The Dord of Darien

Musings from the Mayor of the Internet

Happy Gote Jump Day!

It’s that time again: Gote Jump Day! Join in the celebration, all ye people! Here’s what you do:

• Get completely fucking plastered
• Climb up to the top of something really tall
• Get even more plastered
• Get on your goat
Jump right the fuck off
• Keep drinking on the way down, and see how long you can stay airborne!

If you’re far too lame to have a goat of your own, you may if necessary substitute some other type of mount, but come on. Go get yourself a damn goat. Have fun and take lots of pictures, and then post the best ones so we can all laugh at them and look back on the goofiness that was 2010!

December 31st, 2010 Posted by | World of Warcraft | no comments

Must-play games of 2010

Unlike the idiots at the A.V. Club, I actually play video games and enjoy them. So when I tell you what games you should play, I’m talking about actual games with actual play, and not writing a bunch of drivel about which games were short and had lots of cutscenes, making them easier to review because you can just kind of let them run in the background while you focus your attention on jerking off to ChatRoulette. So, in no particular order, here’s a list of games that you’re a bad person and will go to hell if you didn’t like, punctuated with screenshots that, because I’m a better journalist than anybody at the A.V. Club, are actually any good.

Mass Effect 2
Mass Effect 2 (PC, X360, PS3)

Mass Effect, from 2007, was a fun game that suffered from not quite seeming to know what it was. It was kind of stuck halfway between being a shooting RPG, like Knights of the Old Republic, and being a proper shooter — it featured real-time combat that relied on the player to do the aiming and shooting, but lacked a decent shooter AI for either henchmen or mobs, resulting in the lot of them all just kind of running around aimlessly, like in goddamn Bioshock, and involving weird things like "accuracy" stats that make sense in RPGs but are just goddamn weird in a game where you aim the gun yourself.

Mass Effect 2 doesn’t have this identity crisis. It is a shooter, and it’s happy about that, and as a shooter it’s absolutely top-notch. The structure of the game is fairly repetitive — you run down a corridor until you see some boxes or pylons or like invincible glass walls, and then you duck behind them for cover, because you know a fight’s about to start. When the fight starts, it’s mainly about popping out of cover to take your shots at opportune times (the mobs all have to reload just like you do, and that leaves them vulnerable), and maximising the benefit from your special attacks; you can’t spam them like you could in the first Mass Effect, since using any of them puts them all on cooldown. This structure, though it’s fundamentally unchanged throughout every single encounter in the game, never really becomes boring, and that’s mainly because the encounters themselves are so much fun. Unlike in some games Bioware’s pooped out lately (cough), you don’t just fight the same pull over and over again the whole way through the game; there are many different mobs, and the pulls are balanced differently, and the differences in terrain can have a significant impact on the tactics from fight to fight.

When you’re not shooting things, there’s a bunch of talky-man stuff to do if it’s your thing. It’s mostly optional, though, so if it isn’t your thing, you can largely skip it and get back to the shooting. It’s pretty fun, though; the dialogue is entertaining, and Bioware does a decent job of creating the illusion of player control (remember all those places in KOTOR where it seemed like you had a choice, but then the mob’s response was obviously written to apply no matter which thing you picked? ME2 is much more convincing). The dialogue scenes are highly interactive, also, with the player getting to make a lot of choices, which reduces the feel of being story-d at while you want to play a damn game already.

The only real failing is, of course, that the minigames are fucking awful, and you play them constantly. At least they’re easy this time. PC owners can hax the iron ore gathering out of the game entirely; console owners will have to suffer through it. But, on the bright side, it’s worth suffering for.

Super Mario Galaxy 2
Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii)

What is there to say about Super Mario Galaxy that hasn’t already been said? It’s good. It’s really, really good. It looks great, it sounds great, and (note to A.V. Club writers) most importantly, it plays great.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 is pretty much the same game but with entirely different levels, and it’s almost as good to boot. The interface is unchanged since the original — you run around, jump a lot, stomp on things, and spin. You can shoot star bits with the Wii remote, but that’s even less useful than it was in the first game. Every level is a platformer obstacle course, filled with Goombas and Bullet Williams and all those Mario things, just like you’d expect, and you have to navigate to the end of it to get the star. New this time around are ridiculous hint movie boards that let you watch a movie about how to do something, which I imagine is handy if you’ve never played a video game before in your life. I found them more useful because they reset the state of the level, allowing you to, say, collect the 1Up right next to the board in the first level over and over and over again. There’s also a useless "guide" feature that will auto-complete a difficult level for you and allow you to move on past it, but which won’t give you credit for the star. Does anybody use this? If so, what’s the point?

The problem is (and I risk repeating myself, I realise) the goddamn minigames. Nobody buys Super Mario Galaxy 2 because we want to play some idiotic glider bird game, Nintendo. We bought it to play a Mario game. How about you take out the idiotic glider bird levels — which are completely awful, by the way, and not even super easy like the awful minigames in Mass Effect 2 — and put in more Mario levels? Just a wild idea I had. Still and all, while there are far too many minigames, and they’re awful and horrible and terrible and dumb and bad and maggot-infested and bad and dumb, the levels where you’re playing a Mario game are really, really fun. If you liked Super Mario Galaxy, you’ll like Super Mario Galaxy 2. And if you didn’t like Super Mario Galaxy, then obviously you hate fun things and should probably go back to reading CNN or whatever it is you dull people do.


I know, I know. I know what it looks like. Sounds like it too, if you can believe that. It also plays like it — or, rather, it plays like what those ancient games would have been if they were designed by people with the cumulative game design knowledge of the intervening 25 years. Because VVVVVV is a tough-as-nails old-school platformer that nonetheless makes a lot of concessions to modern playstyles. Gone, for example, is the limited number of lives and few-and-far-between checkpoints; VVVVVV features at least one checkpoint on almost every screen, and, while it does count how many times you die, you never have to start all over. This, of course, allows the level of difficulty to be set very high, since it won’t take you ten minutes of play to get back to where you died.

The game is played entirely with the left and right arrow keys and the space bar. The arrows move you back and forth, as you’d expect, but the space bar is not the jump button you might expect in a platformer — instead, it flips you over, reversing your relative gravity and causing you to fall upward instead of down. You can flip only when you’re standing on a surface, so there’s no nonsense about juggling around in midair, and you can’t use it to "fly" horizontally by flipping at super speed. These controls combine with the simple but highly creative graphics and brilliant platform challenges to create a game with tremendous play, and it has bonus challenge modes to boot, if you finish the main game and want more.

I mean, really. It’s super fun. It’s on Steam. It’s on sale right now for two bucks, and there’s a demo too if that two bucks is just way too much risk for you. What else do you want?

Dragon Quest 9 (DS)

Probably because taking screenshots of DS games is hard, there are no good screenshots of Dragon Quest 9 anywhere on the internet. So instead of using a bad one, I used a picture of a Taloon action figure, because everybody likes Taloon. So that’s the way it’s going to be, bub.

Dragon Quest 9 is a very odd game. It’s a single-player RPG in the well-worn Dragon Quest tradition, but it has a lot of odd MMO-like aspects, such as the respawning treasure chests that almost always contain garbage, and the auction house-esque "DQVC," which downloads sets of items on a daily basis and allows you to buy them. There are also seasonal events and downloadable added content, giving the game a huge amount of play time (and it’s actual play time and not movie watching time).

The game plays like any other Dragon Quest game — you travel around the world righting wrongs and murdering slimes, and then eventually you do battle with an evil god and all evil everywhere is vanquished. Battle is turn-based and menu-driven, and each character gains different spells and skills, depending on his class. The skills, like in Dragon Quest 8, are mostly garbage you won’t use, which is kind of a letdown; oddly enough, the game appears to be designed to encourage the player to ignore the skills, since you get a damage multiplier for targeting the same mob consecutively, but only if you use the same attack — which almost always means just the "fight" option. There’s a good amount of character customisation, which is nice, plus the gear you have on finally shows on the blessed model for a change.

