Aaron Leibowitz | The Fan
On Backyard Baseball
Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 07:10
I considered writing this column about the Giants’ loss to the Eagles on Sunday. Then I realized it would be way more fun to write about Backyard Baseball.
Backyard Baseball was a computer game in which a bunch of made-up kids played pickup baseball whenever the hell I told them to. It required a mere click of the mouse, and I played it so much that I not only can still name every backyard kid, but can also provide in-depth analysis of each one. Try me.
I don’t always remember what I ate for breakfast that morning, but there are moments in Backyard Baseball games that I remember like they happened yesterday. Who could forget Mikey Thomas’s walk-off homer in Game 7 of the BBWS, over the short porch in centerfield at Steele Stadium? You can’t make this stuff up.
Of course, the fun of Backyard Baseball — which, by the way, now also exists as a video game — wasn’t just in winning. It was in stacking your team with all the best players, playing on the lowest difficulty level and then winning by ridiculous margins.
My friend Sam and I used to play in tee-ball mode, frequently posting run totals of 150 or more. (A couple of years ago, we tried doing this again and couldn’t score more than 10. Lost the touch, I guess.) Whenever we’d hit a single, we’d get in a pickle between first and second base for several minutes before the other team would inevitably throw the ball away.
What truly made the game unique, though, were the kids themselves. They had nicknames and personalities; strengths and weaknesses; bizarre and hilarious quirks.
Pete Wheeler had lightning speed, but he’d always zone out and forget what sport he was playing. Maria Luna only played well when her team wore pink. Mikey Thomas had an eternal cold.
Ricky Johnson had the skills to be a good player, but he didn’t have the self-esteem. Marky Dubois brought his pet frog to games and wrestled pigs in his spare time. Dante Robinson was fast, but he just couldn’t stop thinking about hamburgers.
Along with the quirky characters came some ingenious infield chatter. There were the old standards: “We wanna batter, not a broken ladder!” and “We wanna pitcher, not a belly-itcher!”
But then there were others, like this gem from the ever-nerdy Dmitri Petrovich: “May I remind you that the primary objective is to hit the ball?” Or this, from lovable power hitter Keisha Phillips: “Watch out, Batman! Here comes the Joker!” And from Pete Wheeler: “Betcha can’t hit a touchdown.”
Backyard Baseball was my childhood, and I could go on and on talking about the ins and outs of the game. Is the Big Freeze or the Fireball the better power-up pitch? What are the pros and cons of the Screaming Line Drive?
But this is a column about being a fan, and therefore I should be writing it for some reason other than to fulfill my nostalgic needs. I have a responsibility to instill some sports-related wisdom in my readers’ minds.
You see, folks, what Backyard Baseball ultimately shows us is the dirtying influence of big money in sp— wait, that’s not right.
All in all, Backyard Baseball reminds us that human error is just an inherent part of— no, that’s not it either.
I guess at the end of the day, Backyard Baseball proves that it’s reckless and harmful to use war metaphors in— what were we talking about again?
And so, in conclusion, Pablo Sanchez is the greatest hitter of all time.
Aaron Leibowitz is a junior who is majoring in American studies. He can be reached at Aaron.Leibowitz@tufts.edu.