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A Journal Of MLB 2K10

With Madden NFL 10 selecting this year's Super Bowl winner (this simulation has chosen correctly five out of six times), the football season is officially over. Seriously people, there's no point in watching the Super Bowl unless you want to see a performance by The Geriatric Who. Since no one watches hockey, and organized basketball died in 2000, it's time to focus all of our attention on the forthcoming baseball season.

As a Cubs fan, I don't have much to look forward to. Yes, my team will no longer be held hostage by Milton Bradley, but if Carlos Silva secures a spot in the starting rotation, they won't finish any higher than third in the standings. Silva is THAT bad. Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry has developed a knack for signing players who can ruin an entire season. Silva looks to be this year's cancer.

If I had it my way, the only balls Silva would throw would be during batting practice. Since I have no pull in the Cubs' organization, the only way I'll be able to make this a reality is through a video game. With final code of Major League Baseball 2K10 arriving on my desk today, I figured I would see how the Cubs would fare without Silva in the rotation. 

In this year's newest mode, My Player, Silva's rotation spot will be replaced by me, a 34-year-old phenom with an 85 mph fastball and a curveball that only bends in my mind. For those of you who haven't been following the developments of this year's game, My Player is 2K's response to my favorite mode in baseball game history, MLB: The Show's Road to the Show.

In this mode, my task is simple: work my way up through the Minor Leagues to the Majors. If I perform well on the mound, I'll receive experience points that I can distribute to different pitching categories. In addition to improving my hurler's stats, I'll have to keep an eye on his standing in Cubs' organization.

Rather than just giving you a recap on my baseball career, I figured I would pull you into the game with a live blog that charts my players development.

Player Creation
It turns out  that I'm far too old to be a rookie in baseball. My Player's birthday doesn't go below 1982. Looks like I'm going to be a 28-year-old. In terms of muscle definition, "none" is not an option. In addition to being younger than I really am, I will also have "normal" muscles.

The facial creation system is quite deep. Despite my best efforts, however, I somehow transformed my player into Wade Boggs' son. I can live with that. As much as I enjoy playing as a sidearmer in baseball games, I'm going to pick a pitching style most similar to the one I used when I played high school and American Legion ball. After going through all of the pitching deliveries in the game, it looks like Mark Buehrle's delivery (the straight leg kick) is the closest to mine.

Out of the gate, I can select three pitch types for Reiner Boggs. Here's my selection:

Pitch 1 – 2-Seam Fastball 88 MPH (Movement 50/Control 50)
Pitch 2 – Curveball 80 MPH (Movement 50/Control 50)
Pitch 3 – Palmball 75 MPH (Movement 50/Control 50)

I should note that I could have selected Eephus as a pitch type. I have no idea what this is, but it's max speed is 50 mph. Is that thrown left-handed?

The pitching abilities are charted in six categories: Clutch, Composure, Stamina, Pickoff, Against Left Batters, Against Right Batters.

After wrapping up player creation (a process that lands you 5 Achievement points), you'll be asked to select a team. If you enjoy MLB: The Show's random team selection, you can press the Y button to have the game select a team for you. I like having both options available. For whatever reason, The Show has placed me on the Orioles for the last three seasons. Rather than chancing this here, I'm going to sign with the Cubs.

The Cubs apparently think highly of me. They are placing me on their double A team, the Smokies..

Game Day
My first appearance comes with the tag "clutch moment." It's the bottom of the ninth, a baserunner stands on third, and there are two outs. If I  can close this game out, I'll receive three times the skill points. No pressure.

The catcher calls heat high and tight. I screw up my throwing gesture, but the batter doesn't get much on it. He dribbles it to first. Thankfully, the first baseman doesn't need my assistance. Confused by the camera switch, I was apparently on my way into left field. Game over.

For my one pitch, here's what I earned.

After leaving the game, I noticed my first game wasn't at the beginning of the season. My Smokies are 31-25, and are in first with a two game lead.

In the skill point menu, new sections have been added for my pitch types. For instance, I can now spend points on my curveball's speed, control, and movement. One nice really touch is having individual skill points rewarded for pitching, fielding, baserunning, and batting. Unlike MLB: The Show, you won't have to needlessly spend pitching points on drag bunting. It looks like I'll earn bunting points for laying down bunts, and fielding points for actually playing my position. Nice.

I'm on my way to the big leagues, and I dig how the game helpfully displays an MLB Call Up ETA on the top of the player development screen. I'm now going to spend a good amount of time spending all of these points.

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My first official start is against the Huntsville Stars. In the first inning, I give up two hits, but get out of the inning without giving up any runs. I should note my pitcher became rattled with two runners on. The vibration in the controller was going nuts!

In this inning, I was mostly tasked with getting an out, but my manager did call on me to get ahead in the count as well. Rather than just jumping back on the mound, I was treated to a simulation of my team's at bats. Very cool. Since we put up four runs, I also got the opportunity to bat in the first inning. After looking horrible on the first pitch, I slapped a slider into right field for a base hit. Two runners scored. MVP, here I come!

With a six run cushion to work with, I flew through the second inning, but struggled with my breaking ball command. Part of it was my gestures. Part of it was my pitcher's terrible control stats. I started to come into my own in the third, punching out the Stars one-two-three. I also rocketed my second base hit into center field. I may be the greatest hitting pitcher ever. For the sake of experiment, I danced around on first base like Vince Coleman used to. With a huge lead, I was able to read the pitcher's movement, and retreat upon his throw. The base leading controls feel nice. In my steal attempt, the batter flew out. I totally would have been safe.

To much surprise, my first game ended up being a complete game. I love that I wasn't pulled when I was doing well. Here's my line for the day.

IP   H   ER   HR   BB   K   PC   B   S
9.0  9    2       0      0     6    92  22  70

That's a fairly realistic line for a starter. The fielders behind me also exhibited a high level of realism. For instance, a second basemen neglected to throw to second for a double play because he had momentum heading toward the bag. He instead stepped on the bag, then tossed a bullet to first.

Back in the My Player menus, the meter that charts progress toward the Majors hasn't moved much. It's going to take at least a full season to get a shot at the show.

Since I just threw a complete game, I'm going to save my experience points (all 1,240 of them) for a new pitch (the first costing 2,000).

On to game two.

Once again, I'm pitching at home, this time against the West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx. Resembling a young (should be old) Cy Young, I'm mowing 'em down with little effort. The Jaxx apparently like to swing at pitches outside of the zone, and don't care much for botched pitches down the heart of the plate. I'm hoping the competitiveness of the computer batters changes once I hit triple A.

While holding them to one run through seven so far, this game has turned into a nail-biter. My Smokies can't find a way on base, and I'm starting to give up hits. Fatigue is setting in.

The bottom of the seventh ended up being the deciding inning. The Smokies threw up a four spot, and in the following innnings, the Jaxx continued to be baffled by my filthy (really erratic) pitching. Another complete game! The line:

IP   H   ER   HR   BB   K   PC   B   S
9.0  7    1       0      0     9    83  10  73

As you can see, I'm dominating at this level. My fielders are making amazing plays when I need them to, and the opposing hitters are doing nothing but building my confidence (and stats). I've only given up three hits that have reached the outfield.

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