Remediating Baseball

Via Jeff Passan’s Yahoo article, I just learned about the fascinating viral video, “RBI Game Six,” available on You Tube. It appears that I’m a little late to the party on this video. According to Passan, “RBI Game Six” has received over 200,000 views, and Conor Lastowska’s blog, San Diego Serenade, has developed a significant following, in part due to the video’s popularity. It’s a playful and entertaining use of the video game to revisit one of the most famous (or infamous) and widely replayed World Series in recent history.

The video, created by Lastowka, depicts the ninth inning of the 1986 World Series, in which the Red Sox, just one out away from winning the World series, saw their Series hopes dashed on Bill Buckner’s tenth inning error. Lastowka, fascinated by “Game Six,” was also a fan of Nintendo’s RBI Baseball game, which first appeared in 1988. RBI baseball featured the four playoff teams from 1986 and 1987 plus all-star teams for both leagues. The players looked identical, other than a nod to whether the player bats right-handed or left-handed.

Lastowka ran through the first 9.5 innings of the game, setting up the correct score and number of hits before saving the tenth inning on a video game emulator. From here, Lastowka had to emulate the details of the inning prefectly, often replaying the same pitch as many as 200 times in order to set up a fly ball to center field, for example. RBI baseball graphics also add an interesting twist when showing Bill Buckner’s infamous error. Instead of showing Buckner’s error as it happened, with the ball dribbling behind first base, in RBI, “the player stands frozen for a second with what look like tears spouting from his head.” Lastowka supplemented the late-80s video game graphics with Curt Gowdy’s game six broadcast, bringing Gowdy’s classic, colorful delivery to the revised visuals of the game.

It’s a creative use of the video game emulator software, especially in the nostalgic evocations of both the RBI Baseball game and baseball itself. The experience of making the video also made clear to Lastowka just how “improbable” the outcome of Game Six actually was (this might be a general effect of producing videos on a game emulator–having to go back and replay a pivotal moment until you “get it right.”).

Update: Lastowka writes about his experience making RBI Game Six on his blog. Like him, I think Bill Buckner should receive far less blame for the Game Six loss. His error was just the culmination of the Red Sox’s collapse (a version of the video is also available here).

3 Comments »

  1. A. Horbal Said,

    April 16, 2006 @ 2:03 pm

    Chuck, you just made my MONTH.

    I’m a diehard Mets fan and R.B.I Baseball is the first video game I ever owned (it’s sequel R.B.I. Baseball 2 is, I humbly submit, The Greatest Video Game Ever). To see them combined like this…

    Eventually I’ll settle down and read whatever insightful things you undoubtedly said about this video, but I’m still in the midst of calling every one I know and giving them the URL…

  2. Chuck Said,

    April 16, 2006 @ 3:05 pm

    I’m not sure it was all that insightful. I summarized Passan’s article quite a bit, but I did find the combined nostalgia for baseball memories and for “lost” video games to be interesting.

    I didn’t know you were a Mets fan. I’ve been a Braves fan for years, so this might cause some friction around here!

  3. A. Horbal Said,

    April 16, 2006 @ 3:25 pm

    A Braves fan? Oh dear…

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