Siberian Baseball

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

This is my "prove it to me" face

There's an interesting article on Kotaku about the spring release of MLB 2K10, which amounts to your only option for a simulation-based baseball game on the Xbox 360 this year. Obviously, you can always go out and buy "The Bigs" but if you want a game that most closely resembles what you see on TV (especially in the post-Roid era) this is it.

For the record, last year was the first time in a decade that I opted for none of the above when springtime rolled around and I needed my baseball fix. If you need any explanation as to why, look no further than the review's first few sentences:

2K Sports' baseball franchise, maybe more than any other sports title, will have this year's title judged against and compared to last year's offering, and not for its good qualities.

It's hard to tell whether last year's MLB 2K9 - one of the worst-reviewed (and deservedly so) games ever for this class of sports simulation - raises or lowers consumer expectations for MLB 2K10. 2K9 suffered from glitches, clipping, bizarre baserunning and fielding AI, and, frankly, unacceptable graphics, especially in the player modeling.

Setting that aside, I was unimpressed with the buggy nature of the previous offering and decided that I wasn't going to waste any more money until I saw some signs of improvement.

It's become industry standard for sports titles to update rosters, add new stadiums and introduce a new control gimmick, regardless of the sport. Jump around to reviews of the Madden franchise and you'll likely see complaints that echo those thoughts.

At the core, however, I require the games to play and play well. Unfortunately, after signing the exclusive license, 2K went off the rails with its baseball offerings. Those shortcoming are well-documented here. And here. And here (which is my favorite, as I got to title a post, "Thanks for the bobblehead, a-holes).

By this early report, it looks like the franchise might be on the mend - but I still find it appalling that the reason they claim last year was such a failure was a nine-month production timeline. While I can appreciate that the team is apparently taking responsibility for such a failure, that doesn't do much to restore their credibility until they start to produce a worthwhile product again.

More than that, where's the pressure from MLB to get this right or to step aside for someone who can produce? They have essentially handed their exclusive license over to a company that not only shoots themselves in the foot, but also edges baseball out of a market that is already dominated by the Maddens and FIFAs of the world.

By my count, it's been 2 or 3 years since I've seen a respectable game for the 360 and I'm out of patience. I can only imagine how upset the league must be at this point.

(Image from:


Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Hawk landed... we get it

Anyone surfing through today learned two things.

First, Andre Dawson was elected to the Hall of Fame with 77.9 percent of the votes and second,'s writers and editors are really married to that "Hawk has landed" headline. So much so, they went back to the well for the embedded video.

I can only imagine how the Chicago media will handle it tonight at 10 p.m. I'm sure it will be reserved and pun-free.

Two things stick out in my mind regarding Dawson and his career with the Cubs. I now know the back story of the blank contract gamble - one of the ballsiest moves he could have made that offseason and a story that lives on as example of how players of yesterday were somehow playing for the game. Honestly, I think the truth lies somewhere between "players are just looking for the cash grab" and "players before 1990 would have played for free, they just loved baseball that much."

It's a bit strange to look back now and see this as one of the last times that I was totally unaware of the politics and economics of professional sports. I knew that Keith Moreland was no longer the starting right fielder, knew that Dawson was really, really good, but still had no real idea of what had just happened.

While that's pretty insignificant in the bigger picture of Dawson's career and election to the hall, it's a major piece of this puzzle for me. This is where I oversimplify in the name of nostalgia and sepia-hued memories of summers past.

It was only a few years after the Dawson deal that I started getting an expanded world view, saw Greg Maddux leave for contractual reasons (a landmark, "Wait, what???" moment in my young life) and started to quietly resent any front office of my chosen teams unless they had delivered a championship in the past 365 days.

I love picking apart deals, debating how much of a role Mark Teixeiras' wife had in landing him in the Bronx and playfully picking fights with Frank over what role a Kenny Williams man-crush has in his judgement from year to year.

On the other hand, there's quite a bit to be said for being ignorant to the process and just watching new players appear in the field on Opening Day. I imagine this is much like enjoying sausage because you never have to see it made.

Finally, I can't shake the image of Dawson at Ryne Sandberg's induction a few years ago, moving so gingerly because his knees have really given out on him. It was a little hard to watch, but incredibly powerful to see Sandberg recognize Dawson from the podium. Because of this, of course there is no video available to link here. I'll keep looking.

Instead, here's a transcript from the day:

Andre Dawson, the Hawk. No player in baseball history worked harder, suffered more or did it better than Andre Dawson. He's the best I've ever seen. Stand up Hawk. The Hawk. I watched him win MVP for a last place team in 1987 and it was the most unbelievable thing I've ever seen in baseball. He did it the right way, the natural way and he did it in the field and on the bases and in every way, and I hope he will stand up here someday. We didn't get to a World Series together but we almost got there, Hawk. That's my regret, that we didn't get to a World Series for Cub fans. I was in the post season twice and I'm thankful for that. Twice we came close.

I'll be looking foward to the statues of both players popping up outside of Wrigley in the next year or two.

Under the fold on this story are the players who didn't make the cut this year. Bert Blyleven missed yet again, but by only five votes this time around. Keeping in mind that players need 75 percent of the vote or better, here were the players who gained a majority of the votes this time around:

Bert Blyleven - 74.2%
Roberto Alomar - 73.7%
Jack Morris - 52.3%
Barry Larkin - 51.6%

Bringing up the rear with 0% of the votes were Todd Zeile, Shane Reynolds, Ray Lankford and Mike Jackson (the former pitcher for the Phillies, Mariners, Giants, Reds, Indians, Astros, Twins and White Sox, not the deceased King of Pop. That would be weird.)

(Image from: