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Just what the heck is a "simulated game" anyway?

Apr 7, 2010, 5:15 PM EDT

The Sims.jpgGentlemen: let’s broaden our minds.

All spring you heard about pitchers throwing “simulated games.” Today Amalie Benjamin reports that Clay Buchholz, who won’t get his normal turn in the rotation for a while, is throwing a simulated game.  So, just what is a “simulated game?”

A lot of fun from the sound of it. Pitchers usually face two or three volunteer hitters from their own team (today Buchholz is facing Bill Hall, Jeremy Hermida and Jason Veritek).  Hitters take their cuts against the pitcher’s full speed pitches with someone — often the catcher — calling balls and strikes.  There are no fielders, however. A coach observing the game calls out the result of any given batted ball. A hot shot in the gap is a double. A grounder to where the shortstop would likely be standing is an out, etc.

If the hitter reaches safely the pitcher assumes the stretch and a ghost runner takes the base.*  Once the pitcher retires the side he sits down and either takes a break long enough to approximate his own team’s half inning or, in some instances, another pitcher or a coach throws to the same three hitters and simulates the results.  The whole thing usually ends when the desired pitch count for the simulated game is reached. Since Buchholz is on the Red Sox, though, it probably takes three hours and forty-eight minutes.

I saw a couple of simulated games in spring training and they looked like a lot of fun. Lots of good-natured trash talk between the pitcher and whoever was calling balls and strikes. Lots of pitchers claiming that hard hit balls were really outs due to amazingly acrobatic plays by their invisible defense. Basically, it sounds a lot like the sandlot games we used to play when we were little and couldn’t find enough kids to make full teams. I bet someone could do well setting up a simulated baseball league in which guys like me who think they can pitch a little go head-to-head (note: I can’t pitch, even a little).

Anyway, the more you know.

*Note: unlike my brother’s amazingly swift ghost runners during the
backyard games of our youth, simulated game ghost runners can’t score
from first on an infield single. Not that I’m still angry about it or

  1. FCForrest - Apr 7, 2010 at 5:32 PM

    Excellent opening sentence, but no Batman tag?

  2. Yankees Gameday - Apr 7, 2010 at 5:40 PM

    George Clooney in “Up In The Air” asks a guy he is firing why kids love athletes. And the answer wasn’t because they sleep with lingerie models, that’s why we love athletes. But the real answer is because they “follow their dreams”.
    Craig, you nailed it when you said a simulated game is no different from what we did as kids, ghost runners included. If there wasn’t enough reason to be jealous of and wish we were all pro ball players this article is just another one.
    They get paid millions to play a kids game that simulates the real game.
    And they get to sleep with lingerie models.

  3. KR - Apr 7, 2010 at 10:00 PM

    Calvin: “And my ghost runners who were on first and second base are now on second and third, right?”
    Hobbes: “Nope, they’re both out…. My ghost outfielder tagged your ghost going to third, and threw to my ghost second baseman. It was a brilliant double play.”
    Full comic.

  4. Rollo - Apr 8, 2010 at 12:34 PM

    “Since Buchholz is on the Red Sox, though, it probably takes three hours and forty-eight minutes.”
    And if he had Posada catching there’d be about twenty conferences per inning.

  5. Ashley - Apr 10, 2010 at 8:49 PM

    Is there a reason only gentleman are addressed in this post?

  6. Craig Calcaterra - Apr 10, 2010 at 8:50 PM

    All apologies, Ashley. You may broaden your mind too.

  7. JamesDaBear - May 24, 2010 at 7:03 PM

    Great insight and writing. How did nobody point out how you butchered Varitek’s name?

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