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Fall [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Sep 15th, 2010 by Dan

Home Run Celebration - Florida Marlins at Philadelphia Phillies 17 April 2010

It's not over yet, but we're getting close

It seems that fall is rapidly approaching, despite my fiendish plot to seize control of the planet’s weather with my mind. With the change in the climate comes a change in sports programming. Back for two weeks is college football while the NFL opener was played over the past few days as well. Baseball no longer holds the brunt of the spotlight, but I guess that’s not all bad.

MLB

Since I started this blog the Marlins have never been in serious contention for a playoff spot, but the Rays always have. This year is no different. Tampa Bay seems a lock for at least the ALDS while Florida is scrapping for third and to possibly play spoiler to Philadelphia or Atlanta.

The season isn’t over yet, so (hopefully) expect more coverage until the last out is made in the World Series.

NCAA Football

Despite winning both games, the Gators are among the weakest looking top ten BCS teams this year. It’s entirely possible that John Brantley will have a much better season than he’s had so far, but these are definitely not the Tebow years.

Will they defeat Tennessee this week? I’m not really sure…

NFL

For literally the first time in my entire life, I actually sat down to watch a Dolphins game this past weekend. I only got to half time before I had to start heading back home to MD, but I didn’t want to miss getting the chance to gloat about the victory in my Bills fan friend’s face. Will this start a trend? Maybe…

The 2010 MLB All-Star Game [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Jul 13th, 2010 by Dan

It’s All-Star game time again! This year the game is being played in sunny Southern California, down in Anaheim. Thanks to the peculiarities of baseball scheduling and the east coast focus of television, the game is actually being started in daylight hours, 1700 PST.

The liveblogging experience of the year is about to begin yet again! Expect updates throughout the evening and night.

Time: 1944

My cable woes are keeping me from watching the MLB Network this year (I hate you Comcast!), so instead I’m watching ESPN’s coverage, which has been somewhat interrupted with news about George Steinbrenner’s death by massive heart attack. It’s an odd thing to not have him around the Yankees anymore, even if he hasn’t really running things for two or three years. Despite my dislike for the Yankees, he will be missed as a figure in baseball.

2000

It begins! Looks like it’s displacing Hell’s Kitchen tonight. So far we’re starting with a super lame comparison of stars (like in space) to baseball players. “Daddy, what are stars made of?” I think the observatory in this intro comes from Anaheim, but it’s still pretty corny.

Also: the All-Star game is not “in the City of Angels”, it’s in Anaheim. Saw Longoria. I’m already happy. Starting for the teams, Ubaldo Jimenez and David Price.

Way to go broadcaster, you said David Wright instead of David Price for the starting pitcher. I’m only taking it personally because I’m a Rays fan.

I might have to take a break soon, my roommate is cooking dinner and I’ll have to catch up on the game using my newly acquired DVR.

2008

Reserves Lineups!

WHOOPS! My DVR only buffers a half hour. I missed the reserve lineups. You’ll have to see them as the game goes on.

Now it’s time to try to play catch up.

Starting Lineups

National League

Manager: Charlie Manuel

SS – Hanley Ramirez
2B – Martin Prado
1B – Albert Pujols
DH – Ryan Howard
3B – David Wright
LF – Ryan Braun
CF – Andre Ethier
RF – Corey Hart
C – Yadier Molina
P – Ubaldo Jimenez

American League

Manager: Joe Girardi

RF – Ichiro Suzuki
SS – Derek Jeter
1B – Miguel Cabrera
CF – Josh Hamilton
DH – Vladimir Guerrero (big applause for the former hometown hero)
3B – Evan Longoria (I love this kid!)
C – Joe Mauer
2B – Robinson Cano
LF – Carl Crawford (Go Rays!)
P – David Price

Skipped the Star-Spangled Banner…sorry. Skipped the thing to honor real American heroes. Kind of bummed, because I saw Charlize Theron and she’s hot.

Amber Riley from Glee singing “Beautiful”. She’s got a great voice, but she supports the American League. Uncool. In fact, of her backup singers, only two is a National League supporter. What gives! I guess it is an AL city. Gonna skip the rest of this song.

Commercials…fast forwarding…

Honoring Steinbrenner, Amber takes on the National Anthem. Guess I didn’t skip it after all.

I love the Pepsi Refresh baseball commercial.

The commercial for NFL coming back…in bad taste on the All-Star game day.

