Posts Tagged ‘Baseball’

MLB 2K11 First Impressions

In case you didn’t already know, we’re huge baseball fans here at gordtep.com. We’re also pretty passionate video game enthusiasts. With that said, every spring, we’re not just craving baseball, but we’re also anxiously awaiting the annual release from the MLB 2K series. Since the demo was available this morning on XBox Live, I am now prepared to give my first impressions of this year’s game.

Before we get into 2K11, I think some background is in order. I’ve been playing baseball video games dating back to the early 1980s on the Atari system. So without further ado, you get a bonus in this blog: My Top 10 Baseball Video Games

  1. BASEBALL STARS, NES, 1989
  2. MLB 2K8, XBOX 360, 2008
  3. MVP BASEBALL, PS2, 2005
  4. BASES LOADED, NES, 1988
  5. HARDBALL, C64, 1985
  6. EARL WEAVER BASEBALL, PC, 1987
  7. HARDBALL 5, PC, 1996
  8. TRIPLE PLAY BASEBALL, PC, 2000
  9. R.B.I. BASEBALL, NES, 1987
  10. ALL STAR BASEBALL 2005, XBOX, 2004

Yeah, Kev would say it’s blasphemous that I ranked RBI Baseball so low on my list. It was groundbreaking because it was the first NES game to use real players, but I preferred playing all the ones ranked ahead of it for one reason or another.

So here’s the quick and dirty review.

It doesn’t exactly knock my socks off.

HITTING

From the demo, it’s just “meh.” If the actual game allows, I’ll probably get a different camera. I just never really got into that “catcher’s perspective” view that World Series Baseball introduced in the mid 90s. If I can change that, maybe I can just go with the standard broadcast, behind-the-pitcher view. The analog hitting controls don’t really do much for me either, so I’m switching to basic which lets me time the swing better. It seems to eliminate the power swing — not sure if that means anything. Maybe it just hits home runs if you time a pitch perfectly, with the right hitter, in the right situation? Whatever. Hitting seems to be OK on the surface, I guess. I’d need to play with it some more and see how the results turn out.

PITCHING

The analog pitching is complete crap. The pitch selection, followed by the gesture is so dumb. Why not one or the other? I won’t really hold this against them though because it lets you switch back to classic controls very easily, and those work just fine.

FIELDING

I’ll hand it to them on this. The fielding felt like it was much improved. It also allows for analog or classic controls on the throwing. My preference was actually the analog here. Kudos, 2K, you got something right.

GAME SPEED

I’m not even talking about frame rate or any of that here (though that seems pretty smooth to be honest). What I want is to be able to skip all the worthless cut scenes and random nonsense that prevents me from completing a game in 15-20 minutes. The Demo does a good job of letting you skip in between pitches with a tap of the A button. However, the rest of it seems to take a bit too long for my taste. I want to move along as fast as possible after each pitch/play/inning. In previous years, they had some sort of “hurry-up” mode. That was a great idea, but I just remember that it prevented me from seeing any sort of statistics during the game. Just because I want to get through games quickly doesn’t mean I don’t want to know the pitcher’s ERA and the hitter’s batting average. I guess we’ll see about these options once the game is officially released and people can really test it all out.

FRANCHISE/ONLINE

This is all still unanswered, and it’s a critical component. For some reason, year after year, they can never get this aspect right. Here’s what we want: ONLINE FRANCHISE WITH A MIX OF CPU & HUMAN PLAYERS. Why is that such a difficult program to implement? Oh, yeah, we also want online play to actually work — not some laggy, buggy mess. The ability to condense the league and shorten the schedule would be tremendous as well. This stuff seems so simple to add, yet they avoid it and keep coming up with crappy Home Run Derby modes that aren’t even any fun.

