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talkin' baseball

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.

Comments

Here's to hoping my Dodgers can make a run of it this year. Maybe the new big name talent can come up with some wins. I predict a third place finish, though. We have an uncanny knack for blowing it at the end of the season. And they better put Izturis back as SS. He's arened the right to play there more than Furcal.

By arened, I mean earned, of course. :)

Pitchers and catchers... already have?

http://www.springtrainingonline.com/features/reporting_dates.htm

My team actually looks like they have a shot this year. I wonder how they'll screw it up.

Wow, I havent played a baseball video game in almost 2 years. I wish the Phillies would be back in the playoffs too.

The Jays have already been practicing in their FLA digs.

Indeed, pitchers and catchers are already onsite. This year, we have some extra-special action at the spring training sites, as lots of exhibitions between MLB teams and World Baseball Classic teams will be taking place.

As someone living in the Tampa Bay area, mecca for spring baseball, I'm gonna be a happy boy :-)

I love baseball. If I could head to Florida to see some spring traning I would definetly go. I'll be there on opening day and hopefully it'll be a great year for my Jays. April can't get here fast enough.

The pitchers and catchers for my beloved Milwaukee Brewers reported to camp today.

Wil,
Baseball season will be starting very soon. Video games are no match for the real thing. Hang in there. You have been through much worse.


FG

Wow! This post brought up a long lost memory of my first [that I remember] Dodger game. My parents pulled my brother and I out of school early, on a Friday, I think, and we drove the 2 hour drive to LA under the guise of "going to the opera". Lame! When we got into the LA area, mom noticed we had a lot of time until the opera started, so "lets just drive around a bit." Next thing I know, we're pulling into the stadium parking log. My brother and I totally freaked out.

Good times.

Holy Infield Fly Rule, Batman. I've been reading your blog for awhile, and now I am certain that we must be distant relatives or some weird karmic brothers or something. It was one thing that you were associated with Star Trek, which I've always prefered over Star Wars, (BTW- I didn't much care for your character either) and you like D&D (I miss your Dungeon essays), but now you turn out to be a baseball-aholic, too! Well, raise my rent! There are some differences though, as I come from that really ugly addicted side; you know where you find the Cubs, Astros, and Mets fans. I'm a Ranger true-believer. Our motto is "Next year will definitly be the year!" I know we're a little Masochistic, but somebody has to root for them, or they will move to Montreal or something. Good Luck to your Dodgers this year.

Great post, Wil. I'm a baseball fan since childhood too, and I always feel a little empty from the end of the World Series until spring training starts. My team allegiances tend to shift as I move around the country, so I am a Texas Rangers rooter now, but I still like the Dodgers, and the Reds, who were my favorite team while I was growing up in northern Kentucky. Bring on Opening Day!

Truly, this is one of the greatest reasons to reside in Florida: Spring Training. I am so looking forward to weekend games around the state. This weekend, however, I am hunkered down and avoiding the hundreds of thousands of racing fans as they infiltrate my little beach. There will be no driving. Anywhere.

Heya Wil: Tried to find an email for ya, so I wasn't pimping this in public... so forgive me (and please delete) if this is, um, inappropriate (?)...

...but being as you are a baseball fan, I just started a baseball related podcast with a fellow basegall geek at -- of course -- baseballgeeks.com.

Would appreciate your comments, as a fellow podcaster (we're available at Itunes, too -- link at the bgeeks site).

Thanks for listening, and Go Dodgers! NL West Championship EASILY this year.

First to all the doggers fans this year Bonds drives the Giants back up on top :p

Also, why is it that the NCAA games never get licensed for PC.

"Wil Wheaton can't believe you called that a strike. Seriously. Are you even watching the game?"

"Yesterday it might have been a ball. Tomorrow it might be a ball. Today, I say it's a STRIKE!"

Anyway, I note that the Colorado Rockies have opened their spring training, at Hi Corbett Field in Tucson, AZ. Apparently, a lot of other players showed up with the pitchers and catchers...they were anxious to get started!

Ah, Earl Weaver Baseball on the Commodore 64 was the be-all and end-all of electronic baseball.

[Visit to the mound after pitcher's velocity has dropped 30% and has given up several consecutive home rums. Several masses of white pixels converge on a brownish spot in the midst of monotone green.]

EARL WEAVER: How's the arm?

PITCHER: Arm feels great!

CATCHER: He's got good stuff.

(I don't think I ever saw the pitcher and catcher say anything else. It didn't matter whether you put a closer in as the starter and the game went into extra innings; the pitcher was always gung-ho and the catcher was there to support him.)

Pittsburgh's got Jim Tracy now, and despite what you Dodger fans might think of him, I'm looking forward to a fun season at PNC Park this year. If I'm wrong about Tracy and I've got nothing else to show for it, at least I've got great seats in a great ballpark. The grass still smells the same whether we win or lose.

Incidentally, I think that may be what's missing from baseball simulation games -- you just don't get the smell of the grass. Top 5 things I'd be looking for in a new baseball game: (1) smell of the grass, (2) wooden fences, (3) voice of Vin Scully, (4) no DHs, and (5) the opportunity to pitch Walter Johnson against Barry Bonds.

To hell with Christmas. Baseball season is the most wonderful time of year.

April 4th will be my 7th consecutive Jays Home Opener. I usually treat it like a national holiday; take the day off, watch baseball movies during the weeks leading up to the big day, drink all the ($11 pints) I want. I can’t.freakin’.wait.

Cheers,
EmRB

I loved Championship Baseball and played it daily at the deli by my school at least until I got Bases Loaded for the NES. I've tried many baseball games since and never had as much fun as I did with those two.

Six weeks untill opening day. Good times.