Opening pitch by Rod Carew. He doesn’t start on the mound, but he sidearms all the way to the plate without bouncing.

2042

One announcer predicting AL victory, but the other guy is guessing NL thanks to the amazing NL pitching. Now a neat little feature about how the NL hasn’t won since 1996. GO NL!

2049
Top 1
We’re live just in time for the first pitch to Hanley! Strike one!

David Price has the advantage of lighting in the ballpark as the sun falls. Offenses will probably start late in this game. Hanley falls behind 1-2…Price is hitting 99 mph. A tiny chopper straight to Cabrera at first and the first out has been recorded.

Martín Prado comes to try and face Price who hammers one in at 98. Wicked curvey thing gets him behind 0-2. I mean, come on, NL! Don’t let them dominate. Prado hits one to Cano who almost boots it, but Prado is thrown out 4-3.

Pujols, greatest ballplayer in the game, steps up to the place and actually gets himself a ball. This marks the first time Price starts an at-bat with a ball. Maybe he’s scared of Pujols? I don’t blame him. Price makes a mistake and Pujols almost rocks one deep into right, but Ichiro robs him of one with a running catch.

2056

Bot 1

I’m missing Frutista Freeze commercials. I’m thinking I won’t see any at all and that’s a bummer, they were pretty good. Instead we get the lamer normal Taco Bell commercials.

Ichiro pops one up on the second pitch. Hanley ropes it in for the first out.

Bob Sheppard’s recorded voice introduces Derek Jeter. Famous voice and we’re all sad to have lost him. Jetes will get that intro for the rest of the season. Both Jimenez and Price are pretty lanky compared to a lot of pitchers. Craziness. Ubaldo falls behind on Derek with three straight balls, the third of which rides WAY in on him. Scary with this glare. Ubaldo manages to walk Jeter. This is frustrating already, haha. Pitching is supposed to be the NL forte.

Miguel Cabrera comes in and Ubaldo goes right after him. I’m loving how FOX is putting everyone’s infographic in team colors. Cabrera puts a little blooper into RF and it’s now first and third.

Things are already looking bad when Josh Hamilton steps up. A mean breaking ball starts the count off right and a 98 mph fastball keeps him up 0-2. Third pitch goes right back up the middle to Jimenez who turns a beautiful 1-6-3 with Hanley and Pujols. Phew…

Score: 0-0

2105

Top 2nd

Ryan Howard comes in for the top of the second. All the batters are saying it’s near impossible to see in the batters box right now. This is bad, since the best offenses will be in early in the game. Howard falls behind early, but he battles back to 2-2. Unfortunately, he whiffs on a high fastball outside. He’s way underneath it.

David Wright comes out in one of the new helmets. It makes him look less ridiculous, but his head is still too small for this. Wright gets on thanks to a hard hit ball to Cano who boots it again. Will they rule it an error?

Ryan Braun now in to try and push David around the bases. broken bat grounder to Longo who makes a beautiful 5-4-3 double play. David Price almost ate a bat there.

Bot 2nd

Vladimir Guerrero takes the plate for the AL against Jimenez. He’s still going 98, but, then again, why save anything for the tank? The next NL pitcher will be in in an inning or two. In typical Vlad-fashion, he chases a pitch down in the dirt and strikes out.

Longo comes up! Almost eats a baseball or two. Longoria cracks a monster double on a mistake pitch by Jimenez. I mean, you don’t pitch Longoria fast and inside.

Mauer pops up to center. Whoops

Cano steps up. He almost spins around on the second pitch. Tiny grounder to Martín Prado, 4-3, inning half over. Black screen? I hope I didn’t lose cable in this thunderstorm.

Top 3rd

TV comes back when I futz with the DVR a bit, thankfully. Andy Pettitte now on the mound. Ethier at bat. He’s playing CF for the first time in his career, but he’s doing pretty well. That is, until he just struck out on a cut fastball low and outside.

Corey Hart’s insane season puts him in this game and he’s ready to hit (I hope). Update on the Cano fielding, no errors recorded. Hart falls behind, 1-2, and he swings and misses at another low cutter.

Yadier Molina grounds one right up the middle right after the announcer says he’s having a tough time at the plate.

Man on first for Hanley, but he grounds to his counterpart, Jeter, who puts Molina out at second.

Bot 3rd

Josh Johnson is now on the mound for the NL against Carl Crawford. Unlucky for JJ, since Crawford and Longo are probably the people on the AL squad who have seen him the most.