The main problem with Dragon Quest 9 is the appalling dialogue. I mean, it’s really, really bad. Riddled with obnoxious accents and idiotic puns and ironic "wacky" names. Thankfully, the game does not talk the dialogue at you, so you don’t have to hear some terrible ham corning up the stupid accents. There also aren’t very many cutscenes; most of your play time is actually spent playing, which is refreshing in a modern RPG. Overall, the game’s a reasonably straightforward and compelling console RPG experience with enough depth to keep you interested, and not quite so much obscurity of system to make you really really annoyed.

Super Meat Boy
Super Meat Boy (PC, Mac, X360, Wii)

Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat: Super Meat Boy is incredibly, unbelievably stupid. I mean, middle school-level self-conscious wackiness. Whoa, he’s made of meat! And his girlfriend is made of bandages! And the villain’s a fetus! Hilarity abounds! Because it’s so aggressively stupid, I had a well-intentioned plan to hate the shit out of this game, which was sidetracked mainly because it’s so good.

And it is that: truly, honestly good. Your goal in any given level is to reach Bandage Girl, while not falling into any pits or hitting any obstacles (generally giant, spinning saw blades), either of which will kill you and send you back to the beginning of the level. There are a few hundred levels, but they’re all quite short, so being sent back to the beginning isn’t a tremendous pain. If you clear a level within a given time limit, you unlock the "dark world" version of that level, which is generally the same thing but much harder. In addition, there are quite a few unlockable bonus characters, which vary by platform, and are mainly characters from other indie games, such as Captain Viridian from VVVVVV.

The main draw in Super Meat Boy is that the platforming is incredibly precise and unforgiving; especially in the dark world levels, you frequently have only a very small patch of usable space in amongst all the spinning blades, so you need to aim your jumps very carefully indeed. As with most modern games, however, you aren’t limited in your number of lives; getting killed sends you back to start the level over, but you don’t have the ever-dwindling stock of Meat Boys adding unnecessary anxiety, and you’re never forced to replay large chunks of the game to get back to where you were.

The graphics and sound are adequate, if not exactly good; they very much betray the game’s Newgrounds heritage, and are frequently distracted by attempts to seem hip and "retro," which limits somewhat the game’s ability to form its own style. Still and all, they’re good enough; you’re not going to be playing this one because it’s a wonder to look at, but because it’s a blast to play. And, hey, this one’s on Steam too, and it’s on sale for $7.50. At that price, it’s a steal.

Civilization 5
Civilization 5 (PC / Mac)

Do you have any idea how hard it is to find an interesting screenshot of Civilization? It is not the type of game that lends itself well to the compelling screenshot. "Oh, look! A map! With lots of tiny little picky fucking dudes on it I can’t see very clearly, and some kind of complicated HUD! Clearly this game delivers." So instead of bothering with any of that, I just put up a shot of the Giant Death Robot, because that’s super funny and I don’t care what you say.

Civ 5 is easily the most approachable Civilization game to date. It’s the first one you can really just dive in and play, without some giant learning curve as you try to figure out the interface and what all the buttons do and what the picky little differences among the ten thousand options are. It’s much more streamlined, but it retains the same infernal "oh god I have to get up for work in five hours but I need to play just a little bit longer" tendencies that the older games had. It does sacrifice a bit of depth, though, which may turn off the more hardcore micromanagers, and the lack of espionage is sorely felt, but it’s still remarkably playable.

Which is, you know, if it will run on your computer, which there’s a roughly one-in-three chance it won’t. Even if it does run, the load times are long, and it apparently devours something on the order of fourteen petabytes of RAM just sitting there not doing anything, for which I cannot give a solid explanation. But it looks great, with the new art deco stylings, and it sounds great, and it plays like the same crazy old addictive Civilization it’s always been, so I can forgive it these faults.

The new policy trees are much more interesting than the boring old five-governments-with-one-obvious-best-one approach. As you accumulate culture, you unlock various social policies, which, like the World of Warcraft talent trees they’re very obviously ripping off, give you various benefits in different aspects of the game. Some are focused on military, some on science, some on expansion, so forth. The policy trees have a pretty wild statist bent to them, but come on — it’s Civilization. It’s not like crazy government fetishes are a new addition to the series.

Plus it has Giant Death Robots. That’s worth the price of admission all by itself.

So there you have it — 2010’s must-play games. Since I can’t be everywhere all the time, outrageously fat though I am, there may be one or two games I’ve overlooked; feel free to post in the comments any games you think are must-play material. But I have to warn you: if any of you tells me I absolutely have to play the Poop Age expansion because it has so many wonderful cutscenes about orcs and people being riddled with angst, I swear to god I’ll pop your eyes out with a claw hammer.

December 31st, 2010 Posted by | Games | no comments

While I’m talking about the A.V. Club

I wasn’t going to comment on this, but I can’t help myself. It’s a review of the Super Mario All-Stars Collector’s Edition that Nintendo just released, and they gave it a big fat F. I’m not going to break out the whole article; I’d just like to call attention to a few choice passages.

Super Mario All-Stars Limited Edition fails on every conceivable level, and a few inconceivable ones, too.

I know, I know. You’ve heard it before. But still: that is some terrible fucking writing right there. That’s like sub-Baylessian shit. You’re closing in on Woody Paige territory, A.V. Club.

Other than the option to use the Wii controller, the game is exactly as it was in 1993, when the ability to save your game on Nintendo titles was revolutionary. All-Stars Limited Edition touts "enhanced graphics and updated sound from the Super NES game," which at the time meant rounding Mario’s 8-bit exterior and adding smiles to background clouds. It killed the throwback feel of the games in 1993, and it makes the game look and sound sad today.

Of course, we’ll gloss over the part where he straight-up lies about the graphical changes made to All-Stars, and jump right on into the meat of this point: this moron thinks the 1993 overhaul of the graphics and sound in Super Mario Bros. was a bad thing. And for some reason he gets paid to write about video games.

The games, of course, are great, as they have always been.

Let that sink in.

The games, of course, are great, as they have always been.
The games, of course, are great, as they have always been.
The games, of course, are great, as they have always been.

The games, of course, are great, as they have always been.

The games are great! So we’ll give them an F. These people get paid to review video games.

In fact, they’re great right now, sold separately in the WiiWare store with actual retro graphics—for a much lower price.

Three points, here:

• On Wiiware, they’re five bucks each. That’s $20 total, which isn’t "much lower" the the $30 Nintendo’s charging for the collection, which has updated graphics, saving, a soundtrack CD (which you were apparently offended by), and a "history of Mario" booklet (which, also, you were apparently offended by).

• SNES graphics count as retro now. I’m sorry they’re not retro enough for hipster faggots such as yourself, but they’re still retro. Also, you’ve alternated this whole article between complaining that they upgraded the graphics in the first place and complaining that they didn’t upgrade them again.

• Do you see where it’s called "Collector’s Edition?" That’s what it is, champ: it’s an edition for collectors. Like, a limited-run thing bundled with extras and aimed at enthusiasts.

I’m serious. Why do you people get paid? It boggles the fucking mind. How can a game reveiwer come right out and admit that a game is great — that a game is, in fact, four separate great games — and give it the lowest possible grade and not get fired? How can a game reviewer tell multiple obvious lies in a game review and not get fired?

Here’s the real lowdown on the Mario All-Stars Collector’s Edition, from somebody who won’t give it an F just because it’s not free or on the Xbox: it’s fine. If you’re a Mario collector, or you kind of want to play Mario All-Stars but your SNES copy’s from fucking 1993 and the battery doesn’t work anymore, it’s exactly what you want. It’s nothing new, but for a $30 collector’s item with some great games on it, I mean, what’s the problem?

