TMS Team Preview: The 2016 San Diego Padres

7:30 AM | Comments (2) | by Rich Funk

Over the coming weeks, Thunder Matt's Saloon will have previews of all 30 MLB teams. We're starting at the bottom and working our way up based on the current Vegas odds for winning the 2016 World Series.

Today we throw things back to Cali (ugh) with the San Diego Padres!


2015 Finish: 74-88 (4th place in NL West)

So Long: Dale Thayer, Josh Johnson, Ian Kennedy, Nud Borris, Justin Upton, Cory Luebke, Joaquin Benoit, Craig Kimbrel, WIll Middlebrooks, Yonder Alonso, Jed Gyorko

Welcome: Josmil Pinto, Philip Humber, Drew Pomeranz, Jon Jay, Fernando Rodney

Projected Lineup (via Rotochamp.com)
1. Cory Spangenberg 2B
2. Derek Norris C
3. Wil Myers 1B
4. Matt Kemp LF
5. Yangervis Solarte 3B
6. Alexei Ramirez SS
7. Melvin Upton RF
8. Jon Jay CF

Starting Rotation: James Shields, Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross, Robbie Erlin, Brandon Maurer, Colin Rae, Drew Pomeranz, Brandon Morrow (really??)
Setup: Jon Edwards
Closer: Fernando Rodney

Rap Lyric That Sums Up Their 2015 Season: 
"Rumor has it, I steer the ship with my eyes closed"
    - Drake, 'Charged Up'

Holy crap, could the Padres use some new direction.

It seems like every year, there's at least one team that barely did better than expectations the season before and blindly goes all-in during the offseason trying to buy their way to a playoff berth. Remember when the Marlins signed Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle before the 2012 season only to trade both of them just a few months later? Or the spending spree the Diamondbacks have gone on this offseason? That was the Padres prior to last season, beating out the Cubs to sign James Shields to a long term deal. But the Padres weren't done, trading not only for Craig Kimbrel to shore up the bullpen, but also Wil Myers, Justin Upton and Matt Kemp, hoping they would provide enough offense to snag at least a Wild Card spot.

That did not happen. While Kemp had one of his better seasons in recent memory, Myers hurt himself and Jed "Gyork Store" Gyorko proved that his rookie season was a complete fluke and the Padres fell apart. The only thing keeping them from finishing in the basement of their division was the grease fire that is the Colorado Rockies.

So the Padres pushed all their chips in and traded most of their future for Kimbrel/Upton/Myers/Kemp and it blew up in their faces. Where do they go from there? If you guessed 'sink further into the toilet', you win! Justin Upton left as a free agent, so that was a complete sunk cost. Trading Kimbrel brought back nothing of note in return. And Matt Kemp's awesome hamstrings are due for a blowout any day now. Seriously, look at that lineup. Spangenberg? Yangervis? Sorry, but I don't watch that show. And judging from the team they're putting on the field this year, neither will anyone in San Diego. Oh well...at least they still have the Chargers, right? Right?

Reason To Watch: Honestly, there are none. Kemp may be their best player, but his best days are way behind him. Wil Myers can't stay healthy. They have no 'ace' in the rotation (The closest thing is Tyson Ross and he's halfway out the door). Honestly, if you can name one legitimate reason to watch this team,...AJ Preller will probably trade half his roster for it and cover 30% of their remaining contracts.

Reason To Drink: Take your pick. There are about 10 things that immediately come to mind that could cause even casual Padres fans to drink straight gasoline before swallowing a match and going all Thích Quảng Đức on the Saigon World Tour. One of the worst is that after trading away most of their assets, the Padres still don't have a single prospect in the top 50 of Baseball America's rankings, and just 3 amongst the top 100. So not only are the Padres terrible now, but they're going to be bad until...always?

The Fans: As a San Diego resident for a few years, I can say that the Padres fans I met were all very passionate and knowledgeable and realistic about whatever their team's current state was. And there are about 32 of them total. I'm not kidding.

Their Worst Contract: Honestly, there's not a single awful contract on this team. Sure, James Shields and Matt Kemp both making $21 million each isn't great, but both can provide decent seasons, even at their current advanced ages. And having Justin Upton at only $15.4 million is a steal!

Wait...they're paying MELVIN Upton $15 million? The other Upton? The TERRIBLE Upton?

PICTURED: 2016 Padres fans. And the 2016 Padres season.
Fantasy Standout: Tyson Ross is good. On one hand, he has no idea where any of his pitches are going. On the other hand, he does it in the old Kerry Wood way where it leads to a ton of strikeouts. I have no idea how he throws as many sliders as he does without having his elbow go all Scanners. Hey, the Kerry Wood comparisons might not be finished!
Tyson Ross' elbow come June or so

Fantasy Bust: Some people are going to be targeting James Shields thinking he'll have a bounce-back from his sub-par 2015. Those people are going to be kicking themselves when he has the same inflated home run rate while striking out even less batters.

The Pop Culture Equivalent To This Team Is: Shameless on Showtime. Sure, it's still going, but is anyone actually watching it? Either way, it's best times are in the past. Yeah, you can watch it, but don't expect to be able to talk about it with anyone at work because they aren't.

TMS Team Preview: The 2016 Miami Marlins

4:06 PM | Comments (2) | by Governor X

Over the coming weeks, Thunder Matt's Saloon will have previews of all 30 MLB teams. We're starting at the bottom and working our way up based on the current Vegas odds for winning the 2016 World Series.

Light up the gaudy flamingo because it's time for the Miami Marlins!

Subdued and tasteful...just like Miami.

2015 Finish: 71-91 (Third Place in NL East)

So Long: Reid Brignac, Donovan Solano, Casey McGehee, Henderson Alvarez

Welcome: Justin Maxwell, Dustan McGowan, Chris Johnson, Edwin Jackson, Wei-Yin Chen, Craig Breslow

Projected Lineup: (via Rotochamp.com)
1. Dee Gordon 2B
2. Christian Yelich LF
3. Giancarlo Stanton RF
4. Justin Bour 1B
5. Marcell Ozuna CF
6. Martin Prado 3B
7. J.T. Realmuto C
8. Adeiny Hechavarria SS

Starting Rotation: Jose Fernandez, Wei-Yin Chen, Tom Koehler, Jarred Cosart, Edwin Jackson
Setup: Clearly made up people like Brad Hand, Carter Capps, and Kyle Barraclough
Closer: A.J. Ramos

Rap Lyric That Sums Up Their 2015 Season: 
"Jeffrey Loria wants all the glory-a, so he fired his manager and hired another...manager"
    - Drake, '305 Rhapsody'

Last season was a uniquely Marlins tire fire. Their two best players missed huge chunks of time due to injuries and their owner fired yet another manager midseason only to replace him with the GM who had never coached or managed baseball before. On the bright side Dee Gordon had a surprisingly fantastic year and Ichiro pitched. Nevertheless, the season ended pretty much how you would expect with a 71-91 record. Somehow there were two worse teams in the division, so hey, third place! That's almost respectable.

