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A Case for GM Contracts – New Way of Thinking

A Case for GM Contracts – New Way of Thinking

Is has certainly been a while since I posted anything about my little behind-the-scenes project of trying to develop a way to adopt a contract structure for GM’s in an online league (outside the GM, “house rules” if you will). In my first couple of attempts I tried to keep things relatively simple, with just a few parameters that had to be met to continue as GM of you team in the league otherwise you would be on the outside looking for a new team (but still within the league of course – just effectively switching teams). It turns out that process was a little too simple and there was a fine line between being repeatedly fired (not fun for anyone) or staying on forever (essentially status quo, which is what I was trying to avoid).

The latest version of my project has been created in Excel and involves a couple of grids, one where you would input the results of your season within a contract term and the other grid the bonus or penalty attached to those results to determine if you continue as GM or are shown the door. So far, if I do say so myself, the results have been positive!

I am also extremely encouraged by the news about OOTP16 and more immersion involved in the Manager area. I’m also especially excited about the news the financial system will be both different and simpler and contract negotiations are being shown some love, both of which hopefully benefits the online experience and CBL specifically! But, more about my “GM Contracts” exercise…

The Excel version now tracks the following items:

  1. GM Contract Term Number
    • There is a bit of a “break” built in for the first couple of contracts for a GM in the league.
    • The way I envision this is that they would be chronological, based on the GM’s time in the league. In other words, using CBL as the test case, if you are a first-timer in CBL, you obviously start with your first contract. I think we would ALL, at this point, fall into that category. Once you get to your fourth contract there are no “assists” built in to the system.
    • I would not contemplate reverting back to a “first contract” if you do happen to be terminated during your career, but that could easily be accommodated with a “house rule” added to the process.
  2. The Contract Year (this assumes each contract runs 5 years max, barring termination of course)
    • There are parameters that change in each year of the 5-year contract that make it a tiny bit tougher on the GM, prompting him to maintain a decent team on the field.
  3. Championship
    • There is a reward in place should you win a championship during your contract term.
    • There is also a tiny bit of “carry-over effect” in the year following a championship (the people still love you).
    • And there is also some residual resentment, let’s call it, should you go without for some time (especially after winning one)!
  4. Playoff Berth
    • Similar to the championship, there is a reward, some carry-over and some ultimate resentment.
  5. Season Win Percentage
    • The better your winning percentage in any given season, the higher effect it has on your “GM Contract Score”.
    • And there is also some negative influence is you remain the same or lower in subsequent seasons.
  6. Games Behind Leader Number
    • Similar to Season Win Percentage you benefit from being closer to the leader and lose a bit when you drop further back in any given season.
  7. Finish Position in Division
    • You benefit by being in the “Top 3” but there is some residual resentment if you have a poorer finish a couple of seasons out.

By tracking all of this in an Excel spreadsheet, using the seven parameters above as “inputs” to the spreadsheet (except “contract year” of course) and then by developing a “grid” of formulas related to each one of the cells in the contract grid, you can reward and punish performance based on where you are in your career, where you are in any given contract term and you can also customize the results based on how well or how poorly your team performs year over year. The result annually is given as a “Contract or GM Review” which relates to a “score” behind the scenes, tallied from all of the results.

I “think” I have it somewhat fine-tuned at this time, but I’m sure you could always continue to tinker.

I do not possess the skills to code this information into a good-looking APP that could be placed on a website for any online league so that GM’s in that league could track their progress at the end of a season (or the Commissioner too) to see if they keep their coveted GM position for another year OR have set themselves up for an extension or even decide they are going to take their talents elsewhere (which could also be accomplished with “house rules”, the Excel/APP merely being the scorecard in this case). If anyone HAS those kinds of skills, I would love to hear your thoughts on how practical this would be??

Remember, this is still in it’s infancy, but here’s a five year track screenshot from my very rudimentary Excel. Follow the annual results and let me know if you think the annual “Review outcome” is plausible??


I think everything is obvious, but just to spell out what is happening above, here’s a summary.

This is a first-time GM in this league (a situation we all find ourselves in here in CBL by the way). In the first year the team/GM does extremely well and finishes top of their division, resulting in a playoff berth and then goes all the way to win the championship! Wouldn’t we all love that!!

In the second year, the GM has done a great job taking his team back to the top of the division and playoffs, but fails to capture the ultimate goal. Still it’s a great year and his review reflects that.

In the third year the team begins to fall back a bit, as often happens. He finishes 5 games back and drops to 4th (in the case of CBL, that would be last) in his division. Merely an “OK” performance. Clearly his team is tracking down and needs some pressing attention!

In year four of the first term contract the team has dropped off considerably and the GM is now feeling the pressure to right this ship, the proverbial “Hot Seat” if you will! His team is now sub-par, finishes way back and again last in the division. On top of that, as I outlined above, he’s already feeling some residual effects of once winning it all and now plummeting in the standings. He really needs to turn this around FAST!

In the final year of the contract the team is really miserable, a former shell of itself and I think we can all agree the results speak for themselves!

Keep in mind this is just one possible scenario, just to show how the contract can end up in a firing. I would honestly imagine that the results would fluctuate being OK, Great Job, and possibly the slightly more extremes in any given year and you and your team would have to work pretty hard to get terminated. What I feel this does do however is really discourage “tanking”, where you would drop completely off the face of the earth, even after a championship, and stockpile a couple of choice draft picks and then rise again. But some field testing would be required to really evaluate how this works in every situation (some of which I have done, just one extreme example noted above for you to see).

