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Strange memories of baseball video games

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You don’t have to be a madman to type this stuff, but you do to publish it. Draw your own conclusions.

Seattle Mariners v Minnesota Twins
Wow, that’s a lot of sponsorships. Good on you, Trevor May. Get that money, honey.
Photo by Andy King/Getty Images

I put on a hat the other day.

(I should just end this right there, it’s the greatest opening sentence I’ve ever typed.)

This hat said, in generic font, “TWINS” on the front. It’s not an official Twins cap. It’s a promo cap I got once by pre-ordering MLB: The Show.

To my horror, it said on one side, “MLB 06: The Show.”

2006! Have I really been playing a video game for 13 years? A children’s toy, simulating a children’s game? Why didn’t I learn a language or something?

Oh, well, when disappointed with your flaws, might as well continue them! So I bought MLB 19. It is awesome? It’s always awesome, duh. Bryce Harper is on the cover. Because when they put Joe Mauer on the cover, not only did games fly off the shelves in Minnesota, so did PlayStations. Sony owns PlayStation, and they own the company which makes “The Show,” so I assume they’re selling well in eastern Pennsylvania.

I can look back over the years of playing baseball video games, and it’s like a little history of my life’s various decisions. Hey, don’t knock me for this. Start of the season brings back memories. Baseball just does this to ya, it’s the history sport. Basketball and NFL football have equally fascinating histories, but for some reason, their fans generally aren’t into that stuff. In baseball, they are.

So it’s perfectly normal to travel down Memory Lane when the new season starts, right? Riiiiight. (You keep telling yourself that, James. Any normal person would say “your Memory Lane is a bad street full of potholes and broken glass shards.”)

Triple Play Baseballl, PS1, 2000: Bought this in Santa Barbara. I was living in Santa Barbara because my oldest friend invited me to live there, we’d be buddies. Then my friend got cooler friends in LA and left a month later. (There’s a reason Steve Goodman wrote a song called “California Promises.”) So I’m stuck in this horrible rent-a-room in Santa Barbara with no friends and a landlord who calls me a loser.

Later on, this loser would be up at 2AM enjoying Triple Play when he smelled smoke. The house was on fire. The landlord’s drug-dealing 40-ish son had stiffed a guy, who rolled up some carpet remnants, doused ‘em with gas, put ‘em by the front door, and lit a match.

I yelled and yelled until everybody in the house was going “oh, shit! FIRE!” Then I fled out the backdoor. I ain’t going anywhere near no flames, that’s beyond my pay grade.

When I moved out, the landlord took me aside. “I just want you to remember, for the rest of your days, that you saved our lives that night. That means something.”

All I could think was, great. That’s what I’ll gasp out on my deathbed. “I could have been a better husband, a better lover, a better friend, better brother, better man overall. I failed at all my dreams and caused emotional harm to others. But, you know, I saved some asshole landlords once, so it was all worth it. (aaaaaargh burp, the end).”

I thought it, didn’t say it. Too polite, I guess. So it was time to move to Minnesota.

High Heat Baseball, PS2, 2002: I really wanted this game, and I really wanted a PS2. But it was hard to reach a Best Buy via bus from my Saint Paul apartment. It was, however, pretty easy to reach a Best Buy near where I worked. If I could just borrow the company van for a bit, 20 minutes or so, consider it a lunch break... (we were not supposed to take lunch breaks).

My boss found out, and was kinda upset. We went out for drinks some time after, where I admitted I was wrong borrowing the van. The issue was patched up.

We went out for drinks again, eventually, after that. Then another time. Then I ended up having sex with my boss.

Kids, let me share some words of wisdom:

#1: If food in the fridge smells funky, do not eat it. #2: NEVER HAVE SEX WITH YOUR BOSS NOT EVER IT DOESN’T END WELL

“High Heat” was the first baseball game I owned which let you adjust player attributes, though, so that was cool.

