Real baseball isn't always better

  • There are so many advantages to video game baseball, and it comes without the heartbreak!
There are so many advantages to video game baseball, and it comes without… (Handout photo )
March 28, 2013|By Ben Johnson | For RedEye

I'm not typically into video games, but I did break down and buy "MLB '13 The Show." I'm excited enough about baseball's return to want to rush it a little.

Turns out video game baseball has come a long way since "RBI Baseball" for Nintendo. The simulated virtual reality of this new generation of games is now close enough to actually sitting and watching a baseball game to officially introduce a Chicago-friendly element to the equation: schadenfreude.

I advocate supplementing your baseball experience with one of these games to anybody rooting for a Chicago team for one reason: control. If Dale Sveum is overplatooning his players, you can call Bryan LaHair back from Japan and force him to hit against lefties. You can use the easy-to-master batting controls to build up Alfonso Soriano's stats until he's trade-able.

You can force Gordon Beckham to swing for contact, or Adam Dunn to take pitches, or Carlos Marmol to throw strikes. You decide.

Want Alexei Ramirez to set a major league record for bunts in a season? Go for it. Heck, you can get A.J. Pierzynski back via trade and send Tyler Flowers to the minors. Just for fun.

You can put the starting pitcher in at DH. Why not? Want Dewayne Wise to qualify for best staff ERA? Do it.

When you make these decisions, you do so within the course of what looks very much like a real baseball game, with non-reaction shots of stoic managers, strikeout victims dickering with umpires, and commentators bantering insipidly as the closer juggles the rosin bag.

One time while I was playing the opposing team sent out a mop-up reliever, and he dropped his glove on the way to the mound as if in a plea for my sympathy.

The level of detail is almost as intense as in the real weird, wonderful game, but thankfully for Chicago fans, the level of reality is way less.

I recommend picking up a copy once your favorite team is out of the running. So about mid-May.

Ben Johnson is a comedian at iO Theater in Chicago. @itisbenjo

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