Choose the baseball icon and a sub-menu appears. You can play an exhibition game, load a previously saved game, view the credits or general help instructions, or exit from the application. If installed, the Fantasy Draft (initially an expansion pack but later integrated into the ’94 edition) is also accessible from the Baseball menu. Fantasy Draft facilitates the drafting of entirely new leagues from the pool of available players. The inclinations of every General Manager can be tweaked to focus on specific player types or organizational approaches. Your GM can opt to look for power, speed, pitching, defense, a customized ranking among those classifications, or they can simulate La Russa’s team-building preferences. Draft options include the order (cycle, snake or random), salary cap and scale (real world dollars vs. Rotisserie-style) and style (auction vs. draft). The Season menu grants the ability to begin a new season, play a scheduled game or review the calendar for upcoming games that you wish to manage. Game and box scores are available here along with the ability to schedule an All-Star contest and view playoff results.  The Manager menu permits roster, lineup and pitching alterations. You can ask “Tony” for advice regarding your pitching rotation, batting orders and defensive alignment versus left and right-handed hurlers. If you wish to override La Russa’s suggestions, simply click the Restore button to revert the proposed changes. Amendments to the manager profiles can be implemented here as well. Sliding scales enable adjustments for in-game tactics and lineup selection (the computer skipper will inevitably need to substitute for an injured player). League configuration tasks such as editing player statistics, team names and uniform colors are handled via the Utilities menu. You can initiate trades, sort through league leaders in dozens of categories, team totals and individual statistics, assign stadiums to each club, and import stats. The Home Plate icon aids in the viewing and printing of statistics, either to a printer or a file. Context-specific Help can be accessed here. TLBB2 comes with 26 classic teams, 26 “All-Time Teams” (one per franchise) and 2 All-Star teams. Season disks were available for purchase.   

I conducted a draft using a player pool from the classic teams in order to assemble rosters from my Retro World Baseball Classic research (Baseball Birthplaces and the Retro World Baseball Classic), based on the 1961-1980 teams. After the draft ended, I manually entered the statistics for the players who were on the Retro WBC rosters but missing from the Classic Teams in TLBB2. I prepared the lineups, pitching rotations and defensive alignments, assigned a stadium to each team (choosing ballparks in close proximity to their Retro WBC team locations whenever possible) and opted to utilize the default managerial profile for all teams. Once the season commenced, I tasked TLBB2 with the simulation of a week’s worth of games so I could periodically peruse the box scores, leaderboards and check each team for injuries. In the event that an injured player would miss a substantial amount of games (generally 7 or more days unavailable), I intervened to substitute the appropriate bench or reserve player while documenting temporary lineup or rotation changes. The roster automatically expands from 25 to 40 players on September 1. The Retro WBC 1961-1980 Rosters complete with lineups, rotations and schedule are available here for TLBB2 ->

https://www.mediafire.com/folder/w2g51qnn2dm3v/TLBB2

Note:  Download and extract 6180W.zip to your Tony2\Teams subfolder.  Open TLBB2 and select Utilities -> Change Leagues. Select 6180W from the list. Go to Season -> Standings and confirm all teams have a record of 0-0 and the date is April 1.

A quick rundown of the Retro WBC 1961-1990 season is presented below along with standings, league leaders and team totals, followed by the team-by-team batting and pitching breakdowns. For the World Series, I exported the box scores and play-by-play scripts from every contest.

Retro World Baseball Classic: 1961-1980 Regular Season

Ohio (20-7) and California (21-6) sprinted out of the gates while it was evident that Puerto Rico (4-23) and the Mexico / Central America (7-20) squads were going to be in for a long season. Al Oliver (.356 BA) and Carl Yastrzemski (.291/15/30) set the offensive pace through April. On the mound, Tom Seaver posted a 5-0 record with a 1.82 ERA through 6 starts. Knuckleballer Phil Niekro (4-0, 0.86) limited the opposition to 3 earned runs in 39 2/3 innings.

USA Southeast triumphed in 19 contests to claim the top spot in the Eastern Division. The eventual league batting champion Rod Carew (.368) along with runner-up Rico Carty (.335) assumed the top two slots in the rankings as the calendar turned to June. Koji Yamamoto of the Canada-Europe-Japan team tied “Yaz” for the home run lead with 24 apiece. Dean Chance paced all hurlers with an ERA of 1.19. J.R. Richard (82) and Mario Soto (80) battled for the top spot on the strikeout charts.

Pennsylvania pulled into contention with 20 victories in the month of June. Yamamoto blasted 11 round-trippers in June to overtake Yastrzemski. Carew paced the circuit with 111 base hits entering July while Willie “Pops” Stargell rapped a League-leading 29 doubles. The race for the stolen base crown featured Rickey Henderson and Tim Raines (39 each) followed closely by Billy North with 38. USA Southeast lefty Mike Caldwell topped the leaderboards with 13 wins against 1 loss. Tom Seaver (113 strikeouts) was one of four starters to surpass the century mark in whiffs at the halfway point, joined by J.R. Richard (108), Mario Soto (106) and Nolan Ryan (104). Jim Kern (18 saves, 0.28 ERA) and Ron Perranoski (18 saves) ranked tops among closers along with Rich “Goose” Gossage (17 saves). Chance (1.26 ERA) retained a significant advantage in the ERA category over runner-ups Seaver and Gaylord Perry (2.14).

