Ken Griffey, Jr. Presents: My Doomed Baseball Endeavor

If you were to ask most people what they look for in a sports video game, they’d probably say rich gameplay. Or maybe they prefer graphics, or depth of options.

The one thing I rarely see mentioned is the basis of games in general. “Fun.” And holy smokes, there’s one game that has all the rest beat. I’m going to take you through it.

Welcome to a long and wonder-awful journey, filled with dizzying highs and gut-wrenching lows. Welcome to “Ken Griffey, Jr. Presents Major League Baseball.”

snes5 Here’s the deal: I’ve tried this several times before and never once finished, but if it’s chronicled here then at least I can go at my leisure and remember where we left off. It’s my intent to make it through an entire 162-game season on this A+ Super Nintendo baseball game from 1994. It’s going to be rough and it’s going to expose me as a truly terrible player. I once took a perfect game into the 8th inning before giving up two home runs and losing 2-1. The worst part is knowing that during the course of this season, I’ll top that somehow.

Just for a bit of background, the only licensed MLB player in this game is the titular Griffey. All of the team names are there, but the players have been changed. Fortunately, the publishers did that in the best possible way- by basing teams around specific pieces of pop culture. What I’m saying is, you could have Vincent Price pitching for the Rockies against Ernest Hemingway of the A’s. Yes, the Colorado Rockies are all named after horror icons, while the Oakland A’s are famous authors.

I am all for this change, 100%. Even better is that you can edit the names of the players yourself. So traditionalists can switch things to represent the true rosters, if they want. Although if people are that concerned with keeping things true to life, they probably should be playing a baseball game that came out this decade.

The gamplay is just plain fun. Very simplistic buttons and controls, and without all the newfangled loading screens and animations that this hula-hooping generation loves, games go by fast and frantic. Which is good because if I had to play 162 full games in, like, MLB The Show for the PS3 I’d kill myself. So I’m hoping I can get in a few games every couple of days. If not, it’s not like this page is going anywhere. I’ll update whenever I feel like it.

2029 World Series, here we come!

As I said, you can edit the names of the players on each team. So of course, I chose to select the San Francisco Giants and re-name all of the guys after myself and my friends. If I lose a game, I want to be able to point fingers at someone in person and blame it on his shitty fielding.

Let’s meet our team.

 Starting Pitchers Rotation

1)      Daniel Serra

2)      Sean Reynolds

3)      Young Jang

4)      Nick Byrne

5)      Mark Rodenhizer

Lineup

1B- Nick Orozco

2B- Chris Monroe

3B- Andrew Reif

SS- C-Dawg

C- Zack Havok

LF- Erick Wilson

CF- Scott Browne

RF- Eric Thomas

Bullpen

Steve Stairs

Sly Dogg

Cliff Huizenga

Mark Galloway

That’s what we have to work with. Without further delay, let’s jump into the first game. Kicking off the season vs the St Louis Cardinals!

Game 1- San Francisco Giants @ St Louis Cardinals (SF Serra vs SL Curly)

I started off with a heart attack as my own character hung the first pitch of the game over the plate, getting it got ripped to deep left, but Wilson made a crazy diving catch for the first out. I still knew we were in trouble. My fears were only confirmed by a bloop single and a grounder that rolled past my shortshop because I haven’t played this game on this controller in a year and made him dive four feet in the opposite direction of the ball. Long story short, a double cleared the bases and it’s 2-0 St Louis. I struck out the next two batters to get out without too much more damage.

That is, of course, until the bottom of the 5th when Buster freaking Keaton stepped up to the plate and hit a three run homer. This was the low point of the game for exactly 15 seconds, when Zeppo Marx followed up with a home run of his own to make it 7-0 : (

Things continued rolling downhill in the 7th inning when I hit a batter. I swear I didn’t even know you could do that in this game because it’s the first time in years of playing that I’ve seen it. But if there ever was a game for it to show up, it’s during this one. I suspected that the next animation would be me keeling over on the mound as tiny 2D paramedics rushed out with the crowd booing me.

