MLB 11 The Show Community Event – Day 1 – Pondering

MLB 11 Community Event – Day 1 – The Flight

It’s hard to explain the excitement that I felt when Ramone Russell (Community Manager for MLB The Show) invited me to join 5 of the regulars from the community over at Operation Sports to a few days of in-depth hands-on with MLB 11 The Show, right at the studio with a bunch of the folks from the development team there with us. I’d read about past events over at OS, and I’d joked a few times with various people on the team, but I never expected to ever actually receive an invite.

I’ve been a Baseball fan for most of my life, and played the game from “Pitching Machine” on through High School. I was never the best at the game, but I could hold my own. Even after High School, I continued to play Softball (4 nights a year for a while there) up until I had my little car accident. Even then , I love attending a few Brewers games a year, and when I travel I always try to hit-up a local game if they have a team, even if it’s minor league.

With all of that though, digital representations of the sport have always been a part of my life as well. From RealSports Baseball on the 2600, to Hardball on my Commodore 64 & Apple II GS, through the more modern iterations such as High Heat and of course, The Show, it’s safe to say that I’ve played most of them. Many people that do the same can probably also rattle-off their favorites from that far back with ease. For me, it’s still tough to beat the first Ken Griffey on the SNES, that allowed you to change all of the names to the real players’ names, since they didn’t have the MLBPA license. But the list of my favorites is pretty extensive, and it would take a lot of writing to explain my reasoning for each of them. As I sit here on the airplane on my way to San Diego, I know one thing: we’re here to talk about the future, and in my mind, I’m about to play the finest digital Baseball game being released this year.

It started innocently enough with MLB Pennant Race on the PlayStation. I was so excited for that one, and when it was finally released, I couldn’t find it in the town that I lived in. Instead, I called a store in Appleton, about an hour away, begged them to hold one, and raced to get it and get back before my then girlfriend made it to my apartment after class that night. In fact, I pulled it off. Well, that is until I muttered “holy crap, this stadium looks awesome.” She overheard me and figured it out almost immediately. It was all worth it though, since for the time, it was tough to beat that game for visuals and gameplay. Of course now if you boot the game up, it’s pretty tough to make it through a full game. Long load times, dodgy physics, and some questionable AI make it a tough one to play now.

I continued to enjoy the series that would become The Show, except for those couple of years on the PlayStation 2 when, frankly, they took a turn for the worse. EA had the Triple Play franchise, High Heat didn’t suck yet, and others littered the market with interesting ideas but poor execution. For example, one of the last years of All-Star Baseball, if you bunted foul, just once, it was an out. Yeah, kind of a buggy game. Things really changed when EA switched the franchise name to “MVP Baseball,” as the game was essentially completely revamped with analog controls, and new systems all over the place. It’s still considered one of the best Baseball games to ever be released, and draws comparisons to newer games to this day. Personally, I think there’s still a small bit of nostalgia clouding people’s minds about MVP. It is a great game, no doubt, but some people revere it a bit too highly in my opinion.

Then a major shift took place. EA Sports bought the exclusive rights to NFL Football, putting other franchises from teams like SCEA/989 Sports and 2K Sports out of business in that category. As a response to that move, 2K Sports made a deal for the exclusive 3rd-party rights to the MLB, thus shutting many out of making Baseball games, except for first party developers. Unlike Microsoft and Nintendo however, Sony answered the call, and have never looked back. 989 Studios essentially became Sony San Diego Studios, and they have been the tireless guardians of one of the best sports franchises in video games, MLB The Show.

In 2007, the first “next gen” entry in the MLB The Show series hit to a pretty good response. Many of the new visuals and features weren’t really polished as much as many expected, but it was still a solid game. One thing that really stood-out was the amount of bugs however, and unlike their competitor, the MLB The Show team showed that they were taking the fans seriously. They checked forums all over the Internet, and even solicited feedback wherever they could, resulting in a much more solid game the next year. Fans continued to submit suggestions, bug reports, and opinions, and the team listened.

Now personally, this is a game that I play with my friends relentlessly for entire weekends. The 3 of us pass the controller to each other from one game to the next, each of us controlling our one player in Road to the Show while the other 2 ridicule plays and talk about strategy to improve oru player. This has become quite the tradition over the past few years, but in some form or another has been taking-place since the 16-bit days really. I’m a huge fan of these games, and a huge fan of the people behind it. They’ve always taken time out of their busy schedules to answer questions submitted by our listeners, and are always a blast to have on the podcast.

So, I sit here on the plane and ponder what’s waiting for me. I have about 2 hours until I get there, and all I have currently is Stone Temple Pilots on my iPod, “The Social Network” being shown on the plane, and a sudden need to grab my PSP to play MLB 10 The Show before we land. I am truly honored and humbled that they’ve invited me along this year, and I simply can’t wait to get my hands on this game. At the same time, my hope is to be able to talk about it to all of you as much as they’ll allow me to. If you have any questions about the game this week, send it to me on Twitter at and I’ll make sure to try and answer as many as I can. The sessions are scheduled for about 14 hours a day, so we’ll have plenty of time to play the different modes, and we’ll be able to ask the devs directly about certain aspects of the game. This is such a huge opportunity, and I’m incredibly happy to bring as much info to all of you as possible.

Stay Tuned!

Written by Glenn Percival

Glenn Percival

Just a guy that loves games, movies, Golf, Football, and Baseball.

Editor-in-Chief, Video Producer, and whipping-boy

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