Hi, my name is Wil, and I'm a baseball fan.
It all started when I was a little kid, and my dad took me to Dodger Stadium for an afternoon game. I don't remember much about the game itself (I couldn't tell you the opposing team, starting pitchers, or final score), but I can close my eyes and instantly hear the din of the crowd, the ever-present Vin Scully coming out of a thousand hand-held radios, and feel the warm summer sun on my face. I can taste the Dodgerdogs and Cracker Jacks, and hear Nancy B. on the Dodger Stadium organ. Yeah, they say you never forget your first time.
As I got older, just watching the game wasn't enough for me. I needed to take a scorecard to the game, then I needed to take a transistor radio, then I found myself with . . . binoculars.
I knew I had a problem when I couldn't get tickets for opening day, so I bought hot dogs, beer, cracker jacks, peanuts and red vines, grabbed my booklet of score cards, sat in front of my television, and pretended that I was in Chavez Ravine.
Luckily, I was able to get some help for my addiction, when Kevin "Dodger Boy" Malone came to Los Angeles, and thoroughly fucked up the team on the field and decimated the farm system. The new Dodger ownership, by turning my beloved Dodger Stadium into a a series of billboards with empty rich jerk seats where the foul territory once was have helped me maintain my sobriety.
I have a bit of baseball methadone, though, and it's still on TV. Well, on Playstation and Xbox, actually, and this week, I put on my best Rock Star impression, and turned my addition into cash.
First up, a review of MVP06 NCAA Baseball:
Overpaid, underperforming marquee players, steroid scandals, Scott Boras... Major League Baseball isn't exactly the classic summer pastime that Ken Burns made it out to be. So where do fans go when they long for a simpler time when stadiums were smaller, players didn't wear enough body armor to walk straight from the dugout into a joust, and batters actually hustled to beat out that grounder to short? College, of course. There, kids who have benefited from a lifetime of screaming Little League dads finally have their shot at meeting Scott Boras and becoming an overpaid, underperforming marquee player embroiled in a steroid scandal.
And to dovetail with that review, I made Champion Baseball the subject of this week's Games of our Lives:
In 1983, most arcade denizens were looking to live out lives in space, magic mazes, or other extraordinary realities. Other than lackluster efforts like Extra Bases, America's pastime was curiously absent from arcades until Sega released Champion Baseball, giving Leo Durocher wannabes a chance to manage one of 12 MLB-esque teams to victory in a pixelated little field where the weather was always perfect and the stands were always filled to capacity.
Kids today might not like it because: They choose to play as California, (which is what the Angels were called before they were the Los Angeles Angels of we're-really-in-Orange-County-but-want-Los-Angeles-in-our-name fame), and find that their pitcher is "Bert" instead of Nolan Ryan. Sorry, kids, it's 1983, and licensing for video games is still a decade away.
So, does anyone know when pitchers and catchers report to Spring training? I have, uh, a friend who wants to know.