3 Baseball Video Games to Dust Off During Coronavirus Quarantine

Tim Kelly
March 18, 2020 - 9:08 am
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Even your mom can't tell you not to play video games right now.

The CDC recommended Sunday that for the next eight weeks, groups of 50 or more people don't get together. Frankly, the safest way to avoid the spread of Coronavirus may be to stay inside and away from unnecessary social gatherings altogether.

RADIO.COM MLB Insider Bob Nightengale said Monday that there are some general managers that believe that the 2020 MLB season may not begin until July.

So with no baseball for the foreseeable future, you'll be left to make the choice that's best for your health: dust off some old baseball video games and stay inside all day. Here are three old school baseball games to play while you wait for the real thing to return.

1. Backyard Baseball 2001

Though it made an entire generation idolize players that would later appear in the Mitchell Report, Backyard Baseball 2001 was one of the most creative video games ever produced. And, as someone with a disc drive in their laptop, I can say it holds up.

The PC game featured a mix of neighborhood created characters and MLB superstars as the kid versions of themselves. If you needed a great pitcher on your team, you could pick Randy Johnson or Curt Schilling. To fill out your lineup, you were forced to pick from a group that included Hall of Famers Frank Thomas, Larry Walker, Chipper Jones, Mike Piazza, Ken Griffey Jr., Barry Larkin, Cal Ripken Jr., Vladimir Guerrero, Jeff Bagwell and Pudge Rodriguez. Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Alex Rodriguez were also in the game, and the targeted audience of the game was too young to realize why that quartet would eventually be shunned by Cooperstown.

Of course, even in a game that featured six members of the 500 home run club, the most feared slugger in the game wasn't one of the future MLB stars. Instead, Pablo Sanchez - a small kid with a pudgy stomach and ability to speak Spanish that used a bat way longer than would be advised - established himself as the game's best player and one of the most iconic video game athletes of all time.

2. MVP Baseball 2005

Manny Ramirez was the cover athlete for MVP Baseball 2005, the final installment of EA Sports' once-annual baseball game. If you have a PS2, Gamecube or original Xbox, there's no better time to revisit this classic game.

For as fun as single game and franchise mode are, the batting mini game where you tried to rack up points by hitting different targets or hitting the ball up ramps was the most enjoyable mode in the game.

Additionally, the game's soundtrack is probably its lasting legacy. "Tessie" by the Dropkick Murphys - an Irish band from Boston that became especially popular after the Red Sox snapped an 86-year World Series drought in 2004 - was part of a nine-song tracklist that many Millenials would instantly remember the words to each song if they started playing.

3. MLB Slugfest 2006

If you're looking for a great - or any - franchise mode or the most realistic single game mode, MLB Slugfest isn't your game. However, if you're looking for a game that will catch the attention of even people that hate baseball, MLB Slugfest fits that description better than any game ever made.

In MLB Slugfest, a player would literally catch on fire if they had a few hits in a row, signaling that if they connected with the ball the next time they reached the plate, it was likely going over the fence. If you reached first on a bang-bang play but weren't content, you had the option of punching the ball out of the first baseman's hand and sprinting to second base while the first baseman writhed in pain on the ground. If Fenway Park or Wrigley Field was too boring of a stadium for you, no problem, you could unlock a bunch of creative stadiums, including an underwater one in Atlantis. And if playing with the defending World Series Champion Chicago White Sox was too boring for you, you had the opportunity to unlock an entire team of bobbleheads, among other unique rosters.

What really pushed the game over the edge was the PG-13 announcing banter between the game's broadcasters, Tim Kitzrow and Jimmy Shorts. Whether the Yankees or Marlins won came second in this game to just having an overall enjoyable experience, much of which came from things outside of whether the pitcher threw a fastball or slider.

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