In recent weeks, I've missed a decent bit of work because of a pretty bad back injury and needing to take my personal days before the holiday rush in fear of losing them with the next fiscal year. During that time, I've fixed things around the house, helped my parents reorganize their closets (frighteningly), and gotten seven shades of day-drunk.

When the novelty of all of those experiences wore off, I became horrendously bored and decided to do something different: fire up the ol' PS2 and dust off my copy of MVP Baseball 2005, aka The Greatest Baseball Video Game/Simulator in Console History.

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Before I actually get to the building of my dynasty, I'll describe the charm of this game and it's role in my teenage years. It basically ruined my social life in the first two years of high school. I played this game A LOT. It's part of the reason why I became so infatuated with stats, payroll management and baseball's farm systems. This game also came out about a year after Moneyball was published, so the closest thing I had to a girlfriend as a 14-15 year old were my worn out copy of the book and my PS2 controller.

Anyway, like my 14 year-old self would have done in Dynasty Mode, I wiped all the rosters and did a full-system fantasy draft, all the way down through the Single-A clubs. This is the one feature of the EA Sports franchises that I loved, because it would even the playing field and made me study the depth of each level of the game (even though the computer generated guys kinda threw a wrench in the whole deal).

I randomly chose the San Francisco Giants as my franchise. Their three minor league affiliates: the Fresno Grizzlies, Norwich Navigators, and San Jose Giants, are also at my disposal. I also went ahead and did an auto-draft to fill the rosters, which normally makes for some absolutely dreadful squads if you get a bad pick slot, I ended up in the dead center, so it didn't go too badly.

My major league roster ended up looking like this:

C: Javy Lopez, Jason LaRue

1B: John Mabry, Jose Offerman

2B: Placido Polanco, Neifi Perez

SS: Barry Larkin

3B: Benny Judd (computer generated), Mark Derosa

OFs: Gary Sheffield, Marquis Grissom's corpse, Tim Salmon, and two computer generated guys named Kevin Smith and Jim Whitfield

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SPs: Tim Hudson, Odalis Perez, Kenny Fuckin' Rogers, Jeremy Bonderman and Aaron Sele

RPs: Brad Halsey, Hiroshi Yoshida (computer generated), Solomon Torres, Ryan Wagner, Jesse Foppert, Jorge Julio, and Armando Benitez

All things considered, my roster turned out okay, and my minor league system has some decent talent with guys like Curtis Granderson, Marlon Byrd and Elizardo Ramirez. The only major gripe is that I have absolutely no speed and semi-decent fielding. My fastest guy and best glove is a computer generated dude, Jim Whitfield.

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My rotation is one of the better ones in the league at first look. Tim Hudson and Odalis Perez, at the time, were two very good top-end rotation guys (No really, Odalis Perez was pretty darn good pitcher for a three year stretch at that point). Kenny Rogers is a serviceable veteran who has decent breaking pitches to make up for his 40 year old velocity. And, Bonderman and Sele aren't the worst in a virtual vacuum, especially with a pitcher's park like Pac Bell.

After simulating through a good chunk of the first 32 games, my squad is in first place at 21-11. Tim Hudson and Odalis Perez both have had blazing starts, with Perez at 6-1, with a 1.33 ERA, and three complete game shutouts.

Gary Sheffield is tied for the ML lead in homers, with 11, but also leads the team in strikeouts. Placido Polanco is in the top five in the league in XBHs and average. Javy Lopez has thrown out a bunch of runners over the first few weeks, I've noticed through managing games, but the stats don't go that deep for some reason.

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All of my starters have been pretty decent, but my bullpen is a sad sight. The only bright spots are Ryan Wagner, and my closer, Armando Benitez. Every other hand has an ERA of at least 5.

Barry Larkin had a tib-fib fracture at some point in April and is going to miss at least three months according to my staff, so Neifi Perez and Mark Derosa are platooning at short. Speaking of Neifi, he's done nothing but piss me off because he wants more playing time, a new contract and a higher spot in the batting order. All of this after having three strikeouts in eight straight games.

I've scored the second most runs thus far, 185, well behind the league-leading Royals, who have 225 in 32 fucking games. Somehow, the ghost of Larry Walker and Hank Blalock are powering that offense.

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Haven't really been paying much attention to my minor league teams, but I do know this: Todd Hundley is currently rotting on my Double-A squad, and will not stop bitching about it. Oh, and at least six of my pitchers in Single-A have been ejected from games and summarily suspended.

It's mid-May now. I'll check back in around the All-Star Break, when I'm sure Odalis Perez will have hit some sort of wall.