Top of the 8th, Reif managed to sneak a single up the middle to score ME, the PITCHER. Yeah! Oh and then we lost.

snesI accidentally clicked a button on the controller before I could take a picture of the box score but the numbers were not pretty. 5 strikeouts for me in a 9-inning batting practice for the Cards. Luckily, I did get a little bit of my skill back in this game once it became obvious I was going to lose. Taking that lesson into game 2, I wanted revenge.

Game 2- San Francisco Giants @ St Louis Cardinals (SF Reynolds vs SL Larry)

Sean Reynolds vs the second and my favorite of the three stooges, Larry. I showed no remorse, however, and tried a different strategy to get on the board before my opponent. With Wilson on first, I went for the bunt with Thomas to advance him. Manufactured runs! Small-ball! It worked in that Wilson made it to second (Thomas was out by a hair) but not so much in that Browne then hit a line drive to the shortshop, who jumped seven feet into the air and snagged it for the third out.

Up through the second inning Reynolds had retired the first four batters on twelve straight strikes. In fact he managed to strike out eight of the first nine batters, a bloop single by the 8-spot jerkwad tarnishing things. I took advantage of that stellar start by FIRING UP my offense with a few singles to get Orozco and Monroe on third and first, respectively before Thomas dribbled a little grounder to score Nick.

Absolutely nothing interesting happens for four innings, until Reynolds decided to stop trying in the 7th and give up a single and a game-tying double. With runners on second third, two outs, Reynolds was out and “Mean” Mark Galloway came in. One pitch later, a pop-up got us out of a huge jam.

Top of the eighth we came back with a single by Browne, followed by not one but two successful bunts! Everyone safe! Orozco singled to score a run before Monroe grounded into a double play. We’re up 2-1 and I am sweating. It’s July and I get nervous over tightly-contested video game baseball simulations.

Galloway pulled a Reynolds and allowed a home run by Lou Costello in the bottom of the 8th to knot things up. The Cards put the pressure on by subbing in George Burns to hit. Good lord. Luckily he grounded out, because in 1994 he was 98 years old.

Bottom of the ninth, tie game, runners on second and third. Two outs. Galloway on the mound, for some reason huffing and puffing despite only working two innings so far. Recipe for disaster, sure. Ready to unload with profanities, you bet. But a light from above broke through the clouds as a sharp grounder to third was stopped by a diving Reif, who made a long throw across the field to get the out at first. It defied physics and I could not be happier. We’re going to extra innings, boys.

Obviously desperate, the Cards pulled out their ace in the hole- Bill Cosby. He rightfully stifled us in the top of the 10th, and disaster struck when Galloway allowed runners on the corners with two outs. I couldn’t believe how much he was panting. I took him out and called on Sly Dogg to get us home. He proceeded to deliver the sweetest strikeout I have ever seen. Tears form in my eyes.

Cosby was done. They had one trick left up their sleeves, and his name was Charlie Chaplin. The grandfather of comedy with a wicked 12-6 curve. And it was his first pitch that Monroe absolutely crushed for a 504 foot home run. That’s all we were able to do that inning, but it was enough to lift us to a 3-2 lead.

Sly Dogg worked the bottom of the 11th, getting a ground out but then giving up a double. One more pop up and we were one out away from victory. The next pitch was hit hard to third, where Reif grabbed it.

The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!

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14 K’s in less than seven innings! Dang son. I hope some people find this interesting. I don’t think I’ll be going into this much detail for every game because no one is going to want to read that, but I could give little recaps and mention any funny stuff. Let me know what you think.

And you know, I was planning on doing three games tonight but that second one was too mentally exhausting. I need to go lay down.

Vincent Kennedy McMahon

I feel like I need to defend professional wrestling before this post. There’s a stigma surrounding it as something only rednecks or unwashed teenagers enjoy. Sometimes, rightfully so. I’ve been to some indy wrestling shows that were not lacking in either. But there’s a whole group of people who understand it’s pre-determined, corny and, frankly, ridiculous, but love it anyway. I’m (semi-proud) to say that I am among those weirdos.

