This Week @ Shack: 'I Can Be Centerfield' Edition

In which we welcome the new season of Ameria's pastime with TV analogies.


Welcome back to This Week @ Shack, your weekly dose of news, commentary, video, guides, and goings-on.

Almost every year around this time, the consistently pretty great reviews for MLB: The Show 17 make me wonder if I should try picking up the virtual bat again. It's the springtime equivalent to "maybe I should try Madden" in the fall. Without fail, though, I've always found that I'm more excited about playing sports games on a theoretical level than in practical use. Somehow, they always lose me after only a few days.

That's not to take away from the craftsmanship of them. MLB The Show is a respected series for good reason. Madden has had a rockier history with more ups and downs, but it's still the go-to example for simulation football. And while I enjoy watching football on TV, or baseball in-person because it's boring on TV, the simulation just doesn't connect with me. 

(I haven't tried MLB The Show 17 yet, and our reviewer Bryan Carr makes it sound pretty great. But he also has baseball pajamas, so.)

I watched Sports Night a few years after its short-lived run, and the very first episode has a scene that constantly comes to mind when I play simulation sports games. Casey, the anchor, is talking with Jeremy, the researcher. Jeremy goes into exhaustive detail about a series of no less than seven pitches that eventually led to a grounder to the shortstop. Casey is baffled by putting all that detail into a highlight reel, but Jeremy calls it "the inevitable conclusion to a job well done." 

It's a solid punchline, but playing simulation sports games always makes me feel like Casey. I don't have a head for all the careful nuances of baseball, or football for that matter. And in a world where The Show owns baseball and Madden owns football, there isn't much room for casual, arcade sports games. Give me an NBA Jam or NFL Blitz or even Cyberball. I just want the highlights. 

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