I could have gone professional.
I was on my way to another stellar baseball season after an All-Star year. During Spring Training, I remember crushing baseballs with power I had never felt in my life. I was ready to unleash my untapped potential. Unfortunately, I never got to complete that season. I had an emergency appendectomy and my baseball dreams ended.
That was the last season I ever played.
Maybe I could have gone pro. Or maybe I was 15 and had dreams as big as Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite. I wasn’t that good, but man, I loved baseball. Now, I sometimes sit and wonder what could have been, but the glory days are not fully behind me.
Welcome to MLB The Show 20.
What I couldn’t accomplish in real life I can live out in this game. The Show 20 put me in the game like I’ve never experienced before. Nearly every aspect of this baseball sim is customizable. I created my own character called Tommy “His Dudeness” to be an “anomaly” player and work his way up from the minor leagues. I had a rough start, making errors and frequently hitting into double plays, but I slowly improved.
When stepping to the plate I felt the agony of a swing and miss on the low outside slider. I hate that pitch, but apparently, I love to swing at it.
This is how The Show 20 got me hooked on the gameplay. Swinging and missing on the slider makes it that much more satisfying when I blast a fastball over the fence. I heard the announcer start to criticize my tendency to swing at low outside pitches. My in-game coach began to criticize me for the same issue. It felt real, and it made me want to improve. I worked at it, and I’ve since been “called up” to live out my childhood dream of playing in the big leagues.
I notice more details in playing this fantastic baseball sim than I notice in real baseball. The Show is great because it emphasizes the little details. Fans chant, players and stadiums are painfully detailed, the umpire sweeps home plate between innings — I even saw the ump borrow a bat and take a few practice swings during a timeout.
The only thing missing was the smell of new grass on the field. Oh, and actually being able to watch baseball now that we’re all in lockdown.
I played the game using headphones and it felt overwhelmingly immersive. I hit home runs and watch players and fans celebrating as music blares in the stadium, base runners hop over sharply hit ground balls, and players hit by pitches stare down cocky pitchers.
If I swing late on an inside pitch, I literally feel jammed up as the ball glances off my bat in an awkward direction.
This game is just fun. I never got to play in the MLB or much less college ball, but I have the next best thing. MLB The Show 20 let me live out a dream and has quickly become my favorite sports sim to play.