The Marlins looked at all of that and pretty much said, yeah, more of that will be fine. Their big offseason acquisitions were Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Johnson, and Edwin Jackson who I assume is working for tips at this point. They have another new manager in Don Mattingly (more on him below) and a new GM. Check that. They don't actually appear to have a GM. Classic Marlins!

2016 will likely be better only because Jose Fernandez and Giancarlo Stanton are back. On the other hand, Don Mattingly and Chris Johnson exist, so it looks like another sub-500 season for Miami. If anyone actually cared, they would be disappointed.

Reason To Watch: Giancarlo Stanton and Barry Bonds. What will happen when one of the best hitters in the game today pairs with possibly the best hitter of all time? A few possibilities:

(1) Nothing - Bonds gets bored by May and goes home. Stanton continues on his natural course.
(2) Bonds teaches him something - Can Barry actually coach him up? If Stanton can learn anything from Bonds, holy shit we're in for a treat.
(3) Bonds hooks him up with a "supplement" guy - This is my preferred scenario. I miss the steroid era and want to see Stanton hit 80 home runs. Make it happen.

Reason To Drink: Don Mattingly. Given that Loria made his GM with no coaching experience the interim manager last year, I shouldn't be surprised they hired Mattingly, but as a Dodger fan, I can only assume he's never seen Donny in action. Don is one of the worst tacticians in the game today. He was reportedly a "good clubhouse guy," but that's the managerial equivalent of calling someone "scrappy." It's a polite way of saying they suck. Mattingly was so bad with the Dodgers I tried to think of an equivalent of WAR for managers. WARM (Wins Above Replacement Manager) would have clearly shown how terrible he is. I gave up after a few minutes.

The Fans: The Marlins have exactly three fans: (1) Ira Liebowitz - Mr. Liebowitz moved to south Florida after retiring from a long career at a New York bank. He loves golf and his husky Goldie. (2) Eddie "Stink" Mulvane - Eddie runs a junk yard outside of Homestead and lives with his common law wife Maureen. Together they have 6 children. (3) Marco Rubio - A sweaty ne'er-do-well and son of Cuban immigrants, Marco spends most of his time interviewing for jobs way over his head.

Their Worst Contract: Don Mattingly. See above. Did he ever shave those sideburns? I hope so. He recently instituted a no facial hair policy for the Marlins. If anyone could get caught by his own facial hair policy, it's Don. Mattingly will be the 10th Marlins manager since Loria took over the team in 2002, so at least it'll all be over soon.

Fantasy Standout: Giancarlo Stanton. My "Stanton-on-roids" wet dream aside, this guy is still amazing. In 74 games last year, he lead the majors with 27 home runs and 67 RBI before his season ended due to injury. A healthy Stanton could easily jack 50+ home runs even without roids. Seriously though. Please do steroids.

Fantasy Bust: Dee Gordon. You don't think that's going to happen again do you?

The Pop Culture Equivalent To This Team Is: Every Pitbull song ever. Haha, Mr. 305! That's Miami's area code gang.

Ira's dog Goldie - She likes Jarred Cosart and eating cat poop.

Ranking the Baseball Games of the NES: Part 2

3:12 AM | Comments (2) | by Adam Blank


This is part 2 of a 4 week series ranking the Baseball Games of the NES.  To see part one, click here.

Ugh. Rankings 15 through 11. These are the games that aren't downright awful but aren't that good. Or aren't as good as you remember. Completely playable and probably fun against a human opponent, these five flawed games couldn't crack the top 10.

A couple of things to note:

Again, this is just the opinion of some guy in his mid 30's playing these games by himself on an emulator... My rankings are based solely on my opinions while playing against the computer as an adult who has consumed too much vodka; and are, therefore, 110% correct.

Also, I've included the chronological order of games to give a sense of history of the 7+ years that baseball games were made for the NES.  Unlike my rankings, it almost certainly isn't 100% correct. If the internet says one game came out sometime in 1988 and a different game came out in July of 1988, I usually just guessed at which came first.

So here they are, games 15 through 11...

#15. BASES LOADED 4

Jaleco
Released in April 1993 (20 of 20 NES Baseball Games)


How could they fuck up fielding in a Bases Loaded game any more? By giving you little symbols on the tiny diamond map that represent the location of your fielders. This might sound like an improvement, but you'll quickly realize that they've managed to make the game much worse. You think you’re controlling your short stop but he’s actually being controlled by the computer to cover 3rd base. Your 3rd baseman (who you’re actually controlling) is 20 feet away from the ball and moving in the wrong direction. Why couldn't I control the short stop?  He was RIGHT THERE!  Even when you think you've got a routine pop fly, your player is nowhere near where you thought you positioned him using that awful map. It's like they finally admitted their fielding was awful in previous games, but instead of fixing it, they doubled down on the awfulness out of pure spite.  It's frustrating, since this is pretty much the exact same game as Bases Loaded 3 with a couple of needless tweaks that made everything much worse.
To be fair, this game accurately predicted the 2015 NLCS
There’s the new “star” system. Players who make good plays (or top-quality pitchers who strike out batters) get an extra boost of ability. It also means that players lose stars for making bad plays, so your pitcher (who apparently throws every pitch right down the middle) gets WORSE, and your fielders are even less able to do the fucking thing you want them to do. You’re now less likely to record an out and less likely to get a hit. Seriously, fuck the Bases Loaded series.

Like all Bases Loaded games, you have the ability to swing at high, low or mid-level pitches by pressing up or down or not at all on the control pad. So while you struggle to make contact with a pitch, the computer makes contact on just about every pitch you happen to throw, unless you intentionally try to throw a ball.  Luckily, making contact isn’t terribly difficult in this game. Unfortunately, contact is about all you can make. Reaching base safely is an exercise in futility.

This is the last U.S. baseball game released for the NES (20 months AFTER the release of the SNES).  There’s the somewhat promising prospect of being able to play a 130 game season, but every single game has its own unique password. Lose your password list and you're back to square one. I get that adding a battery to games would probably jack up costs and change how games were made, but who the fuck kept track of all 130+ passwords and never misplaced that sliver of paper?  Four fucking Bases Loaded games for this system and not even the one that came out after the system was dead had a battery pack to save games?  That's ridiculous.  Nowadays, I guess you could look up passwords online and beat this game in a few minutes.  23 years ago we called that kind of shit GAME GENIE.

