Welcome to the second week of Diehard BaseballFAN! The first week of the baseball season was an eventful one, with triumph and tragedy, upsets and surprises. Here is the DHBF Bullpen‘s take on the week that was.
Last week, I said I’d give baseball games a try, even though I’ve hated them for much of my life. After one week of the baseball season… I still haven’t played a game. Shoot me. Part of my reasoning is that I’ve been busy. Another part is that I’m enjoying seeing baseball action, especially since I get a free preview of MLB Extra Innings. Whatever the reason, the rekindling of my baseball video game fire is a work in progress.
I’ve realized one thing about baseball games, though – they never seem to let me play the way I want to. For example, I love hockey video games because they let me play the same physical style I like to watch and play in real life. Same for soccer; I can play a fast-break style of soccer I’d love to see played. In the NFL, I love to see teams run the ball, and in the Madden games, I can do that with my digital teams. Baseball, though? It’s never worked for me. Baseball games have always seen like home run derbies, and I personally hate watching sluggers either strike out or hit home runs. I like the speed game – stretching singles into doubles, stealing bases at every possible opportunity, and keeping the opposing defense on perpetual tilt. My team of choice, the New York Mets, play in this style and that’s one of the reasons I love watching them. However, I’ve never been able to translate this philosophy into a video game.
While I sincerely doubt my chosen game, The Bigs, will allow me to tear up the basepaths in the way I’d like, maybe I can try to make it work. I’ve always hated the baserunning controls of video games. Maybe there’s a better way baserunning can be translated into a vgame. It’s a relatively unexplored territory that could be an important part of the future of baseball titles.
It seems like a slight change of plan was in the cards this season. I intended to complete my MLB season in MLB Power Pros for the Nintendo DS. I went into the edit mode, created my team, added anybody who was an ex-Montreal Expos player and went to the season mode… oh wait. There’s no season mode. Oops.
It seems like the DS version of MLB Power Pros lacks anything organized, leaving you with single games against the computer or a human opponent. This brings me to my first point of the week: The Nintendo DS needs a good baseball game this season. Not that I would have cared before this week, but now that I need one, it seems like 2K Sports has been slacking off with the handheld version, and from what I have heard, it’s not like it would be hard to find a remedy to the situation. Apparently, the Japanese version of the game has beautiful hand-drawn graphics, with a full season mode and so many stats that my head would probably burst before I even understood half of them.
My second point this week has to do with my replacement game: since I am unable to play my baseball season in a new game and bring the Expos back to life, I decided to bring an old game back to life and play directly as the defunct team. I dusted off my copy of Ken Griffey Jr Presents MLB for the SNES and started a 162 games season as the Expos. I even renamed all the players on the team so I can accurately follow their stats. It feels so good to see Larry Walker come in as the fourth hitter and crush one right out of the park. I have been severely addicted to the game since playing it again. My only problem is that while I could beat my little brother a couple of years ago, it was mainly because neither of us understood the subtleties of baseball. The computer seems to be much more adept in that department, and as such, has been kicking my ass all over the place. My current record is of 2-4, which I have been told, is not that good. In fact, the game is downright telling me I suck each time I lose the game, with my defeats being accompanied by virtual newspaper headlines such as “Rockies shutout Expos 12-0” and “Astros humiliate Expos”. Thanks a lot Ken Griffey. I feel so much better with these comforting words.
My third and final point for the week has to do with my the game of baseball itself. I never realized how complex it was until I started my virtual season. When I was younger, I used to play baseball in the little leagues, but my work on the team was always very simple. I played first base, and I was the fastest kid on the team. As such, my duties were clear: I had to catch any ball that would make its way toward me before throwing it back to the pitcher, and if I had to make an apparition at the plate, I needed to hit as far as I could and run just as fast. I never had to think about strategies or think about stolen bases like shortstops or second base players often need to. Trying to make my way through an entire season has shown me that I still have a lot to learn before becoming a real expert at the game of baseball. I have pulled off my first successful double play in my last game. Hopefully, I might even be able to win two consecutive games next week.
Death is an integral part of video games. Lives. Extra Lives. I died. I killed him. Fatalities. Hit Points. Phoenix Down. Even those twin icons of gentle, child friendly gaming, Mario and Pac-Man, die. This is an accepted part of the video game world. Thing is, it rarely connects to real life, save for wrestling and sports games.
When WWF Attitude was pushed back a few months to add a tribute to Owen Hart, I had a hard time having matches against him. There was something inherently sad, to me, about working matches that Owen would never get to have. Even worse was the death of Eddie Guerrero days after the release of Smackdown vs. Raw, which saw him getting thrown in a coffin by the Undertaker.
All of this is me trying to avoid writing about what is really on my mind: the death of Nick Adenhart. The passing of the Angel’s young pitcher was depressing for a number of reasons: his youth, his talent, and the senselessness of his death. Honestly, I feel stupid for even talking about this in the context of a video gaming, but just follow me here.
I did not know if I should continue my Franchise with the opening day Roster, which included him, or not. I decided to wait until Monday to see what the developers would do in the wake of this event. This week’s Roster Update includes new players and the usual roster moves. It also removes Adenhart. This was probably the correct move, but I hope that the upcoming patch will update Angel Stadium of Anaheim to include the mural of Adenhart and the number 34 on the pitcher’s mound, as well as the patch on the uniforms.
Coming next week: I will actually talk about Royals baseball and my visit to the new Kauffman Stadium.