His strong pitching and a lucky reflex by Wright get Crawford on a liner to third.

The lineup rolls around to Ichiro. JJ is continuing the fast pitching with 97 fastballs all over. Ichiro is looking good, but he falls behind in the count 1-2 before he whiffs on an outside fastball at 98 mph.

JJ now faces Jeter and the trend of backing him off with high fastballs continues. Yadier is like a gymnast behind the plate with the way he sits and bends. Jeter breaks his bat fouling off a JJ pitch. Full count to the Yankee slugger who’s probably also seen JJ once. A beautiful breaking ball takes Jeter out for strike three. He just looks at it and knows he should have swung. The NL gets out of the 3rd safe.

Score: 0-0

Top 4th

Torii Hunter comes into CF and Ichiro comes out. Prado grounds to Jeter, 6-3. Cliff Lee is on the mound too, btw. One inning for Pettitte? Really?

Pujols at the plate. He uncharacteristically takes three strikes from Lee, but at least he goes down swinging. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Pujols do ridiculous stuff in any All-Star games.

Howard broken bat grounder to Cano. Inning over.

Bot 4th

I’m really not liking any of these freecreditscore.com commercials. They’re not great songs.

JJ stays on the mound against Cabrera. Adrian Gonzalez takes over at first. Weak hit to Wright and Cabrera is out.

Josh Hamilton comes back up to face the Marlins fireballer. There’s ridiculous echo on the pitches. Like a booming echo every time it hits the catcher’s mitt. What’s up with that? Ryan Braun makes a fantastic catch to ob Hamilton of a hit, but his wrist bends like crazy. I can’t believe he came out of that ok. JJ is grateful.

Vlad, naturally, swings at a fastball way high and inside, but somehow lays off a more reasonable outside pitch. Vlad lines out to Gonzalez at first and we’re in the 5th.

Top 5th

Justin Verlander on the mound for the AL. David Wright nabs a single on the first pitch. First lead-off batter to get on in the game.

Braun steps up to face the Tigers hurler. Ryan needs to not hit into a double play tonight. David Wright goes to steal, Mauer throws it FAR away, but David doesn’t notice and he stays on 2nd. Missed opportunity. There was a funny moment before where they showed Howard joking that Braun’s catch was just for tv and he could have made it. Verlander hits 99 and Braun fouls. The AL has another pitcher loose in the bullpen. I like the way Manuel is managing instead. Gotta save some! The at-bat continues…Ryan Braun misses the opportunity to get stuff moving swinging over an inside fastball.

Andre Ethier comes up to try and make up for his strikeout last at-bat. It’s been 30 years since the last Dodgers player was voted in to play. Insane. He ropes one into right for a single and we’re first and third. Wright intelligently is held up, which is safe.

Now we’ve got Corey Hart, who I think is lucky to be in this game. Sorry Corey. If he can make an RBI happen…Unfortunately it seems that Verlander’s got his number as he falls behind 0-2. He gets struck out on an appeal, but it was close. Just a little too far.

Yadier is out for Brian McCann, a more offensive catcher. Let’s hope he doesn’t squander the NL’s best chance for the night. It’s funny to see the camera men perched on the rocks in the Angels batters eye/waterfall. His first strike almost kills Hanley Ramirez as his bat flies out of his hands. McCann is battling, but Verlander seems to have the upper hands as the count shifts to 3-2. The ball goes way far out back in RF, but it stops at the track, one out too late for the sac fly.

0-0!

Bot 5th

Scott Rolen takes over at third while Matt Holliday and Marlon Byrd move in. Hong-Chih Kuo steps in to pitch for the NL. The lefty specialist gets to face many after Longo. Kuo hasn’t allowed a hit to a leftie all season and he’ll get three after Longo. The Dodgers hurler fills up the count pitching around the hot Longoria, but he walks him on a breaker that goes way inside.

Time for Kuo’s lefty powers to take form as Joe Mauer steps in. Just learned that Kuo is the first Taiwanese all-star. Mauer takes two strikes, but the commentators are saying Kuo’s specialties, hard and outside, are actually Mauer’s specialties too. I’m a little worried. A slow chopper to Kuo which should be a routine out at first, but Kuo throws it far over Adrian Gonzalez’s head, earning him an error and runners on 2nd and 3rd.