December 28th, 2010 Posted by | Games | no comments

So help me, these idiots are still writing

You’d think that, by now, somebody other than me would have noticed how hopeless the A.V. Club’s game journalism is. By which I mean whoever’s in charge of paying these people to write ridiculously bad articles. By which I mean articles like this one.

It’s a "top ten games of the year" list, and, I’ll admit right upfront, not all of the choices are terrible. Two of them aren’t even Xbox games, which is like a bold step into the unknown for these idiots. There’s a dark lining lurking beneath this silver cloud, though, because, even though not all of the choices are terrible, you better believe every single word they have to say about them is. Is it pretentious? Vapid? Overwritten? You be the judge!

Is the gaming "awards season" dead?

Whoops, I should have marked that as a spoiler. I guess there’s no question about its overwritten, pretentious vapidity anymore.

Five of The A.V. Club games writers’ top six games of 2010 were released by the end of July, turning the industry’s usual autumn Game Of The Year slugfest into something of an anticlimax (at least around these parts).

Editor wanted. Apply within.

The reality is that 2010 was an unusually good year from start to finish.

Many, many people have noted this. Some of them even took a break from all their noting and played a few of the unusually good games! Not these guys, though.

There were even pleas among the games staff to make this a Top 20 list.

Oh sweet merciful lord I would kill myself if I had to wade through twenty of these awful writeups. Thank you, video game Jesus.

Instead, we went through two rounds of voting—with writers assigning a total of 100 points across their 10 favorite games, Pazz & Jop style—to whittle our favorites down to the list you see here.

I guess maybe "Pazz & Jop style" means something to idiots. To me? All it means is "we contrived a ridiculously complicated system that resulted in a shitload of ties, and then we numbered them wrong."

Because of ties, it’s a Top 11 instead of a Top 10, but this year felt about 10 percent better than usual, so we’re okay with that.

This year was a lot more like 60% better than usual, but I don’t expect you idiots to know that. Since you don’t play any games, or really follow the game industry very much.

And since gaming doesn’t have to be all about the major studios, this year we’ve also honored five games that appeared in the Sawbuck Gamer column over the past 12 months. These more modest titles are unlikely to crack many game-of-the-year lists, but they’re still worthy of a second look.

Two of the games on your main list are indie titles, dipshits. I mean, really. And the indie scene was super fucking strong in 2010, and only appears to be getting stronger. If anybody here in the grim darkness of the far future still thinks gaming is "all about the major studios," he clearly doesn’t pay attention to games. And, thus, probably works for the A.V. Club.

9 (tie). Vanquish

Xbox. Also, you gave it a B+ when it first came out.

Too many games come bloated with unnecessary features or modes that detract (and distract the development team) from the main event: the single-player campaign.

Quite a few of them will be making an appearance later on in this list. Oh, also, is there some rule that says the single-player campaign must be the "main event?" Because it seems to me I’ve played a fair few games with lacklustre single-player campaigns and super fun alternate modes.

Vanquish is not one of those games. It’s a ridiculous joyride and also an unapologetically lean adventure that has you sliding around on your knees in outer space, puffing on cigarettes, and firing off headshots on skyscraper-tall robots.

Mmm. Empty sentences. The bread-and-butter of terrible writers who get paid by the word.

Little gets in the way of the relentless gunplay, which is refreshing amidst a year of over-intellectualizing blowing up crap in a videogame.

You mean an "unusually good" year of over-intellectualizing blowing up crap. Which, I mean… did that happen? Fucking FlingSmash came out this year, man. That’s as un-intellectualized an example of blowing up crap as I can think of offhand. You know, assuming that means anything. Which I’m not so sure it does.

Best of all, Vanquish doesn’t overstay its welcome. It’s disposable fun, sure, but more memorable and enjoyable because of it.

"Best of all, it’s really short, which makes it easy to review if you don’t really like video games."

9 (tie). World Of Warcraft: Cataclysm

Obligatory WOW nod. About which you have nothing to say. You gave it an A in the initial review.

World Of Warcraft: Cataclysm significantly improves the game, whether you’re at Level 1 or Level 85.

I have to agree here. The pre-Cataclysm level 85 content was pretty lacking.

With the update, old zones have gotten a much-needed overhaul, bringing them up to speed with the graphics and gameplay innovations introduced in the expansion’s predecessors, Burning Crusade and Wrath Of The Lich King.

Looks better than that. Also plays better than that. I’d say, if I were forced to, that, actually, the old zones have been brought up to speed with the graphic and gameplay of the expansion’s self, you insufferable twit.

There’s fantastic flavor for the two new races, and the high-level content is appropriately epic, with your character befriending and battling gods and ancient powers as the world around you seethes and burns.

Great prose there, Sergeant Major Purple. Also: World of Warcraft has involved "befriending and battling gods and ancient powers" — which, I guess, are two different things these days — since launch.

There’s nothing revolutionary enough about Cataclysm to change a hater’s mind, but there’s plenty to get any fan hooked all over again.

I don’t know, man. I think "completely redesigned play experience" might just be enough to change a hater’s mind. But what do I know? I don’t have a master’s degree in awesome from the University of Game Review.

9 (tie). Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood

Xbox. You gave this an A- when it first came out.

A few sequels this year—like Crackdown 2 and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II— were thin attempts to squeeze a few more dollars out of an existing development team before shutting the whole operation down. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood defied that trend, broadening the horizons of an already-exceptional game, Assassin’s Creed II.

That’s a "trend?" Half-assed sequels? Okay. So while you’re ranting about whatever, I’d like to point out that this is the only game in this whole article that has a decent fucking screenshot. Seriously, have you seen these? I have never seen a video game article illustrated so incompetently before. The first one’s not even in the right place in the text, for pity’s sake.

The single-player story, which follows an aging Ezio as he transforms neck-stabbing into more of a team sport, is a fun journey.

Have I mentioned that your writing is garbage? Because: holy shit. The first half of that sentence is an epic journey toward a terrible, hacky joke, and then you clearly didn’t have any idea where you were going with it, and just smacked on that four-word phrase with the verb in it so it would scan properly. Awful.

The real bonus is the multiplayer mode.

Oh? Let’s talk about something real quick:

Too many games come bloated with unnecessary features or modes that detract (and distract the development team) from the main event: the single-player campaign.

Remember that? Remember when you wrote that? It was like two paragraphs ago. Seriously, guys, you’ve written two reviewlettes that contradict one another. In the same article. Two paragraphs apart.

Ubisoft avoided the BioShock 2 trap and created something that made sense for the broader game: a tense hunt through the streets of Rome where all the players have an assassination target—and a target on their backs.

Well thank god for that. I hate it when the ridiculous tacked-on multiplayer gimmick mode doesn’t fit with the lore of the single-player mission.

8. Super Mario Galaxy 2

A three-way-tie at 9 and then an 8. I think you guys might not understand how to write a top-ten list. Super Mario Galaxy 2 you gave an A initially.

The medium’s most enduring experience remains the perfectly timed leap and subsequent landing found in any Mario game.

What? How is that more "enduring" than, like, smashing a headcrab with a crowbar in Half-Life? Or uppercut-juggling somebody in Mortal Kombat? Or scrolling screenfulls of text in some boring-as-shit screen reader adventure? Do you know what words mean? Because it’s not clear that you do.

It’s been around since 1985, and if Super Mario Galaxy 2 is any indication, it won’t lose its novelty any time soon.

The first game to involve Mario making perfectly-timed leaps — and, no less, subsequently landing from those leaps! — came out in 1981. But, yeah, I think everybody but you has found that the novelty involved in pressing a button to make Mario jump wore off years ago. Nowadays we’re more keen on having interesting things to do with the jumping, yeah?