A lot of the fans who fit into this category watched wrestling while growing up, and thus appreciate how bad some of the characters and storylines can be. I started watching in 1998 when I was 11, right in the middle of the industry’s biggest boom. This was the beginning of Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, the nWo (with “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan), and a bunch of other stuff that even non-fans have heard about in passing. It was the cool thing to watch, and the weekly storylines just kept getting edgier and edgier. The very first show I watched was smack dab in the middle of one such story, but more on that in a bit.

I was definitely hooked, to the point where the next step seemed obvious: watch as many wrestling tapes as I could, as often as I could. Many a crucial Saturday night was spent going to Mad Mike’s videos and renting the same four early-to-mid 90s PPVs on VHS. It didn’t do much for my social standing outside of the handful of friends I’d watch with, but I had piledrivers and that’s all I needed. I also watched to hone my sense of humor, listening in awe as Jerry Lawler claimed to see Vince McMahon’s toupee scuttle off of his head when the house lights went down.

Which somehow brings me to my point, which is this: Vince McMahon is, bar none, one of the most entertaining media figures on the planet. Many things have been said about him, but you just can’t deny the man’s talent and vision. More importantly, you can’t deny that he is the king of hilarious facial expressions and awkward body movements.

This is an effort to celebrate that fact. It’s a testament to a man who sacrificed his own body and well-being for our entertainment.

“Examples?”, you ask? Oh I have examples.

Wherein Vince McMahon Receives His First Stone Cold Stunner

Vince started out his on-camera role in the company as a play-by play man, calling the action in the ring. I personally miss this, and think it was one of his greatest achievements. It never got old hearing, for every single near-fall, “ONE, TWO, THREE HE GOT HIM oh no, no he didn’t only two.”

But a man can only dominate the announce table for so long before wanting more. Following an incident involving a disagreement with a wrestler (google The Montreal Screw-Job, or else this article is going to be 15,000 words), Vince decided to go along with the whole “everyone in this arena hates me” thing and pit himself against the most rebellious and baldest of his rising stars- Stone Cold Steve Austin.

It upsets me a little that so many people missed out on their feud, just because of preconceived notions of wrestling. It was legitimately some of the funniest and over-the-top television I’ve ever seen. I think it was such a hot time for wrestling because fans were tuning in ever week just to see which of Vince’s 75 cars Stone Cold was going to fill with concrete next. And each act of destruction was inevitably followed up by Vince’s classic “gulp of fear”

But it all started here, in some month I don’t remember but quite possibly November of 1997. Or some other month of 1998. All we can be sure of it, at some point, Vince took this monumental first stunner from his soon-to-be rival. It set up everything that happened between the two in the future, and without it we would not have the rest of this article.

It’s also the first chance for Vince to show how incredibly uncoordinated he is.

You’ll have to watch the video, because I can’t really explain what the Stone Cold stunner is, or how creepy Vince looks after taking it. First off, it takes a bit longer to Austin to set up the move, thanks to Vince’s flailing limbs and spastic head jerks. Once he finally drops, though, is when the real magic happens.

The move appears to knock Vince out, but he’s not content to just lay there looking unconscious. Instead, his eyes are open wide, staring without seeing. It’s almost poetic, as if he’s looking to the heavens for answers. Why did Austin forsake him? Why are people cheering so loudly for this blatant physical abuse of authority?

With this, the character of Mr. McMahon was born.

Wherein The Undertaker and Kane Break Vince McMahon’s Ankle

As I started to mention earlier, this moment occurred on the very first show I started watching. I had no idea what was going on at the time, but it turned out that Vince was continuing his never-ending quest to make himself the most hated man in the WWF. On the previous night’s PPV, he had enlisted the help of two “brothers” named Undertaker and Kane to team up and destroy Stone Cold for the WWF title. They both pinned him, leading to a segment on RAW in which Vince was to present one of them with the belt. With the two men in the ring, he proceeds to yell that neither would get the title, and begins to berate them. For some reason, no one seems to question why Vince would go through the trouble of spreading a red carpet across the ring mat and lugging out a nice podium if he was just going to be a dick about things.

This was admittedly a pretty ballsy move, with Vince perhaps forgetting one of these men was 7 feet tall and named “The Undertaker.” Speaking of balls, if this was an article about Vince’s greatest interviews, here is where I was list the time he claimed his beanbags were the size of grapefruits. Also probably the time he referred to himself as a “genetic jackhammer” in response to doubts about his ability to sire more children.

