Backyard Baseball was a series of Baseball video games created around the turn of the century for PC and several Nintendo consoles. The franchise was created by Hasbro, and they released a new game every year starting in 1997. Anyone who was a child in the late ’90s and/or early 2000’s that was at least casually into Baseball probably owned at least one copy of the Backyard Baseball franchise; they were the signature of millions of kids’ childhoods in that era. I was one of these kids.
The premise of the game was simple: You were the manager of a children's Baseball team in a backyard league, and you had to pick the kids that you wanted on your team, and then win Baseball games with that team. The game had 30 created children for you to choose from to put on your team, and each of them had his or her own detailed personality and skillset.
In the 2001 edition of the game, they added real MLB players – also depicted as neighborhood children – into the game to go with those other created players. The game features at least one player from each team at that time. They include some of the biggest stars of the early 2000s – Bonds, Clemens, A-Rod, Piazza, Griffey Jr., and of course Troy Glaus. And yes, each of these characters had his own personality quirks as well, based on the real life player’s personality.
The designers of this game were actually really creative with how in-depth they went into each character’s skills and personality. The created characters’ personalities impacted their entire being, and in some cases even influenced how good they actually were. And they also incorporated the MLB players’ real personalities into the game as well – just check out how hard they went on the Mike Piazza head-banger gimmick.
A few years ago, the guys over at the Cespedes Family BBQ blog made a comprehensive list of what each of these Backyard Baseball characters (the non-MLB ones) would get if they were MLB free agents in today’s market. It’s a great read and really long, but anyone who owned the game should really check it out.
After reading that again recently, I hatched an idea. I thought that it could be a good waste of time to go through some of the key members of the 2016 New York Mets roster and see which fake character from the game is most similar to each Mets player. The comparisons will be drawn based on what I feel are the closest comps to every player's respective personality and skills. Which one I choose to weigh more in each comparison is entirely arbitrary and completely up to me.
So here we go.
Best comp: Sally Dobbs
Signature Quotes:"I think you need a mature leader for your team – like me!"…"You really should clean your cable; It’s filthy."
Now, I know you might be thinking that Sally might relate better to David Wright because of her leadership skills. And to be fair, she does in that regard. However, her profile of not being the best contact hitter but having a good bit of power probably fits better with Curtis at this point than Wright.
Plus, Granderson is a good clubhouse leader as well. Dobbs prides herself on her generosity and maturity. Granderson is also very kind, mature, well-spoken, and seems like he’d be a cool uncle to babysit you. The similarities are there.
Best comp: Stephanie Morgan
Signature Quote: "Just gotta pick me for your team. Come on, please!"
Stephanie loves Baseball. She’s a hard worker, and she just absolutely lives for this. She’ll always be the first one at the ballpark each day. She wants nothing more from you other than to just put her on the Baseball field and let her play, and she hates not playing. And as you can see by her attributes, she’s one of those players that’s not great at one thing, but good at everything.
You can see the similarities already between her and David. Stephanie is more of a shortstop, but at least it’s still the left side of the infield. In his prime, David was also one of those players that was just good at everything.
David is the first one at the ballpark each day. He loves this game, and he hates coming off the field too. He wants nothing more than to just play Baseball, man.
It’s a bit of a reach, but unfortunately there was no character with declining skills due to a degenerative spine condition in this game. Trust me though, there are bigger reaches coming. This is not as easy as you might think.
Best comp: Mikey Thomas
Signature quote: "I like to play sports."
So yeah, Mikey’s a little weird. But when he squares a Baseball up, it goes a long way. Mikey’s got as much power as anyone in the game, and he’s just good enough at everything else to be a very good player.
This is not to say that Lucas Duda is weird; he doesn’t talk to inanimate objects and isn’t a generally disgusting child. But Duda’s personality is a little different from the norm, – whatever the "norm" is – as well. Like Mikey, Lucas is also timid and a little awkward in interviews. He doesn’t say much, and people like to follow him around like he's a hippopotamus.
But the skillset is almost a direct comp. Power, decent enough defense, and on base ability. Mikey Thomas is as Lucas Duda as anyone.
Best comp: Pablo Sanchez
Signature quotes: "¡Hola!"…"Soy Pablo."…"¡Yo fuego muoi bien!"
Alright, so it’s clearly unfair to Pablo to comp him to a mere mortal like Yoenis Cespedes. Yo is definitely no Pablo. Pablo Sanchez in an omnipotent being the likes of which sports has not seen before and will never see again. That much is simply objective, and I mean no disrespect to Pablo by this.