This follow-up to the 2007 original hits on plot points that anyone can recite by heart: Bowser is back. Peach is kidnapped. Mario must rescue her. Mario has a few new ho-hum suits at his disposal, but the real draw, in addition to those aforementioned leaps and landings, is the white-knuckle platforming action.

So the best part, besides all the jumping, is the platforming. Okay then. Good to know.

6 (tie). Fallout: New Vegas

Xbox. Got an A-, yet is ahead of two games that were rated A.

Bugs be damned.

If you say so, champ. I guess those of us who have to pay for games will just have to disagree with you about that.

Fallout: New Vegas is a meaty, quirky, and all-around mean follow-up to Fallout 3. There’s no touchy-feely parental relationship to weigh the plot down.

You know what that section needs? Some adjectives that don’t mean anything in the context they’re being used in.

And as a courier who got killed for the package they were delivering, players aren’t trying to save the world.

Nice segue from singular to plural there. Sure you wouldn’t like to borrow an editor? Don’t ask Yahoo — they’re all out.

Rather, the game is about survival, revenge, and comeuppance. Serving up those particular dishes is more complicated than it might seem, thanks to a tangled web of quests and conflicting allegiances. Players could easily get lost trying to work out all the angles. That’s the point.

The point is for the players to get lost? I think you may have the wrong idea either of what games are about, or of what words mean. Frankly, I’m having a bit of difficulty determining which.

6 (tie). Deadly Premonition

Xbox. You didn’t review this when it first came out.

There are few games that exemplify a designer’s ambition outpacing their skill more than Access Games’ Deadly Premonition.

I’m assuming you’re not counting every game I’ve ever made, right? Or, like, Duke Nukem Forever. Actually, now that I think about it, that’s not really a compliment, stupid.

The open-world horror game is at times staggering in its incompetence.

I’m not sure which is a bigger insult: saying that a game is "staggering in its incompetence" or saying that a game is an "open-world horror game." But one thing I do know: putting any game that fits that description not only on this list but halfway up this list proves that you people are staggering in your incompetence.

The textures covering the landscape of Greenvale, Washington wouldn’t look out of place in a budget Nintendo 64 game, and the zombie-shooting sequences serve mostly as a barrier between the player and the fun parts of the game.

So it’s boring and ugly. Great. You’re really selling me on this one.

That said, Deadly Premonition offers something downright inspiring for every one of its technical shortcomings. There’s an ugly world thick with idiosyncrasies and history, a vast cast of memorable weirdoes, and a fascinating lead in Agent Francis York Morgan.

So you got nothing, then? No ability to explain why you stuck this stinkbug on your list? Its Metacritic score is 68. That’s pretty fucking bad.

It’s better than getting to play Twin Peaks; it’s like getting to be Dale Cooper.

You know what else is better than getting to play Twin Peaks? Not playing fucking Twin Peaks.

5. Limbo

Xbox. You gave it an A-. Also, this is an indie game.

This small, damp smudge of a game arrived, inappropriately enough, in the beach-going months of summer.

What? It’s inappropriate for games to come out in the summer? Or is it just games that are "damp" that shouldn’t come out in the summer? Fuck off, Wave Race 64!

That partially explains the surprising, out-of-nowhere impact Limbo had.

It didn’t have much impact, mostly on account of ten thousand other indie games came out this year that were exactly the same. To be fair, though, I think this is the only one that made it to the Xbox, so it’s not like you played any of the rest of them.

The simple mechanics, spare black-and-white aesthetic, and exposition-free narrative made Limbo less of a traditional game experience and more of a psychological—or perhaps even psychotic—episode.

Do you fools have any idea how many games I played this year that were exposition-free black-and-white simple-mechanic-ed "episodes?" Seriously, there were a fucking lot of them. This is like a modern version of those pretentious arthouse movies where everybody sits around and gives each other long looks and doesn’t speak.

Helping this blinking shadow-boy through a dank forest on a quest to find his lost sister turns Limbo into the video game the Brothers Grimm never made.

Other video games on the list of video games the Brothers Grimm never made: all video games.

4. Heavy Rain

Playstation 3! Wow. You idiots are branching out. Also, you gave this an A-, too. Still waiting on the explanation of why the two games you rated A are down at the bottom of the list.

Nothing about Heavy Rain made sense because it didn’t resemble any other game. And it still doesn’t. It’s a story-driven title that puts you in control of four flawed characters whose lives are all connected to a serial killer on the loose.

So it was a long fucking movie with no game involved, and it didn’t make any sense. Awesome. Game of the year, as far as I’m concerned.

Speaking of controls, everything is a series of quick-time events and the joysticks alone don’t make your character move.

Wait, that sounds familiar… where have I seen that design aesthetic before…

Even more unusual, your actions as these characters yield irreversible, rippling consequences.

OH NOES! The ripples are coming for me!

Though not a perfect game, it’s not hyperbole to say that Heavy Rain pushes gaming toward the next notch on its evolutionary chart.

As long as the "next notch" in the evolution of gaming is fucking Dragon’s Lair. Which is what this is.

Risky and emotionally charged, Heavy Rain shows that we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what’s possible in what we all can expect from games.

My favourite part about this sentence — other than the fact that the last half of it isn’t even coherent, which is pretty excellent — is that apparently he’d consider Steel Magnolias to be a huge step forward in gaming, what with the emotional charges and the risk and shit. Is gameplay part of this process? Unclear!

3. Red Dead Redemption

Xbox. Finally another A, though!

The developers at Rockstar aren’t perfect.

True dat. They tend to make really really boring open-world wandering games that idiots like you spooge all over because you think they’re "important."

Their dialogue tends to be painfully on-the-nose, their philosophizing on American values rarely transcends dorm-room levels of sophistication, and their lack of an editing eye leaves too much fat in the final product (case in point: Red Dead Redemption’s overlong Mexican sojourn).

Yeah, also, the games aren’t very much fun once the shock value of running down heavily ethnic pedestrians in a muscle car wears off.

So how the hell does Red Dead manage to be so freaking good? One reason is John Marston, the conflicted mercenary who holds our attention as he seeks absolution, despite the Sisyphean futility of his quest.

Ah yes — the cutscenes. Thank god for those. Where would a game be without cutscenes? Not on this list, that’s for fucking sure.

Also, check-plus on "Sisyphean futility." Who cares if it’s redundant as long as it’s pretentious!

Rockstar’s social commentary may be ham-fisted, but they know how to tell the story of one man.

Which would be great, if they were writing books or movies. But they make games. Perhaps it’s time to start talking about gameplay, yes?

Another key: the game’s entrancing sense of place.

Which is how the effete pseudo-intellectuals at the A.V. Club say "graphics."

After earning perennial praise for its buzzing cityscapes in the Grand Theft Auto series, Rockstar’s ability to evoke the beautiful desolation of the West may be its greatest triumph.

Rockstar’s greatest triumph: empty space.

2. Super Meat Boy

Xbox. A.

Indie developers Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes have heard tell of this "motion control" business. They have a vague awareness of "casual gaming" and other buzzworthy trends.

I really think these dudes think they’re not being colossal assholes when they write shit like this. But, seriously, it’s like you’re calling them fucking cavemen.

The thing is, they don’t care. Gleefully frenetic, difficult, and family-unfriendly, Super Meat Boy is a virtuoso example of games’ hoariest form: the 2-D platformer.

"Hoary" means "old," stupid. And the 2D platformer is not the oldest type of game. It’s not even close. Seriously, just stick to words you understand. If… there are any.

The sentiment is old-school, but the level design is decidedly fresh. Practically every level—and there are hundreds—has some signature twist of ingenuity, such that it’s hard not to admire Team Meat’s creativity, even as you’re hurtling into that deadly buzzsaw for the thousandth time.