USA South overtook California in the Western Division after averaging 17 wins per month since May 1.  The batting and home run leaders maintained their positions as July came to a close. Yamamoto (41) outpaced Yastrzemski in dingers as Dave Kingman (33), Rico Petrocelli (31) and Mike Schmidt joined the 30-homer club. No less than twelve speedsters pilfered at least 30 bases. Three flamethrowers were tied atop the strikeout charts with 145 – J.R. Richard, Tom Seaver and Mario Soto. Southpaw Dave A. Roberts lowered his ERA to 2.27, nearly a run higher than Dean Chance’s 1.36 mark.

Rickey Henderson aka “The Man of Steal” took a commanding lead with 72 stolen bases, 9 ahead of fellow outfielder Billy North. Mike Caldwell (18-5) maintained the leadership in the wins column over Mike Scott (17-6). Rich Gossage (28) surged into the lead in saves, one ahead of Ron Perranoski. Rosters expanded to 40 per ball club on September 1 and several non-contenders responded by shuffling a few of their battered hurlers into long relief. John Candelaria (56 HR allowed) and Juan Berenguer (52 HR allowed) were among those who found themselves demoted to lesser roles.

Mike Schmidt pulled even with Koji Yamamoto with 50 circuit clouts each as the campaign careened towards its conclusion. Schmidt paced a group of 10 batters with at least 100 RBI. Ohio’s precarious lead in the East stood at two games ahead of USA Southeast while USA South preserved a 3 1/2 game advantage over California on October 1. Rod Carew sustained a 10-point cushion in batting average over Rico Carty.  Texas’ reliever Donnie Moore tied Rich Gossage with 30 saves. Four starting pitchers eclipsed the 20-win plateau – Mike Caldwell, Jim Palmer, Dave A. Roberts and Mike Scott.

Perennial batting champion Rod Carew (Mexico-Central America) secured another title with a .363 BA despite a long-year threat mounted by the “Beeg Boy” Rico Carty (.355). Representing the Dominican Republic squad, Carty outpaced Carew and Koji Yamamoto in on-base percentage, .450 to .421. Yamamoto slugged .662 for the Canada-Europe-Japan club to register the top spot ahead of Ohio third-sacker Mike Schmidt (.630). Carty (216), Carew (207) and California shortstop Alan Trammell (201) surpassed the 200-hit mark. Illinois teammates Wes Parker (45) and Fred Lynn (44) placed one-two on the doubles chart while Carew, Dave Parker (USA South) and Manny Trillo (Carribean-South America) ended in a three-way tie for triples. A late-season injury allowed Schmidt (54) to edge Yamamoto (53) for the home run crown. Jack Clark (Pennsylvania) embodied the “Three True Outcomes” with 37 blasts and a League-best 140 walks while placing runner-up to Texas third baseman Billy Grabarkewitz (155) with 149 strikeouts. Schmidt emerged as the RBI leader, outdistancing George Foster (USA South), 138 to 133. Yutaka Fukumoto (Canada-Europe-Japan) tallied 129 runs, four more than Rickey Henderson (Illinois). However, Henderson aka the “Man of Steal” nabbed another title as his 91 stolen bases firmly trounced the 77 swipes recorded by his principal opponent, Billy North (USA West).

Tony La Russa Baseball II allows the user to store the box scores for all games played by a specific team or all teams on their hard drives. Additionally you can select from twelve “special” box score categories in order to search for highlights, such as hitting for the cycle, no-hitters, etc. Individual single-game feats documented during the regular season included a no-no by Juan Berenguer (Mexico-Central America), seven one-hitters, seven contests in which a slugger belted 3 home runs, and a pair of batters who hit for the cycle.  Twenty players posted 5 or more hits in a game including opponents in the same game (Ron Cey & Davey Lopes, June 24) and teammates in the same game (Larry Hisle & Al Oliver, Sept. 30). Four batters achieved the feat twice: Rod Carew, Ken Griffey, Dave “Cobra” Parker and Willie “Pops” Stargell. Griffey and Parker deserved special mention as Griffey notched 6 safeties on September 26 and Parker racked up 12 RBI with his 5-for-5 performance on July 26!