The work continues at a slow, but steady pace! Hope you enjoy the update and possibly even see some upside in this concept?!?

© 2015 David Jones

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David Jones


  1. Avatar

    Just the kind of stuff I like to read on vacation. 🙂 Which, as Bryan points out, is pretty much all the time, anyways.

    A few Q’s…have you shared your thinking with the game or do you intend to as you fine tune your model? Probably the later makes sense.

    Any idea how sophisticated the existing ootp model is for getting fired? In essence, what criteria do they use now?

    How does the in-game budget tie in to the score/rating of a GM? Or, is it simply keeping your job or not? Probably the latter.

    Interesting stuff. thank you.

    • Avatar


      Thanks for taking a break from the sun!

      I have gone as far as to post a few concepts in the “suggestions” thread for the past couple of releases of OOTP15. I have certainly not gone as in-depth as I have here only because I don’t think it’s quite refined enough yet.

      I have no idea how sophisticated the model for Manager/GM firings is in the game as it stands, only what can be gleaned from the manual. My opinion is that it’s probably pretty basic stuff (as is mine). I’m just trying to approach this is a different way, assuming you are solely the GM and not really the Manager (although that line is kind of blurred in the game).

      Your last comment is precisely why I have posted my work so far here and not for the world to see. If I am reading your comment correctly (and even if I’m not, you have sparked an idea) there should be ramifications for maintaining the team budget as GM! Excellent idea! And something I will see if I can incorporate?

      In the broadest sense I think “winning” goes a long way in the theory of keeping your job as a GM. If you happen to stay “in the green” consistently, yet consistently lose, then I think you end up seeing pink regardless. But tying in with budget consistency is an idea. Thank you! I’ll see if it works??

      If you meant that by being a good GM in my exercise means that you would be granted more budget in the game, obviously I cannot directly make that happen but I imagine that might be a good reason for adding as a “house rule”. There could be a “bonus” tied to “my” contract review result that the online GM could add to your starting cash!

      All of this would be fantastic if it occurred within the actual game (whether toggled or not) to add another level of immersion or realism.

      Wear sunscreen!!!


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    Yeah, my thought being, you are winning games, making money for the franchise, so the owner see’s there GM as having credibility. That credibility, for example, might mean the owner allows more spending for the GM because he ‘trusts’ that the GM knows what they are doing.

    Of course, the reverse would probably be true. If an owner is thinking about canning his GM that owner is not going to be too anxious to fork over additional spending funds.

    On a non-related issue the island is wonderful. Using the screen and minimizing direct sun. We have a few excursions lined up and one that will take us to the much less populated North and Middle Caicos. We anticipate seeing many flamingo’s and far less people. Involves a ferry ride and a car rental. Looking forward to it and not, I repeat not, missing Michigan weather at all.

  3. Dan Courcelles

    Interesting points. Trying to read this while waking up is difficult but you really went well into this. Good points but I am not sure how I would feel having a contract pressure to get my team to play better 😛

    • Avatar

      Thanks for the comment Dan.

      This is not really meant to add a whole lot more pressure than one would normally feel trying to pursue victory in OOTP. I think where it does start to really come into play is if you start into a tailspin.

      Should that happen, then there is every possibility that you could be “fired”. It’s a mechanism to prevent anti-tanking, keep you on your toes when your team is not doing all that well (and I think we all strive to be better through the normal course of playing the game) and, frankly, it also adds an element of simply moving on to another team at some point.

      Some might be totally opposed to being forced to move to another team, while others (and I could myself here) might welcome the chance to another team and take a fresh start. It does, after all, happen in real life from time to time.

      And if you play solo without “Can Never Be Fired” checked, this is quite similar to that dynamic, just built as an online “house rule” kind of thing to add spice to the game!

  4. Avatar

    I think one of the key points in all of this is that the ‘rules’ demand that you pay attention to your team, no matter the record. You can’t ‘mail it in’ or you get fired. The effect in “David’s World’ is that every manager is committed and locked in right to the end.

    This is one tool, and the are others, that help a league establish a culture of GM’s that are fully immersed in the happenings of their league. So, for me, this concept goes beyond the ‘firing’ and lends itself to ask the question(s), what other ‘conditions’ can we put in play that result in active, caring, and engaged GM’s. I would much rather have a GM who is engaged, and maybe still learning, than the ‘pro’ who sets their team up and then disappears for two weeks. For many of us, CBL is more than baseball competition. It’s a social experience that benefit us in ways that transcend the wins and losses.

    I think what David is doing here is good, good stuff.

  5. Avatar

    Really amazing concept, would be awesome to have stricter parameters for GMs in CBL, putting that added pressure on people. The only thing that I think would have to be tied in, and not sure how easily it could be done, is preseason predictions. Like if a team is expected to go 62-100 but ends up 72-90, that should be considered a decent season for the manager. Another thing is, from the GMs standpoint, prospects and budget have to be brought into play. If a team gives up all their prospects for a push for the cup, and misses out, that should be reflected. Same if a team is continually in the red, but fails to win the cup. Would love to see any progress you’ve made on this, and if it’s closer to being ready for use, maybe it’s something we could vote on to implement in the league.

    • Avatar

      Thanks Matthew,
      There are tons of things that could vastly improve the Owner AI (and AI is all facets of the game). Trades, Contract negotiations, Personnel, tons of stuff.
      It’s not as “cool” as a new MLB license in order to utilize real logos or “3D”, but here’s hoping OOTP17 bring more back-end upgrades!!!

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