There’s a mercy rule. If the computer (or, conceivably, you, the player) are outscoring the opponent by 10 or more runs, the game ends. Thank fucking Christ.

I know some of you like the backwards Bases Loaded-style fielding. Probably because you grew up on this horse-shit franchise and didn't have parents who loved you enough to buy you a proper baseball game.

#14. BASES LOADED

Jaleco
Released in July 1988 (4 of 20 NES baseball games)


The first entry in this rotten series seems to be a fan favorite, and I'm not sure why. I played this game quite a bit as a kid and, while I don't recall hating it nearly as much as I do now, I never thought it was great.

Yes, it has the over-the-pitcher's shoulder view that I hate, but (fortunately) fielding switches to the standard (non-backward) view once a ball is put in play. Unfortunately, the fielding is atrocious regardless of which way people are facing. Nearly every other baseball game gives fly balls a slide whistle sound so you can try to position your fielder to catch the ball as it falls towards the ground. Not Bases Loaded. So your clunky outfielder is going to take forever to track down the ball he missed as it slowly rolls to the wall.

Hitting is nearly impossible in this game. You can swing normal, high or low. While that added bit of realism may sound like a bonus, all it does is decrease your chance of making contact with the ball by 66%. Remember how you used to have a sort of Gentleman's Agreement with your friends to not throw drop pitches in certain baseball games so as to to keep things on the up & up? This game needs an entire treaty of do's and don'ts just to be playable with two players. In 1p mode, all sportsmanship is out the fucking window and you'll be lucky to make contact 3 or 4 times per game.

If you manage to make contact with a ball and run toward a base, you're probably out. Even though the runner had obviously reached base safely and was no longer moving, he's ruled out on close plays. And there are a lot of close plays. It's absolutely infuriating.

Bases Loaded isn't without its charms. Some hit batters will charge the mound and get ejected. And relief pitchers are brought out of the bullpen on a golf cart, which is cute...but seems pretty damn lazy.
Artist's Rendition of Bartolo Colon in 2017
The Bases Loaded series is like baseball through the eyes of somebody who thinks they like baseball but really only likes baseball video games.  Like the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, the odd numbered entries to the series are the better ones.  Also like the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, that's really not saying much.

#13. BASES LOADED 3

Jaleco
Released in September 1991 (15 of 20 NES baseball games)

I really wanted to break up the Bases Loaded series in my rankings, but they all suck in pretty much the same ways, so I'm forced to lump them together. Bases Loaded 3 is the best of Bases Loaded games. What makes it better than the others? No, it's not the generic Ryne Sandberg cover.  You can actually hit the ball and (more importantly) fielding isn't that atrocious.

Players can select from a dozen or so teams and play in one of three different stadiums with different dimensions. I'm not sure if there's any physical differences while playing. They all look and feel exactly the same, but the Chicago stadium shows an approximation of the Wrigley Field clock & scoreboard between innings.

This here is why Bases Loaded 3 is the best of the series.
Fielding is the same backwards mess as all the Bases Loaded sequels, and it still sucks, but this time it's at least responsive. And, without that stupid "map" that they put in Bases Loaded 4, you can field the ball based on instinct and pure baseball savvy; like knowing where the fuck a center fielder should be.

While they still include the ability to swing at different pitch heights, it's much easier to put the ball in play in this game. Who knows? You might actually get a hit or two. Bases Loaded 3 is as close as this series gets to being fun.

Having said that, there's no season mode in this game. Your goal is to play a "perfect" game. What happens then? The credits roll and you've beaten the game. Since this is the only Bases Loaded game you might actually want to play more than once, the lack of a Season Mode is a huge letdown.
"What is 'No,' Alex?

#12. RBI BASEBALL 2

Tengen
Released in 1991 (13 of 20 NES baseball games)

There have been vast improvements in the 3 years since the first RBI Baseball game was shat upon the populace.

Gone are the days of insultingly cartoon-ish graphics featuring a bunch of corpulent fucks who can't run to save their fat, pathetic lives. Now we have sleek, realistic-looking players...who can't run to save their lives.

This time you have real players & stats from ALL 26 teams at the time (not just the ones who made the playoffs). The stats are from the 1989 season, so you finally get to live out your dreams of playing as the Eastern Division Champion CHICAGO TEAM and play as the likes of Vance Law, Luis Salazar and Dwight Smith.

This game gives the player the ability to move the batter in four directions within the batter's box. I don't know if this means much in the scope of the game, but it's psychologically satisfying to have this ability. This probably isn't the first game to offer this, but it may be the first game on this list so far...which tells you how necessary I find this feature to be in the overall quality of a baseball video game.

Base runners are still slow, but the controls are responsive and easy to figure out. I'm pretty sure they decided to rip off the controls from the popular SNK baseball games because the button functions are nearly identical.  In fact, a lot of this game looks similar to a popular SNK game...
Ok, not enough to convict...but pretty damn close.
Fielding is the one downside of the game. This is one of the many baseball games that has outfielders slow down when they have to back up...like they're running uphill for some reason. Fielders have the ability to dive and leap. so you can at last make attempts to look competent when the ball sails over your head.

Again, this edition of R.B.I. Baseball counts inside-the-park home runs as actual home runs. And R.B.I. Baseball 2 is the only baseball game I can think of with actual cheat codes. They allow you a few chances to hit a home run on the next hit or throw a strike regardless of where the ball is thrown. A bit shady, but kind of cool.  And, since the computer has been pulling this kind of crap against you for years, it doesn't even really feel like cheating.

Unlike the Bases Loaded series that kept trying disastrous new shit in the hopes of improving their games without any forethought at all, R.B.I. Baseball 2 feels like it evolved by taking heed of the natural progression of better games being made for the system.  It's a perfectly cromulent baseball game for the NES, even though the good parts were obviously ripped-off from better games.

#11. CYBER STADIUM SERIES: BASE WARS

Konami/Ultra Games
Released in June 1991 (14 of 20 NES baseball games)

We're just going to call it Base Wars...A robot baseball game made by Konami (but released under Ultra Games to get around Nintendo's arbitrary limit on 3rd party releases), I thought this one would fare better. I like quirky baseball video games and I love robots. Why didn't this place higher?

For starters, the damn thing cheats. The pitcher will either curve a pitch at the last moment or smoke one down the middle with their special Rocket Pitch that you can’t even dream of hitting. You'll end up swinging at everything because every pitch is a potential strike. Sure, you can crowd the box to the point where half of your robot is hanging over home plate, but all that means is that the pitcher will just throw farther outside on the next pitch.

