Someone get on the horn to Joe Torre, the Yanks are good to go. I know, it’s awfully early to make that prediction, but I’m going to step out on a limb and say it. How can I be so sure? It’s because I sat down recently and booted up Baseball Mogul 2008, and had it simulate the entire 2007 season without me touching a thing (just to see the system run). I’m happy to say that the Yankees handily won their division, putting up a record of 110-52 and winning the division by 21 games over the Blue Jays. Not only do I think that means that my Yankees and Joe Torre need not worry this year, it tells me that the programming folks at Sports Mogul have done a fantastic job with this year’s edition of Baseball Mogul.

All joking aside, Baseball Mogul 2008 is a strong product. It’s intuitive and really easy to use on a surface level. If someone is only interested in simulating games and managing a team on a very superficial level, that’s possible. If someone wants to go through every pitch of every game, but not deal with larger team issues in depth, that’s possible. And, making all stat-heads incredibly happy, if someone wants to get into the nitty-gritty, day-to-day managing of a team, that’s possible too. What’s more though, is that the game provides enjoyment at all of these levels, and every conceivable level in between.

Stat-heads, the group that the game seems primarily intended for, will revel in their ability to find out the most miniscule bits of information; the one thing that may be missing is hat size. Players are sortable by every imaginable statistic. I won’t say that it gets to be too much, but there’s a ton of stuff there.

Playing actual games can be incredibly fun as well. While playing in-game you do not actually swing at the ball, you simply click a button before the pitch is thrown, you can play pitch-by-pitch, having your batter guess at what the upcoming pitch will be (and, if you’re on the mound, you can call the different available pitches as well). There is a graphic of a stadium put up in the middle of the in-game screen, and the ball is seen to fly to various parts of the field that correspond to where it was hit.

As good as the in-game stuff is, the look of it, could, and should, be better. The headshots attached to the players are absolutely ancient. I understand that it can be difficult to update every player’s photo every year, but it seems to me that Jason Giambi should, at the very least, be wearing a Yankees uniform in his picture and not an Oakland Athletics one. Additionally, the graphic used of the stadium is the same one every game, no matter where the game takes place. The crowd is shown, as are billboards and other advertising and no matter the stadium the game takes place in, the advertising, crowd, and shape of the stadium is exactly the same. The only thing that changes are text markers stating how far it is to various parts of the outfield wall.

The games simulation of an extended period of time is one of the highlights of the program. Not only does in not take an overly long time to have the computer run through an extended number of games, but should a game be close late for your team the computer will offer you the ability to play out that game (this feature can also be turned off). It’s just one added level of control that Baseball Mogul 2008 has that shows dedication, understanding, and I think true enjoyment of the final product on the part of the developer.

By having new pictures for players and a couple of pictures for stadiums, Baseball Mogul 2008 would have gone a lot further to enticing the everyday baseball game user as opposed to the more serious stat-heads. It’s all still fun and interesting, and extremely playable, but a few tweaks here and there would have gone a long way.

Baseball Mogul 2008 is available directly from Sports Mogul for $24.95 and is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB.

Four stars out of five.