Reason to buy PS3, 2014: So I was dating a different person in a different apartment in Saint Paul (one that ex-boss helped me find, BTW), trying to sleep, and there was this annoying sound of water dripping. Check the kitchen faucet. No, that’s not it. Check the bathroom faucet. Nope. Must be imagining it. Back to sleep.

Then the drip turned into a steady trickle.

I turned on the bathroom light this time. Paint on the shower ceiling had schlumped downwards like an inverse Metrodome, and at the bottom there was water trickling out.

I called the absentee landlord’s office; closed. I looked up his home number on the InterWebz. “How’d you find this number?” “Never mind, my bathroom ceiling’s leaking.” “I’ll have maintenance look at it tomorrow, don’t call me at home, ever.”

The trickle became a steady stream, and then the roof collapsed. Just boom, all at once, wood and plaster and water everywhere. I called the landlord again. “It’s got to be a problem with the upstairs apartment, go figure it out!”

I went upstairs. The guy upstairs was stoned out of his mind, playing Madden on his PS3. His toilet was clogged from too much TP. So, when the need arose, he would pee in it, flush it again. His bathroom was an inch deep in ook water. I ran downstairs, grabbed my plunger, went up, unclogged his toilet. Lo and behold, problem solved.

(Wisdom To Youth #3: have a plunger.)

Me and my girlfriend did our best to mop up the pee-poo water in my apartment with all my old clothes she hated anyway. “And now we’re putting these in garbage bags and throwing them away,” she said. She was right. (Usually is.)

I envied the cool graphics I saw on that idiot upstairs guy’s PS3. So I bought one.

The Show, 2016: That previous landlord (a skinflint, but you could reason with him), had retired. His son took over. And his son was so much worse. Just an utter slimeball. He’d hang out in the lobby at the beginning of every month, hitting on young college-student women who were moving in. “Hi, I own this place. Would you like to see my expensive car? It’s parked right outside.” Slicked-back hair, the whole bit. One of those people who give off “creep” from 20 yards away.

He absolutely refused to ever fix the elevator. Which broke constantly, the building was 100 years old. There were several older, mobility-challenged people in that building. Stairs are hard with a walker. Landlord didn’t care.

One time I’m leaving for work, and four paramedics are frantically pushing the elevator button. “You’re gonna have to take the stairs,” I told them. “That thing never works. Hasn’t for years.” They started cursing and carrying a stretcher upstairs. I don’t know what happened to the person they were trying to help.

That got the Fire Marshall on my landlord’s ass, and a new elevator was bought. Every unit got new smoke alarms, too. Unfortunately, they were all synced. One person overcooks some pizza, the whole building goes off with an unholy shrieking sound.

The first time this happened with my girlfriend there, she was horrified. “How often does this happen? “Once a day, or so.” “We have got to revisit that moving into my place discussion.” “I know, I know.”

Well, one day, I’m playing The Show, and that damn alarm goes off. No big. Ignore it.

Until I smell the Building On Fire Smell. Once you’ve smelled it, you can’t un-smell it. Sure enough, the building was burning. And seconds later, the firepeople bang on my door. At first, they say “keep the door open!” (Because I had this little 12-inch window fan, that could presumably blow out smoke.) Then, after yelling amongst themselves, they’re like, “move, move, move!” The hallway was pitch black. I don’t think my window fan would have cut it.

The landlord, true to form, was a total dick about fire repair. We’d just get notices like “you have 24 hours to move all your belongings from the walls so that painters can come in, or you will be evicted.” This happened twice. Babani’s, a Saint Paul restaurant that’s kind of an institution, moved out to avoid that jerkmonster. It was time to revisit that “move into my place” conversation.

The Show, PS4, 2019: So I’ve been married and co-habitating for 2+ years now, and I haven’t made any money during the entire time. It’s bad, I’m not holding up my end of the bargain. But I have savings I can milk for about another year.

In such a situation, is it right to buy a video game and new system to play it? Probably not.

What the heck, though. If “quit while you’re ahead” is good advice, than “keep going when you’re behind” must be, too, right? Let’s end with that.

And I put on a hat the other day.