Friday, January 17, 2014
Backyard Baseball Draft
It's no secret that Backyard Baseball will go down as the greatest sports computer game of all time. It may, in fact, be in the conversation for the greatest computer game of all time, period. One example of this is the cultural longevity of the content of these games. If you talk to anyone (probably any dude, actually) between the ages of 16 and 30, and use nouns like "Steele Stadium," "Aluminum power," or, of course, "Pablo Sanchez," you'll likely be off on an hours-long discussion about this legendary game.
In one of our many talks about BYB (yup, that's the acronym), my friend Tim and I decided to hold a full-scale, two-team draft in order to determine who could create the most potent squad.
We used Backyard Baseball 2001 rosters, because they give the players' attributes out of 10, instead of out of 4 like the original game. But we didn't draft pros. Cuz that's dumb.
You can read about Tim's team on his blog Timbo Sliced. My team is as follows, in order of how I drafted them. Batting order at the bottom.
I'm also giving them superlatives. Bitches love superlatives.
Round 1 (pick 2 overall): Kiesha Phillips - RF
Batting: 9 Running: 9 Pitching: 4 Defense: 6
This girl can flat out rake. After Tim took Pablo first (duh), there were a few ways I could have gone with this pick. Truth be told, Achmed Khan was always my favorite player in the game, and Pete Wheeler's speed is frankly terrifying, but I couldn't pass up Kiesha's combination of power ("just raw power"), speed, and overall intimidation factor. She's friendly, but don't get in her way if she's barrelling towards home plate.
Superlative: Best Ear-To-Ear Grin
Round 2 (4): Pete Wheeler - CF
8, 10, 2, 7
Frankly, I'm surprised Petey fell to fourth. I think I psyched Tim out by talking a big game about how Achmed was my favorite player, which may have pushed him into taking Achmed a round too early. You could make the argument that Pete is a first overall pick, especially in the 2001 version where he's essentially guaranteed to get on base. Kid can rip gap shots on the reg, stretch a double to a triple, and drop a bunt down for a hit whenever he pleases. Plus he's a franchise-caliber center fielder.
Round 3 (6): Mikey Thomas - C
10, 4, 4, 7
Through years of accumulated experience, I have created a tier system in my head for the BYB players. The top tier consists of the first four picks in this draft (Pablo, Kiesha, Achmed, Pete). Then there's a tier that's just a tick below that top one. This is a one-player tier, and it consists of this man right here, Mikey Thomas. Like Teddy Roosevelt with a permanent head cold, Mikey speaks softly and carries a big stick. His bat sometimes seems too long for his roly-poly frame, but when he whips that thing through the hitting zone, he can go bridge with the best of them. He's also slow as fuck, but decent at defense. Thus, he's my left-handed catcher (it's Little League, these things happen).
Superlative: Most Nurse's Office Visits
Round 4 (8): Luanne Lui - P
6, 10, 9, 4
This was my first reach pick. While there were some better offensive talents left, I figured that there aren't a lot of pitchers in this game, and there are really only two players who are great pitchers and also bring another skill to the table: Luanne and Angela Delvecchio. Angela's hitting is an 8, while Luanne's speed is a ridiculous 10. I chose to go with a speed demon pitcher on the order of Clay Buchholz, who can bring a baserunning threat to the bottom of the lineup.
Superlative: Owner of the Snuggliest Teddy Bear
Round 5 (10): Jocinda Smith - 3B
10, 5, 3, 8
I really don't understand what Tim was doing drafting Ernie Steele ahead of Jocinda here. Yes, he's a rangy third baseman with a heart of gold, but this is war. While Tim stocked up on defense with the likes of Ernie and Stephanie Morgan, I was pulling absolute mashers off the pile. Jocinda's nickname is "M.V.P." with good reason. Moonshots all day from this girl. Not to mention she can pick it at the hot corner.
Superlative: Onionest-Shaped Head
Round 6 (12): Dmitri Petrovich - 1B
8, 7, 1, 3
If you couldn't tell by now, my team lives and dies by the long ball. Yes, I have some speedy players, but they're just there to set the table. I want home run power up and down my lineup, and Dmitri brings that with his potato-shaped frame. He's got the weirdest swing in the game, as he prefers to forego the traditional "squash the bug" foot action in favor of hopping into the air while swinging like some kind of fancy boy. But he's the smartest player in the league, so I'm sure there's a reason for this oddity. Plus, his sabermetrics game is probably on point.