And no, they’re not a comp just because neither speaks English, either. You see, Pablo was always the best hitter on his team. It didn’t matter what team he was on; he was the best hitter on that team. If we’re going by 2015 numbers, Yoenis is currently the best hitter on the Mets. So they’ve got that in common.
Pablo is also extremely undersized, but it never has mattered. Did you know that Yoenis is actually only 5’10"? He’s built like a truck, but Yoenis, like Pablo, plays a lot larger than he actually is.
That said, the comp here mostly exists because Pablo Sanchez is a straight-up baller. If there was anyone on this Backyard Baseball roster who would drive this freaking thing around, it’s Pablo Sanchez. Pablo’s already got a tricked-out, custom-made, big wheeler trike. You just know Slingshots and Lambos are in Pablo's future.
Furthermore, Pablo is infamous for wearing his cap backwards during the game because he’s just got that much swag, and nobody stops him because he’s Pablo Sanchez. The only player currently in Major League Baseball who can even come close to matching that level of swagger is Yoenis Cespedes – and hey look, he wears his cap backwards too.
Oh and they’re also both pretty damn good at Baseballing.
Best comp: Kiesha Phillips
Signature quotes: "Oh you GOTTA pick me DAWG!"…"Hey there small fry!"…"Are you for REAL?!"…"Let’s get this party started!"
Kiesha, simply, is just extremely damn good at hitting. She’s got one of the best swings in the game, and she makes substantially hard contact. As far as exit velocity goes, my girl Kiesh is always amongst the tops in the league. She won’t hit a home run every time up – she’s ultimately a line-drive hitter – but she’s got safe, 20-homer pop.
Kiesha is a lot faster than Conforto and probably a better defender because of it, but the offensive profiles are very similar. You can stick both players in the number 3 or 5 spot in the lineup and expect consistent offensive results for years to come.
Best comp: Reese Worthington
Signature quote: "You think I could be on your team?"
Loosen up your limbs, this is where the reaching begins.
So Worthington doesn’t exactly profile similarly as a player; Walker is a much better hitter. However, as the game notes, Reese doesn’t look like a Baseball player at all. He’s a complete nerd.
Here is a picture of Neil Walker:
Does he look more like a Baseball player or a stamp collector to you?
Best Comp: Maria Luna
Signature quotes: "I could be a great asset to your team!"…"I think you ought to consider me for your team."
Not much is known about Asdrubal at this point, so he was the hardest one to find a comp for by far. This is the best I could do.
Neither is a particularly spectacular player, but both are competent enough to get the job done. Both are solid with the bat and have respectable power, and both have limited defensive upsides. Maria is a little faster with a bit more range than Asdrubal, but her throwing issues mitigate her overall defensive value so much that they’re basically a wash.
Best comp: Jocinda Smith
Signature quote: "If you want the best, forget about the rest and pick me!"
Both Travis and Jocinda are good contact hitters. Both are young assets to build around. Jocinda is a potential MVP candidate in any league that Pablo Sanchez doesn’t play in. If Travis d’Arnaud could ever play a full season, he could legitimately become an equipped enough offensive catcher to be an MVP candidate as well, a la Buster Posey. Jocinda has value all around the diamond, and Travis is trying to increase his versatility as well.
To add on, judging by that signature quote, Jocinda is an extremely confident individual. Travis tries to put on the innocent, classy guy act to the media, but he’s really just as confident and bro-like as the rest of them.
The main differences here, though, are of course that Jocinda is probably good enough to play at an up-the-middle position, whereas d’Arnaud is a catcher, and if he plays anywhere else, it will be strictly a corner position. Also, Travis’ head is not concerningly large and shaped like a melting Hersey’s Kiss.
Overall it’s a loose comp, but an okay one.
Best comp: Ernie Steele
Signature quote: "Hey there, can I be on your team?"
Ernie’s main strength is defense. Just like Juan. Both men struggle at hitting, but both have decent speed. My goodness though, can they both play defense. The game suggests that Dobbs plays first base because of his height, but he can play literally anywhere.
What’s the phrase? "Willie Mays riding a falcon?" Yeah, that fits here.
Best comp: Kenny Kawaguchi
Signature quote: "Hey there, folks."
Kenny is an okay hitter, but his defensive deficiencies limit him to being a utility player – and a pretty good one at that. Of course, that super-sub role just happens to be the exact same role that Wilmer Flores is in-line to play this season, and for similar reasons.
