Bullpen Banter Ep. 61: Postseason Programs

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If somehow you don’t already know, I do a live stream show, Bullpen Banter on Twitch.tv/ThatSportsGamer with MIllsGamingTV and SnaggleJ about one of our favorite games, MLB The Show. We’ve been doing it for over a year now, and people have been asking for an audio version of the show. So, this is our first experiment with how to do that.

For normal podcasts, we usually use Skype and the MP3 Skype Recorder, but the Bullpen Banter show is streamed live, and done using Discord for our audio. There is not currently an easy way to get the audio from those calls, though I do believe they are working on building something in. One option could have been to use the audio from the archives that are posted on YouTube.com/ThatSportsGamer, but those would have game sounds and Twitch notifications baked into it. I wanted something cleaner for you. So, for this test run we are using a Discord bot known called Craig Records and seeing if it will do the job.

This is just a test run, and since I don’t have a feed created for it yet, I figured I’d use the ThatSportsGamer Show feed since, it’s already setup, and, if you’re still subscribed to it, this will be a nice little surprise. In the future, assuming this all works out and we want to continue doing this, I’ll create a new feed for it, since I want to bring back ThatSportsGamer Show at some point.

Please, please, please give use feedback on the quality of this. You can always reach me on Twitter, @ThatSportsGamer, and in our Discord server for Bullpen Banter at ThatSportsGamer.com/BBDiscord.

Has SDS Made Hitting Too Easy?

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Image courtesy of @JSherm23 of 23sThoughts.com

Recently there has been some discussion around the level of difficulty, or lack thereof, in hitting in MLB The Show 17. Some have even gone so far as to say that Sony made hitting easier, so that people can earn more rewards in Diamond Dynasty. Now, I don’t think the answer to “Has SDS made hitting too easy?” is as binary as a “yes” or “no”. I think the answer is somewhere in between, and each player will have their own opinion.

For me, I don’t really see it. Though, there does seem to be an increase to opposite field power, which needs to be addressed. In my opinion, the difficulty level on hitting feels about right, with some caveats. Pitching seems to be slightly harder to hit the accuracy meter with lower skilled pitchers, and this year, missing your accuracy meter will more than likely result in well hit balls.

Secondly, there is much more of an emphasis on defense this year. If players are not building teams to properly account for that, then hitting will obviously seem easier, as more balls will be dropping in, and getting into gaps between fielders.

Image courtesy of @JSherm23 of 23sThoughts.com

I would almost contend that SDS has actually made hitting harder, assuming you’ve build your team correctly from a defensive standpoint. This is most evident by the increased effectiveness of finesse pitchers. Last year, guys who topped out in the low-90s were so ineffective that they would rarely be used. Now that there are proper bat-on-ball physics, these pitchers are much more effective at getting soft contact, and, assuming you have the defense to back that up, finesse pitchers can be extremely valuable.

Diamonds In The Rough – Brandon Belt

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Diamonds in the Rough is a series that will take a look at some of the players in MLB The Show 17 that play better than their Overall Rating, or market value, would suggest.

I’ve been using 84 Overall, San Francisco Giants 1B, Brandon Belt on-and-off as my starting 1B and bench player. He’s been pretty spectacular for me in both of those roles, and with good reason. To start, he hits well against both RHP (72 Con / 75 Pow) and LHP (70 Con / 78 Pow). With IE Boosts against RHP, he can even get higher.

As of the time of this post, he’s receiving +11 to both his Contact and Power vs RHP boosting him to 83 and 86, respectively. With the IE Boost, he’s roughly equivalent to an un-boosted Freddie Freeman at 1/15th the price.

My Non-Sports Game of 2016

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Since the jump to the PS4 my backlog of non-sports games continues to pile up. Amazing games like Metal Gear Solid 5, Uncharted 4, even going back as far as The Last of Us and Grand Theft Auto 5 have gone unplayed by me. The main reason for that has been due to the addition of my son, I just haven’t been able to dive into a game and spend multiple hours focused on a story. Sports games have been my perfect sanctuary due to the ability to sit down, knock out a game, and not really need to remember what happened in the last play-session to play the next.