Cano, a dangerous hitter, steps up to challenge Kuo. Goddammit…this situation is awful. Long fly ball into LF, which means sac fly. Longoria scores and the AL pulls ahead. One out.

Crawford steps up to bat. Another lefty for Kuo to handle. A hard hit goes to Hanley who makes a heads-up play and throws Mauer out at third. It was really aggressive baserunning by Mauer and an intelligent move for Hanley. Kuo’s done for the night, Heath Bell moves in.

Torii Hunter is at bat for the AL. First Angels player at the plate. McCann drops a pitch getting up too early to get Crawford before he stole 2nd and he’s now at 2B. Hunter smacks one to the RF corner, ending the inning with Andre Ethier’s catch.

Top 6th

Hanley Ramirez is still in the game, facing Jon Lester and Jon Buck. Ian Kinsler is at 2B and Vernon Wells is in LF. Small chopper doesn’t get Hanley a base, Lester fields it with difficulty and manages to underhand to first.

Martín Prado shows bunt, but doesn’t connect and the at-bat moves to 3-1. He nearly makes a dramatic hit for a homer, but he’s way, way early. Count goes full, but Prado stays alive. It’s a pop up to Jeter for the second out.

The NL’s next batter, Adrian Gonzalez, steps up against Lester. I’m hoping for good things. The count goes full. Can he do something big? Small grounder to second and Ian Kinsler throws him out.

Inception sneak peak coming up. I kind of don’t want to see it, I mean, I want to see this movie and not have it be spoiled.

Bot 6th

Looks like Longo is all the offense so far. Halladay is the pitcher for the NL, but Jeter barely gets a hit past Marlon Byrd. He’s pinch run for with Elvis Andrus.

Brandon Phillips at second, Rafael Furcal at short. Paul Konerko at bat. A foul ball pushes Andrus back to first on an attempted steal. Halladay is going pretty strong against Konerko, but he’s having problems punching him out. Andrus runs, Konerko misses and strikes out, McCann almost loses the ball and Brandon Phillips tags Andrus out after he passes the bag.

Now it’s time for Josh Hamilton, thankfully with two outs. Roy likes to stay ahead of his hitters as he gets both to 1-2 relatively quickly before trying to get them on the outside stuff. He can’t get Hamilton to take the bait when he offers and the count fills up. He belts one past Gonzalez and lands on first.

David Ortiz, Big Papi, makes his way to the plate. Halladay is out. Hamilton gets pinch run for too, but I miss who it is. Jose Bautista is the runner and Matt Capps of the Nats steps up to take on Ortiz. His fastball down the pipe gets Ortiz looking to end the inning.

Top 7th

Joey Votto at DH with Phil Hughes pitching. Grounds out to second.

This interview with Jeter is making it hard for me to WATCH THE GAME! Scott Rolen is now at 2-1 when we decide to watch him hit. He manages a base hit to center.

Matt Holliday takes over batting duties next. Another ball down the middle and Scott Rolen takes advantage of the opportunity to run to third. He’s very lucky the throw was off-line. First and third, nice.

Matt Thornton is called in to pitch to pinch hitter Chris Young. He’s got a big chance here, but Thornton is a strikeout pitcher. He hits a pop up right to first. Dammit.

Marlon Byrd’s got a chance to make something happen now. The NL really needs this. Thankfully, Thornton loads the count up for Byrd. It’s been a beautiful at-bat, considering it started out 0-2. Another ball loads up the bases.

This puts Brian McCann at the plate with the chance to pull ahead with a strong hit. He thankfully fouls it just out of play on the first pitch. Patience, grasshopper. Make sure it’s a good pitch! Ripped into the RF corner and THREE RUNS SCORE! The announcers are calling it the “biggest NL hit in 13 years”.

Thornton is out of the game with the score 3-1. Now pitching for the AL, Andrew Bailey. Rafael Furcal up to bat for the NL. Wiggington is in the game now? When did that happen. Walk.

First and second and we’ve got Brandon Phillips up to bat, but he swings at a dirty, dirty breaking ball that lands in the dirt.

Score: 3-1

Bot 7th

Who’s Colbie Callat? She’s singing “God Bless America” and she’s a country singer. Stereotypical Southern California blonde beauty. Damn, I love a girl in a jersey and I’m digging this simple acoustic version. Nice cowboy boots too.

Nick Swisher at bat. Adam Wainwright pitching. He totally burns Swisher with a beautiful curve. Brutal.

