I guess baseball’s just a frustrating game; hence, a representation of that game which claims to be the “most realistic ever” would, indubitably, be frustrating. Welcome to The Show!
MLB 12 The Show for the Playstation Vita is a difficult game. There are different difficulty levels, and beyond that there is the ability to adjust everything from hits to the frequency of errors. But you cannot adjust away some of the things that make the game remain soul-crushingly disparaging.
Pitcher’s reactions are too good
Greg Maddux could field his position well, winning an astounding 18 Gold Glove awards. However, Maddux would have been hard-pressed to have made half the plays even Scott Linebrink could make in this game. Pitchers have amazing reflexes, robbing hits with precision stabs of the glove despite their various follow-throughs. At least they will occasionally throw the ball away.
Balls just don’t fall in
BABIP is an advanced statistical metric that relates how often a batter puts the ball in play to the times he reaches base safely. BABIP is a good indicator of whether or not success is sustainable; a low BABIP would suggest that the ball just isn’t finding the right holes, while a high BABIP means it is. In The Show, my BABIP is as low as Chris Woodward’s batting average – which should suggest that the hits will start coming, except they don’t.
The low pitch isn’t a strike
The Show allows for a variable strike zone, but it seems to always run all the way to the jersey letters (which is unrealistically high, even if that’s where the zone used to be) and stop well above the knees. The umpires seem to never want to give the low strike, even within the game’s defined strike zone. Just like in real baseball, not getting the call can change the tide of an at-bat immensely.
Pitchers are (invincible) brick walls
There is the rare situation when the opposing pitcher cannot react fast enough to glove the ball, so it hits him in the leg, or arm, or face. The ball inevitably glances to an infielder who casually flips it to first for the out. But even with injuries enabled, the pitcher is fine. No bruised pitching arms, no concussions – just inadvertent assists. It’s like they all have Homer Simpson Syndrome.
Pinch hitters are juiced
Two outs, tying run on third. Up steps Clint Barmes, batting .238 this season. You quickly get to an 0-2 count and think, “I’m gonna survive this one.” You break off a nasty curveball down and in, only to have Barmes rope it into the gap for a game-tying double. And then the computer gets three more hits for good measure (they come in waves). Being a pinch hitter automatically adds .200 points to your batting average.
Sucky guys don’t suck
It doesn’t stop with pinch hitting. Players who should statistically only be able to get a hit one out of every five at bats are frequently 3-4, and pitchers can hit…no DH needed here. In fact, pitchers often work the deepest counts against me, fouling off sequential tough pitches until finding one they can rip into the opposite field. I would also complain about being shut down by soft-throwing leftys, but the real-life Braves have that done to them plenty.
There are plenty of other things wrong with the game, like occasional graphical glitches and the fact that it’s far too easy to throw out runners at first on hard-hit singles to right (I did it twice in two innings earlier). But just like real life, when you overcome the obstacles and just barely cling to a 3-2 win, it’s a good feeling. It just shouldn’t be that hard to do…especially not on “Rookie” difficulty.
If the Astros manage to get 16 hits and 11 runs once during the real 2012 season, I’ll eat my hat.