Watching baseball always makes me want to go out and do baseball-y stuff. I’ll watch Jim Thome hit a home run and want to go to the batting cages — I’m not good at it, though. Instead of hitting home runs, I’d miss the ball completely, spin around, and look completely ridiculous — think Byung-Hyun Kim, not Jim Thome. I’ll want to make like Bobby Jenks and throw ridiculous fastballs that nobody can hit, but I’d end up haplessly flailing my arm and watching the ball roll past the catcher — think, well, Byung-Hyun Kim, not Bobby Jenks. No disrespect to Kim intended, really (I love that guy).
So I was kind of dorkishly excited when we got The Bigs this weekend — it’s kind of like playing baseball, with no actual physical skill required. I hoped my first experience with this game wouldn’t turn out like that one time I tried to play Madden (the practice drills were fine, but as soon as I tried to control the whole team, I completely lost it, cursing Grossman, “THROW THE BALL YOU M-F BASTARD!!!” and eventually storming from the room disgusted, which, actually, probably is exactly what it’s like to be the Bears).
Learning how to do everything took a while. Pitching with the Wii remote is a delicate art, and you have to move it just so to throw one of the 9,000 possible pitches. Batting is easy, but fielding is hard — every time I try to get Podsednik to jump for the ball, he just falls to the ground. WHY?!! I hope he’s not hurt again.
I’m no video game expert — before getting the Wii, my video game experience was limited to Atari (I’m not even kidding). On day one of playing The Bigs, I quit after giving up a 20-run lead to the freaking Tigers. Fortunately, on day two, Jermaine Dye (me) beat Alfonso Soriano in the Home Run Derby. Things got ugly for a second when I tried to play Sox vs. Sox and got terribly confused when I thought I was Scott Podsednik running the bases but really was Scott Podsednik stupidly standing in the outfield watching the ball roll past. Ben and I both seemed to get the hang of it, though, and I suspect that the new way of settling arguments in our house will be a contentious game of Sox vs. Cubs (we’re 1-1 so far).
What’s really exciting is that you can create your own rookie. At first, I was overwhelmed. What would I call him? What number should he wear? If I were a professional baseball player (totally likely — good thing to think about ahead of time!), what number would I wear? Would I get in trouble for having J Dilla as my at bat music? Oh, wait a minute. Creating a baseball player should be easy for me. There’s only one name he could possibly have, and only one number he could possibly wear.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet the most promising White Sox rookie in years — number 49, Jose Mesa.
Yeah, you saw that coming, didn’t you? Unfortunately, your rookie can’t be a pitcher. This is terrible. So Jose Mesa plays second base, which seems like a respectable but not overwhelming position to play (although, bummer, it means my boy Tadaguchi will be spending a lot of time on the bench). Also unfortunate is the fact that I couldn’t make Jose Mesa look like Jose Mesa — he looks like a nondescript BIG white dude. He could use a little beard, you know, and some color, and a matching glove. But let’s not get distracted by the limited fashion choices available on video games — let’s get out and play some baseball!
Do you have any idea what Jose Mesa’s first job was? Do you? If you had to guess, you’d say that it was a game against the Giants, wouldn’t you? The game started with the announcer saying that the Giants are great and ready to win, and then an image of Omar Freakin’ Vizquel popped up on the screen, and the announcer said something like “especially their star shortstop, the amazing Omar Vizquel!” I am not making this up, I swear. And I have Jose Contreras on the mound and I haven’t yet mastered hitting the batters with a pitch (just so you know, Ben is really good at this and literally flattened Jim Thome, like, three times when we were playing last night, that bastard). The rookie Jose Mesa really sucked, by the way, striking out at his first at bat and then disappearing to go to bed after the first inning.
Fortunately, today, the real Jose Mesa became the eleventh MLB player to pitch in 1,000 games. From now on, July 26 is Jose Mesa Day, which is celebrated by wearing well-coordinated accessories, eating rice and beans, possibly lying about your age, heckling Omar Vizquel, and generally kicking some serious ass. Congratulations, Jose Mesa. You’re my favorite, ever, and I’ll try to make sure you don’t suck in video games ever again.