John Buck steps up to bat now. He hits a bullet to LF, but Holliday lets the pitch bounce right out of his glove. Is it just me or does Matt Holliday make a lot of errors in important places? Buck is on second with one out.

Now Wainwright’s got to face Kinsler as the tying run. Vernon Wells is on deck. This is a bad situation. I wonder how many of these players McCann has strategies for facing. He walks Kinsler, setting it up for a strong power hitter.

Seems that Price hit 100 mph while Verlander and JJ both hit 99. Vernon Wells has been bouncing back this year with strong numbers, but he grounds to SS who makes an awful toss to Phillips at 2B. No double play.

Now it’s Torii Hunter who had a good hit to right last time up. Can Wainwright stay safe in this game? I love a good curveball. I got to see Torii Hunter’s knees buckle on a great Wainwright curve. What does Adam do? Pitch a brilliant ball to the outside to strike out Hunter. End of 7th.

Top 8th

How many new Firestone tire commercials are there? I hate these “Legendary Drivers” commercials. The song is stupid.

Now would be a fantastic time for the NL to add on some insurance runs. Rafael Soriano comes in for the AL and he induces a fly out to LF.

Joey Votto back up to bat. Hits it deep to center, but not deep enough. Two out.

Rolen is up now! Flies out to LF.

Bot 8th

Michael Bourn takes LF. Brian Wilson is up to keep the NL in contention. Elvis Andrus is trying to catch up for the AL, but he grounds out softly to second.

The AL puts Paul Konerko up to bat. He grounds to the third basemen who GUNS it for no reason.

And now it’s Bautista! Pops up to first.

Top 9th!

NL is still up. Can they win this thing? Hopefully they put an insurance run on the board just in case.

Jose Valverde is the AL pitcher for the 9th. Michael Bourn up to bat, but he strikes out.

The NL has Chris Young to pin their hopes on now. Can they get an extra run in? Chris Young chases too and it’s two outs for Valverde.

Marlon Byrd! Valverde’s stuff is pretty dirty. Byrd makes it to 3-2, but he strikes out.

Bot 9thPRESSURE!

Jonathan Broxton in to close the game for the NL. Can he do it? Big Papi gets a single.

Now Adrian Beltre comes up to bat. Whoa, strong 99 mph fastball up and in, but Beltre chases for strike three. Ugly pitch to swing, but at that speed, you’re almost just guessing.

Catcher John Buck can’t be pinch hit for, so he’s up. Can Broxton induce a double play? Don’t walk Buck, A-Rod will come up! 3-0 at this point…3-1, swinging strike. Lucky, lucky. Second swinging strike almost right down the pipe. Full count, full drama. Pop fly to RF that Byrd has to run to. Ortiz can’t run just in case it drops, giving Byrd the chance to throw him out at second. Beautiful.

Just one more out. Ian Kinsler comes up to bat instead of Rodriguez. Fly to CF, Chris Young nabs it and the NL does what it hasn’t been able to do since 1996! FINALLY! Go NL! WOO!

Wow, A LOT Has Happened [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Jan 6th, 2010 by Dan

I’m pretty sure that I haven’t mentioned anything about the NFL this year, which I find hilarious, considering that I use a modified football saying as my sports category. Now’s as good a time as any to talk about it, I guess, since the regular season is over. As far as the playoffs go, I’d like to see the Ravens advance to the Super Bowl, but that’s just because they’re the local team. If we’re lucky, we’ll also get to see Brett Favre face-off against the Green Bay Packers (and hopefully knock them out) too in this postseason. Beyond that, I haven’t paid enough attention to the NFL this year to really care one way or another.

While I’m talking about football, I also haven’t talked too much about the Gators, who handily won their bowl game 51-24. It was Tim Tebow’s final game for UF and I’m excited to see where he ends up in this year’s draft class.

Again, let’s keep the subject on football, only to mention that I’m actually glad that the USA is in the same pool as England for the World Cup. One victory against the Queen’s team would be enough for me to make fun of Phil for the rest of my life. If Team USA can knock them out of the World Cup, I’d die a happy man, even if they were to lose every match afterward.