Base running is difficult and there’s no way to steal without screwing up your batter’s position (which is important when trying to hit something fired from a robot cannon arm), so a hit & run is out of the question. On close plays at a base, the runner and the fielder fight it out. Yes, the game turns into a quick round of Mortal Kombat. The winner gets the call. Sounds awesome, right? Nope. While my runner has a literal rifle for an arm and easily takes out ¾ of the fielder’s life within a matter of seconds, the fielder somehow "Hulks up" and beats me. There’s no way to defend yourself. It’s just a button mashing extravaganza of unfairness.
Where are your precious laws now, Isaac Asimov?
After so many Hit Points are drained, a losing player explodes and the game continues on without them. That's kind of cool. However, if you lose three robots in a game, your team has to forfeit.

On the plus side, fielding is fast and generally easy. Even if you don’t know where your fielder is on a line drive, he’s at least in position to make a play. The robots move quickly, so you don’t feel like you’re getting screwed into giving up extra bases, even when you probably should have caught the ball in the first place. However, the ball moves faster than the screen, so you're unlikely to be able to position the robot to catch anything hit hard to the outfield.   Let me reiterate: Your robot can't catch up to a ball simply because the ball moves faster than the screen.  That's some 8-bit glitchy bullshit right there, and another reason this game didn't place higher.

You'd think that the AI in a game played exclusively by robots would be better, but the computer is downright awful. The concept of "tagging up" does not compute with the AI, so you’re bound to record a few double or triple plays per game while on defense. Also, the computer will not send runners after the ball is put in play. So that throwing error that takes you 20 seconds to retrieve because you can't figure out where the hell your fielders are? No big deal. The computer is satisfied with itself and won't capitalize on your pathetic human errors.

Another bonus...you don’t have to watch the entire (rather lengthy) home run sequence. Since home runs account for about a quarter of every ball hit into play, you'll be glad they included the option to skip past it. Home runs are seriously a dime a dozen in this game. It gets old fast and takes a lot of strategy out of a game that seems to have been built around strategy in every other regard.

Players have the ability to edit two teams, creating one with laser swords and one with laser guns. You can power up or fix your damaged robots with money earned from wins. This is also one of 4 NES baseball games with a battery pack to save games, so you don't have to worry about pissing away hours on a game and then losing a list of stupid passwords (or writing it down incorrectly). God damn it. This game sounds so awesome.
Base Wars has happened before...and will happen again
Because of the cool robot gimmick, the ability to upgrade your own robot team, and the ability to save games to the cartridge, Base Wars actually has more replay value than many games ranked much higher on this list. This game would have made the top 5 if they had toned down the pitching a bit, if the AI was remotely competent, and if the fighting mode was better. If you happen to have another human to play Base Wars with, track this game down and build awesome robot teams to fight each other.  If you're playing alone, skip this one.  The amazing robot gimmick wears out quickly and will leave you disappointed.

Check back next Friday, when the rankings get slightly more interesting and you won't have to read about another Bases Loaded game ever again.

BREAKING NEWS: Folwer Spurns Orioles To GET THAT RING With The Cubs!

11:56 AM | Comments (0) | by Rich Funk



Coming WAY out of left field (or technically center field), Dexter Fowler is now back with the Cubs!

Wait...what?

Yes, it's true. Apparently Theo took the field at Spring Training to announce the deal right as Fowler walked out to join his teammates. That's some total WWE Surprise Entrance shit right there!



With Schwarber and Heyward and Soler in the OF, does this point to a trade coming? All we heard in the offseason was how much the Cubs front office loves Soler, so if he is the odd man out, I feel like he'd only be moved for a BIG return. Obviously this has something to do with Coghlan being shipped to Oakland about an hour ago.

Either way, the best team in baseball just got BETTER. I can't even take it. Opening Day cannot get here fast enough.



TMS Team Preview: The 2016 Colorado Rockies

8:11 AM | Comments (0) | by Rich Funk

Over the coming weeks, Thunder Matt's Saloon will have previews of all 30 MLB teams. We're starting at the bottom and working our way up based on the current Vegas odds for winning the 2016 World Series.

Now it's time for the Colorado Rockies!

HURR I'M WALT WEISS

Last Season: 68-94 (Dead Last Place in NL West)

So Long: Kyle Kendrick, Justin Morneau, John Axford, Rex Brothers, Wilin Rosario, Corey Dickerson, Christian Friedrich

Welcome: Jason Motte, Chad Qualls, Mark Reynolds, Gerardo Parra, Jake McGee

Projected Lineup (via Rotochamp.com)
Charlie Blackmon CF
Jose Reyes SS
Carlos Gonzalez RF
Nolan Arenado 3B
Gerardo Parra LF
DJ LeMahieu 2B
Mark Reynolds 1B
Nick Hundley C

Starting Rotation: Jorge de la Rosa, David Hale, Chad Bettis, Chris Rusin, Jon Gray, Yohan Flande
Setup: Jason Motte, Jairo Diaz
Closer: Jake McGee

Rap Lyric That Sums Up Their 2015 Season:
"Hey yo, where'd you get this place from, the Hellhole Store?"
    - Das Racist, 'Rainbow in the Dark'

Ahhh, Denver. Those fans don't know how lucky they truly are. If it wasn't for the legal marijuana and the Super Bowl Honeymoon Afterglow, they would have nothing to really distract them from how piss-poor the Rockies are. And they really do run the gamut of truly sucking both on and off the field. Yes they have what looks like a pretty good offense, but here's exactly what the Rockies are gonna do to the prime years of Nolan Arenado's career: surround him with juuuuust enough talent on offense to score 6 runs a game at home and fold that right in with a pitching staff that's a safe bet to give up 9. It's what they did for Tulo's prime. And Carlos Gonzalez's. And Todd Helton's. And Matt Holliday's. And Larry Walker's.

I will give their front office this: I sure as hell don't know what to do with this team either. They tried to out-bash the other team in the early Andres Gallaraga/Dante Bichette/Blake Street Bombers days and that didn't work. They tried to go pitching and defense in the Mike Hampton/Denny Neagle/Juan Pierre days and that also didn't work. Hell, the World Series run they went on 2007 (Rockies in 6!) came off the back of a fluke win in the Wild Card game to even reach the first round (Holliday was out so get over it, Denver).

That said, the front office is quickly moving up the speed dial of every other GM in the league. They trade Tulowitzki for Latin Chris Brown at SS after wasting all but one of his seasons in Denver. Then they fail to cash in on John Axford before he turned back into a mouthbreathing 4.20 ERA (ha ha 420 get it???) pitcher. Then they sign Gerrardo Parra to an already-full outfield, losing leverage in any/all trade talks because everyone knew the Rockies had to move someone. When they did move their one cheap and talented asset (Corey Dickerson), they got back...a closer? What kind of rebuilding team trades for a closer? Corey Dickerson doesn't even go to arbitration until 2017 and you trade him for a closer?

