On our podcast, we often toss around ideas for games we wish existed. I don’t believe we have ever written an article about one of these fake games before we brainstormed it together on the air. I’m breaking that precedent because I fear the impulse for the game may not exist long enough for it to be relevant on our podcast.
During the coming baseball off-season, I want to remember the absurdity of the past year’s Red Sox. I want to engage with a video game to feel again the maddening ways the team was run. I want to be able to sit down at a console and play “NESN presents: The Bobby Valentine Show.”
We’ve heard Scott touch on his feelings toward Bobby V. They’re shared by virtually everyone with a passing interest in the Red Sox. Valentine is an odd, unconventional, and some might say insane baseball manager. For the entirety of this season he’s had a show on the television station which airs the Red Sox games. During the show, one of the network’s hosts speaks with Bobby, asks him some questions, and tries to address just what the hell he’s been thinking and why the hell he’s been doing the quirky and outright foolish things he does. The show’s format is borrowed from YES’s “Joe Girardi Show,” and I’m sure similar shows appear in other teams’ markets. The questions attempt to address controversial issues where Valentine has been crazy, but the answers are always vague, formulaic, and vapid. The body language on the show is weird and stilted. Host Tom Caron and Valentine look like they’re being filmed for a dating show; they don’t know where to put their hands, where to look, or even when to talk. The conversation is full of pregnant pauses and clumsy smiles.
As far as gameplay is concerned, what the hell is this game, exactly? Harvard has a club which occasionally writes sports analysis articles. In one of their more entertaining pieces, they attempted to create a computer program that would function as New England Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick during a press conference. It scanned prior Belichick interviews and automatically answered questions based on his previous terse responses. The BVS game would follow that same path, but have unprecedented and impeccable research behind it. A thorough scouring of every time Valentine has appeared in print or on television would be undertaken. A database would be created. Every personality trait and mannerism would be noted. All oddities of his personal vocabulary would be cataloged. The game would be won by navigating a dialogue tree to create the most true to life and entertaining version of a Bobby Valentine interview that is possible.
The questions would be based on current topics referencing either news events or team incidents. These can include injuries, outstanding plays, league leaders, rumors, historic milestones like 9/11 anniversaries, and the role of the media. The game’s AI would arbitrarily combine all of those into unique and interesting questions. The player would act as Bobby Valentine, selecting his most likely responses.
“The Bobby Valentine Show” has been a great name for this entire Red Sox season. With his love of the spotlight and insistence on being seen as interesting in the media, Valentine was able to hijack all discussion of the team away from the action on the field. No matter how the team played, the focus has always been on their manager. I wish there was a way for future fans to experience this car wreck first hand. Much like Tecmo Bowl’s portrayal of Bo Jackson, there are certain things that must be played though to fully appreciate. In that case, as you are evading and breaking tackles, running from end zone to end zone, you wonder aloud “Is this what it was actually like? Was he THIS good?” This game would inspire the same awe when well played.
The last episode of this season’s Bobby Valentine Show aired last week. It’s unfortunate that once the Red Sox ownership fires him, we’ll never get another.