America’s 16-bit Pastime

I went to the White Sox game yesterday. Full disclosure: I don’t follow baseball all that much. As a Chicagoan who currently lives near Wrigley Field but grew up in the near south suburbs, people sometimes find my lack of allegiance to either the Cubs or Sox problematic.

I am, however, a big fan of excessive day drinking. Since the Sox provided me with a socially acceptable context to pound shitty beer in a parking lot, yesterday I was definitely a Sox fan.

Baseball video games were never my favorite growing up but I played them a lot, almost always with my more athletically minded friends, who, y’know, played real baseball.

I stopped the year after T-ball where the T was replaced with an adult who generously lobbed pitches to the kids. The pitches were thrown to be hit so if you struck out you just sucked. It was called “Coach Pitch” even though the coaches weren’t always pitching but “Adult Pitch” is vague and terrifying.

Generally, I just sucked. I developed a general dislike for playing actual baseball when I discovered the game consists of lots of standing around with intermittent bursts of embarrassing physical ineptness.I still played pick-up games. If I was going to suck, I would do it in the comfort of my own neighborhood where my low athletic expectations preceded me.

I remember bouncing around between a handful of Genesis games including RBI Baseball ‘94, Cal Ripken Jr. Baseball, and Tommy Lasorda Baseball. The latter was by far the worst. Tommy Lasorda’s Baseball was released in ’89 and felt outdated by the mid 90s but we’d still play it despite having better options. I don’t know why. Kids are dumb.

As a kid, I thought this was Bill Clinton.

RBI Baseball  ’94 was the last entry in a series that started on the NES, and, not surprisingly, was the best baseball entry on the Genesis/Megadrive. And the music was fantastic. As I write this, I have the music from the game blasting through my speakers to put me in the right mental space.

My favorite part of Cal Ripken Jr. Baseball was that the SNES version had a cheat that let you play as a team of Cal Ripken Juniors. Alas, the Genesis version, to my knowledge, didn’t have the capability for that nonsense.


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One response to “America’s 16-bit Pastime

  1. Pingback: A looser definition of sports games | Super Memory Bros.

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