And Denver fans still have the 'Carlos Gonzalez For 2 AA Pitchers With Control Problems And A Used Treadmill' trade to look forward to this season!

Reason To Watch: There's only one acceptable reason: a hitter on your fantasy team is playing at Coors. That's it.

Reason To Drink: Not only did the Rockies give up Troy Tulowitzki for Jose Reyes and some Mad Dog 20/20, but now Jose Reyes goes all Josh Brolin with the domestic violence thing? Seriously, I cannot stress how awful this front office is.

The Fans: Come mid April? Something like this:



Their Worst Contract: They're paying Jose Reyes $22 million this season. They're paying Jorge De La Rosa $12.5 million this season. Christ, even Justin Morneau is making $750K and Justin Morneau is legally dead (#ctegone2soon).

Fantasy Standout: Nolan Arenado. Kid is legit and he actually got kind of unlucky on home run % last year (or I've had too much to drink already and it's the exact opposite but I know I read something at some point in a blog much better than ours there I said it don't you look at me like that whatever just go to the next one

Fantasy Bust: How have we gotten through three team previews before I realized that we're typing 'FANTASY BUST'? That sounds like a push up bra you would find in a gas station. And not a nice gas station. Like a gas station for dogs who are poor. Don't ask me why the dogs stick to cars that still burn oil and refuse to go electric, thus continuing demand for locally dog-owned gas stations to exist. It's probably why they're poor.

The Human Behavior Oddity Equivalent To This Team Is: That touristy thing to do in your area that everyone from out of town wants to do but because you live so close to it you actually never get around to it because you take for granted that it's there for you to do any time. Maybe 2 times over an entire summer you think "Oh yeah, that's still a thing, huh?" and then completely forget about it all over again.

TMS Team Preview: The 2016 Atlanta Braves

12:15 PM | Comments (2) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan

Over the coming weeks, Thunder Matt's Saloon will have previews of all 30 MLB teams. We're starting at the bottom and working our way up based on the current Vegas odds for winning the 2016 World Series.

Now it's time for the Atlanta Braves!



2015 Finish: 67-95 (Fourth Place in NL East)

So Long: Ross Detwiler, Edwin Jackson, Andrelton Simmons, Sugar Ray Marimon, Cameron Maybin, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Minor, Shelby Miller, Christian Bethancourt, Joey Terdoslavich

Welcome: Reid Brignac, Erick Aybar, Nud Borris, Jim Johnson (again), Gordon Beckham, Jose Ramirez, Emilio Bonifacio, Dansby Swanson, Ender Inciarte, Tyler Flowers, Jhoulys Chacin, Kyle Kendrick, Alexi Ogando, Kelly Johnson, Jeff Francoeur,

Projected Lineup (via Rotochamp.com)
1. Ender Inciarte LF
2. Erick Aybar SS
3. Nick Markakis RF
4. Freddie Freeman 1B
5. Adonis Garcia 3B
6. Jace Peterson 2B
7. Michael Bourn CF
8. Tyler Flowers C

Starting Rotation: Julio Teheran, Mike Foltynewicz (Injured), Manny Banuelos (Injured), Matt Wisler, Nud Borris
Setup: Jim Johnson
Closer: Arodys Vizcaino, Jason Grilli

Rap Lyric That Sums Up Their 2015 Season: 
"FUCK YOU!"
    - Cee Lo Green, 'Fuck You'

Long an envied franchise in the majors, things have become a bit bleak in Atlanta these days. At 350-1 "favorites" to win the World Series, these ain't your dad's Braves! Wait. Actually they might be. See, your dad probably remembers the Superstation TBS days when if they weren't airing Sanford & Son reruns or Clash of the Titans, they broadcast Braves baseball. And from 1985 to 1990 that was some shiiiiiiiitty baseball.

The Braves are in a rebuild right now. Getting ready for a new stadium (About time! Turner Field is 2 decades old!), the team is gearing up for another run in a couple years. So until then, fans will get to sit by and watch their team get trounced in 2016. At least that race to the bottom of the NL East with Philadelphia will be fun to watch, right? OK, maybe not.

Reason To Watch: Freddie Freeman (1B) If there's one dude that's still underrated it's him. He's been in the majors for a while now but is only 26 years old. He had a down season last year due to injury but has always had a solid OBP and can hit for power. He should bounce back this season and with a contract that locks him in until 2022, he's a critical piece to the eventual renaissance in Atlanta.

Reason To Drink: Break out the moonshine because it's gonna be a long season. While there's going to be plenty of things to drink about, that bullpen may be the top one. Arodys Vizcaino could very well settle in as closer just fine, but I'll bet you Jim Johnson doesn't finish out the year in this pen, or even the team for that matter. Jason Grilli is another aging question mark as well. The good news is they might not have too many leads to preserve anyway, so...yay?

The Fans: I was gonna go all shitty stereotypical about Southern people here, but then I read this piece about the new stadium and lack of reasonable access to get there and I just felt bad. So on top of your team being shitty you could also die crossing a highway just to get there? Jesus, take the wheel.

Proposed highway signage outside SunTrust Park

Their Worst Contract: Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher. Last season the Braves traded Chris Johnson to the Indians for Bourn and Swisher and cash. While Cleveland is paying for $10 million toward their 2016 salaries this season, the Braves are still on the hook for another $19 million between the two of them. Would they be better off with Chris Johnson then?  Probably not. Cleveland released him outright and will still owe him like $15 million to play baseball for another team over the next couple seasons. Both Bourn and Swisher have vesting options in 2017 but each needs to reach 550 plate appearances to get there. I have little faith either could reach that goal this season. Hell, is Nick Swisher even alive any more? Also can I just say fuck Chris Johnson? He'll get his TMS Most Wanted feature soon enough.

Fantasy Standout: Freddie Freeman. The down 2015 makes him a bit of a value pick at 1B, and if your league plays OBP instead of AVG, even better.

Fantasy Bust: No one. To say "Bust" would be to assume they were gonna be good in the first place, which they're not. Most of these guys range from shitty to cromulent to cromulently shitty.

The Pop Culture Equivalent To This Team Is: Seeing a popular 80s band now. Yeah everything sort of looks and sounds familiar, but it's just not the same and overall pretty depressing. Do you guys like the Doobie Brothers? Because the Braves got one of them!

