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Why the SimRockies are just what we need right now

At a time of uncertainly, the SimRockies are consistent—if badly coiffured

Reader, I have fallen for the 2020 SimRockies.

Perhaps it’s about the absence of baseball. Perhaps the two-plus weeks I have spent social distancing have gotten to me. Perhaps I’m being driven mad by a lack of structure in my life, so the regularly scheduled SimRockies games give the day some form. But I find that I have become invested in this team.

Am I frustrated by the fact that SimRockies are now 1-2? Yes, I am. That said, this is probably a realistic reflection of the 2020 Rockies if they were playing. When Ben Kouchnerkavich came up with this idea, we agreed that we would try to play the season as realistically as possible, even if it meant risking another 71-91 season.

(The computer, apparently, isn’t invested in the Guys Playing Better metric. I assume the computer is integrating/interpolating what happens when a team decides not to sign any free agents to an MLB-guaranteed contract during the off season. On the bright side, the computer also probably can’t figure in the All-Star third baseman and general manager not speaking to each other, which should work in SimRockies’ favor.)

I find I am invested in Sim Ryan McMahon (SimRyMac, what’s with those errors?); Sim Jairo Díaz (who lost more weight than SimSenza did in the off season); Sim Ian Desmond, who’s having a good season; and Sim Kyle Freeland who’s out for 15 days with a broken cheekbone. (Who saw that coming?)

In addition, I am frustrated with Sim Bud Black (who does not look anything like Real Bud Black). Buddy, why would you leave in Jake McGee to face the top of the Padres order? And why would you allow Germán Márquez to throw 113 pitches in his first game of the season? And in case you haven’t watched any of the sim games yet, Sim Wade Davis is just too perfect for comfort. (Time to revive the Alka Seltzer GIF.) SimRockies, while frustrating, is deeply familiar and comfortable.

Dr. Karen Dill-Shackelford, a media psychologist, would argue that my parasocial relationship with SimRockies is perfectly normal. She describes it as “a sign that you’re capable of a lot of empathy.” Moreover, Dr. Dill-Shackelford notes that “because storytelling is a way to touch on ideas that are important to us, connecting to a story and its characters is important—and often, we might even feel more empathy for a story than we do for things and people in our daily lives.” (I am not sure that empathy was what I was feeling when the SimPadres walked off the SimRockies on Saturday, but I was certainly feeling something, and that familiar feeling was a deep-purple stoic fatalism that Rockies fans everywhere share.)

MLB: The Show 20 gets the players’ physical movements just right: Trevor Story’s batting stance; Jake McGee in the stretch; Scott Oberg’s posture before he begins his windup; Germán Márquez’s reaction when he gets a strikeout. The players’ hair, however, needs some work, especially Sim Chuck Nazty. I know that Charlie’s mullet is a complicated ‘do, but, Computer, you need to do better because this matters to fans. (As you know from the polls in AJ Hendrickson’s RockPiles, we take player hair seriously on this website.)

I’m also a fan of Ben Kouchnerkavich’s play by play—and I do not miss the AT&T SportsNet broadcast cliches that we’ve turned into memes. (Jeff Huson: “Drew, if you’ll look at the Subaru Strike Zone....”) He uses advanced analytics and provides insight into the game—including commentary on mascot behavior. (I’m still waiting for him to condemn the wave.) I wish Spilly was in the booth with him, but we’ve got time to work on that.

It’s early in the SimRockies season, and we’re learning as we go, but in the absence of real baseball, I find SimRockies works pretty well.

You can find links to SimRockies in our social media and in the Purple Row game threads.