realism, sleazism

Sony's MLB 09: The Show claims to be "the most realistic baseball game ever." And perhaps it is, but that's not saying much.

It seems like only yesterday that ownership of the Chicago White Sox was usurped by Ozzie Guillen and his band of misfits. With the newly-dubbed "Sleazesox" dominating the American League, records were smashed. It quickly became clear that the emerging ace, Horacio Ramirez, had a golden arm, eliminating the need for a standard pitching rotation and bullpen. His shoulder witnessed feats never before seen in the annals of the American pastime.

1100 innings pitched. 95 wins (and 98 complete games). 523 strikeouts. Over 1100 hits and 117 homers allowed. Horacio Ramirez produced a season for the ages, and all on a minuscule contract, with very little talent, and zero energy the entire season. His frequent day game performances after pitching into extra innings only the night before were unprecedented. And it usually worked. Many speculated that he would be headed to the disabled list at any given moment, but that moment never came. (Realism note: Horacio's mediocre career stats do not suggest that he's remotely capable of anything like this. In fact, he has only won two games since 2008.)

And then there was the reinvigorated Frank Howard, two-time AL home run king. All he did was win the triple crown, batting .388 with 49 homers and 130 RBI. His 1.122 OPS led the professional circuit. He batted nearly .430 against left-handers, and also stole 25 bases - because he could. (Realism note: unlike Horacio, Frank Howard may have been capable of some of this output during his prime - albeit not this extreme. His average real season saw him bat .100 points lower, with an OPS .300 points lower. And he never stole more than one base in a season.)

Finally, if those numbers weren't enough, how's this for a blow to realism: Sal Fasano played second base all season long and batted .293, with over 40 RBI (most from suicide squeeze). And the White Sox won 119 games, effortlessly at times. It should be interesting to see what their new incarnation is capable of in MLB 11: The Show. If trends continue, new records will be set.

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