Regular Season – Batting Highlights

Regular Season – Pitching Highlights

Wins by Month

EASTAprMayJunJulAugSepOctTotal
Ohio201613111516899
USA Southeast181911141512998
Pennsylvania121220161211689
USA Northeast161614151110789
Dominican Republic1614157169984
Illinois121013171115583
New York151611121013683
Puerto Rico4115754238
WESTAprMayJunJulAugSepOctTotal
USA South111716181413897
California211510121513894
USA Midwest121616101313989
Canada, Europe, Japan121512111514685
Texas81413141114983
USA West1591215125573
Caribbean & South America171171169364
Mexico & Central America75119113248

Retro WBC 1961-1980 Regular Season

Final Standings and League Leaders

Rosters

Team-by-Team Statistics

Team Totals

Retro WBC 1961-1980 World Series

I took the managerial reins for the USA South ball club while Tony La Russa strategized for the Ohioans. Dean Chance (14-5, 1.76) and Ron Guidry (13-9, 2.77) faced off in Game 1 at Riverfront Stadium. “Louisiana Lightning” was lit up like a Christmas tree and yanked in the second frame trailing 7-0 after yielding gopher balls to Jimmy Wynn, Garry Maddox and Mike Schmidt. USA South scratched a pair of runs across in the fifth on a RBI groundout by Johnny Bench and an infield hit by Ozzie Smith. Frank Linzy allowed two inherited runners to score in the bottom of the fifth and then served up a grand slam to Ohio backstop Thurman Munson. Shortstop Eddie Brinkman belted a two-run shot off Chuck Taylor to extend the lead to 15-2. Bench along with pinch-hitter Rusty Staub delivered RBI singles against reliever Kent Tekulve, but the submariner retired Cleon Jones and “The Wizard of Oz” to wrap up the blowout. Pinch-runner Amos Otis twisted his ankle during a pinch-running appearance in the ninth and the South recalled Lyman Bostock to take his place on the roster.

The USA South squad, still reeling from the beatdown issued by Ohio in the first contest, sent crafty right-hander Don “Black & Decker” Sutton (19-13, 3.84) to the hill. The Buckeyes countered with knuckleballer Phil Niekro (17-9, 3.47). In the bottom of the first, Sal Bando singled to center to knock in Al Oliver with the game’s first tally. Ron Oester, a .242 batter with only one homer in the regular season, connected with a Sutton offering for a solo shot in the bottom of the second. Following a base hit by Eddie Brinkman, left fielder Pete Rose cranked a round-tripper over the right field wall to increase Ohio’s advantage to 4-0. The match swiftly descended into a carbon copy of Game 1. With a depleted bullpen, Sutton remained on the bump as the Ohio lumberjacks took turns pummeling his pitches. The home team opened the inning with four straight safeties and a walk to extend their lead to 6-0. In his second bases loaded situation in as many days, Thurman Munson clubbed a deep fly ball to the opposite field. The dejected hurler could only watch in disbelief as “Tugboat” circled the bases – grand salami! Potential Game 4 starter Doyle Alexander was pressed into a long relief role and struggled initially to stop the bleeding. Rose ripped a run-scoring double to register Ohio’s eleventh run before the inning came to its’ conclusion. Bobby Murcer put the South on the board with an RBI base knock in the top of the fifth and Tommy Harper lofted an opposite-field long ball into the right-field seats in the subsequent frame. Alexander settled in and cruised into the bottom of the sixth when he suddenly signaled the trainer and walked off the mound. Diagnosed as a sore arm, Alexander was forced to miss the rest of the Series. Reliever Ken Tatum twirled an inning and one-third of scoreless ball. Lee Smith entered the contest in the home half of the eighth, looking to get some work in. The move backfired as Smith was torched for 6 runs after allowing 9 opponents to reach base. Niekro struck out 7 in 8.2 innings and Doug Bair retired Lyman Bostock for the final out. Brinkman racked up 5 hits and Ohio outscored the opposition 32-6 as the Series shifted to Houston, Texas.

J.R. Richard (17-5, 2.79) received the starting assignment for Game 3 with his team trailing in the Series, 2 games to none, and staggered by the fireworks generated by their opponent’s lineup. Crafty southpaw Bob Knepper (14-11, 5.47) got the nod for Ohio. Tommy Harper sparked the South when he singled, stole second and came around on a Willie Wilson two-base hit in the bottom of the second. One inning later, Dave “Cobra” Parker uncoiled on a Knepper changeup and blasted a two-run bomb into the second deck in right field. The visitors broke up Richard’s shutout in the fifth when Sal Bando launched a long ball to left-center. Batting from the right side against Knepper in the home half of the sixth inning, Ozzie Smith drilled a shot towards the center field fence. Garry Maddox aka “The Secretary of Defense” drifted back and made a leaping attempt at the wall, but he came down empty handed. The folks in the stands went crazy as the “Wizard” rounded the bases. This was a stunning development as Smith had not left the yard during the regular season! Johnny Bench provided an insurance run with a solo shot in the eighth frame. Jimmy Wynn cranked a four-bagger off the left field foul pole in the ninth, but it was not enough as Richard spun a complete game four-hitter to earn the victory and save his ball club from a 3-0 deficit.

