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TonyDanzaFan Blog

Give Me a Flirt with a Side of Extra Letters

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Dear D,

I f***ing hate you. No, genuinely, I mean that. You know how much enthusiasm I had towards you prior to this? Thats how much disdain I have for you now. Good job, girl, you earned it! Give yourself a gold star, you earned that too. Meanwhile, I will continue on the rest of my life without ever having the unfortunate pain that seeing you would thrust upon me. Emaciated, I sacrificed my future just so I would have a chance. There was always that glimmer of hope, that feeling of what if, that feeling of if she only saw me. Nah that feeling has vanished never to return. Now that is a feeling isnt it? Knowing that your dream is officially gone. Poof. Just like I thought I had beat the game the other day only to realize that I actually lost. But did I lose it? Think logically for a second. Emotion aside, I may have just won the game. I may have just been given the ultimate cheat code. And when I say cheat I dont mean what your parents did to each other. Smiley face. My life is just beginning. So just remember, you should have bought the stock while it was low, because it is about to ascend to the f***ing sky. The view will be extraordinary and it is too damn bad that you will never experience it. Just remember that this is the last time you will ever cross my mind. Go live your own life; just know that all effects had a prior cause. Whatever happens in this life good or bad you earned it. just like I earned the right to hate you with every fiber of my being.

Sincerely,

Missed Opportunity

Why EA Won't Pick Up The Baseball License (3 Parts - Part 3)

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***IF YOU HAVEN'T DONE SO YET, DON'T FORGET TO READ PARTS 1 AND 2. OTHERWISE THIS WON'T MAKE SENSE!***

The first is that they just made a really terrible game. Despite owning a PlayStation 3 and playing The Show's incarnation on the system every year since MLB 08: The Show, I have played the majority of the 2k games. This was done mainly because I am a masochist who enjoys pain. The other reason that I played these games is because I am a huge baseball fan. I have to at least try out the games.

In early 2009, a month before the much hyped MLB 09: The Show was scheduled to be released, a disaster of epic proportions happened. I had been researching the new Show game for months. I had never been as excited for a baseball game than I was for MLB 09. The videos displayed significantly better graphics, better stadiums, brand new batting stances for players who needed them, like Mark Teixeira and Dustin Pedroia, and just a better game in general. In January of 2009, two months before the games release, a pipe burst in my gaming room. Fortunately, insurance covered everything, and the workers took everything in the room and put it in a storage unit, which again was covered. They fixed the entire room for free. New floors, new walls, new ceiling, new everything. They put everything back the way it was. It looked amazing, and I could finally play my PlayStation 3 again! So that wasn't the disaster you were expecting to read about, was it? Well, here it comes.

I am brushing my teeth, getting ready for school in the morning. I see my dad out of the corner of my eye. I hear him and my mom talking. "It doesn't look right, we have to move it." He was talking about the shelf above our television. He wanted to shift it down. Bad idea. I see him fumble and I hear a loud thud. I knew immediately what it was. This couldn't be real. Please tell me this didn't just happen. Please tell me that my backwards-compatible PlayStation 3, which is no longer in production, didn't just collapse the shelf and break. I walked hesitantly into the room, and low and behold, my worst nightmare had come true. Both my Xbox 360 (The same one I talked about earlier. Yes, it lasted that long.) And my beautiful, shiny, and heavy baby fell to the ground, from roughly 7 feet in the air. He tried to move the shelf while everything was still situated on it! I saw black chunks and pieces of chrome, scattered across our new wood floor. The PlayStation 3 was impaled by it's own parts. It had a piece going through it from one end to the other. It's as if somebody fell, and had a rib break off and it punctured the skin, and was sticking out of them. This heavy machine was completely destroyed, thus crushing my dreams of ever playing MLB 09: The Show.

My durable Xbox, three years old, still no red ring, survived the fall. And thus, it was my only source of playing a baseball game for a long time. I opted to get my PlayStation 3 fixed, instead of buying a brand new one, because I wanted that backwards computability. The PlayStation broke on March 1st, mear days before the release of my most anticipated game ever. I didn't receive my fixed one until the middle of July. I had to get my baseball fix. There was only one way to do that: MLB 2k9. The previous year's game, MLB 2k8, was one of the worst games I have ever played, worse than 2k5. Nothing about the game was good. The graphics looked like PlayStation 2 graphics, the pitching system made no sense, the hitting still resulted in almost 30 home runs a game. Luckily, it was just a rental. At first, I rented MLB 2k9. I was so amazed at the drastic changes that were made to every part of the game. The graphics, while still awful, were better than the previous years. And best of all, the new analog pitching system was the best way to pitch in a game, which I have ever used. Pitching suddenly became fun. Many glitches prevented the game from being good. The main glitch, being the one where you throw to first, and the first baseman's foot comes off the bag, and the runner is safe. The game was still fun, though. But it just wasn't MLB 09.

