Joe Buckweed – Staff Writer
Due to cold, rainy and otherwise inclement weather, the Greater Plains Athletic Conference made a bold decision last week that directly affected Dordt’s baseball team.
The GPAC ruled that the remainder of the regular season will be simulated by an Xbox, thereby eliminating the threat of poor playing conditions and unnecessary travel expenses.
“With today’s modern technology, this decision was a no-brainer,” said GPAC commissioner Corey Westra. “On the Xbox, every game is 75 degrees and sunny. Beats sitting out on frigid, metal bleachers and freezing my rear off.”
Westra hired a neighborhood boy to set up the simulation because the commissioner wasn’t familiar with the controls. The youngster set up a custom league on the popular video game MLB 2K13 that parallels the 11-team GPAC conference, even creating perfect – well, decent – likenesses of each player.
“The game has me with a goatee and brightly-colored neck tattoos,” noticed senior relief pitcher Jeremy Engbers. “I’ve never considered that look, but maybe I’ll try it out. I’d be pretty intimidating on the mound… you know, if we actually played real games.”
Senior Nathan Fraley was also caught off guard.
“My stance is all wrong, and when I run it looks like I have indigestion,” said the center fielder Fraley. “I have way more swag in real life.”
Each simulated game will be streamed online during the time the real-life game was supposed to be played. Dordt head coach Jeff Schouten is tickled about the new development.
“How often do you get to watch your virtual self on TV?” asked Schouten, the 10th-year coach. “Plus, I always struggled with the whole sign-giving thing; touching my hat and my elbow and wiggling my nose, you know? It was confusing. This way, the game makes all those decisions for me.”
Dordt struggled in the early simulations, losing a doubleheader to Nebraska Wesleyan University. The second game ended controversially when the game glitched and right fielder Jason Wapnick wasn’t able to pick up a ball that was sitting still on the outfield grass, resulting in a walk-off inside-the-park home run.
Schouten’s appeal to the league office was denied, and the result was upheld. The commissioner claimed there was no glitch and pointed out Wapnick’s 24 out of 99 rating in ‘Player Awareness.’
Glitch or not, Wapnick had to hide his face around campus because of the costly gaffe.
“I feel like Bill Buckner,” said Wapnick, referencing the oft-scapegoated Boston Red Sox player whose error once cost his club the World Series. “My teammates deserved to win that game, and I let them down.”
The simulation has received criticism from several Dordt players. They argue that some of the game’s player ratings are inaccurate.
“Sam De Nooy got a 99 for ‘Appearance,’” said designated hitter Jon Holwerda. “Who named him the best-looking guy on the team?”
“A 36 for ‘Speed?’” queried sophomore Bryan Wallman. “That makes it sound like I literally crawl to first base. I could put on full catcher’s gear, strap Nate Forseth to my back and still run faster in real life than I do in the game.”
The buzz around the simulation has sparked talk of starting a full-time virtual league. GPAC officials say they may experiment with next year’s cross country season.
As for the current baseball campaign, the Defenders are simply taking it one day at a time.
“Our guys have been working their butts off on the practice field,” said Schouten. “Hopefully our efforts pay off when the TV goes on and our virtual selves hit the field.”