Blah blah blah blah fresh fresh fresh signature deadly buzzword. Got it.

1. Mass Effect 2

Xbox. At least your number one got an A originally.

Mass Effect 2 pushes the limits of the traditional role-playing game, jettisoning the fiddly details of loot, stats, and gear into the cold vacuum of space.

That’s a pretty weird thing for Mass Effect 2 — a shooter — to do. But okay.

Good riddance. This streamlining allows players to invest more emotion in the plot and the many decisions they must make as they assemble a ragtag team of allies to confront an alien threat.

What? No it fucking doesn’t. It just means we don’t have to deal with the nag screen telling us to convert the loot to omni-gel. Not having stats means more emotional involvement? That’s beyond crazy.

The plot, cribbed shamelessly from Seven Samurai, has been thoroughly explored by filmmakers, but in a game where your choices determine who will live and who will die, the venerable story feels fresh again.

No. No it does not. The story in Mass Effect 2 is fucking stupid. Also? Your choices may determine who lives and who dies, but only in very weird, nonsensical ways; the first Mass Effect did a much, much better job of exploiting that angle.

That’s it, gang! The top eleven games of 2010, as chosen by stupid people who don’t play video games. Did they ever mention gameplay? Not once! They used limp-wristed euphemisms for graphics a few times, but mostly, those games rule because they were short and had lots of cutscenes.

Seriously, why are these people not fired?

December 28th, 2010 Posted by | Games | no comments

That explains that

Maybe the issue is that they really can’t afford an editor after all.

December 17th, 2010 Posted by | Bullshit | no comments

It’s the end of the world as we knew it

You guys still big into REM? Yeah, me too. Love those ironic 90s hipster glasses.

So I quit World of Warcraft about a year ago, but now I find I’ve unquit. And it turns out that some giant robot dragon blasted holes in the world while I was gone, so now everything’s not the same as it was. For example: pretty much all of my characters, when I logged them for the first time, were just like chillin’ somewhere out in Khaz Modan, and I’m pretty positive I didn’t park them out there. I guess, in the geography shuffle that took place when a dragon robot put holes in the world, the coordinates they had been standing at moved over a little bit, and were now just like out in the damn mountains. I just consider myself lucky that they were actually in playable territory, unlike what happened last time.

So the cataclysm’s basically an excuse for Blizzard to revisit the old-world content and revitalise it in light of the shit that’s happened over the last six years. So it’s all been overhauled — the play structure is entirely different, and all the quests reflect the developments in the storyline. So, for instance, there’s no more Defias Brotherhood — which means, among other things, that not only will Missing Diplomat never be finished, but also they’ve removed the bits that made it in-game in the first place.

All this leads to some interesting musings about permanence and nostalgia. People have said to me that in some ways it sucks that the old content is gone — they really liked this or that quest, or such-and-such a zone was always a highlight of the leveling experience, and now it’s gone. To my mind, that just gives the cataclysm itself more dramatic force; it’s not just a back story in a cutscene at the beginning of a game — ooo, there was a huge cataclysm! And a robot dragon! And the world was forever changed! Now, brave hero, go slay rats in yonder sewers to uncover the truth behind history (hint: a wizard did it)! Instead of that, it’s something significant that happened to a world we knew, and that we were attached to. We’ve actually lost something we cared about as a result of Deathwing’s actions, and that’s pretty unusual in a video game. Sort of a breaking out of the hierarchy; actions taken by actors within a video game have changed the relationship we have to the game.

And, of course, Blizzard didn’t just cut a whole bunch of old content and leave new players to try to grind lv58 Hellboars in Hellfire Peninsula — there’s a whole crop of new content, also. So along with the pain of loss, there’s also the discovery of a whole new set of experiences. It’s an interesting design idea, and so far I think it’s good, but I haven’t thrown enough hours into it to be sure yet.

Though I will say that I think leveling is way too fast right now. I can understand it from the perspective of leveling your seventeenth alt and you’ve fucking done this already, but that’s not quite the situation here. The whole world has changed, and I, for one, kind of wish I had more time just to explore and interact with the zones, but I’m leveling past them too quickly.

December 15th, 2010 Posted by | World of Warcraft | no comments

So it has come to this

Anybody have any guesses what the Yankees did to Cliff Lee that pissed him off so much he took Philly’s much, much smaller offer instead? That was a stunner. I’ll tell you what, though: this might be the only time in all of history that an agent has said toward the end of a negotiation that a mystery team has made a bid, and it’s turned out to be true. Most of the time it’s bullshit designed to amp up the existing offers. Bet the Yankees feel kind of stupid right now for not amping up when the cue came down.

What am I talking about? The Yankees will be fine. They had a backup plan, you see: they signed Mark Prior instead! No, I am not kidding. Yes, this will be hilarious. Even more hilarious if they re-sign Kerry Wood and this cockamamie theory I’m hearing about a trade for Carlos Zambrano turns out to be true. Congratulations on becoming the 2004 Chicago Cubs, Yankees! Enjoy your 89-73 record.

December 15th, 2010 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

Not as exciting as I’d hoped

BioWare just announced Mass Effect 3! I mean, we knew it was coming, but the announcement’s a lot earlier than I expected. Maybe it’ll be out in 2011 after all.

On the other hand, they didn’t announce a date; just that it’s coming out sometime. And they put out a trailer I won’t watch, since the Mass Effect 2 trailer apparently was one giant fucking spoiler for the amazing intro.

EA’s taking preorders (though Steam is not yet), and it looks like they’re jumping on the Ubisoft bandwagon and charging PC players the absurd Xbox premium — all three versions are running at $60. That’s a bit annoying, but, unfortunately, I think I’ll end up paying it this time, since I’m quite keen to play this one. Mass Effect was pretty damn good, and Mass Effect 2 was legitimately great; if Mass Effect 3 plays mostly the same, but somehow doesn’t contain any idiotic Bioware design decisions — such as planet scanning for iron ores — then we can expect it to make it into the conversation about the best games of whichever year it comes out in.

On the other hand, if they decide it’s the big finale and should be stuffed full of fucking static cutscenes and terrible minigames, well, I’ll be expecting them to return my $60. You think they’ll go for that?

December 15th, 2010 Posted by | Games | no comments


Hey, gang, Steve Henson’s written an article! Let’s see if it’s bad!

High rollers tossing sevens means cash, cash and more cash at felted casino tables. Sevens were lucky as well at this week’s winter meetings, bringing riches to two high-rolling free agents with another on the horizon.

Steve wrote his first paragraph before he remembered that this year’s winter meetings were at Disney World, not Las Vegas. Signs point to "bad."

Right fielder Jayson Werth kicked off the proceedings by signing a seven-year, $126 million contract with the Washington Nationals.

That deal was completed before the winter meetings started, man. Actually it was even goddamn announced before the winter meetings started. So when you say "kicked off the proceedings," are you talking about some other proceedings? Or were you just not really paying attention?

Left fielder Carl Crawford rocked the American League to its core Wednesday night by agreeing to a seven-year, $142 million deal with the Boston Red Sox.

Everybody kind of figured Crawford was headed to the Red Sox. Maybe you could mention that Adrian somebody they traded for to replace their other Adrian, yeah? That was kind of a surprise.

And pitcher Cliff Lee nudged the New York Yankees from a six to a seven-year offer Thursday. From his Arkansas ranch, Lee spent the rest of the day circling back to the Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels and perhaps the Philadelphia Phillies, Detroit Tigers and Washington Nationals, as well, to heat up the bidding war before he decides.

Cliff Lee is not going to sign with the Nationals. That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. He’s going to sign with the Yankees, man. He’s just waiting because the Yankees are impatient and start stacking more years on their offer, like, by the day. Which is exactly what happened.

