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.”
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
1B- Nick Orozco
2B- Chris Monroe
3B- Andrew Reif
C- Zack Havok
LF- Erick Wilson
CF- Scott Browne
RF- Eric Thomas
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.
I 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!
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.