Despite growing up in the UK, last year I started playing MLB: The Show 22 as part of a growing fascination with baseball inspired by Shohei Ohtani, the cover star of the game that once-in-a-century Had talent. I created a character imitating him, Jack Kirby, a two-way player who had the ability to regularly hit home runs and pitch at a specific level. it was actually considered impossible Outside of a video game before Ohtani. Since I was still learning the game, most of my time was spent in career mode, Road to the Show.
Personal achievement is the ultimate goal of Road to the Show. Teams are intentionally set up to be fleeting – you’re drafted through a somewhat baffling conversation tree, and you move through two minor-league teams over the course of a few months. because you control your character only for the moments when they are really Play, Winning individual games or seasons is almost entirely out of your hands. You can pitch perfectly, or hit two home runs, only to find that your team has lost by a wide margin. All that matters is that your personal stats go up, and your contract grows. Theoretically, your money should increase as well, and your career earnings are placed at the bottom of the statistics page.
But here’s the thing about MLB: The show mirrors real-life MLB contracts, and that means playing for a team for at least two years, with renegotiated salaries over and above the league minimum. have the ability to do. Six years to gain the ability to go into free agency and change teams, regardless of how much wealth the player creates for a team. This means that even if money is one of the only worthwhile long-term goals to strive for, every start means that hundreds of real-world hours can be spent negotiating raises or replacement teams.
By the end of my second in-game year, Jack Kirby was the greatest player ever to live on the field, but the fascinating thing is that MLB: The Show forces you to come to terms with the fact that you can be so great. and still can be paid. minimum wage For a ball player. I spent a lot of time staring at the locker room, looking at Jack’s phone, bored out of his mind. I won the World Series, only to see Jack doing exactly what he’s always done: staring at his phone, immobile. Even though the game would never directly say so, you feel like you’ve been exploited, a refreshingly awkward feeling to get from an annual sports game.
There’s a particularly taunting moment where you call your agent, say you want out of your contract, he says he’s “working on it”, and then he gives you half a year’s notice. Doesn’t call back. To get a big raise or switch teams, my options were to either keep playing all my games for six years, which would take hundreds of hours, or simulate playing until free agency; But six years is such a long time in baseball that any team I signed with, and Jack Kirby himself, will likely be completely unrecognizable after those years of simulation have passed.
The funny thing is that this malaise is an excellent replica of baseball. Shohei Ohtani himself is coming into his sixth year with the LA Angels and was paid the league minimum wage for that time, regardless of the number of games he had ever played. The average retirement age of an MLB player is under 30, meaning that a large proportion of players drop out of the system before getting a chance at the ‘real money’ offered by free agency. This in itself is the result of more than half a century of union and player union victories, but it is still far from ideal. Official sports games often present their games with a plastic, family-friendly gloss, but look closely enough and you can still see the scars and ghosts left by the real people who inspired them.