Ron Guidry was seeking redemption for his dreadful effort in the Series opener and he locked horns with Joe Niekro (12-15, 4.10). Both hurlers tossed scoreless ball into the sixth frame, when Niekro got into a bit of trouble. Willie Stargell ripped a line drive that dropped in front of Garry Maddox in center for a base hit. George Foster followed with a nearly identical hot smash, advancing “Pops” to second base. Niekro whiffed Dave Parker for the second out of the inning but Johnny Bench belted a hanging knuckler into the “batter’s eye” in center field for a 3-run dinger. The “Gator” held a 3-0 lead heading into the top of the eighth. After Eddie Brinkman laced a clean single to center, Pete Rose reached base when Stargell booted his grounder to first. However, “Pops” recovered quickly and gunned down a startled Brinkman as he raced for third! Jimmy Wynn went down on strikes for the second out. Mike Schmidt drove a slider from Guidry into the right-field seats for a two-run jack, clipping USA South’s advantage to 3-2. Guidry departed and his replacement, Chuck Taylor, yielded successive singles to Sal Bando and Al Oliver before retiring Thurman Munson to end the threat. Lee Smith rebounded from a horrific outing in Game 2 to pitch a hitless ninth inning as the South knotted the Series at two games apiece.

Bob Veale (4-2, 2.87) was activated off the USA South reserve roster to replace Doyle Alexander and he was pressed into a starting assignment as Vida Blue (injured list) and Don Sutton were unavailable. Ohio returned to the top of their rotation with Dean Chance making his second appearance in the Series. Veale loaded the bases in the top of the first and yielded a pair of runs on an RBI single off the bat of Thurman Munson and a walk to Garry Maddox. Veale’s control issues continued in the second inning as he issued free passes to Pete Rose and Jimmy Wynn. He managed to strike out Mike Schmidt but got behind in the count to Sal Bando. The designated hitter crushed a fastball over the right-center field wall to stake the Buckeyes to a 5-0 lead. Chuck Taylor trotted out of the bullpen as Veale headed to the showers. Taylor held Ohio scoreless for 2 1/3 innings and his mates tallied twice in the bottom of the fifth on a Bill Madlock RBI double and a fielder’s choice groundout by Willie Wilson to cut the gap to 5-2. Schmidt demolished a Cecil Upshaw change-of-pace in the sixth and Wynn went yard after Frank Linzy plunked Rose with two outs in the top of the seventh. USA South answered with two runs in the bottom of the frame. Dave Parker and Lyman Bostock reached on consecutive singles. Parker scored on a double by Ozzie Smith and Bostock crossed the dish on a slow roller by Wilson. Following a scoreless inning from the reliable arm of Ken Tatum and with the South behind by 4 runs entering the ninth, Lee Smith strolled in from the ‘pen. In a performance reminiscent of his Game 2 outing, Smith poured gasoline on the fire as the Ohioans erupted for 4 runs. Pete Rose laced a hard single to right and Wynn coaxed a walk. The “Toy Cannon” rolled his ankle but safely slid into second on a fielder’s choice by Schmidt. Bando’s sharp grounder skipped through the infield and into left, scoring “Charlie Hustle” and moving pinch-runner Larry Hisle to third. Al Oliver connected on a 3-run circuit clout to center and Smith kicked the dirt in the front of the mound, wishing he had that pitch back. In the home ninth, Lou Brock and Bostock delivered back-to-back two-base hits to chase Chance from the contest. Al Oliver fractured his fibula as he fielded a bounding ball off the bat of Rusty Staub. Doug Bair whiffed the next two batters to send the Series back to Ohio with his club ahead, 3 games to 2.

The crowd buzzed with anticipation as they filtered into Riverfront Stadium. The hometown team took the field and veteran right-hander Phil Niekro strolled to the mound to take his warmup tosses. After a rousing rendition of the National Anthem, the home plate umpire cried “Play Ball!” and the match got underway. “Knucksie” yielded a one-out single to Bobby Murcer and a walk to Willie Stargell, but he escaped unharmed when George Foster and Dave Parker flailed helplessly at his flutterball. Vida Blue sauntered out to the hill in the bottom of the opening frame, taking the ball for the first time in a month after recovering from a hamstring injury. “True Blue” coasted through the first 3 innings as he traded goose-eggs with Niekro. Ohio third baseman Mike Schmidt launched a long ball in the bottom of the fourth to put his ball club on the scoreboard. Blue faltered in the sixth as he yielded back-to-back gopher balls to Jimmy Wynn and Sal Bando. The southpaw was beginning to show signs of fatigue following the extended layoff due to injury. Though Blue struck out 11 through 6 frames, his manager relieved him of his responsibilities as Cecil Upshaw came in to pitch in the seventh inning. “Schmitty” clubbed a one-out four-bagger into the left field seats extending the Buckeyes’ lead to 4-0. Niekro was cruising along with a shutout into the eighth when he stumbled a bit. Murcer delivered a base hit and the speedy Lou Brock entered the contest as a pinch-runner. One out later, Foster coaxed a base on balls which prompted the Ohio skipper to emerge from the dugout. After a brief conference with Niekro and Thurman Munson, Doug Bair was summoned from the bullpen. Dave Parker had an opportunity to drive in Brock at the very least, or if he could get a hold of one, make it a 1-run game. Instead he hit a worm-burner to Ron Oester for the third out. Tommy Harper blasted a big fly to left-center in the top of the ninth off Bair, but Rollie Fingers quashed the South’s comeback attempt as Willie Wilson grounded out to Eddie Brinkman to end the Series as Ohio claimed the trophy with their fourth victory!

