One of the most contentious subjects for baseball video game fanatics is which baseball game reigns supreme. For the purists out there, RBI Baseball for original Nintendo is the obvious pick: it was the first of its kind of to feature MLB-licensed players' names. For those who couldn't care less about nostalgia, they might opt for newer, high-end graphics options like MLB: The Show or MVP Baseball. Regardless of which end of the extreme suits your video game standards, everyone should agree on one thing: Sports Talk Baseball for Sega Genesis kicked butt, and here are 10 reasons why the Sega Genesis classic rules.
The most intimidating figure in the world of video games as a five to eight year-old had to be a dominant submarine pitcher. (Well, perhaps except for Mike Tyson in Mike Tyson's Punch Out). When pitchers like Jeff Innis of the New York Mets came into the ball game, we knew he meant trouble. It was really difficult, as a hitter, to time your swing --especially if the submariner had a wicked slider. We can honestly say that Jeff Innis caused more broken controllers and little boy tears than anything else.
The new rule about every team being represented in the All-Star game is bogus. Guys like Omar Infante have no place among true stars. That's why seeing stacked early 1990's All-Star teams with the likes of Kirby Puckett, Cal Ripken Jr., Ken Griffey Jr., and Dennis Eckersley seemed right.
Sports Talk Baseball really thought out how to best replicate a real, in-game experience. One of the main "real" features was assigning stamina meters for pitchers. For instance, a starting pitcher like Nolan Ryan had a heck of a better stamina meter than, say, a pitcher like Jose DeLeon. And once your pitcher hit the wall, their pitches got slow. Like, fathers pitching in Little League games slow.
Sort of like the Nintendo and Mario bro-mance, Sega always tried their damnedest to plug Sonic the Hedgehog, and they even used Sports Talk Baseball as an advertising vehicle. Every time a player hit a home run, Sonic would appear on the scoreboard, waggling his little "number one" finger. We have vivid memories of mimicking Sonic's "number one" finger in our older brother's face when we'd hit a dinger with Cecil Fielder.
Sports Talk Baseball prudently instituted a "10-run domination" rule that automatically ended a game -- no matter the inning -- once the home team went up by at least 10 runs. We think the game's programmers must have all been the younger sibling in their respective families, as the rule helped prevent lifelong self-confidence issues that are usually the product of older siblings colossally dominating younger siblings in video games.
The theme song for Sports Talk Baseball was rockin'. It marked a departure from the dinky little 8-bit jingles in original Nintendo games. The Sports Talk Baseball theme has been stuck in our head for over twenty years, and we're surprised Kanye hasn't sampled it yet.
All old video games have their loopholes, but Sports Talk Baseball had some interesting ones. The first one was that if a ball was hit, and a fielder neglected to field it, runners would automatically advance. This makes more sense for a ball hit to the outfield, but it would also occur during lightly hit balls within the infield. So a cheap way to secure an out would be to let any softly hit ground ball intentionally go un-fielded, and wait until the runner advanced enough to have your throw beat him. The other great loophole was that you could use any position player at catcher, and they wouldn't make errors. Go ahead, put Mo Vaughn at catcher -- he's great at it!
Baseball video games nowadays have boring players like Albert Pujols, Cole Hamels, and Jonathan Papelbon. Who cares? Sports Talk Baseball featured cool old-school players like Rickie Henderson, Otis Nixon, and Mitch "Wild Thing" Williams. And if you look closely at the Boston Red Sox roster, you can find a very young Mo Vaughn riding the pine too.
Sports Talk Baseball was released in North America in 1992, which was four years before the New York Yankees became a modern-day dynasty. In fact, the Yanks' best players then were Matt Nokes and Scott Sanderson, respectively. No, in the early '90's, the team to beat was the Toronto Blue Jays. The Blue Jays lineup featured the likes of John Olerud, Roberto Alomar, Kelly Gruber, Candy Maldonado, Devon White, Joe Carter, and Dave Winfield, with Jack Morris, Jimmy Key, Juan Guzman, Tom Henke, and Duane Ward dominating from the hill. Derek Jeter wasn't even a glint in baseball fans' eyes.
It might not seem like a big deal now, but Sports Talk Baseball was the first baseball video game to feature an in-game announcer. Little kids (and grown men) everywhere experienced the voice of Lon Simmons, the legendary and long-time announcer for the San Francisco Giants and 49ers, call your games. Simmons also did the recap and announced the MVP of the game. Even an out-of-sync and computerized version of Lon Simmons is better than a live Joe Morgan. And that's your #1 reason why Why Sports Talk Baseball Kicked Butt.