That was a relatively long story to say a short thing: I have played the MLB 2k games, despite owning a PlayStation 3 and owning every year's version of The Show, sans 09. 2k10 improved on the implementations introduced in 09. But after 2k10, it felt as if they just stopped trying to compete. 2k11 felt exactly like 2k10, not even a new coat of paint was added. I have yet to play 2k12, and I really have no intention after reading the reviews and playing the demo. Essentially, you are playing MLB 2k10 with some new roster updates.

The one thing that has always stood out to me in demonstrating 2k's laziness with the series, is a minor detail that only MLB fans would notice: the pictures. Despite switching teams, the players would still be wearing their old team's hat. For instance, in 2k9, Ken Griffey Jr. despite playing for the White Sox, and being a new member of the Mariners, was still wearing a Reds cap. This year's demo, Carlos Beltran, despite signing with St. Louis very early in the offseason, and playing with the Giants last year, is still wearing a Mets cap. It's little details like this, where it shows the amount of work that goes into the 2k games, and into The Show games. Prince Fielder signed after MLB: The Show had already finished rosters, and they still put him in the game wearing a full on Tigers uniform, which you can tell by the jersey. The Show cares about what they are putting out, despite being superior in every single way. The past two years, they have introduced new mechanics to hit, pitch, and field, complete with detailed tutorials. The best part? You can still use the old controls, and you can mix and match controls. They don't have to add new ways to play the core game, but they do regardless because they are trying to make the most perfect game of simulated baseball ever.

2k has gone the route of EA, which is: Why try, when we're the only option? How about to show you care? There is a reason why the NBA games from 2k are so great. They had competition. They had to beat EA. They did beat EA. They beat EA so bad, that EA didn't even come out with an NBA game the past two years. The same thing happened with the NHL series of games. Instead of buying the license, EA made such a significantly better game, that 2k bowed out of the race. That is what needs to happen with baseball. You need to strike out the opposition by simply making the better game.

Let's revisit that question I asked a few paragraphs back: Why was the license for 2k a disaster? Well, I have already gone over the first reason. It was a bad game, which was so inferior, that people didn't buy it, regardless of whether or not it was the only option. There is another factor in this situation, though. And this is one, which could make EA shy off from buying the license. People don't like baseball anymore. Baseball ratings have dropped mightily since 2k bought the license. Which was once a highly coveted license, is now one along the lines of NHL. Sure, it'd be nice to have it, but the price is not worth the admission. 2k had to overpay to get the license instead of EA. In doing so, they assumed the fans of baseball would keep growing. That was not the case. Kids don't want to play baseball anymore. They'd rather play football. Do you blame them? If you were a star athlete who had a choice between working your way up through minor league baseball, just to eventually make the bench of a team, or go to college were you can get drafted as a junior, then play immediately, which would you choose? Pretty simple, you go where the money is. And while that situation is referring to somebody who actually plays the game, the sentiment is shared by plenty of people who no longer watch baseball. The World Series in 2010, between San Francisco and Texas, was actually beaten in ratings by Monday Night Football. Less people watched a game that can decide a champion, than a meaningless game early in the football season. Ratings are declining, and there is no way 2k could have expected this. If you had told EA that this would happen when they were trying to buy the license, surely they would have backed off.

I'm not a financial wizard, but I would assume that the asking price for that MLB exclusive license has gone down since the bidding war in 2005. The assumption from around the web is that EA will either pick it up, or make an entirely new baseball game. It sounds like heaven. MVP 05, one of the greatest baseball games ever, remade for modern consoles? Sign me up. That's a big leap, however. You can't just expect a great game when you are making a new franchise. MVP 03 proved that. It also showed promise of what MVP 05 would become. Think about if EA were to buy the MLB license. The Madden NFL and NCAA football games were once two great games, with solid gameplay. Now, you look at the recent NCAA and Madden games, and you see a clear lack of effort. Rather than focus on core gameplay problems that their football games have, they implement useless features, which they can promote on the box and in commercials. Remember the brand new 'Fight for the Fumble' addition they were hyping years ago? What about this year's version with 'Brand New Presentation?' The presentations repeat themselves every game, and the commentary may very well be the worst ever implemented in a sports game. None of the fancy new features have addressed any of the multitude core gameplay issues. Why would they, though? It is obviously working. Every football fan will still buy madden, because it is their only option.