Several candidates emerged for World Series MVP honors. Eddie Brinkman compiled a .542 BA (13 hits in 24 at-bats). Thurman Munson supplied a pair of grand slams and drove in 10 runs. Mike Schmidt bashed 5 round-trippers and knocked in 9 baserunners. Dean Chance and Phil Niekro (1.10 ERA) both pitched 16 1/3 innings and won both of their starts. In a close call, “Schmitty” seized the award with a .345 BA (10-for-29) to supplement his home run exploits.

Retro WBC 1961-1980 World Series Boxscores

Ratings

Graphics – [5]The batter / pitcher matchups are rendered from a behind home plate perspective. The offensive and defensive strategy menus are briefly displayed along the first and third base lines, then the hurler delivers the pitch. You can toggle the scrolling option such that the camera pans according to the path of the ball if scrolling is enabled, otherwise the view cuts to the location where the ball is destined to land. The fly ball cursor helps track balls in flight (especially useful in arcade-style play). Portraits, last names, and the historical ERA or BA of the current pitcher and batter are presented in the bottom left and right-hand corners of the screen. The scoreboard resides between the portraits, detailing the current score and inning along with the ball-strike count and the number of outs.  The player graphics incorporate diving stops and leaping grabs while umpires are added to the mix, making animated safe or out calls. Canned replay video is shown on the Jumbotron monitor if this option is enabled, or you can press the ‘R’ (replay) button to review the actual play.

Sound – [2]The organ belts out the last few bars of the “Star-Spangled Banner”. The announcer, Ron Barr, identifies himself and welcomes the listener to the specific ballpark where today’s game is being played. Authentic sounds include the crack of the bat and the ball meeting the glove. “Charge!” is played by stadium’s organist at the appropriate times. The crowd remains silent when an opponent launches a long ball. Barr provides scoring updates, lineup announcements by fielding position (“Now batting, the center fielder”) and some play-by-play commentary (“High fly ball.. up the alley to left.. it’s a home run!) The game still suffers from a lack of ambient crowd noise and minimal cheering as with the case with Tony La Russa’s Ultimate Baseball.

Strategy – [4] The defensive team has a selection of three standard pitches (fastball, curve, changeup) along with one that is contingent upon the current hurler’s specialty (slider, knuckleball, screwball, etc.) The skipper can elect to hold a runner on first base or play off the bag, pitch around the batter, attempt to catch a baserunner with a pitchout, or deliver an intentional walk. The playing depth and alignment can be adjusted on a per-batter basis. Offensive options include the hit & run, steal or double steal, or the coach can advise the batter to take a pitch with runners on base. Before each at-bat you can guide your batsmen to try to hit for power, choke up and hit for contact, or direct them to execute a bunt. One or two relievers can be called upon to warm up in the bullpen, but take care not to allow them to remain active in the bullpen indefinitely or they will become fatigued. Normal substitutions are permitted along with the double switch. When facing a computer manager, you will receive notifications when your opponent has pitcher(s) warming in the ‘pen and when they substitute players during the game.

Artificial Intelligence – [4] – Customized manager profiles enable the granular configuration of each team’s skipper with regard to lineup selection and game-level strategy. “Tony” effectively handles the in-game decisions with enhanced algorithms, giving the illusion that you’re facing a human opponent.

Box Score – [3] – Upon completing of a contest (or if you’ve opted to save box scores during League Play) you can sift among four screens worth of data. The visitor and home batting screens include the player’s names with fielding positions in parentheses listed in descending order based on their slot in the batting order. Substitutes are indented to clearly denote them as such. Pitching results are also separated into home and away teams, with the top half enumerating the participants in their order of appearance. The bottom section of the pitching display contains the line score while the mid-section reports the hurlers credited with a win, loss and save along with the time, attendance and location. Twelve categories are tabulated for batters and eleven are recorded for pitchers. If the number of participants exceeded 18 batters or 9 pitchers in a given match, which is possible when rosters expand to 40 in September, you can click on MORE to view the additional contributors.

Rosters – [4] The 25-man active rosters are comprised of 15 position players and 10 pitchers. Reserves have expanded to 15 players (9 batters and 6 pitchers). The computer General Manager will make suitable substitutions during league play for injured players but you may override those selections. The Fantasy Draft add-on utility aids in the formation of new leagues with an abundance of choices, such as draft order and type, salary cap, player pools, etc.   

Statistics – [5]Historical and simulated statistics along with team totals can be viewed throughout the season via the Utilities – Statistical Leaders option. You may sort on any of the available categories and filter by best/worst, leagues (both, AL or NL-only), all players/one team/by position, and vs. RHP/vs. LHP or total stats. Editing individual players allows the user to select a player portrait, change their historical statistics and edit totals or split stats. Offensive ratings such as speed, power, bunt, hit and run, clutch and pitching grades including control, velocity, endurance, pickoff, release and quality and enhanced with the esoteric assessments:  morale, leadership, streak and day/night.