Beyond that, I’ve mostly been focusing on baseball (no surprise there!) in both the USA and Japan. A lot of huge moves have gone on so far, most notable among them Matsui leaving the Yankees for the Angels, but the other big move (to me) was the whole Cliff Lee/Roy Halladay trade involving Philadelphia and Seattle (and Toronto and Oakland (I think)). After seeing Cliff Lee absolutely dominate the Yankees in the World Series, it makes nearly zero sense to see the Phillies trade him away, but Halladay should be a fully adequate (and scary) replacement for the team that will most likely top the NL East yet again. Seattle also gets their hands on one of the finest pitchers in the league which should allow Wakamatsu to make a real move against the Angels who lost a lot of pitching and some offense this off-season.

In Japanese baseball news, the Seibu Lions drafted the best pitching prospect, Yusei Kikuchi, who should be ready to start tossing for the team as early as next year. Whether or not he appears in relief in 2010 is an interesting question.

My team, the Carp, avoided picking Kikuchi to go mostly for pitching, getting some of the best talent left in the pool. Their season was looking up until they lost one of their aces, Colby Lewis, to family issues stateside. It will be interesting to see if they can actually finish this season in the top three this year as they haven’t reached a Japan Series since 1991. They’re the team most removed from their last league championship and last Japan Series victory, so they’ve got a lot of catching up to do.

Man, I miss baseball season. Hurry up April!

About 40 Left. Hurry Up Fish! [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Aug 12th, 2009 by Dan

It’s time for Wednesday Morning Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.

Baseball, sad as I am to say it, is nearing the end of its season. As pre-season stories begin to flood my RSS reader I can only lament the loss of the pure baseball period. That time of the year where the only professional sport being played in America is my favorite time of year. Turning on Sportscenter will only yield tiny stories and not spend long segments on the state of some team’s offensive line.

I don’t want to keep dwelling on the oncoming football season. Let’s talk some baseball instead.

Billy and Inaugural Marlins

Billy and Inaugural Marlins

Last week I went and attended the first of a three game series in Washington against the Florida Marlins. Josh Johnson was slated to pitch, so I figured I should see their ace rock the Nats. The inexplicable happened and Washington pulled out a win in the 8th inning. It kept getting stranger as the Nats swept the entire three-game series, stealing leads from the Fish rather like they did against the Nats all season long.

Set to roll into Philadelphia after the series, I was hoping for at least a win. You might recall that Florida was swept the last time they played, but, surprisingly, the Marlins pulled three straight wins for the sweep, even defeating Jamie Moyer, who is 13-3 lifetime against the Fish.

Thanks to those games, the Marlins are (as of this writing) sitting 3.5 games behind Philadelphia and 3.0 games back in the wild card behind the Giants, Rockies, and Cubs. The Phils are in Chicago facing those same Cubs, which can only be good for Florida as it will definitely advance in at least one of those races each night those two play.

As the title says, they’ve only got 40 games left. They’d better play some solid baseball if they want to make a playoff run.

Embedded Reporter/Game Overview: Daniel Floyd on Sex in Videogames + Editorial
Jun 2nd, 2008 by Dan

Deep from the trenches, it’s time for your Monday video feature: Embedded Reporter.

Here’s a pretty interesting lecture about sex in videogames. Enjoy!

It’s sad that we have to deal with the gratuitously stupid brand of sexual immaturity that game developers just love to throw our way, but I don’t see it all disappearing, even with the supposed maturing of the medium. Think about it for a second, did you see, for example, Transformers? It’s never quite as blatant as Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball, but remember that scene with Megan Fox where they’re working on Shia LaBeouf’s car? While you didn’t hear me complaining at all in the theater the night I saw that movie, I always know when I’m being pandered to and I find it mildly insulting.

The real problem with video game maturity levels is that video games have yet to be accepted as mainstream media. A good number of people I know consider them to be children’s toys and think that the day that I stop playing video games will be the day that I “grow up.” It’s no wonder then that a video game that is no more or less exploiting sex to sell copies (I’m not talking about DOA Xtreme here) than any episode of Grey’s Anatomy (how about that Super Bowl episode?) should be looked upon with greater scorn than the exact same thing, or worse, taking place on network television.

It’s just plain frustrating to me to have to deal with sexual immaturity when playing video games. Take a game like Dead or Alive 4. Dead or Alive pioneered breast physics, that’s no secret, so you can probably guess what is most highlighted about Dead or Alive 4. Hidden deep beneath the bouncing DD cups does live a fighting game that I actually enjoy playing for once. It’s not quite as technical as Tekken, doesn’t use weapons like Soulcalibur, and is faster paced than just about every other true fighter I’ve ever played. I love the fluid combos and the reversal system, and I’ll even go out and say that I do actually like the character designs too. So what’s the big deal? Well the immaturity is a bit on the embarrassing side. I think just about everyone I know who I’ve corralled into playing DoA 4 with me recalls the game the same way “The one with the big, bouncy boobs” and anyone who is just watching the game only sees the bouncing boobs and the panty shots and just doesn’t get how well the game controls and plays. It’s still fun, don’t get me wrong, it just (and maybe this is the American-raised Puritan in me) makes me feel stupid to own and play in front of people.