EA won't have that luxury, unless they were to buy the MLB license. If they buy it, then say goodbye to the years of refinement made by MLB: The Show, and say hello to the gimmicky new features of MVP baseball! Some people might buy it for the name, or the fact that EA made it, but it took The Show years and years to get to the point now, where they don't have to change anything, and it would still be the best sports game on the market. If EA decides to make a baseball game without the license, like they do with NHL, then maybe they create a game that is actually a worthy competitor. Still, even if they create a good baseball game, they won't get those PlayStation 3 sales like they would hope. There is no doubt in my mind, that if there was an EA Baseball game for the Xbox 360 next year, that it would easily outsell any of the MLB 2k baseball games that were released. But would it outsell The Show? It is possible, considering many people might want a change of pace, which 2k certainly did not deliver. But it wouldn't be until a second, more refined version is released.

EA getting the baseball license seems like what the general consensus wants, and understandably so. MVP 05 is still one of the greatest baseball games ever made. But would it be worth reliving that nostalgia, if it came at the cost of a license? Most fans feel, that yes, it would be worth it. I feel like I am in the minority in not wanting them not going that route. With competition, you could get a baseball that is on par with their other sports games -- like NHL and FIFA. With a license, you could get some not-so-great games like their other sport franchises: NBA Live, NASCAR and Madden. I know one thing, and that is, I don't want Madden Baseball 13.

Why EA Won't Pick Up The Baseball License (3 Parts - Part 2)

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***IF YOU HAVEN'T READ PART 1 THEN THIS WON'T MAKE SENSE. DON'T FORGET TO READ PART 3 AS WELL!***

Back now to April 2, 2006. Actually, back now to a month before that. I had gotten a new PlayStation Portable for Christmas 2005. I did not have many games for the system, but I knew one game in particular was going to be released for the system. That game was the newly re-named MLB 06: The Show. I didn't know what the show meant, but I knew that the same people who made the game with Vladimir Guerrero on the cover made it. I went with my father down to the local GameStop, which wasn't so much local as it was out of town, and we were going to buy this new game. My father had a lot of money at the time, as he just released a book and had a brand new job, 600 miles away, that way paying him significantly more. He made me the promise that if we ever found an Xbox 360 premium bundle in stock, that we would buy it then and there. Spoiled, yes I know, but I appreciate this every day, and it is what strives me to work as hard as I am now, being on my own. Well, that day, as we bought my shiny new PSP game, I asked the clerk a question. Do you have any Xbox 360 bundles in stock? "No." Was his short answer, but then he said something, which made my day go from great, to incredible. "We are getting a shipment on April 2nd, and you can pre-order it now. We'll save one for you."Before I could even look at my dad, he said lets do it.

That month wait to get the new Xbox 360, felt like the longest month of my life. I had it, it was paid for, but I couldn't get it! As previously mentioned, I had just moved 600 miles away from where I grew up. I had no friends and no real reason to leave the house. Sitting on my butt watching television and playing PSP was great. It was a nice change of pace from what I was used to: playing sports, going from house to house, spending the night anywhere, whenever I wanted. What I thought would last maybe a few months, lasted 5 years. My strong work ethic dwindled, and I went from an athletic, strong, fat guy who liked to be on my feet enjoying life, to a lazy and slow fat guy who liked to nap. With that kind of time on your hands, you can Google anything, whenever you want. When I was bored and was just curious about any subject, I'd just head over to next room and use our fancy new computer. We still have that computer, and my god; it is horribly slow by today's standards.