Usage/Injuries/Ejections – [5]If you choose to play with Injuries enabled, any player can be knocked out of commission for up to 30 games. Fatigue is a factor for pitchers, denoted by a number and an “R” listed in the Days Unavailable column. Injured players are not permitted to participate in league games until they fully recover from their ailments. Fatigued hurlers can be used at the risk of pitching poorly along with an increased likelihood of injury. Ejections do not exist in TLBB2. 

Ballparks / Park Factors – [4]TLBB2 comes with 11 classic ballparks – Baker Bowl, Connie Mack Stadium, L.A. Coliseum, Old Comiskey Park, Crosley Field, etc. Additional stadium disks (AL, NL and expansion parks) could be purchased, increasing the number of available ballparks up to 39. Park effects are factored into each stadium, comprised of altitude, wind speed and direction, average humidity and temperature.

Commentary – [2]Ron Barr of Sports Byline USA fame lends his voice to the play-by-play. The dialogue is limited and repetitive, as Barr does not announce the players by name:  “Now batting, the catcher.. Hot grounder to short.. He throws to first. One away.” Given the physical media limitations of the day (’93 and ’94 editions were issued on multiple 3.5” floppy disks instead of CD-ROM, hard drive capacity on most home PC’s was minimal), I recognize the constraints and welcome the added flavor.

Scale:  Ratings from 1 (worst) to 5 (best)

Total Score: 38 out of 50

Enhancements and Features

FeatureTLUBTLBB IITLBB IIITLBB IV
View Scores of Games In ProgressNOYESYESYES
Scheduling Options162 Games, 81 Games or Round Robin162 Games, 81 Games, Round Robin or Generated162 Games, 81 Games, Round Robin or Generated162 Games, 81 Games, Round Robin or Generated
Roster Slots15 batters, 10 pitchers, 5 reserves (2 Pit/3 Bat)15 batters, 10 pitchers, 15 reserves (6 Pit/9 Bat)15 batters, 10 pitchers, 15 reserves (6 Pit/9 Bat)15 batters, 10 pitchers, 15 reserves (6 Pit/9 Bat)
Long Relief, Setup, Closer designationNONOYESYES
Park FactorsNOYESYESYES
Manager ProfilesNOYESYESYES
Automatic ReplaysNOYESYESYES
Quick off the FieldNOYESYESYES
ScrollingNOYESYESYES
Animation SpeedNOYESYESYES
Camera ViewFIXEDFIXEDBatter or PitcherBatter or Pitcher
# Stadiums111 Classic Stadiums included, Add-on Disks for AL/NL/Exp. Teams28 Current Stadiums as of 199528 Current Stadiums as of 1996
Special Box Scores (Games of Note)NOYESYESYES
How They ScoredNOYES  
All-Star GameNOYESYESYES
Roster Expansion after September 1NOYESYESYES
League NewsNONONOYES
GM ChallengeNONOYESYES
Fantasy DraftNOYES (add-on disk or 1994 Edition)YESYES
Trade OffersNONONOYES
Free AgentsNONONOYES
AnnouncersNORon BarrMel Allen, Hank Greenwald, Lon SimmonsMel Allen, Hank Greenwald, Lon Simmons
Teams 54 Classic Teams included, Season Disks available 1996 MLB Teams
# Leagues / Divisions / TeamsMax. 2 Leagues, 2 Divisions, 32 TeamsMax. 2 Leagues, 2 Divisions, 32 Teams (Note: TLBB2 ’94 allows for 3 divisions)Max. 2 Leagues, 3 Divisions, 32 TeamsMax. 2 Leagues, 3 Divisions, 32 Teams

Observations

Tony La Russa Baseball 2 leapt to the forefront of graphical baseball simulations in 1993. A combination of major enhancements (beautifully illustrated stadiums, voice commentary and myriad tweaks to the original version) in conjunction with the demise of the Earl Weaver Baseball series and the stagnation of MicroLeague allowed the La Russa Baseball series to position itself as the leader in the genre. Sadly the MLB players strike in 1994 coupled with the subsequent cancellation of the World Series and lockout in ’95 Spring Training greatly affected sales of the follow-up TLBB3 product and ultimately knocked Stormfront Studios out of the baseball business after the release of TLBB4 in 1997. Circling back to “Tony2”, I had a blast with this game and urge you to track it down and try it out!

Please add a comment below if you spent a significant amount of time and/or have any recollections of Tony La Russa Baseball II.  