Daniel Floyd highlights the sexual maturity of Mass Effect and its relationship-based consensual sex being an example of the right way to go to bring sex to games. I mostly agree with that and a quick look at the game tells you that he’s mostly right. The female characters, aside from being “anatomically perfect,” are all dressed in no more a revealing fashion than anyone else is. Full-body armor is the norm. There’s no cleavage and no blatant sexuality (kind of…I mean, the armor’s cut to fit a woman, but the male armor is cut to fit a man…I’d put it in the “barely qualifies as blatant sexuality” category. I guess the “lesbian” sex with the asexual, but female in appearance, alien race does kind of qualify though…). Still though, the relationship system that everyone thinks is so amazing…it’s just not that hard to figure out. All you really have to do is be nice and flirt with whomever the game allows you to sleep with whenever the game allows you to further you dialog trees. That’s literally it. Complete goal A, get reward B. Heck, you even get achievement points for completing a romantic sidequest.

If you think about it, that’s how most non-scripted video game relationships work. In Final Fantasy VII, your date at the Golden Saucer was dependent on a point system generated through your responses to Tifa, Aeris, and Yuffie up to that point. Harvest Moon games have you “earn” your wife by giving her gifts and talking to her daily. Surely it must be that easy in real life, you just talk to someone and give them stuff and over the course of a year you’ll be able to give them a blue feather and marry them, right?

Yet while I complain about this, it becomes clear that relationships in movies and TV shows aren’t really that much more complicated than in Mass Effect, you just don’t get to choose your responses in a TV show. In Mass Effect, you either choose the “nice” options or the snappy/witty “flirting” options to go down the romance path. A TV show will typically have the characters do about the same thing. Exchange witty banter, maybe give or do something for the other person (a la Harvest Moon) or maybe even just save that person’s life (SPOILER ALERT: a la Mass Effect /SPOILER ALERT). So maybe video games are on the right path, it just feels cheaper, to me, when a relationship is boiled down to a counter variable and a conditional statement (if love >= cockblock) romanticsidequest = true;

In that sense, I think I can conceivably only be satisfied by the (well-)scripted love story rather than the life simulator. The ultimate life sim, The Sims, boils love down to just talking to a person and successful social interaction, culminating in WooHoo (cue Jason Lee: “You mean fucking?”) and, if you’re me, frustration afterwards as you try to maintain a high enough score to keep the “friendship” to get a promotion, but try to keep them away from your other conquests to increase your job performance.

It’s not the best example, but think of the tortured soul of Locke and his love of Rachel and Celes. It’s clear why he cares so much for Celes and why he tries so hard to protect her and once he’s able to let go of Rachel, we understand why him and Celes are together. It doesn’t feel cheap and it doesn’t feel like a cop-out to the story. It’s not like the movies where the main character gets the main girl at the end and then, all of a sudden, the supporting characters discover they too love each other and begin to kiss as well, having found love. It’s certainly eons beyond the James Bond brand of sexual immaturity, but I’d say most video games only aspire to that degree of maturity in their relationships (see Goldeneye (just kidding, I know that’s trivial, like saying x = x)).

So will Dan ever feel that any video game sexual relationship he was directly in charge of made any real degree of sense? I’d say that the game would have to do a damn good job of concealing the fact that I was filling up a counter variable. The problem is that if they concealed it too well and I randomly ended up with said reward at the end, it would feel cheap. Also not so fun: if you came on to a character and they totally burned you. Us nerds are fragile enough creatures who experience enough rejection on a day to day basis. To have a video game burn us…well it might shatter what’s left of our egos. In all seriousness, why wouldn’t that be a bad idea? It’d be a bit more realistic. If you threw in a couple of random number generators where some of your actions could have unintentional negative results, hell, you’d have just about the same degree of fickleness as a real woman…but I digress. In the end, we’ve still got a long ways to go for interactive relationships, but at least we’re fine on the pre-scripted variety.

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