After Sega dared challenge EA Sports Madden franchise with thier best version of an NFL game to date, NFL2K5, EA went out and bought up exclusive licenses to most of the major sports franchises, including the NFL. ESPN offered their game (NFL 2K5) for an unheard of $20 (for a new-release major sports game), and made a surprise announcement they were moving their release date up several weeks to release before the long-standing Madden and challenged its dominance in the market. One of the few franchises that fell through the cracks was MLB Baseball.
The game itself is fun, though the pitching takes some getting used to. The gameplay feels more like a broadcast game than before, though I find the announcing team to be bland, though knowledgable for a computer game. There are some good cutaway scenes when you hit a homer, a play of the game, and player reactions. For the most part, it is a clone of its predecessors, however I would choose the soundtrack to last year's EA game, which had much better songs and artists to listen to over this version. One other feature I liked in the previous games was the points system that allowed you to buy throwback uniforms, stadiums, and players, is sadly missing from this game. The addition of the Rivalry mode is a major buying point, though. This allows you to keep track of a rivalry with a friend or group of friends, instead of a quick play game or exhibition mode which leaves neither player with any boasting rights the next time you play.
In all, whether you like it or hate it, you have no other choice if you want to play a MLB baseball game this year (or for the next several years, actually). You have other choices, such as NCAA MVP, but with little star power or knowledge of college baseball teams, NCAA may not appeal to everyone. In all, you may miss the Sega and EA runs, but until the contracts expire, you have little choice, thanks to EA Sports.
I give the game a 7.5 - it is very much like the previous baseball games, missing some favorite features, but added a couple new ones.