Screenshots

Tony La Russa Baseball II Tony La Russa Baseball II Tony La Russa Baseball II Tony La Russa Baseball II Tony La Russa Baseball II Tony La Russa Baseball II Tony La Russa Baseball II Tony La Russa Baseball II Tony La Russa Baseball II Tony La Russa Baseball II Tony La Russa Baseball II Tony La Russa Baseball II Tony La Russa Baseball II Tony La Russa Baseball II Tony La Russa Baseball II Tony La Russa Baseball II

Articles in the Series

SSI Computer Baseball Retro Computer Baseball Game Review – SSI Computer Baseball
Computer Statis Pro Baseball Retro Computer Baseball Game Review –Computer Statis Pro Baseball
MicroLeague Baseball Retro Computer Baseball Game Review – MicroLeague Baseball
Avalon Hill Pro Manager / Major League Manager Retro Computer Baseball Game Review – Avalon Hill Pro Manager / Major League Manager
Pure-Stat Baseball Retro Computer Baseball Game Review – Pure-Stat Baseball
Monday Morning Manager Retro Computer Baseball Game Review – Monday Morning Manager
Radio Baseball Retro Computer Baseball Game Review – Radio Baseball
Earl Weaver Baseball Retro Computer Baseball Game Review – Earl Weaver Baseball
Full Count Baseball Retro Computer Baseball Game Review – Full Count Baseball
MicroLeague Baseball IV Retro Computer Baseball Game Review – MicroLeague Baseball II – III – IV
Tony La Russa’s Ultimate Baseball Retro Computer Baseball Game Review – Tony La Russa’s Ultimate Baseball
Earl Weaver Baseball II Retro Computer Baseball Game Review – Earl Weaver Baseball II
APBA Baseball Retro Computer Baseball Game Review – APBA Baseball
  Tony La Russa Baseball II Retro Computer Baseball Game Review – Tony La Russa Baseball II
  Front Page Sports Baseball '94 - '96 - '98 Retro Computer Baseball Game Review – Front Page Sports Baseball ’94 – ’96 – ’98
  ESPN Baseball Tonight Retro Computer Baseball Game Review – ESPN Baseball Tonight
  Hardball 6 Retro Computer Baseball Game Review – Hardball 3-4-5-6

Additional Links

Download Derek’s Retro WBC Rosters for Tony La Russa Baseball II – https://www.mediafire.com/folder/w2g51qnn2dm3v/TLBB2

Poulter, Wallace. “Tony La Russa 2 Earns Some ‘A’s’”. Computer Gaming World. June 1993. p24,26. http://www.cgwmuseum.org/galleries/issues/cgw_107.pdf

Wilson, Johnny L. “Another At Bat For Tony La Russa”. Computer Gaming World. April 1993. p8-10. http://www.cgwmuseum.org/galleries/issues/cgw_105.pdf

https://www.mobygames.com/game/dos/tony-la-russa-baseball-ii

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JV223Hl7BIg Tony La Russa Baseball II, video by SquakeNet

About the Author

I am a New Jersey native with a passion for baseball, statistics, computers and video games who enjoys spending quality time with his family.

Hardball Architects – Volume 1 (American League)”, published in July 2020, is available in paperback and digital (Kindle) format at Amazon.com.  Hardball Architects examines the trades, free agent acquisitions, draft picks and other transactions for the 30 Major League Baseball franchises, divided into a 2-volume set (American League and National League). All key moves are scrutinized for every team and Sabermetric principles are applied to the roster construction throughout the lifetime of the organization to encapsulate the hits and misses by front office executives.

Hardball Retroactive”, published in June 2018, is available in paperback and digital (Kindle) format at Amazon.com.  Hardball Retroactive is a modest collection of selected articles that I have written for Seamheads.com along with my Baseball Analytics blog since 2010. Exclusive content includes the chapter on “Minors vs. Majors” which assesses every franchise’s minor league successes and failures in relation to their major league operations.

“Hardball Retrospective” is available in paperback and digital (Kindle) format at Amazon.com. Supplemental Statistics, Charts and Graphs along with a discussion forum are offered at TuataraSoftware.com. In Hardball Retrospective, I placed every ballplayer in the modern era (from 1901-present) on their original teams. Using a variety of advanced statistics and methods, I generated revised standings for each season based entirely on the performance of each team’s “original” players. I discuss every team’s “original” players and seasons at length along with organizational performance with respect to the Amateur Draft (or First-Year Player Draft), amateur free agent signings and other methods of player acquisition. Season standings, WAR and Win Shares totals for the “original” teams are compared against the real-time or “actual” team results to assess each franchise’s scouting, development and general management skills.

Don Daglow (Intellivision World Series Major League Baseball, Earl Weaver Baseball, Tony LaRussa Baseball) contributed the foreword for Hardball Retrospective. The foreword and preview of my book are accessible here“Hardball Retrospective – Addendum 2014 to 2016” supplements my research for Hardball Retrospective, providing retroactive standings based on Wins Above Replacement (WAR) and Win Shares (WS) for each “original” team over the past three seasons (2014-2016). Team totals from 2010 – 2013 are included for reference purposes. “Addendum” is available in paperback and digital (Kindle)

Tuatara Software, LLC | Website | + posts

I am a New Jersey native with a passion for baseball, statistics, computers and video games who enjoys spending quality time with his family. Visit my Amazon author page to check out my books, promotional videos, and post a review if you're a Hardball Retro fan!

https://www.amazon.com/author/derekbain

My Books:


Hardball Architects – Volume 1 (American League Teams)”, published in July 2020, is available in paperback and digital (Kindle) format at Amazon.com. 