I wanted to know why there were no baseball games coming out this year besides the horrible, MLB 2k6, whose previous game scarred me for life from playing terrible sports games, and MLB 06: The Show. And why wasn't MLB 06 coming out for my new Xbox? It's new! It was my newfound Googling hobby that found me my answer. In retaliation to EA, and all their exclusive licenses, 2k nabbed the exclusive baseball license! Wait, how could this be happening? The worst possible game is the only one that is getting made? At least Madden NFL was a great game (No longer the case.)! My heart was broken. But if they have an exclusive license, why is this new Show game with Big Papi on the cover, being released? I found out, that unlike the license EA signed, 2k just had the exclusive third party license. Basically, and every gamer probably knows this, this allows the actual manufacturer of the system: Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo, to make their own MLB game. However, this prevented EA from making the best baseball game from the last generation of consoles: MVP 05. I eventually got MLB 2k6 when it was released for the Xbox 360. It was as bad as I expected it to be. On top of that, the game froze, and become unplayable, since I didn't have a way to hook up the Xbox wirelessly. Because of the 2k license, this was all I had to play. Wait, no it wasn't. Luckily I still had the PSP version of The Show, which was an incredible game.

At the time, this was the most disappointed news that I had ever heard, regarding video games, of course. But as time has gone on, I am happy for this. I know baseball fans who own a Xbox 360 won't agree. However, if you were truly a big baseball fan, and by that I don't mean casual and likes to watch games occasionally, and you like video games, then you would own a PlayStation 3 by now. We are in 2012, and that exclusive MLB license, which I despised at first, was actually a great thing. It may have prevented EA from getting their own MLB exclusive license, which could have prevented The Show games from ever getting made again. There is a reason why you don't see Sony made NFL games. EA has the EXCLUSIVE license of the NFL. That means, not only no third party options, but not even first party games. A modern, Sony made NFL game on the PlayStation 3 would be an interesting concept. Unfortunately, we will probably never see a non EA NFL game again, unless another company throws a monster contract at the NFL. Activision is the only company that I could possibly see even being able to afford to beat EA, and unless my memory is messing with me, they have never made a football game.

EA was on a sport's license tear. They had the exclusive NASCAR license, the exclusive NFL license, they bought the exclusive license for the Arena Football League (WHY?), the exclusive license for the NCAA, and probably the most important, after the NFL, they have the ESPN exclusive license for 15 years. Apparently, they were in the running for the MLB license, but 2k beat them out. Bad financial move, 2k. Obviously, not all of these licenses have panned out -- mainly the NASCAR and AFL (Still an odd choice.). To me, they have learned their lesson from buying exclusive licenses to everything. Obviously, out of all the major sports leagues, they would like to own all of them. But how realistic is this? Well, with EA's amount of money, it's very realistic. The profit from Madden alone could probably fund a MLB exclusive license. But would they do it?

That is the question baseball fans want to know. It is still very much a possibility. That doesn't make it a reality, though. Just because EA Sports may want the exclusive license, doesn't mean they can buy it. The NBA signing an exclusive license, with not one, but two companies proved this. Instead of choosing between EA and 2k, they picked both. This effectively took out all the makers of other NBA games, mainly the Sony games, which, let's be honest, weren't very good games in their own rights. But this is a scary thought for any baseball video game fan. If EA Sports were to decide that it wants the official MLB license, we could lose the greatest baseball series of all time: The Show. The 2k license has been a disaster for them. But a question comes to mind: Why was it so bad for 2k?

There are really only two answers.

Why EA Won't Pick Up The Baseball License (3 Parts - Part 1)

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***First, Let me say that this was too long to post as a single blog. After this, go read part 2 and 3! Otherwise it won't make sense!***

As a baseball fan, I made my decision in the console war fairly early on. On April 2, 2006, after months of scouring the country, I finally discovered an Xbox 360 that wasn't thousands of dollars! Never mind the fact that I had pre-ordered it a month earlier. I found one! The jump to next generation graphics was such a paramount factor in my quest for a fancy new Xbox. I was not disappointed. Well, for the most part, I wasn't disappointed.

Graphics, especially in my beloved sports games, were one of the main reasons for my purchase. I could not believe how phenomenal Madden NFL and NBA 2k6 looked, and it made it that much sweeter when compared to the PlayStation 2 games that I had been playing for years. Then, everything I knew about the Xbox, everything I knew about sports games period, changed. And then it changed again. My perception of how bad life could be was perpetuated by the travesty of the Major League Baseball's (MLB) exclusive third party license with 2k.

In 2005, when everybody and their mother were still making baseball games, I had my favorite series. Much like others, it was the MVP series, made by none other than EA sports. Sure, Slugfest was arcade fun, but the lack of any real depth kept me from playing it regularly. All Star Baseball, while probably the most realistic at the time, was boring and lifeless. And then there was MLB 2k5. I wanted another baseball game to test them out against each other, and there were two options to choose from.