Cubs Mastercard Presale Today, Fight the Urge to Be an Asshole

9:32 AM | Comments (1) | by Jake the Terrible Cubs Fan


Today at noon the 2016 Mastercard presale begins for single game Cubs tickets. This is the two day window where shitheads and trust fund kids spend even more money to get a game ticket. So instead of paying the regular wallet-sodomizing prices, you can pay 20% more for one to get the game you want, days before the games go on sale for real. Do you have a Mastercard? Well then you lucky so and so only pay a 15% premium on top of the horse shit regular price. WHAT A GREAT FUCKING DEAL! (punches own face)

Come on people. I'm kind of over bitching about the ticket prices, but this presale nonsense needs to end. And the only way you can end it is by not giving in to this bullshit demand fearmongering the team wants you to believe. If you really want tickets to a specific game it's not that difficult to get them, and you don't need to buy them early at a premium price. Shit, go on StubHub right now and the game you want is probably available and at a price that is cheaper than this deal. Or better yet, check eBay. Remember eBay? Yeah, apparently people still sell tickets there too.

Bottom line. Don't buy into this garbage. Just wait until they go on sale normally and buy them then or use a different outlet.

What's Trending on Twitter? A Governor X Investigation

11:41 PM | Comments (0) | by Governor X

Welcome to "What's Trending on Twitter?" This is a new TMS feature where I, the Saloon's resident Dodger fan and crusty old white person, check current trends on the Twitter machine.

Twitter has gotten really big since TMS last roamed the plains of the internets. We've been on the lam since July of 2012, and I only joined Twitter in August of that year. At the time, I basically joined just to secure my user name. I saw little point in the platform and wrote it off as another passing fad. Well, I misjudged that. I've really warmed to it as a way of getting up to the minute news on sports and politics. At the same time, the current trends will occasionally make you weep for humanity and/or feel really old. I know, I know. All you millennials have moved on to Snapchat to send pictures of your junk to one another, but we're catching up.

Let's see what's trending today...

Rihanna - Hey, I don't even need to Google that name. I know her! Does anyone remember that umbrella song? Under the ella ella ella or something. Anyway, shortly after that came out she got beat up by that guy. She's trending today because she's just made a video with Drake. You know Drake. He's the Toronto Raptors' version of Jack Nicholson. The sad thing is, Jack Nicholson is probably a better rapper. His lazy rhymes pretty much killed off rap music for me. Now it's all Florida Georgia Line all the time.

Rick Tyler - My first thought was "Stephen Tyler's bastard son?" Nope. Some Ted Cruz campaign operative. He seems to have gotten in trouble for spreading the rumor that Ted Cruz is an actual human being and not some smarmy bible beating android.

Dangerous Woman - I had no idea what this was going to be either. It's Ariana Grande's new album title. The national anthem at the Super Bowl a couple years back is the only thing I've ever heard her sing. Let's keep it that way.

#NostalgicFor - Ah yes...it's like your mom's facebook shares from KBOR FM 88.3, but on Twitter. Does anyone remember macaroni and cheese in the box? Yes. Literally everyone. This trend lets all share what we're nostalgic for! It could be fun if you're into that sort of thing I guess (I don't like to share.), but someone always ruins the fun:
Good god. Just shut up.

#UniversityChallenge - What are the kids doing today? Eating fish sticks through their ass to raise awareness about hunger in Suriname? Getting offended by wind? God damn I'm glad I finished college ages ago. Back in my day, you know, like a little over ten years ago, you could just drink and have a good time (I went to a state school). Now it's all "viral" pranks and political correctness. I clicked on this and still have no idea what the hell it is, so I'll just move on.

Sen. Claire McCaskill - She has breast cancer. I can't make jokes about that can I? No? Well shit. More like Sen. McBuzzkill...

#BlueJays - Hey look! Baseball. This is a baseball blog. Kind of anyway. I'm not a Toronto fan, but just thinking about Bautista's bat flip makes my loins stir. It would have been nice had they won the damn series though. They probably shouldn't have made that R.A. Dickey trade.

Jimmy Rollins - What a sad garbage fart Jimmy Rollins' 2015 season in LA was. The 2015 Dodgers seriously started games with a middle infield of Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley. Again, 2015 not 2008. Better late than never? Nope. Fart noise. Rollins as a backup wouldn't have been so bad, but LA's manager was Donny Dumbass so he always had to have the crafty (translation: terrible) veteran starting. Rollins signed with the White Sox. He'll be grabbing a lot of bench.

Work from Home - I work from home, but there's too much to say about it. We'll revisit this topic later.

#MusicMonday - You just post about music? I never hear new music anymore. I don't do that Spotify or Apple Music nonsense and the radio is pure garbage. Did you guys know Toto is still making music? Why don't they play that on the radio? Here's a picture of Suzanne Vega. Happy #MusicMonday everyone!

My name is Luka, I live on the third floor? No. No. SECOND FLOOR. Hand me my fucking Grammy!

TMS Team Preview: The 2016 Philadelphia Phillies

4:43 PM | Comments (1) | by Rich Funk

Over the coming weeks, Thunder Matt's Saloon will have previews of all 30 MLB teams. We're starting at the bottom and working our way up based on the current Vegas odds for winning the 2016 World Series.

First up, the Philadelphia Phillies!


2015 Finish: 63-99 (Last Place in NL East)

So Long: Domonic Brown, Chad Billingsley, Jeff Francoeur, Aaron Harang, Cliff Lee, Ken Giles

Welcome: James Russell, Peter Bourjos, David Hernandez, Vincent Velasquez, Charlie Morton, Jeremy Hellickson, Mark Appel, Brett Oberholtzer, J.P. Arencibia, Ernesto Frieri, Edward Mujica, and most importantly, Jake Fox

Projected Lineup (via Rotochamp.com)
1. Freddy Galvis SS
2. Odubel Herrera CF
3. Maikel Franco 3B
4. Darin Ruf RF
5. Ryan Howard 1B
6. Cody Asche LF
7. Carlos Ruiz C
8. Cesar Hernandez 2B

Starting Rotation: Aaron Nola, Jeremy Hellickson, Charlie Morton, Brett Oberholtzer, Jerad Eickhoff
Setup: Jeanmar Gomez, Vincent Velasquez
Closer: David Hernandez

Rap Lyric That Sums Up Their 2015 Season: 
I see no changes, wake up in the morning and I ask myself: ‘Is life worth living? Should I blast myself?’
   - Tupac Shakur, Changes

The 2015 season was not kind to the Phillies. On one hand, they were in the bottom three in the Majors in runs scored. On an even shittier hand, they were also second to last in the Majors in ERA. And on a third imaginary mutated hand with 8 fingers and no thumbs, they played a good chunk of the season with some of the most awful garbage humans on the planet.

Chase Utley? Dirty player. Who can forget when he broke Reuben Tejada's leg?


Jonathan Papelbon? Way into chokesex.


Ryan Howard? Hangs out with diddlers.