The Rangers dispatched a front-office contingent to Lee’s bucolic spread Thursday morning, the third time they have done so since the World Series.

I do not think that word means what you think it means.

Also? The Rangers are out of money. They can’t go any higher here, nor should they. Cliff Lee will sign with the Yankees.

Needless to say, landing a seven-year deal makes a player a winter meetings winner. Period. But other winners surfaced as well. And, of course, losers abounded – teams seemingly frozen in place and free agents all but ignored.

I’ll agree with you here, Steve: signing a seven-year deal is a pretty significant win for a player. You seem to have forgotten, though, that teams not acting aren’t necessarily losers, because sometimes teams that act do stupid things. Like, for example, if that team is the Cubs, or the Mets.

Winter meetings winners

• Cliff Lee: The contracts of Werth and Crawford gifted Lee with what he desired all along, a seventh year added to his upcoming contract.

He was getting that anyhow. The Yankees desperately need pitching, and he’s pretty much the only boat in the harbour.

How good will he be in 2017, going on age 39? Certainly not good enough to be paid $20 million.

How many times has Cliff Lee been good enough to be paid $20 million at all? My sources say either two or three times. And the Yankees are going to bank on him being a $20 million player… seven times. This should be pretty funny.

But forget those dumb nerdy numbers. What is this WAR shit, anyhow? Sounds more like a football stat, amirite?? How about we look at career paths of similar players? Well, by Bill James’ similar players metric, the most similar player to Cliff Lee is the estimable Mark Mulder. Cliff Lee is 31 right now, so I’m going to assume (caution: math!) that he’ll be 32 next year. When Mark Mulder was 32, he was worth… oh, wait, he was out of baseball. So forget him. Next on the list is the household name Teddy Higuera, who, at age 32, threw 36.1 innings, broke down, and was out of baseball. Hmm. Third is LaMarr Hoyt, who, when he was 32, was… out of baseball.

Verlander, Haren, and Beckett are the next three names on the list. None of them is 32 yet, but they’re all having injury issues and seem to be either at their peaks or just starting to come down. Fred Hutchinson is seventh, and, when he was 32, he threw 37.1 innings and was out of baseball. Jake Peavy is eighth, who isn’t 32 yet, and looks like he’s pretty much finished. Ninth is El Duque, who was about 56 by the time he got to MLB, and was a notoriously up-and-down player. Tenth is Rick Reed, who muddled along in MLB until he was 38, but peaked at 32 and wasn’t really ever any good afterward.

Those are the ten players most like the 32-year-old pitcher the Yankees are about to give 7/$140M to. This is going to be hilarious.

Oh, one more real quick: you know who the most similar pitcher at age 31 was? That’s right: Denny Neagle. Let that one sink in. And then, hey, remind me how old Denny Neagle was when the Rockies signed him to a huge contract and he bombed out of baseball? Oh, that’s right: 31.

But this is about supply and demand, it’s about cartoon baseball dollars, and in 2017 Lee indeed could be making $20 million from somebody.

Oh, are you still talking? Good, looks like I didn’t miss anything. You’re still just using words you don’t understand to say things that don’t mean anything.

• Red Sox: Nothing triggers a spending spree like finishing third place and missing the playoffs.

As opposed to finishing in third place and not missing the playoffs. Which is not a thing.

Boston lost right-handed sluggers Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre to free agency, but replaced them with better players in Crawford and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Both hit left-handed, which might be problematic in an AL East that features several top left-handed pitchers, but that’s a minor quibble. The Red Sox are now mostly a collection of steady, productive and highly professional veterans. They should bond quickly, and win soon.

The Yankees have two left-handed pitchers, only one of whom is not Boone Logan. The Rays have two left-handed pitchers, only one of whom is not Randy Choate. The Blue Jays and Orioles have a few lefties each, but they’re all bad lefties, who I’ll assume are easier to hit than good righties. Except for that, though, you’re pretty much spot on — the Red Sox have improved a lot, and should be a beast in 2011. Assuming any of their pitchers are healthy.

• Chicago White Sox: By securing slugger Adam Dunn in addition to re-signing free agents Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski, the White Sox added more pop than any other team.

It doesn’t count as adding pop if you’re just re-signing players you already have, doofus. The only thing they added was Adam Dunn, which gives them three designated hitters for one DH spot. If the solution they prefer is the one I’ve heard rumoured — Pierzynski at C, Dunn at 1B, Konerko at DH — the White Sox will have the worst infield defense in the history of baseball. But at least they’ll have A.J.’s pop (2010: .118 ISO, .388 SLG, 9 HR)!

Dunn is good for 40 home runs a year, and Chicago is ready to challenge the Minnesota Twins and hold off the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central.

Dunn is also good for 170 strikeouts a year. I know, I know; batter strikeouts aren’t very important overall, but you just know that’s going to drive his insane manager absolutely apeshit. Ozzie Guillen hates it when dudes strike out a lot and hit home runs. My prediction: he hits Dunn seventh because he strikes out too much to be useful.

• Scott Boras clients: Werth, represented by Boras for the first time, is richer beyond his wildest dreams.

HELP WANTED: Yahoo! Sports is looking for an experienced editor with a demonstrated ability to prevent idiot sportswriters from writing that sentence.

Carlos Pena, a first baseman who batted all of .194 in 2010, signed a one-year, $10 million deal with the Chicago Cubs to re-establish his value for a multi-year deal after the 2011 season.

I think we all know what I think about that deal. Though it was undeniably a win for Peña, whose last name does have a tilde, Steve.

Beltre did the same a year ago, had a strong season with the Red Sox, and with Crawford off the market, is now the best hitter available.

Wait, what happened to Jim Thome? His career OPS+ is forty points higher than Beltre’s. It’s true! And if you’re going to pooh-pooh him because of his age, well, in 2010 he did this: .283 / .412 / .627 / 1.039, for an OPS+ of 178. Hell, I’d take Jim Edmonds, Manny Ramirez, or Vlad Guerrero over Beltre, if we’re talking pure hitting.

The Angels, who have a need at third base, could be desperate to sign him after letting Crawford slip away.

The Angels are desperate to sign anybody. Did you see how bad they were in 2010?

The Rangers could trade Michael Young and sign Beltre if they miss out on Lee.

No they could not. To whom would they trade Michael Young? Do you have any idea how much money he makes? Here’s a hint: he makes $16 million per year for the next three years. Who the fuck is going to take that contract? And don’t say the Mets; they already have a 3B.

Also: does it work that way? "Hey guys, we could really use an ace… oh, fuck, Cliff Lee signed with the Yankees? Never mind. Get an overrated 3B instead."

Closer Rafael Soriano is another Boras client who might have benefited by waiting out the winter meetings.

So anybody who waits out the winter meetings is an automatic loser… except for Rafael Soriano. That makes sense.

• Carl Crawford: Werth’s deal meant Crawford could do no worse than seven years, and at a higher annual value. Although the Angels seemed the favorite, their offer was a reported $108 million.

Seriously, Steve, nobody but you thought the Angels were the favourite. Everybody who pays attention knew he was going to the Red Sox.

Crawford has played many games in Fenway Park. He’s probably envisioned himself in a Red Sox uniform, as one of the haves.

So what qualifies a player as a "have" in your book, Steve? Crawford made $10M in 2010. He was an absolute superstar, with his own insane overblown nickname ("The Perfect Storm"). The Rays have, in the last three years, won two AL East titles and one AL pennant, whereas the Red Sox have two wild card berths and no titles at all. It’s not clear to me that players base their self-worth on how much their team’s fat, overpaid, below-average pitchers make.

He opted for the familiarity of the AL East over the West Coast.

Perhaps. Or perhaps he opted for the additional forty million fucking dollars the Red Sox offered him.

