REPOST: Houston Astros: The Gamers' Choice for the 2005 Series

NOTE: I originally posted this on my 1UP blog after Game 2 of the 2005 World Series, featuring the Astros vs. the White Sox. I had a lot of fun with it and figured I'd repost it here for posterity. At one point I even had screenshots to go with each player, but they've all been lost in time or something. So anyway... 
Posted: 2005-10-24 01:53:45.01
Game 2 was a great one...except that it sucked. 

The Astros may be down 0-2, but there's still hope. The reason I think so -- and also the reason I think the Astros should be the team that gamers root for -- is simple: Tengen's R.B.I. Baseball

In case you're too young to remember (the game is the same age as the career of Craig Biggio, after all) or somehow missed out on its greatness, R.B.I. did several things to set the stage not only baseball games, but also sports titles for several years to come. (It should be noted that another game released around the same time, Major League Baseball, did similar things, but not as well.)

Very notable was its style of play. You controlled pitches as you threw them, pointing down for fastballs, up for change-ups, left and right for curves, etc. Meanwhile, you could move your batter anywhere in the batter's box so as to best position him to get his bat on the coming pitch. From respectable games like Tecmo's Bad News Baseball and Culture Brain's fantastic Baseball Simulator 1.000 to pure crap like Dusty Diamond's All-Star Softball (the review I've linked to has some amusing info -- but the game ain't a B), this would be the norm in baseball titles until 1994, when Sega released World Series Baseball for the Genesis (which in many ways -- sometimes unfortunately, I think -- is still in use today).

Perhaps more importantly, however, R.B.I. was the first sports game, period (at least that I know of), to use real player names througout each team's lineup. You had no real team names, but Tengen's success with its use of the MLB Player's Association license showed the industry just how much better a game can be when gamers can relate to the people they're controlling. 

Which brings me to my overall point. Of all the players in the game, seven have some sort of tie to the Astros or White Sox. Here's how it breaks down:

Tim Raines
In R.B.I.: Leadoff hitter/outfielder for National League All-Star team
In 2005 World Series: White Sox first base coach

Harold Baines
In R.B.I.: American League All-Star team
In 2005 World Series: White Sox bench coach


Roger Clemens
In R.B.I.: Boston pitcher
In 2005 World Series: Astros pitcher -- still playing!

Phil Garner
In R.B.I.: Handy off the bench for Houston
In 2005 World Series: Handy on the bench managing for Houston 

Jose Cruz
In R.B.I.: Houston slugger in left field
In 2005 World Series: Astros first base coach

Gary Gaetti
In R.B.I.: Minnesota slugger
In 2005 World Series: Astros hitting coach

Alan Ashby
In R.B.I.: Light-hitting Houston catcher -- but still a helluva guy
In 2005 World Series: In the Astros' announcing booth doing color commentary with Hall of Famer Milo Hamilton

So, the conclusion? Obviously, since there are seven folks involved, each represents a game in the World Series. So the Astros win, five games to two. Well, if they needed to play all seven anyway.