VERDICT

I’m still on the fence. Will I buy it? I probably will because I don’t have any other options. They have the exclusive MLB license on Xbox 360, so my only alternative would be to purchase a PS3 for MLB 11 The Show (which I hear is terrific). I guess that’s an option, but my preference is to avoid stacking dozens of electronic devices that cost hundreds of dollars, ya know? It is what it is.

Ham City Kev’s 2010 MLB Post-Season predictions

Hello again everybody. It was a short summer and the Mets did practically nothing to make mine exciting. Speaking of baseball, here it is: my predictions for this year’s post-season.

A few thoughts first…

  • There are no locks for anything this year. I’d say the Braves and the Reds have no chance, but baseball has a funny way of seeing inferior teams get hot in October and becoming unbeatable. Therefore, no guarantees.
  • Nice to see every team in the playoffs have at least 90 wins. It’s the first time we’ve had it since 2004.
  • The Phillies certainly look unstoppable, but to win 3 pennants in a row might just be too much. Funny thing is, Gord and I have seen the pennant three-peat happen twice in our lives: the Athletics in 88, 89, and 90; and the Yankees in 98, 99, and 00 (and later 01, but nevermind that now). Could the Phillies make it 08, 09, 10? Is this really something that now happens exactly once every ten years?
  • MAN I hope we get to see November baseball in Minnesota! Where would Bud Selig watch from, the 32-degree front row or a heated luxury suite in the magnificent new Target Field–home to a team he wanted to contract 8 years ago? How about a Phillies/Twins Fall Classic? It could be the first time the temperature never rises above 50 in the Series! Hey Bud, thanks for letting TV dictate baseball’s schedule! Really, you’re doing an admirable job.
  • Last year I saw the Twins send off the Metrodome the right way, and this year I saw them do a perfect job with Target Field. Because these are 2 things the Mets simply couldn’t do, I adopted the Twins as my AL team out of admiration. So, sorry Twins fans, you’re doomed.

Anyway, onto the predictions:

DIVISIONAL SERIES
Cincinatti Reds vs Philadelphia Phillies:
Reds finished 20-33 against winning teams and were only 34-34 outside the NL Central. Phillies have Halladay, Oswalt, and Hamels. Sorry Cincy. Phillies in 3.

Atlanta Braves vs San Francisco Giants: Braves backed into the playoffs (an alarming trend amongst this year’s “elite”) and simply do not look like the same team they were throughout the summer. The Giants big 3 starters are second only to the Phillies. Giants in 3.

New York Yankees vs Minnesota Twins: Ugh… again? I’ll say that this is the best shot the Twins have ever had to beat the Yankees, and that Target Field could give them a huge boost, but it’s the fucking Yankees. Unfortunately, you just don’t bet against them. I’ve learned that lesson many times. And who cares if the Yankees are playing like garbage, so are the Twins! So were the Cards and Tigers in 2006 and the Yankees in fucking shithead 2000. It means nothing. Yankees in 4.

Texas Rangers vs Tampa Bay Rays: The Rangers are the only team in the AL that didn’t stumble to the finish, but their 44-43 record outside of the West is troubling. Still, in a short series I think they have a great chance at upsetting the Rays. This series above all other could go either way. I’ll go out on a limb and say Rangers in 4.

LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
San Francisco Giants vs Philadelphia Phillies:
Pitching fans rejoice–until you remember that the Phils and their Fisher Price ballpark have home field advantage. The Giants starting 3 are fantastic, but I’ll give the Phils’ counterparts the edge due to their experience and ability to pitch well in Philly. Phillies in 5. Oh crap, I see where this is heading…

New York Yankees vs Texas Rangers: As if Twins fans won’t be suffering enough from another loss at the hands of the Yankees, here we go again with the Rangers. The big difference between now and 1996, 1998, and 1999 is that the Rangers finally have pitching, but don’t be shocked if the Yankees rotation miraculously falls in line here and balls start bouncing their way. Yankees in 5.