True, they did trade away both Utley and Papelbon (and Cole Hamels and Jimmy Rollins), but they did the usual Phillies thing and waited about a year or two too late to trade them and didn't get maximum value. Although you can't blame the Phillies for not trading Ryan Howard because they've been trying for years. No one wants that contract or his associations with known diddlers.

Reason To Watch: Maikel Franco (3B) looks like the real deal and could be the latest Phillies great at the hot corner. And while he may not be able to field like Scott Rolen or grow a mustache that would make most men openly weep like Mike Schmidt, the kid can destroy the baseball, with a .217 ISO last season as a rookie. In a home ballpark that plays quite well to power hitters, I'd say 24 homers are a given with 30+ as a ceiling, stupid spelling of his first name or not.

Reason To Drink: Just about everyone else on the team. Jeeeeeeeesus Christ, I couldn't pick this starting lineup out of a group if I was holding all of their baseball cards in my hands. Outside of Franco, this lineup is just a garbage fire of has-been's (Ryan Howard) and who-is-that-now's (everyone else besides Franco). Their outfield of Aaron Altherr/Odubel Herrera/Peter Bourjos sounds like 3 names grabbed from a bag of identities cops keep on hand for when people need to go into witness protection.

Not blackout drunk enough yet, Phillies fans (SPOILER ALERT: Phillies fans can never get 'drunk enough')? Freddy Galvis is your shortstop. Still looking for a double-shot of hot runny dump on top of all that? Your 'ace' (and the use of that word is so loose it would make a cathouse madam blush) is Jeremy Hellickson, who hasn't had an ERA under 4.50 since Whitney Houston died. And your #2 behind him is Charlie Morton, the pitching equivalent of a big steamy #2, so maybe that's fitting.

The Fans: Philly fans are pretty terrible, but in a way that's not too obtrusive. Unless you're Santa Claus or they decide to throw batteries at you, you can just ignore them and pretend they aren't there. It's like the raccoons that go through your garbage - as long as they don't make a mess, it's easier to just let them be.
Did you say cheesesteak? Someone said cheesesteak.
Their Worst Contract: All of you were probably thinking I was going to say Ryan Howard, but you would be wrong. Sure, Ryan Howard is going to make $25 million this season, but at least the Phillies will get SOMETHING out of him. Compare that to the $12.5 million of absolute sunk cost that the Phillies will be paying 37 year old Cliff Lee this season to not even pitch for their team. For that much money, you can buy Paula Deen's mansion, which I assume is full of white hooded robes covered in Crisco.

Fantasy Standout: Aaron Nola? He's not bad. Not great, but he's going to look a lot better in comparison to the other clowns on the team.

Fantasy Bust: Everyone else. Seriously, this team is like the sun during an eclipse: stare too long and someone older than you will yell at you and smack you across the face.

The Pop Culture Equivalent To This Team Is: All the upcoming water events during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. In case you haven't heard, all of those water events will happen in what is basically poo water. That's not me reaching for a 3rd poop joke in s a single post. It's the truth. You might feel the urge to watch, just to see if it's as gross as you think it will be. Don't. It is, and you won't be any better off turning in. Much like those poo-water games, the 2016 Phillies technically have to play a season, but it's probably better if you just ignore it.

Ranking the Baseball Games of the NES: Part 1

2:46 AM | Comments (4) | by Adam Blank

From 1985 to 1993 there were a total of 20 baseball-themed games for the Nintendo Entertainment System released in the U.S.  And since the NES was my console of choice at the time when my love of baseball was growing (and 20 is a nice even number), what better way to look back on this simpler time than to rank and critique these games based on more than a quarter century of cynicism and life experience?

Welcome to Part 1 of a 4 week segment.  (To see part 2, Click here)

A couple things to note:

This is just the opinion of some guy in his mid 30's playing these games by himself on a pretty fucking sweet emulator with an awesome controller.  I'm sure that even the worst of these games was a lot of fun when you were 9 and played against your best friend. My rankings are based solely on my opinions while playing against the computer as an adult; therefore they are 100% correct.  

Also, I included the chronological order of games to give a sense of place in the history of the 7+ years that baseball games were made for the NES.  It almost certainly isn't 100% correct.  If the internet says one game came out sometime in 1988 and a different game came out in July of 1988, I usually just guessed at which came first.  

So here they are, the five WORST baseball games for the NES...

#20. ROGER CLEMENS' MVP BASEBALL
LJN
Released in October 1991 (17th of 20 NES Baseball Games)



LJN is notorious for churning out shitty video games tied to various licensing agreements. Roger Clemens' MVP Baseball is not an exception. This is towards the end of the NES's life (the SNES had been released a couple of months earlier), so the graphics are about as good as you'll find on the system.  The pitchers' throwing motions are the best of any NES baseball game.

But nice graphics can't fix a game that's fundamentally broken.  The controls in this game are simply abysmal.  First of all, it’s one of those “over-the-pitcher’s-shoulder-view-while-fielding" games (like the Bases Loaded games). Personally, I fucking hate that.  Any time a ball is hit, fielding becomes a nightmare.  First base is to the left and third is to the right.  You think you’re throwing home and you throw a bullet to second base.

But that can be overcome with a bit of practice.  What can’t be so easily overcome is natural instinct.  A bouncing ball approaches your second baseman’s left hand-side! You slide to glove it, but to no avail!  It trickles through to the outfield.  The camera shifts to the Center Fielder, who has been running to his left because he, for some unknown reason, gets positioned along with your 2nd baseman.  He’s running the wrong way to field it, and there’s not a goddamned thing you can hope to do about it!  The runner tries to take extra bases but you’ll throw him out at third...except you throw to first base instead.  Damn it!

That’s not even the worst of it.  Batting is somehow even worse than fielding.  To make contact with a fastball (which the computer throws about 80% of the time), you have to start swinging BEFORE the ball leaves the pitcher. For some reason this game has a built-in delay for hitters.  Press the swing button, wait a half a second, and then you swing.  Obviously the computer is not affected by any sort of delay while batting...because it beat me 35-2.
This guy should have swung about 10 seconds ago.

There's no 10+ run mercy rule in this game, so you have to either play the entire game or (more likely) slam your controller into your console, breaking one or the other.  While a lot of the baseball games made for the NES are bad, this is the only one that comes close to being unplayable.

One thing of note: This is the only NES game I've played that invoked the Infield Fly Rule. Those fuckers at LJN can't figure out how to get the bat to swing when you push a button but they managed to program the infield fly rule into a baseball game. Great job, assholes.

#19. BASEBALL
Nintendo
Released in October 1985 (1st of 20 NES Baseball Games)














One of the original 17 "black box" titles available for the U.S. launch of the NES, Baseball is obviously the first NES baseball game and the least sophisticated.