ANYWAY Vince continues his tirade until the Undertaker justifiably punches him in the face. Taker and Kane eventually drag their boss over to the steel steps, propping his leg up on them before slamming the top half on his femur.

Just look at Vince’s reaction. His hands, shaking uncontrollably. His face, frozen in a silent scream.

I’m not going to go searching through past academy award-winning performances to compare them to Vince’s agony, proving his superiority in every way. But I just want you to know that I could.

Wherein Vince McMahon Grabs His Ear A Lot and Makes a Strange Face

I’m going to admit up front that I am not sure when this is from. I want to say 1998. Vince has just been given some bad news, and he responds with something really baffling.

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He gets this look on his face, a look that is equal parts confusion, sorrow, and insanity. Then he starts tugging on his ear. I’m going to guess this was meant to represent his descent into madness, as well as illustrate how the anguish was tugging at his tormented soul.

It’s also how I respond to all sources of stress and anxiety in my life from now on.

Wherein Vince McMahon Gets Hit so Hard with a Chair That the Caps Come Off of His Teeth

In another installment of the Vince/Austin saga, Vince decided that he himself would referee Stone Cold’s title defense against Dude Love.

Towards the end of the match, Dude goes to crack Stone Cold across the head with a chair. Of course, Austin ducks and poor Vince takes the full brunt of the blow. As Mick Foley says in his book, the shot is hard enough to completely separate his teeth from the caps covering them. I didn’t even know physics worked that way.

So Vince gets hit so hard with a solid steel chair that the caps are literally knocked out of his head. Look, I don’t care what you think of the man’s ethics, or what horror stories you’ve heard about him. He’s a billionaire that is willing to undo extensive dental work because he thinks it will be entertaining enough to make him even more money. You have to admire that kind of dedication, and to a certain extent the sheer talent it takes to make people hate you so much that they’ll pay out the ear to see it.

Wherein Vince McMahon Slides into the Ring and Both of His Legs Explode

This may very well sum up Vince’s complete lack of agility and athletic prowess. The scene was the Royal Rumble, an event where 30 wrestlers enter the ring, and are eliminated when thrown over the top rope with both feet hitting the floor. The final two men left, John Cena and Batista.

I’m not sure who was slated to win, but whoever it was, things did not go down that way. Instead, while setting up for the end of the match, both men tumbled over at the same time. Even more unbelievably, both of their feet hit the ground at the exact same moment. Clearly, they were going to have to find some way out of this.

Enter Vince, storming the ring with his classic arm-pumping walk (albeit a much angrier version than normal). He’s half in character as Mr. McMahon, pissed about the lack of a conclusive finish, and half out of character as Vince McMahon, pissed about the botched ending. His rage carries him all the way into an energetic slide under the bottom rope.

Now, I feel bad. I do. I’ve heard it’s extremely painful to tear one’s quadriceps muscle. A wrestler named Triple H tore one of his, and essentially had to re-learn how to walk. But when Vince stands up, ready to whoop on both Cena and Batista, his legs just give out and he crumples back to the mat. Since he still has to be in character, he just kinds of yells at them while sitting on his butt. Everyone watching at home and in the area stares at him in confusion.

Apparently, the mere act of sliding into the ring was enough to tear Vince’s quad. But Vince, being a true man’s man, refuses to acknowledge what his body has done to him. He tries to walk off a debilitating, horrific injury and ends of completely tearing his other quad, as well. Vince doesn’t do things halfway. And finally, it catches up to him as his spastic body turns rogue.

Wherein Vince McMahon Steps into His Limo and the Limo Blows Up and Vince Dies (But Not Really)

Probably the strangest segment on this list, it’s the only entry to showcase Vince’s supernatural powers. Following yet another storyline I can’t remember, since this happened after I stopped watching WWE, Vince is sad. Or mad, or something. It’s hard to tell, because the entire thing consists of him sloooowly walking past wrestlers who are lined up backstage. They stare at him like he’s lost his mind, but frankly it really seems like they should be used to this kind of thing from him by now.