As a matter of fact, the main way I’ve been seen non-sports games has continued to be via the great videos done by the team at GiantBomb.com. I’m even almost at the point where I’m going to throw in the towel on ever playing  Metal Gear Sold 5 and just watch GiantBomb’s Metal Gear Scanlon series on the game, where Drew Scanlon plays through the game with Dan Ryckert guiding him.

This year, one game that the folks at GiantBomb had so much fun playing, and I had so much fun watching, was Hitman. After watching numerous missions played on their Quick Looks and Unprofessional Fridays, I realized Hitman was a game I needed to play. The main thing that really clicked with me was the setup of the mission structure. It would allow me to pick up and put down the game without needing to know an in-depth story, which was what was holding me back from playing other games.

I ended up picking up Hitman during a PSN sale over around Thanksgiving. I was initially going to wait until the disc based version came out in January, just in case I didn’t end up liking the game, but at $30 for the entire first season, I had to jump. From there I’ve been in love with the game.

While there is an over-arching story, you don’t really need to follow along with it to enjoy the game. I actually still haven’t finished that story mode, opting instead to do play though the multitude of missions on each of the games six maps, as well as taking part in the Elusive Targets, which are limited time, one shot missions.

After a few hours of playing I realized why Hitman had connected with me. Back in the day I got Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty as a Christmas present from a friend. I hadn’t played the original Metal Gear Solid, but I quickly became a huge fan of the game’s stealth action. Hitman’s gameplay really brings me back to that Metal Gear Solid 2 level of enjoyment you get of knocking out guys and stuffing them into closets.

If you haven’t already, I highly recommend that you check out Hitman. The digital versions are available now, but if you want a disc-based version of the entire first season, you’ll need to wait till the end of January.

My Top Sports Games of 2016

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Honorable Mentions

Out of the Park Baseball 17

If I wasn’t the Baseball Community Manager for Out of the Park Developments, I would put this into my top three. The depth of OOTP is ridiculous, and I’ve had a ton of fun playing through multiple franchises like my (currently failing) attempt to make the Braves a playoff viable team, and teaming up with @KnightAttack09 to move the Mariners to Canada and redraft the MLB.

The highlight of my year with OOTP 17 came while controlling the Curaçao Neptunus of the Dutch baseball league, Honkbal Hoofdklasse. After running roughshod through the league, I found myself in the decisive Game 5 of the Championship Series, with Orlando Yntema on the mound. Magically, he would throw a perfect game to bring home the title. This might actually be my favorite sports gaming moment of the year.

Forza Horizon 3

I had never really dove into any of the Forza games prior to Horizon 3. I had always felt like they were kind of a knockoff of Polyphony Digital’s, PlayStation exclusive, Gran Turismo series. After getting an Xbox One, and seeing everyone having fun with Forza Horizon 3, I decided to finally give the series a real play though. I was very happy with what I found.

I know the Horizon series was more of an arcade racer than the simulation style of the Forza Motorsport series, which is the main reason why I wanted to get into it. The graphics really blew me away, and the gameplay was extremely fun, and the race setups are fun and the story is interesting enough to keep you going.

The main drawback for me, was that it’s an Xbox console exclusive. While I have a PS4 and an Xbox One, I’m almost always on my PS4. As a matter of fact, I think Horizon is only one or two games that I have on the Xbox One, outside of EA Access titles. Because of this, a few weeks ago, I moved around my consoles, and still haven’t plugged my Xbox One back in.

The List

#3 – Super Stickman Golf 3

I’m a huge fan of the Super Stickman Golf series and the wait for the 3rd game in the series almost drove me crazy. SSG2 came out in March of 2013, SSG3 released in July of this year, over three years later. The wait was definitely worth it.

Some of the upgrades that I really like were the removal of the gumball machine mechanic to get upgrades and abilities, and changing it to card packs. Yes, I love card collecting in sports games, deal with it. All the new courses feel extremely well made, and the new powers that you can use make for even more interesting ways to attack the courses.