On one hand, I had MLB 2k5. One of my favorite players, Derek Jeter was on the cover. The game had the ESPN license for it. And the graphics, when displayed in still images, even on the back of the box, looked terrible. On the other hand we had a game I knew relatively nothing about. It had Vlad Guerrero on the cover, and looked unique. The game was MLB 2006. This was the last year before the addition of 'The Show' and the removal of 2 digits. I didn't know if the game had gotten good reviews, I didn't know what the presentation was like, I didn't know how the game played. I didn't even know that it was a first party game from Sony. From the back of the box, the game appeared to have graphics almost on par with MVP 05. In a choice that I had to make in an instant, I chose MLB 2k5. My main reason? Well, quite simply, it was the fact that it had the ESPN style presentation. It had the ESPN scoreboard, the Web Gem replays, and most importantly, the main play-by-play man and color commentator for ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball.

I had my reservations on the way home from that Wal-Mart, which by the way, was the first Wal-Mart I had ever been in, up until that point in my life. Did I make the right choice? I looked at the box again. Johnny Damon looked horrible. The batting stance displayed, again, looked horrible. What was I thinking buying this? The thought wouldn't leave my head that I chose the wrong game. "It's got real ESPN style presentation! Web Gems! Joe Morgan! All the reviews said it's the second best baseball game! GameSpot gave it an 8.4! It can't be as bad as the box makes it look! It just can't!" It was.

I put the game in my PlayStation. The ESPN integration was full force. I decided to try out an exhibition game between my favorite team: The Yankees, and their evil nemesis: Boston. Derek Jeter is on the cover; there is no way that they make him look bad. The game loads and finally starts. My god, the graphics and animations were among the worst I have seen in a baseball video game. The players looked plastic. Every batting stance was a mess, every fielding play looked bad, and worst of all, the actual gameplay was some of the worst, that I have still to this day, ever played. I turned off my PlayStation about twenty minutes into the game. It was an unbearable game. I would attempt over the next few weeks to like it, but the end result was always the same -- Let's play MVP some more.

Hindsight is always 20-20, and it was when I spent the night at a friend's house, that I realized how big of a mistake I had made. My friend had many brothers and he, along with them, loved video games. Every time I would go to get him, they would be playing games, mainly sports games. We didn't play the games, though. We would usually either go to the local park or play with the other guys from around the town, or we would sneak into his neighbors yard and use his unusually constructed tree house, which had a really badass slide. I'm digressing from my main point, which is, that the only time I actually spent the night, his brother showed me the game he was playing. I couldn't believe what I was watching. The game looked incredible. It looked better than MVP. The animations were fluid, and at the time, were the most realistic I had ever seen in a baseball game. The game was MLB 2006, the game I passed on. I asked if I could play it, and he was more than willing to let me sit there in awe at what I was experiencing. Not only were the batting stances correct, and the player models looked amazing, but as an actual baseball game, it was phenomenal. I only played the game for a short time, but I knew it was a game that was almost as great as MVP 05.

Simon and Garfunkel : The Greatest Band of All Time

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A song comes on, it makes you feel warm and fuzzy. You've heard the song before. Of course you have. Nothing makes you feel better than hearing this song come on and makes you melt away in listening pleasure. That song is ultimately a song by Folk Group Simon and Garfunkel. Whether the song is Mrs. Robinson, based off of my favorite movie of all time, The Graduate. Or the song could be Art's classic Bridge over Troubled Water. So many classic folk ballads to choose. Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio? What a line. It captures the timing of the song in a box. Where had Joe Dimaggio gone when the group sang that song? Well, he was no longer the role model he was when he was with Ms. Monroe. And he will forever be in that moment because of this song. The song that makes you feel warm, and fuzzy, like you just popped an oxycontin. Well, you didn't, you're listening to The Sound of Silence. My personal favorite. Hearing that song brings me back to seeing Benjamin Braddock laying in the bed with the most beautiful woman in the world, Mrs. Robinson. Never has there been a more stunning lady in the history of earth. Anne Bancroft was perfect. Mel Brooks was a lucky man, and her sons were lucky sons to have the most beautiful mama in the entire world. Oh, how I envy them. A band that is from the early 60s has done this to me, only after just discovering them. No band makes you convey such a rang eof emotions like Simon and Garfunkel. Hearing them is theequivalentto mainlining some heroin. Or maybe a mimosa on the beach. Or maybe a night with your true love. Nothing is better. Nothing will ever be better. Simon and Garfunkel.

- Barry Alcazar