The Camden Bard

Virtual Reality

Posted in orioles by audienceoftwo on March 26, 2009

I am now four games into my 162-game season in MLB 2K9 on XBox 360, and the virtual Orioles are 1-3 thus far.  The various maddening glitches, hitches, and twitches of this year’s edition of the game have been actively covered elsewhere, so I won’t dwell on them too much–but the thing I find most striking about the game is that despite the common occurrence of such wondrous events as a throw beating the runner to first base by ten steps and the runner being called safe, it actually sort of manages to emulate the viability of the real-life Orioles fairly well.

In the first game, Jeremy Guthrie kept the Orioles in the game for six innings, giving up four runs.  He then handed the ball off to Jim Hoey, who allowed six runs over two innings, putting the game out of reach.  The Orioles scratched out 4 runs on clutch hits from Melvin Mora and Aubrey Huff.  In Game 2, Koji Uehara and his nonexistent off-speed repetoire were tagged for 11 runs in the first two innings, after which Dennis Sarfate pitched five scoreless frames, during which the offense again assembled four runs out of a patchwork of clutch hitting from Mora, Huff, and Wieters (who is listed as “Mark Weathers” in the game, because he is not yet a member of the players union.  Uehara also has an alias–something or other “Uto”).  In Game 3, Rich Hill (whose left arm will be sorely missed in the rotation as he begins the year on the DL) pitched a solid but wobbly seven innings, allowing five runs on fifteen hits, but the offense came alive with seven runs (two of them on a homer by Adam Jones, who is eight for his last ten–and who the buzz indicates may be poised for a breakout year), and Chris Ray surrendered a run in his first appearance since his surgery, but got the save.  In Game Four, Matt Albers (who will also admittedly not be a part of the 2009 rotation to start the season) held Tampa Bay to two runs through six innings, and then exploded in the seventh, allowing five runs without recording an out.  Jim Johnson entered and proceeded to surrender three more runs, but the Orioles rallied to close the gap to 10-9 with more clutch hitting from Mora, Jones (and, hilariously, Cesar Izturis) in the eighth.  They were unable to close the gap further, however, and ended up losing 11-9.

Roster-based inconsistencies aside, it’s hard to imagine the Birds first few games in real life going very differently than this (unfortunately).  A wobbly pitching staff will be enough to keep the opposing teams at bay temporarily, but no amount of run support from the undeniably potent Orioles lineup can make up for the lack of overall competence from the mound.  Replace Hill and Albers with any of the other contenders for the remaining three spots in the rotation–Mark Hendrickson, Alfredo Simon, Hayden Penn–and the results are likely to be the same: flashes of quality but little hope of anything sustainable.

The question, of course, is does that mean it is actually fun to play MLB 2K9?  I suppose there’s a certain geeky glory in callibrating the progress of a make-believe cadre of animated sprites to match that of their human counterparts–but it would be cooler if at least one version of the Orioles had an .800 winning percentage, and it ain’t lookin’ like Team Trembley is going to fill the bill.


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