After about 45 minutes of this, Vince finally reaches his limo. He casts one last look over his shoulder before stepping in and OH MY GOD the limo explodes into a fiery inferno of twisted metal and presumably various parts of Vince McMahon.

Alas, wrestling fans never got closure to this sordid tale. For a few weeks they started an in-depth plot to uncover who was behind the assault/murder, but then WWE wrestler Chris Benoit really did murder his family before killing himself, so that kind of put the kaibosh on any death storylines. Vince showed up good as new a little while later.

WWE fell under some pretty harsh criticisms for this storyline (amidst many, many others throughout their history), and to be fair they’ve often dealt with some controversial issues. But to reiterate my point from earlier, wrestling really needs to be taken with a grain of salt. You’re talking about an industry where clowns named Doink hit their opponents with car batteries. It’s not meant to be taken seriously. You’re meant to watch it, appreciate the athleticism, laugh at the impossible, and practice your Macho Man voice as you elbow drop your unsuspecting friends from the couch.

If that doesn’t convince you, here’s a bonus video of Vince getting hit in the face with a bedpan.

NEVER FORGET <3

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Football, Cheese and Stupid Jackets

Us football supporters are coming off of a pretty exciting day. Especially if you’re me, because as a San Francisco 49ers fan I’m riding high on the wave of seeing my team in the Super Bowl. Also the wave of beers and blackberry brandy that I needed to calm my nerves after a reaaaally close game. It’s going to be my first time really getting to see them play on the big stage, being that their last appearance was in 1994. I started following the team in the late 90s, catching the waning days of Steve Young and Jerry Rice. Their chemistry was crazy entertaining to me, and I only wish I’d been a fan in their glory days.

And man, it took a long time to get back to that glory.

They went through a 7-8 year rebuilding period, after losing Young to like 27 concussions and Rice to the Raiders. But that’s changed now. They got back to their winning ways in the last few seasons, and it”s been a lot of fun to watch. Since my roommates and I got NFL Redzone and we can actually see them play, every Sunday has deteriorated into happy/sad yelling and the near-constant throwing of phantom penalty flags.

It’s probable that a lot of the reason I’ve been getting into football a bit more each season is my dad. He was a huge Redskins fan, and I can’t help but think how awesome it’d be to sit and watch a game with him. Sucks pretty hard that the opportunity has passed by, especially since the Redskins made the playoffs this year. I’d give pretty much anything to be able to talk with him about that over a few beers, so it’s just a sort of happy comfort for me.

After I’d recovered from the multiple heart attacks I suffered watching the Niners win, attention had to be turned to the Ravens/Patriots game to see what San Fran is going to be up against. I never thought that I’d be cheering on the Patriots, them being the bane of my existence and whatnot. But, halfway through the game a Ravens defender hit a Patriots player with a hard (and also illegal) helmet-to-helmet shot. The Patriots dude went from “must gain as many yards as possible” to “oh hey I’m a marionette puppet now and also unconscious” within a few seconds.

And if there’s anything I dislike about football, it’s that. A lot of people pine for the days of harder hits, but it’s not cool and it’s not needed. It seems like it’d be better for the future of the sport to limit the concussions and scary “good gravy is that guy okay” moments whenever possible. Not to mention better for the future of the human race for us to not want to permanently injure a person for a chance to get an ugly ring.

All that aside, I am pumped for the Super Bowl. The Ravens ended up winning, so the majority of the game will be spent yelling at San Francisco’s rookie QB, Colin Kaepernick, to run faster so that the Ravens defense doesn’t kill him. I finally have my fitted Niners cap ordered, so it can sit on my head from the second I wake up until the last whistle of the game when I’m either backflipping through a hoop of fire or crawling under my couch crying. I’d feel a bit more confident if I had the 80s gold starter jacket I want, but whatevs.

Pictured: me helping the 49ers win

What I know is that come Sunday, February 3rd I’ll be spending the day with good friends, a few drinks, and a cheese and crackers platter the size of a car. Win or lose, I can enjoy the game and rest easy, knowing that if my dad were here I could at least rub it in that my team got further than his.

J/k love you Dad <3