WORLD SERIES
New York Yankees vs Philadelphia Phillies:
AGAIN! Why not? The 2 most disgusting fan bases in baseball for America’s enjoyment. Met fans suffering through another 2 weeks of “who are you rooting for?” (I’m rooting for a stadium collapse, as usual). Me watching the whole series on mute because I can’t stand to hear either fanbase happy (also to save myself from Buck and McCarver, but that’s a given). One year later and the Phillies are a better team, the Yankees a worse one. For this prediction, I revert to history: The Yankees always win championships in bunches. Maybe this is an off year and they’ll pick up a pair in 2011 and 2012, but my gut tells me I’ll be suffering through another Yankees championship and another unfortunate incident of the Wild Card coming out on top. Shout all you want about Halladay, Oswalt, and Hamels, but the Braves of the 90s proved that formula doesn’t always work. It would be FANTASTIC if–for the first time ever–the home team loses every World Series game, but I’ll say: Yankees in 6.

God dammit.

Happy 10th Anniversary Grand Slam Single

Just a quick note to say that on this date 10 years ago, this happened:

It was, and still is, my all-time greatest moment as a Met fan. If you’re looking for me today, I’ll be sitting at home with the the Essential Games of Shea Stadium dvd collection, watching Disc 4: Game 5 of the 1999 NLCS.

Ham City Kev’s 2009 MLB Post-Season predictions

Once I get started on baseball it’s hard to stop me, so I’ll try and keep this brief. First of all, congratulations Twins. That playoff was one for the ages. As Bob Murphy might have said, “this is heart-stopping baseball. Pulsating baseball. Nobody has sat down in the last 4 or 5 innings, incredible!”

Now, let’s talk playoffs. Things to look for:
1. Since the introduction of the Wild Card, only the legendary 1998 Yankees have had sole possession of the best overall regular-season record to go along with a World Series trophy. Will this trend continue, or are the 2009 Yankees that good?

2. In 2006, limping into the playoffs seemed to work for the Cardinals. Will history repeat for the 2009 group of Redbirds?

3. Can the Phils score enough runs to support their dogshit bullpen?

4. Should the Dodgers barely miss the World Series, can the Curse of Don Mattingly get national attention?

5. Can the Twins ride their ridiculous hot streak straight to the World Series like the 2007 Rockies did, or is their competition just too strong?

6a. Can the Angels finally beat the Red Sox in October?
6b. Can the Yankees finally beat the Angels in October?

With the Metsies long out of it, the question is who do I root for? Though I pretty much hate all other National League teams, anyone who has no personal stake in these playoffs should be rooting for the Rockies. If Bud Selig is greedy enough to allow World Series games in November (without the help of terrorism), then he deserves the headache coming to him when Coors Field is covered in 4 feet of snow come Game 3. In the American League I’d like to see the Twins get a shot to keep this decade’s list of Champions between 9 teams instead of 8. If the Angels win, fine. If the Red Sox win, fine–but seriously, fucking enough already.

Anyone but the fucking Yankees. They’ve had their century. Now, onto my official predictions (please note I’m predicting with my head, not my heart):

DIVISIONAL SERIES
Yankees over Twins in 3
Red Sox over Angels in 4

Cardinals over Dodgers in 4
Phillies over Rockies in 5

CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
Yankees over Red Sox in 5
Cardinals over the Phillies in 4

WORLD SERIES
Yankees over Cardinals in 4

If I’m right, I feel awful sorry for Twins, Red Sox, and Cardinals fans who watch the Yankees win it on their turf, then go on to hear about how inferior they are from visiting douchebag Yankee fans as they exit their stadium–especially you poor Twins fans. Those fans can at least take solace that they aren’t Mets fans who have to put up with that shit on a daily basis–amongst many other headaches of course.

(for those wondering how good I am at predicting baseball, typically I’m either 90% right or 100% wrong, but it’s rarely in the middle. Just flip a coin. Shit, it’s baseball–I’m pretty sure odds makers do the same thing.)

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