Even online games are dinger obsessed!
Disclaimer: Yes, COVID-19 is very real and serious, both with respect to health and economics. Dingeritis is not. But still …
These are obviously bizarre times. As the COVID-19 situation continues, those following professional advice will be singing “Happy Birthday” to themselves so many times while washing their hands that they’ll come to wish they won’t ever have to attend another birthday party and hear the damned song, which is pretty ironic, considering the whole process is designed to make sure that they will.
Financially, the shutdowns are devastating for millions who are out of work for the duration and for millions more who are watching their 401(k)s dwindling to 201(f)s. But the timing so far isn’t bad from the standpoint of many a business, because productivity in the American workplace is roughly zilch in March anyway, given that employee attention is given 100% to filling out and then cussing about their March Madness pool sheets. Irony again, since everyone knows the pool will be won by the elderly bookkeeper in the corner office who bases her picks on favorite colors or the similarity to the names of her cats, just as it is every year. (Yeah, yeah, that’s misogynistic as all get out. Also totally accurate.)
Given all that badness, the lack of any sports to follow for the indefinite future may seem a minor inconvenience, but it does leave us without the usual escape valve from our own reality just when we could really use it. How to fill that gap? Hey, it’s the 21st Century, when technology helps us overcome a shortage of escapism by creating a path to escapism from the escapism. For those of us ardent enough about the game to be South Side Hit Pen followers, that means artificial baseball, and not just artificial in the sense that somebody is feeding the batters knowledge of what upcoming pitches will be.
Now, there are several excellent baseball video games you can buy, but that means an outlay not just for the game, but also for the operating system to play it on, hardly a desirable situation in perilous economic times. Did I mention my 201(f)? There are a few online games you can purchase for reasonable amounts — but then, any amounts these days seem unreasonable, as you spent all your money stockpiling toilet paper and canned artichoke hearts.
So, as a public service, to help you fill in the time when you’re not hoarding toilet paper or pretending to work from home (or, if you’re a certain kind of nutcase, exchanging emails blaming the whole mess on a Chinese/Democratic party/George Soros/big pharma/GrubHub conspiracy), I did in-depth research on free baseball games you can find online. Because I spent half a century as a reporter/columnist, I was able to put to use that extensive experience and utilize the very best method to discover the needed information: I Googled “free online baseball games.”
The first hit was “baseballgamesonline.org.” It was an outstanding find, with 28 games, but also a depressing one, the sadness coming from the nature of those games.
First on the list is State of Play. I made a quick journey into State of Play and found it, while not baseball, a kinda sorta reasonable substitute. There are pitches, you hit the ball, you run. The batter is aiming for a target on the field, which isn’t exactly baseball, but at least it’s on the field, unlike the horror that was to follow.
Next is Baseball Stadium, which has instructions in Japanese, but does seem to strive for some baseballness.
After that? Fuggedaboudit.
Number three is Destruction League, which, as you probably cleverly ascertained, is about destroying stuff … knocking down buildings with your mighty homers, etc.
At least in Destruction League, you only destroy buildings. Next is Homerun in Berzerkland, in which you not only destroy stuff, but “hit the nerd to the maximum possible distance.” Yep, the nerd. That’s not particularly p.c., which the creators apparently came to realize, because the updated versions, Berzerkball and Berzerkball 2, dropped the idea of hitting the nerd. In them, you instead hit a geek as far as you can.
After all the berzerkitude, the Nos. 7 and 8 Baseball Master and Going Going Gone Baseball are all about homers, as is No. 10, Baseball Challenge. Going Going is listed as an ESPN product — so much for the “Worldwide leader” BS. No. 9 did put a little spin on the ball, Shatter Baseball being about smashing out windows, but it must be about homers, because, generally speaking, the only windows on the field itself are those of opportunity.
Then comes the first association of baseball with the walking dead — No. 11 Zombieland. Naturally, it involves smashing balls at zombies, which isn’t real baseball unless you’re playing against the Tigers. There will be a return to zombie-bashing in later games, zombies apparently having less influence with the p.c. police than nerds.
Then it’s back to smashing dingers and windows until, finally, at No. 15, speed comes into play with Stealin’ Home. In this one, the whole idea is to steal bases, with the added touch that you can do it frontwards or backwards.
That was the one concession that baseball involves something besides homers, zombies or nerds, until we get to No. 21, Nice Catch, which follows No. 20, Zombie Baseball, where you only have a baseball bat to defend your home against, well, you guessed it. Yep, all the way to 21 before there’s any acknowledgement that baseball involves defense. It’s like the whole online game industry was designed by the White Sox organization.
After that, it’s back to homers and stuff beyond the park getting shattered. Presumably, all these games are teaching young people these days that the only thing in baseball is homers, which explains the juicing of the ball, the 2019 season and Daniel Palka. Well, OK, the only thing except zombies. And not just young people, but the honchos of MLB.
Most of these online games look so awful, and also so indicative of what MLB’s becoming, that where the major leagues are concerned, COVID-19 may just be an accelerant of the sport’s tendencies toward long, slow suicide. Hope not.
Meanwhile, though, back to Happy Birthday.
Thankfully, for Sox fans, endless renditions of “Happy Birthday” are not a necessity. As the linked video demonstrates, “Na na na na … Na, na, na, na … hey, he-ey … good-bye” sung at a reasonable ballpark pace, is 10 seconds — so the recommended 20 seconds if repeated, as it always is, gets you through your handwashing whilst providing the closest thing to baseball you may find for a while. Feel free to thank me for bringing that up.
Meanwhile, stay safe. Especially if you’re a nerd, geek, or zombie.