When you boil it down to its very basics, baseball is a very simple game. To quote the legendary Lee Elia, “The name of the game is hit the ball, catch the ball, and get the f&*kin’ job done.” It doesn’t get much simpler than that.
But what makes the game so great are its nuances and subtleties, the tiny details that can otherwise make or break a 162-game season. And while MLB’s World Series 2009 does the hitting, pitching and catching well, its lack of any substance beyond that leave it an incomplete game at best.
Playing the game is no sweat. Pitching is handled by using finger gestures to handle both accuracy and power, with the accelerometer for aiming. Batting is handled with the accelerometer to aim, with a touch button to swing. Defense is handled automatically, though there is a manual option for throwing to the bases.
But the game’s playability is quickly crippled by the stunning lack of detail around the rest of the game. Pitching itself is limited to four pitches, regardless of who’s on the mound. Hitting is just that — hitting. There’s no options for stealing, bunting or any of the small ball that got teams like the Tampa Bay Rays or the Philadelphia Phillies into the World Series. And defense is just too dumbed down to really be a factor.
Though all 30 teams are represented, only four of their ballparks make it into the game: Philly’s Citizen’s Bank Ballpark, Yankee Stadium, Wrigley Field and Fenway Park. And without MLB Players Association approval, there are no names, just jersey numbers and skin color to tell people apart. The die-hards could figure it out, but it’s meaningless, as everyone plays exactly the same.
There are three game modes. “World Series” is basically the playoffs, starting with the Division Series, plus Exhibition and Season (though why anyone would ever subject themselves to a season of this is a mystery).
The slugger Frank Howard once said, “The trouble with baseball is that by the time you learn how to play it, you can’t play it anymore.” But when the game of baseball is reduced to such a shell, devoid of the details that really make it special, it’s hardly a challenge. And hardly any fun.
It’s more like being a Cubs fan — Hopeful at the start, but ultimately ending in disappointment.
Any fans of baseball will be better served spending a few extra bucks on the fantastic MLB At Bat app instead.