He knows exactly what he’s in for in Boston. In hindsight, this shouldn’t have been a surprise. Still, it was a bold move by Boston.

Here, let me requote this whole section. I want you to see something:

Crawford has played many games in Fenway Park. He’s probably envisioned himself in a Red Sox uniform, as one of the haves. He opted for the familiarity of the AL East over the West Coast. He knows exactly what he’s in for in Boston. In hindsight, this shouldn’t have been a surprise. Still, it was a bold move by Boston.

And that’s what I did on my summer vacation, by Steve, age 8.

• Dodgers organization: Yes, the McCourt divorce drama became more murky when a judge threw out a marital property agreement, but the Dodgers had moved quickly before the meetings to restock their starting rotation and infield.

With bad players. Who are bad. You may have neglected to mention that, Steve. I mean, sure, they got a lot of dudes, but… wouldn’t it be nice if any of them were any good? At baseball, you know?

And congratulations on describing a judge invalidating a legal contract on the grounds that it didn’t reflect a "meeting of the minds" — which is not, incidentally, a legal thing — as "murky." I guess you can’t say "bullshit" in print.

They were named Topps Organization of the Year at the meetings, an award that dates back to 1966 and goes to the franchise with the greatest number of players that received Topps awards during the season.

I’ve never done any coverage of the Topps awards because, quite frankly, I think Steve just made them up. There’s no such award.

Oh. I see. This prestigious award is apparently given to the team whose farm system has had the most MiLB players of the month, or some bullshit like that. Who cares? Nobody cares. And what does that have to do with this article, anyhow? If I declare that the New York Mets are the comedy team of the year — an award I’ve been handing out since the Mets were incorporated in 1962, and which has been awarded to the Mets every single year — does that go in your article allegedly about the winter meetings, too?

• Jim Hendry: The Cubs general manager was healthy and frisky, holding court in the lobby of the Dolphin hotel at 3 a.m. Thursday morning, still chatting away to fellow executives. The last time the meetings were held at this Disney resort, Hendry was rushed to a hospital for an angioplasty, yet still signed pitcher Ted Lilly to a four-year, $40 million contract from his hospital bed. This year he sewed up Pena, but from an upright position.

The Lilly contract worked out fine in the end, but it sure looked like madness at the time. A multi-year contract worth an average of $10M/year given to a player with a history of violent outbursts and generally being an absolute head-case? Does that sound familiar to anybody else?

Also, hey, if you’re alleging that Jim Hendry dying of gravy fries overload would save us from the awful Peña contract… I’ll take it.

• Baltimore Orioles: They obtained power-hitting third baseman Mark Reynolds from the Arizona Diamondbacks and steady shortstop J.J. Hardy from the Twins while giving up nobody who figured prominently in their 2010 plans.

What "plans" would those be? Their plans to finish fifth in the division? Or do you mean their owner’s plans to build a giant space laser that runs on diamonds, or whatever that movie was about? Because, yeah, they didn’t trade any of their East German laser scientists.

And to finish up, they re-signed Japanese swingman Koji Uehara to a one-year contract with a vesting option for 2012, making their calculated risk of not offering him arbitration pay off.

Uehara wasn’t arbitration-eligible. What on earth are you talking about? He’s pre-arb until next year. Even if he were arb-eligible, there’s no "risk" to the team until he’s eligible for free agency, you nutbar. Here’s how pre-arb works:

1) The team offers a contract that must be at least league minimum (somewhere a bit north of $400k) and no less than 80% of what the player made the year before ($5M, in Uehara’s case).

2) The player accepts. Or the player refuses, in which case:

3) The team signs him to whatever contract they please, and the player gets no further input.

Now, once he’s eligible for arbitration — next year — the process will be different. Steps 1 and 2 will be the same, but step 3 will be "ask Shyam Das to decide." What you’re talking about only applies to players eligible for free agency, because then they can sign with some other team. But Uehara’s not a free agent until 2015.

So here I am, sitting on the sofa in my spare time, teaching a national baseball writer the fundamentals of the business of baseball. Life is stupid.

The Orioles want Uehara to close and he prefers to start, but they can hash that out in spring training.

Yeah, they sure can. Here is that "hashing out:"

Buck Showalter: Hey Kobe, you’re in the pen.

Koji Uehara: 、円形目は出ていく。 私は始まっている。

Buck Showalter: What? Hey boy, what was that? I don’t speak Spanish.

Koji Uehara: 実質のためであるか。 ケビンMillwoodおよびBrad Bergesenを始め、ペンに置こうとしているか。 私はBrad Bergesenよりよい千倍。

Buck Showalter: Attaboy! Get in that bullpen and score us a touchdown!

Koji Uehara: ものは何でも、うまく。 私は5,000,000ドルおよびI’俸給を受け取る; 再度llの投球40のイニング。 私は6つの性交の勝利の私が始まることを許可したら価値がある。

Buck Showalter: You shot what? Ha ha! Play ball! Ha ha!

So even though Konerko and Beltre spurned their advances, the Orioles had a good week. Free agent Adam LaRoche remains a possibility at first base.

Adam LaRoche is expensive and lousy. I’ve also heard they’re interested in Derrek Lee; they should sign him instead. He’s super sexy.

Oh, and the team’s public relations execs laudably took the high road in response to outfielder Luke Scott unloading his far-right political opinions on David Brown of Yahoo! Sports’ Big League Stew blog, including his belief that President Barack Obama was not born in the U.S.

Steve, incidentally, will not take said high road. He will point out a total of three times in this article (and once in a caption that, to be fair, was probably written by somebody else) how offended he is by Scott’s failure to genuflect at the feet of the God-Emperor.

Incidentally, here are Luke Scott’s bizarre far-right beliefs that so offended Yahoo Sports that they mocked him for them four times in this article you’re reading, two times during the interview, and three times in editorial "asides" added to the interview:

"First of all, the reason the Second Amendment was put into place was to keep the government from controlling the people. History will tell you everything. Just look at anywhere else in the world. Look at Russia, look at Eastern Europe, look at South America. Gun control means control. It means control for the government and the government starts controlling the people."

"Obama does not represent America. Nor does he represent anything what our forefathers stood for. This country is basically built on an attitude. It’s a way of life. It’s not because you’re born here. It’s not that you’re supposed to take from those who have and give to those who haven’t. That kills a country. It killed Russia."

"I didn’t have the same opportunity growing up, as some people. I also had more opportunity than others. Whatever is given to that person, whatever you do with it is what makes the difference. And that’s what has happened in this country: People want the same result, but they don’t want to pay the same price. They want equality, but not by earning it — they want it given to them."

"We’ve had poor leadership in this country, poor leadership in Congress and positions of authority. People are willing to compromise their beliefs, compromise for votes. I’ll say something to somebody to get their vote, but if I have to compromise what I believe in, there’s no honor in that. There’s no integrity. That’s not a leader."

"There needs to be accountability for the truth. I don’t care if you’re the president of the United States, you need to be held accountable. If you’re involved in treacherous acts, or you’re saying things that are against, or are selling out our country, you should be brought to trial. I mean, no one’s above the law."

What a fucking wacko.

• Scott: He’s a winner because he is, in his words, a "fellow American," with the freedom to express his views, regardless of how off-center they might be.

Of course, it is worth noting that Yahoo Sports is giving huge, huge publicity to Scott’s views, and not (as far as I’m aware) censoring or concealing them. They’re being assholes, but they’re letting the man speak his piece. So there’s that.

Winter meetings losers

• New York Yankees: They had genuine interest in Crawford, but because Lee had them in a holding pattern, they were unwilling to make an offer and lost him to the rival Red Sox. Furthermore, in their few hours spent in the friendly confines of their Tampa complex, the Yankees were embarrassed by their captain and shortstop Derek Jeter, who used a news conference announcing his three-year contract as a forum to express anger and dismay at the impolite utterances of team executives. Jeter made it clear he’d informed the team he would not test the free-agent market, then anonymous Yankees honchos publicly invited him to do so anyway.