Superlative: Second-Largest Glasses to Face Ratio
Round 7 (14): Sally Dobbs - SS
7, 7, 7, 7
You can't get more consistent than this lady. She can play any position on the field and does everything at an above-average level. I put her at shortstop, but she's got the talent for anything. Want a lanky right-handed reliever? You got it. How about a long-striding left fielder? No problem. Need somebody at first to stretch out for those wild throws? Put her in coach, she's ready to play.* Also, if you look at her head, she looks like two footballs in the shape of a cross. Her face is one and her hair is another one, but sideways. That's gotta count for something.
Superlative: Best Double Football Head
Round 8 (16): Vicki Kawaguchi - LF
1, 9, 5, 10
Bunts. That's all we're doing here. It's not a secret, but it's mighty hard to defend when this little ballerina is dropping squeezes down the third base line with ease. She's fast ("stupid fast") and her defense is stellar. Stick her in a corner outfield spot and cue up the Sportscenter Top 10, cuz she's making some highlight-reel plays out there.
Superlative: Most Precarious Hat
Round 9 (18): Billy Jean Blackwood - 2B
8, 6, 4, 4
I never used to draft her, but we were kind of scraping the bottom of the barrel, talent-wise. And honestly, she can be a threat to poke a few out with her 8 at hitting. Combined with a decent 6 in the running department, and she's not a bad pickup to round out my starting 9.
Superlative: Name That Most Sounds Like a Veiled Implication That Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" Was Not Only Not His Lover, But In Fact A Dude (AKA the "It's a man, baby" Award)
After the starting 9 was assembled, we just decided to keep on drafting. Here are my bench players in the order of their pickage. Also, somehow we forgot Dante Robinson, so he didn't get drafted. Whoops. The world needs ditch-diggers too, I guess.
Round 10 (20): Tony Delvecchio
7, 6, 3, 7
Tony's not good enough to crack the starting nine, but he's definitely decent enough to be a replacement-level utility man. A 7 at defense means you can slot him in anywhere. His only downside is his attitude - he's moody and a troublemaker (let's not forget that time he got busted selling stolen cookies to an undercover teacher), but hopefully the buoyant spirits of Kiesha, Billy Jean, and the gang can perk him up.
Superlative: Most Likely to Spit in the Other Team's Gatorade
Round 11 (22): Kenny Kawaguchi
3, 8, 7, 4
I always had Kenny pitch in the original computer game version, and there's no reason he can't do that now. He's got great speed and a terrific right hook, so he projects as my long reliever.
Superlative: Best "Cat Daddy"
Round 12 (24): Sidney Webber
5, 7, 6, 3
Sidney's a very average player. I wanted one of the Webber twins because their attributes go up when they play together, so I didn't want Tim to have both of them. She won't see the field a lot, but let's be honest, she's not on the team for her skills. She's on the team cuz she's a stone cold fox.
Superlative: Most Attractive
Round 13 (26): Lisa Crockett
5, 8, 4, 4
Yeesh. From Miss America to Diss Gusting. Lisa's got a serious case of the quicks, as her 8 running attribute will make her a valuable pinch runner. And she might scare some of the other team members with her colossal chin. So that's something.
Superlative: Largest Glasses-to-Face Ratio
Round 14 (28): Ricky Johnson
1, 8, 5, 5
Ricky's... um... fast? Yeah. He's fast. So that's good. Jesus Christ, though, like how can you even be a 1 at batting? You know who's a 1 at batting? Vicki Kawaguchi. The teeny tiny ballerina who's about 4 foot nothing. Ricky is a burly dude with a shorn dome. He should be anchoring lineups, but through some genetic mix-up, the kid couldn't hit a douchebag if he was backstage at a Nickelback concert.
Superlative: Most Outrageus Neck-to-Head Ratio
Pete Wheeler - CF
Luanne Lui - P
Kiesha Phillips - RF
Mikey Thomas - C
Jocinda Smith - 3B
Sally Dobbs - SS
Dmitri Petrovich - 1B
Vicki Kawaguchi - LF
Billy Jean Blackwood - 2B
Tony Delvecchio - Utility
Kenny Kawaguchi - RP/Pinch runner
Sidney Webber - Eye Candy
Lisa Crockett - Pinch runner
Ricky Johnson - "Special" Pinch runner
*For the record, that John Fogerty reference was California wild fire flames