Hardball Architects – Volume 2 (National League Teams)”, published in April 2022, is available in paperback and digital (Kindle) format at Amazon.com. 

“Hardball Architects” examines the trades, free agent acquisitions, draft picks and other transactions for the 30 Major League Baseball franchises, divided into a 2-volume set (American League and National League). All key moves are scrutinized for every team and Sabermetric principles are applied to the roster construction throughout the lifetime of the organization to encapsulate the hits and misses by front office executives.


Hardball Retroactive”, published in June 2018, is available in paperback and digital (Kindle) format at Amazon.com. A cross-section of essays that I penned for Seamheads.com along with my Baseball Analytics blog spanning nearly a decade touching on subjects including "Taking the Extra Base", "General Manager Scorecard", "Worst Trades", "BABIP By Location" and "Baseball Birthplaces and the Retro World Baseball Classic". Rediscover your favorite hardball arcade and simulations in "Play Retro Baseball Video Games In Your Browser" or take a deep dive into every franchise's minor league successes and failures in relation to their major league operations in "Minors vs. Majors".


“Hardball Retrospective” is available in paperback and digital (Kindle) format at Amazon.com. Supplemental Statistics, Charts and Graphs along with a discussion forum are offered at TuataraSoftware.com. In Hardball Retrospective, I placed every ballplayer in the modern era (from 1901-present) on their original teams. Using a variety of advanced statistics and methods, I generated revised standings for each season based entirely on the performance of each team’s “original” players. I discuss every team’s “original” players and seasons at length along with organizational performance with respect to the Amateur Draft (or First-Year Player Draft), amateur free agent signings and other methods of player acquisition. Season standings, WAR and Win Shares totals for the “original” teams are compared against the real-time or “actual” team results to assess each franchise’s scouting, development and general management skills.


Don Daglow (Intellivision World Series Major League Baseball, Earl Weaver Baseball, Tony LaRussa Baseball) contributed the foreword for Hardball Retrospective. The foreword and preview of my book are accessible here


“Hardball Retrospective - Addendum 2014 to 2016” supplements my research for Hardball Retrospective, providing retroactive standings based on Wins Above Replacement (WAR) and Win Shares (WS) for each "original" team over the past three seasons (2014-2016). Team totals from 2010 - 2013 are included for reference purposes. “Addendum” is available in paperback and digital (Kindle) format at Amazon.com. 

Tagged:
I am a New Jersey native with a passion for baseball, statistics, computers and video games who enjoys spending quality time with his family. Visit my Amazon author page to check out my books, promotional videos, and post a review if you're a Hardball Retro fan! https://www.amazon.com/author/derekbain My Books: Hardball Architects – Volume 1 (American League Teams)”, published in July 2020, is available in paperback and digital (Kindle) format at Amazon.com.  Hardball Architects – Volume 2 (National League Teams)”, published in April 2022, is available in paperback and digital (Kindle) format at Amazon.com.  “Hardball Architects” examines the trades, free agent acquisitions, draft picks and other transactions for the 30 Major League Baseball franchises, divided into a 2-volume set (American League and National League). All key moves are scrutinized for every team and Sabermetric principles are applied to the roster construction throughout the lifetime of the organization to encapsulate the hits and misses by front office executives. Hardball Retroactive”, published in June 2018, is available in paperback and digital (Kindle) format at Amazon.com. A cross-section of essays that I penned for Seamheads.com along with my Baseball Analytics blog spanning nearly a decade touching on subjects including "Taking the Extra Base", "General Manager Scorecard", "Worst Trades", "BABIP By Location" and "Baseball Birthplaces and the Retro World Baseball Classic". Rediscover your favorite hardball arcade and simulations in "Play Retro Baseball Video Games In Your Browser" or take a deep dive into every franchise's minor league successes and failures in relation to their major league operations in "Minors vs. Majors". “Hardball Retrospective” is available in paperback and digital (Kindle) format at Amazon.com. Supplemental Statistics, Charts and Graphs along with a discussion forum are offered at TuataraSoftware.com. In Hardball Retrospective, I placed every ballplayer in the modern era (from 1901-present) on their original teams. Using a variety of advanced statistics and methods, I generated revised standings for each season based entirely on the performance of each team’s “original” players. I discuss every team’s “original” players and seasons at length along with organizational performance with respect to the Amateur Draft (or First-Year Player Draft), amateur free agent signings and other methods of player acquisition. Season standings, WAR and Win Shares totals for the “original” teams are compared against the real-time or “actual” team results to assess each franchise’s scouting, development and general management skills. Don Daglow (Intellivision World Series Major League Baseball, Earl Weaver Baseball, Tony LaRussa Baseball) contributed the foreword for Hardball Retrospective. The foreword and preview of my book are accessible here “Hardball Retrospective - Addendum 2014 to 2016” supplements my research for Hardball Retrospective, providing retroactive standings based on Wins Above Replacement (WAR) and Win Shares (WS) for each "original" team over the past three seasons (2014-2016). Team totals from 2010 - 2013 are included for reference purposes. “Addendum” is available in paperback and digital (Kindle) format at Amazon.com. 

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