So the Yankees are losers because they hurt Jeter’s feelings, even though he signed anyway and not for much more than they wanted. And they’re losers because they missed out on their second priority — another outfielder they don’t really need — even though they’ll almost definitely land their top priority. BAD SHOW, YANKEES.

Of course, if the Yankees sign Lee, they immediately move to the winners’ column.

They will. And then, well, we’ll see how winner-y that ends up.

• Los Angeles Angels: Prognosticators from reporters to scouts to executives believed Crawford would sign with the Angels. After all, he fits their style of play, he’s a pal of Torii Hunter, the Angels were desperate for Crawford’s combination of speed and extra-base production. But, no. Now they are exactly where they hate to be: at the mercy of Boras, who can squeeze every last dime for Beltre and Soriano.

Yeah, the Angels were pretty big losers.

Of course, if the Angels somehow land Lee, they too would move up.

They won’t. And, no, they wouldn’t, because pitching was not LA’s problem. Hitting was. Hitting hitting hitting. Specifically at third base. The Angels should be in hard on Beltre, and I don’t give two shits what they think of Boras. Did you see the shit they were putting out there last year? OPS+ of 5? What?

• Tampa Bay Rays: The best they could get for top-tier shortstop Jason Bartlett was two iffy relievers.

Mostly because Jason Bartlett is a top-tier shortstop if and only if there’s only one tier. Jason Bartlett had an awesome 2009, it’s true. But you know what? His 2010 OPS+ was 88. His 2010 TZ was -3. His 2010 DRS was 2. His 2010 UZR was -10.4. He was worth somewhere around one win. The Rays are lucky they got two iffy relievers for a player that bad.

Their first baseman, Carlos Pena, was signed by the Cubs.

Yeah, we know. The Cubs are idiots. There are like ten thousand first basemen on the market this year, and the Cubs signed a bad one to a big contract. The Rays can save money and improve at this position.

• Seattle Mariners: A year ago, Jack Zduriencik was the toast of the meetings for breathing hope into a struggling franchise by working a three-team, 12-player deal that landed the Mariners outfielders Franklin Gutierrez and Endy Chavez. He also signed infielder Chone Figgins, and a week after the winter meetings traded for Lee. And by spring training, he’d brought back Ken Griffey Jr. and took a chance on Milton Bradley. The entire plan backfired, and this winter the Mariners were basically nonexistent. Zduriencik stayed in his hotel suite and no moves were made.

So let me get this straight. The Mariners were super active last year, everything blew up, and they got fucked for it. So this year they sit quiet and try to clean up last year’s mess, and that’s bad, too? What do you want them to do, Steve? Trade Griffey and Chavez for Nolan Ryan, Carlton Fisk, and Steve Buscemi?

• San Francisco Giants: The heady buzz of a World Series championship seems to have the Giants believing they can bring back that ol’ gang of theirs and win again. Maybe they’ve forgotten how fortunate they were to win it all without much offense. Manager Bruce Bochy thoroughly enjoyed the winter meetings, although GM Brian Sabean kept his typical low profile.

You may have noticed, Steve, that every time Brian Sabean makes a big deal it turns out awful. If we’re lucky, maybe he’s noticed it too.

Re-signing Aubrey Huff was fine, but bringing back Pat Burrell and signing the all-but washed up Miguel Tejada to replace Juan Uribe and Edgar Renteria were questionable moves.

As usual, Steve has everything totally backwards. Aubrey Huff parlayed his career year into 2/$22M, which the Giants can’t really afford, and which he’ll probably underperform by a pretty big margin. They should have let him go, taken the draft picks, and signed one of the ten thousand 1B on the market this season instead. Burrell they signed for one million dollars and one year. What the fuck, Steve? What’s the issue there? Dude’s pretty definitely going to cruise past the 0.2 WAR he needs to post to be worth that huge investment. And Tejada… yeah, he’s pretty cooked, but not really any more cooked than Uribe or Renteria, and there weren’t a lot of options at SS. What do you want them to do? Outbid the Yankees for Jeter?

The Giants still need a bat, and although Bochy is hopeful Pablo Sandoval fills the bill by returning to 2009 form, the best he could report was that Kung Fu Panda had lost all of two pounds.

Yeah, well, sometimes the cure isn’t out there. Who should they have signed? Most of this year’s bats were 1B/DH types. They signed one. How many more should they carry? They’re an NL team, Steve.

• Cincinnati Reds: Made the playoffs then did nothing to improve. Signing Miguel Cairo doesn’t count.

But getting rid of Aaron Harang does.

• San Diego Padres: Trading Gonzalez, their only big bat, puts them here. None of the prospects they received from the Red Sox in return are big league ready. The acquisitions of center fielder Cameron Maybin and Jason Bartlett for spare-part relievers might have been shrewd, but both newcomers are strong defenders with questionable bats. The Padres already have plenty of players with that profile. The absence of Gonzalez’s production likely drops San Diego under .500 in 2011.

Jason Bartlett hasn’t been a good defender in like four years. And the Padres have a $30M payroll, Steve. What were you looking for? Also: the 2010 Padres were 90-72. According to you, Gonzalez’s offense was worth nineteen wins? Wow. According to smart people, it was worth 5.7, and we’re assuming they’ll get a replacement-level player instead. Given the glut of 1B, they can probably plug two wins into that slot pretty easily, so they’re really only downgrading by about 3.5.

Of course, they were way over their heads in 2010, so don’t take this as a prediction for 87-75 in 2011.

• Luke Scott: What were you thinking?

Bow down, plebeian, and the God-Emperor may yet show mercy.

December 9th, 2010 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

Fucking argh

You know how I’ve been really happy that the Cubs haven’t signed any free agents this year? This is why.

Ten million dollars for Carlos goddamn Peña. Ridiculous. Short and sweet: from a value-for-money perspective, you want at least 2 WAR to justify a $10M contract (it’s impossible to know exactly at this point, but it’ll not end up far from that). Carlos Peña has done this exactly twice in his ten years. If you prefer Fangraphs WAR, okay, then three times. None of those years were 2010.

Not that that’s the only reason this is ridiculous. 2011 is a rebuilding year for the Cubs. They’re waiting out a bunch of existing awful contracts that are eating up all their moneys. Zambrano, Fukudome, Dumpster, Ramirez, Silva, Byrd, John fucking Grabow fucking, and especially Fonzie — that’s $106 million already spent. Some of those guys are so bad they don’t even play. Los ouch. So why the fuck would you give a ridiculous contract like this to a not-very-good 1B? Couldn’t you just, like, play Jeff Baker, who’s just about as good and already under contract? But no — have to get that lefty bat! That was what was wrong with the 2010 Cubs, you know: not enough lefties. It certainly wasn’t that they were goddamn awful.

I don’t get this contract. It’s an expensive one-year deal, so it’s clearly not part of any rebuilding strategy. Does Hendo think the Cubs are in contention, and what they really need — the one piece that’s missing — is a 1 WAR lefty 1B who plays shitty defense? I may have said something nice about Jim Hendry once; if I did, I apologise.

Let’s be clear about one thing. Derrek Lee is available. The Wrigley fans love him. He’d probably come cheaper than $10M. He is a mortal lock to be worth more than Carlos Peña. 2010 was the worst year of Lee’s career (not counting 2006, when he broke his wrist and was out all year long), and he was still worth 3/2 as many wins as Carlos Peña. Twice as many by Fangraphs. But the Cubs signed Peña instead, even though he sucks, because he’s left-handed.

You fucking morons.

December 8th, 2010 Posted by | Baseball | one comment