There are no stats.  No batting averages, no home runs stats or ERA.  You don’t even know which player is batting because you aren’t given player names or even positions.  This means that there’s no strategy. You simply get a pattern down correctly and do the same thing over and over again until you win.  I guess that’s technically a strategy, but that's some serious OCD shit right there.  This also means that every player is essentially the same.  Did you manage to get a runner on first?  He runs at the same speed as everyone.  Is your pitcher batting with 2 outs and the bases loaded in a tie game?  Sure, why not? You can't tell anyway. He’s the same as everyone else. NES Communist Baseball should have come in a red box.

Смерть Америке
Fielding and baserunning are both terrible.  Although it’s nearly impossible to tell if the outfielder will catch my pop fly, I’d be willing to send my runner on first...if I could figure out how.  There must be a way to move baserunners because the computer keeps trying to pick me off! With only two buttons and a directional pad, you'd think I could figure this shit out.

Outfielders tend to automatically throw to the next base.  For instance, if you’re fielding and there’s a guy on first, and the batter gets a hit to right field, you should (conceivably) be able to throw the runner out at second, but the idiot fielder tends to throw to 3rd by default.  

The sounds and music feel like they were lifted from the Atari 2600 and the graphics are gruesome in their simplicity.  But this game isn’t unplayable. Some unfortunate baseball game had to be the first for the system and, luckily, most subsequent games improved on this mess.  But, if you owned an NES at the time it launched in the States, you’d have to wait over two years for the next baseball game...

#18. R.B.I. BASEBALL
Tengen
Released sometime in 1988 (2nd of 20 NES Baseball Games)














...And that shitty game would be R.B.I. Baseball. Clunky design and sluggish fielding destroy what might have been an otherwise mediocre game.

This game was licensed by the MLB Players Association, but not by MLB themselves. So while players' names and stats are used, team names and logos are not. Still, I doubt any kid cared. After all, you could finally play as your favorite team...as long as they won their division in 1986 or 1987. The playable teams are the cities in which these teams are found: The Mets, The Astros, The Red Sox, The Angels, The Twins, The Tigers, The Giants, and The Cardinals. Two All-Star Teams from each league were also included to soften the disappointment of any baseball-loving kid who just wanted to be Andre Dawson for a minute to get his mind off mommy and daddy screaming at each other just outside his bedroom door...

The controls are a mess.  A routine pop-up will start to trail back as if a gale force wind suddenly took hold of it and pushed it about 40 feet behind where you were expecting to field it.  Then your fat glacier of a player takes all day to retrieve it. Don't worry, baserunners move about as quickly as molasses on a witch's tit.
No, the lack of vowels didn't ring in a new era of Welsh-themed baseball games.
Oh.  This fucking fielding.  A fair ball made it to the right field corner.  Fair ball in foul territory.  No problem, I’ll just pick it up and...CHUCK IT INTO THE STANDS WITH NO WAY TO RECOVER IT.  I guess I was too close to the wall? There’s nothing that can be done. Everybody scores. What fun.

The only cool thing is that players' abilities sort of reflect their real-life stats or abilities. Some were (slightly) faster, some hit better and some could pitch harder. Also, this and other games in the R.B.I. Baseball series seem to be the only games that score inside-the-park home runs as actual home runs.

This game might be earliest NES baseball game with a “Watch” option.  I've yet to meet a person who has admitted to putting a video game on "watch" mode and hunkered down for an entire game. But, like WarGames from a few years earlier, perhaps the only way to win is not to play.

#17. BASES LOADED II: SECOND SEASON
Jaleco
Released in January 1990 (7th of 20 NES Baseball Games)














I've already bitched about how I’ve never been a fan of the over-the-pitcher’s-shoulder-view in baseball games, but Bases Loaded 2 made it even worse.  Depending on where the ball is hit, all fielding views are either from the first base or third base side. Not only does this mean you have to do the reverse of your normal fielding to properly throw to bases, but you have to know which direction the camera will shift in order to field it properly.  This is like some shit NASA would use to test your dexterity for the space program.
DAMN YOU, JALECO!
And the computer fucking CHEATS.  There are a lot of NES baseball games where you, as the human, can take an extra base because the computer is programmed to try to hold the lead runner. But this is the first and only game I’ve seen where the computer cheats the player out of a base.  For example: The computer had a runner on 2nd.  Computer singles to right.  Runner on 2nd advances to 3rd.  My throw to 3rd is late.

Now the computer's guy on first tries to to take second.  I throw to second, and the runner retreats, but the guy on 3rd tries for home.  Fuck him! I throw home.  Runner on 3rd retreats, but runner on 1st tries for second again. I try to throw him out and the same SHIT HAPPENS forever until you just give up and let the runner have second. This is some advanced Prisoner's Dilemma-type game theory shit at work here.

So yeah, the fucking game cheats, the weird divided fielding view is awful and the Bases Loaded series is really fucking overrated.
Bases Loaded II: Now with 66% more foul territory!

#16. MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
LJN
Released in April 1988 (3rd of 20 NES Baseball Games)














The first LJN baseball game ever made but the second on this list. This time, Major League Baseball endorsed the game (hence the title), but the Players Association didn't. That means you can play as your favorite team, but players are only identified by their number, position, or stats.

Aside from a Regular Game, Major League Baseball offers an All-Star Game and a World Series mode. You can turn the DH rule on or off.

The All-Star Game lets you hand-select your roster from one league.  This means you can finally play as Andre Dawson and Ryne Sandberg (or their non-union Mexican equivalents) and stack them against an opponent, who is doing the same shit with the roster in the other league.  It's a cool idea and the first that lets you assemble your dream team, as long as your dream team happens to be entirely composed of players with good stats in the 1987 season.

The physics in this game are different from almost every other baseball game. Generally, a hit ball will travel in a straight line until it hits a fielder or a wall.  In this game, a ground ball smoked past the short stop will often die in the outfield grass. But that's ok, your left fielder is coming in to...over run it. Most games provide a chunky "thwarp" type of sound to indicate that a fielder has obtained the ball. This game provides a barely audible tinny sound, so you’re never quite sure if your guy got the ball or overran it, so it’s easy to make errors. It's a shame because fielders actually move fluidly.
Who doesn't remember good ol' #28's epic .265 season?

Hitting is pretty damn awful. You can only move up & down in the batter’s box.  And you need to scoot all the way down, as it is the only way to hit a 100mph fastball, which the computer throws constantly.  

It's a shame that the awesome All-Star selection feature was wasted on such a turd of a game. A couple of minor tweaks and this could have placed much higher.

Tune in next Friday, where I highlight the five games that were slightly better than these but not good enough to crack the Top 10.