Super Stickman Golf 3 is free, but after one round, I went and purchased the Premium Upgrade for $2.99 which gives you access to additional downloadable courses, unlimited Daily Race attempts, gives you 5 card packs, and, of course, removes the ads.

If you’re looking for a great mobile sports game experience, Super Stickman Golf 3 is definitely the game for you. I’d also definitely recommend going back and playing the previous games in the series, as well as Noodlecake’s Flappy Golf series, which is a mix between SSG, and Flappy Bird.

#2 – Madden NFL 17

The team at EA Sports really outdid themselves this year, to the benefit and detriment of this year’s Madden. This year Madden’s gameplay is better than it’s ever been, in my opinion. On the field, the game is extremely well rounded and feels great, and I’m loving the Press Row Podcast Madden league that I’m in.

The downfall for me this year comes in Ultimate Team. My biggest problem with the mode now is that there is just too much content. After completing around 400 solo missions along with numerous H2H and Draft Champions games, I just feel like I’m grinding my gears. Every year MUT is a grind, and this year it has finally taken its toll on me. MUT wants a player who is dedicated to logging in every single day and playing for a few hours. I just can’t do that anymore, especially with the 2016 grouping of sports video games being so well done.
My biggest fear is that MUT has now become such a well-oiled machine, that next year, I’ll feel overwhelmed even earlier and the game will fall further down my list.

#1 – MLB The Show 16

At some point I should probably just stop putting MLB at #1, because, almost by default, with baseball being my favorite sport, even if The Show was mediocre, I’d probably still give it the number one billing. Thankfully, MLB The Show is fantastic yet again.

While Franchise and Road To The Show continue to show their age (hopefully we’ll be getting some big updates to RTTS in 17) Diamond Dynasty has been making strides to put itself on the same level as card collecting game modes in other sports titles. With MLB The Show 16, it has done just that.

After the way MLB 13: The Show handled Diamond Dynasty I was very worried about the design plan going forward. But now they’ve righted the ship and I would put Diamond Dynasty up as my second favorite CCG mode right behind Madden Ultimate Team.

We’re three months away from MLB The Show 17, and I don’t think I’ll stop playing 16 until that happens, which is probably the highest praise you can give to a yearly sports game.

Extra Life 2016

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On November 4th I kicked off my 7th Extra Life video game marathon in support of the Children’s Specialized Hospital of New Jersey. Unlike years past, I broke this year’s marathon up over the weekend, rather than doing 24 hours straight.

Thanks to support readers/watchers/listeners like you, I was able to raise $1,200 this year.

International Podcast Day 2016

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“International Podcast Day is dedicated to promoting podcasting worldwide through education and public engagement.”

There is National IPA Day, National Waffle Fries Day, National Pancake Day, and National pretty-much-anything-you-want Day. In the summer of 2013, Steve Lee (founder of Modern Life Network) heard a radio announcement for National Senior Citizens’ Day.  Thinking that was pretty cool, it begged the question of why wasn’t there a day of celebration for podcasting.  That’s when Steve said to himself “Let’s create a Podcast Day!”  So the adventure began and a collective team of podcasters put their heads together to establish methods for podcasters and podcast listeners to raise awareness for this great entertainment and education medium.

After the overwhelming success of Podcast Day 2014 the event was rebranded to International Podcast to ensure the world is involved.

I’m extremely proud to announce that I’ve been asked to join in the International Podcast Day festivities and will be joining their live-stream at 9pm PT on Friday, September 30th, 2016.


I will be talking about how I got into listening to, and creating, podcasts, and how that evolved ThatSportsGamer, and lead to me becoming the Baseball Community Manager for OOTPDevelopments.

Hit & Run – Super Mega Baseball 2 Is Coming In 2017

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The Press Row Podcast’s 2014 Rookie of the Year, Super Mega Baseball is getting a sequel, and I’m very excited. Metalhead Software is back with a follow up to one of my favorite games of 2014, and Super Mega Baseball 2 will be releasing in 2017.

ThatSportsGamer Show is available in all your favorite places for podcasts:

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