It’s a beautiful spring day in Brooklyn.
The smell of freshly cut grass fills your nose mixed with popcorn and hot dogs. A small murmur is coming over the crowd as it gathers in the stands at 55 Sullivan place for opening day of the 2014 Baseball Season.
This old ballpark has seen its share of history since opening in 1913, the year after Fenway Park opened -- if you are counting. The Dodgers have called this place home for years, full of its quirky dimensions including the short 297 foot right field.
As the GM, you’ve considered how your park was built and made adjustments accordingly. You want guys who can push the ball down the line here, center field does stand out there at an impossibly long 484 feet.
You see, at Ebbets Field, this place was built to have baseball played in it like it was being played in the early 1900s. Pitchers reigned supreme and the concept of the Babe was neither a ballplayer or a friendly pig from England.
Thanks to some hard dealing, you’ve built a pitching staff which limits contact as much as possible with a set of outfielders built to have enough speed to cover the vast caverns of the Ebbets Field outfield. You’ve got hitters who can hit the gaps with ease, sure your guys don’t hit home runs — but you score runs with the best of them.
It’s All Possible
The above example isn’t exactly real in any way, but it could be if the folks at SCEA San Diego are ready to fully embrace the history of America’s greatest game.
You see, America’s history is tearing it down. Old and historically significant places like Ebbets Field are routinely torn down to make way for future development. If it doesn’t fit into the economic future of a city, the place is as good as gone.
The folks in Houston are still debating whether to tear down the Astrodome or not. Sure, it doesn’t make much economic sense to have a stadium sitting empty, but tearing down a place which changed the way stadiums were built is also a tough sell.
But in MLB The Show, you don’t have to worry about this stuff. Thanks to the power of next-generation hardware, you could bring back to life old places like Ebbets Field, Crosley Stadium, the Polo Grounds, old Comiskey Park, Tiger Stadium, Forbes Field, and so many more.
Even cooler would be to be able to roll back the clock and play MLB as it once was. Imagine playing a season in the 1950s with all of the old and classic ballparks in tow. A 1954 Season could have you playing the Milwaukee Braves, the Brooklyn Dodgers, and the Chicago Cubs all in one road stretch. In the AL, it’d seem even more familiar except the Athletics are from Philadelphia and the Senators are still a team from Washington.
Who knows how commercially viable such a mode is really, but it would seem anyone with a remote interest in how the game once was would feel as if such a mode would have at least some place in the game’s future.
Preserving Old Ballparks Digitally
More importantly, places which fewer and fewer people who are alive have visited could be brought back to life in stunning detail. It’s very likely the number of people who both play The Show and who visited Ebbets Field as a youngster is a very low number with two hands being able to count them all.
However, imagine a feature which gave the old ballparks the same treatment as the new ones, with painstaking detail applied to every corner of the stadium. For Major League Baseball, being able to have a feature in the game which allowed you to tour the old ballparks and learn about the game’s history seems like something that’s an all too obvious selling point.
There would seem to be an incentive to have SCEA do the dirty work of rendering the stadiums and giving them some compensation to allow such a ‘tour’ feature to be put onto a computer at the Baseball Hall of Fame as well — but that’s just me suggesting something crazy.
Imagine being able to digitally tour the old Tiger Stadium as it once was and then jumping into a game there. Even cooler, imagine being able to turn the clocks back and have modern day players play through a season in classic ballparks to see how the stats would fare. What about shrinking the league to the 1950s sized 16 teams and holding a fantasy draft, imagine the vast array of talent you'd see on each team. The possibilities are truly endless.
Baseball’s History: The Final Frontier
With such a rich and vibrant history, Major League Baseball has a library of content and built in retro features that would make any other sport blush. Other leagues were just getting moving in the 1950s, baseball was already in mid-season form.
To this point, no baseball video game has adequately approached the history of the game in a manner which added replay value — or really even value — to the game.
If the developers at SCEA are seeking an idea of where to go next with the series, the answer may just be backwards in time.