Kenny and Wilmer are also both really good, humble kids. They also have somewhat similar-looking faces if you squint.
Additionally, Wilmer has become a fan favorite and has garnered lots of sympathy for crying on the field when he thought he was traded. Kenny is a fan favorite and garners a lot of sympathy for being a paraplegic child playing Baseball. So yeah uh, they’ve got that. That’s a similarity, right?
Best comp: Tony DelVecchio
Signature quotes: "Less clickin’ and more pickin’, eh spawt?" …"Ay!"…"Ya knoow ya want Tony on yoah team!"
Tony fits the well-known and possibly-offensive stereotype of the all-about-himself, loud, annoying Italian-American with the New York accent. He relishes the spotlight, doesn’t take crap from anyone, and most importantly has a humongous ego. He spends an exorbitant amount of time every day getting that hair bun thing to be just right. If Tony ever hit it big time, you know the models, nice cars, and naked pictures would come. He’s also not afraid to pick a fight with you.
Tony’s not much of a pitcher, but his personality is basically Matt Harvey if Matt was 10-years-old and obnoxious.
Best comp: Angela DelVecchio
Signature quote: "You wanna win? Then pick ME!"
Angela is Tony’s little sister, and she’s the quieter one of the two. She’ll stay in the background while her brother gets the spotlight, and she’s fine with that. She’s not loud or in-your-face about anything, and she’s much less violent than her brother.
And damn it can she pitch. She’s the best pitcher in the league, and she can hit a bit as well. She doesn’t make headlines with her interviews, but she can make headlines any time she steps on the mound.
If that’s not Jacob deGrom, I don’t know what is.
Best comp: Lisa Crocket
Signature quotes: "What?" "Hm."
Lisa doesn’t mess around. When she steps on the mound, she’s there to get you out, and do not much else. She’s one of the most serious pitchers out there, and you better believe she knows what she’s doing.
Syndergaard is the better pitcher, but that pretty accurately describes Noah's demeanor on the mound. Thor is here to pitch. Now get in that box and take what he’s about to give you.
Best comp: Ronny Dobbs
Signature quotes: "I’m not a little baby!"… "I’m good!"
Ronny is overlooked, and mostly gets overshadowed by his older sister. Because of that, some don’t realize how good he really is, and how surprisingly well he can hit too. Steven Matz can relate, being the fourth wheel in a super-rotation which makes him look worse by comparison. Most still don’t realize that in any other organization he might be a number 2 or 3 starter already, and of course he can hit a little too.
That’s okay, though. Both Ronny and Steven will get the people’s attention really soon.
Best comp: Dante Robinson
Signature quote: "I’m hungry!"
Best comp: Amir Khan
Signature quote: "I can totally rock, dude man."
Amir Khan is the best closer on the Backyard Baseball roster, and has a devastating fastball. It doesn’t take much to see the comparison here.
Moreover, both Amir and his older brother, Achmed, are both overtly into rock music (and have apparently started a band with Mike Piazza?) So Amir probably comes out to some badass song from like Avenged Sevenfold or Metallica. Familia’s entrance song last year, "Danza Kuduro" by Don Omar, was a hit among fans. This year, Familia will have a custom entrance song that he apparently thorougly enjoys.
So both ostensibly take their entrance song very seriously.
One more Honorable Mention
Best comp: Pete Wheeler
Signature quotes: "Why am I here?"…"Where am I?"…"What?"…"Oh yeah, I wanna play the ball game."
Yeah, I know that Murphy’s no longer on the Mets and he’s with the enemy now, but this comp was too great to pass up.
Just like Murphy, Pete Wheeler can have mental lapses. Just like Murphy, sometimes he overruns second base too far and doesn’t stop running until the left fielder tags him out. Like Murphy, sometimes he forgets how many outs there are, what position he’s playing, what game he’s playing, and where he is on the space-time continuum.
But when Wheeler gains cognizance and knows what he’s doing, goodness can he hit. He’s not going to walk a whole lot, but man, can he smack the Baseball from the left side, and he can hit homers in droves too – similar to Murphtober.
Yeah, Pete Wheeler has far more speed and more power than Murphy. But this game first came out in 1997; Daniel Murphy was twelve years old then. There’s a non-zero chance that one of the people who created this game saw Daniel Murphy playing little league and based this character off of him. I mean how can you not read that description and immediately think "Murph Moments?" It’s so perfect.
Well that was pointless.
Looking back on it though, Backyard Baseball basically got me into Baseball even more than I already was as a child, and helped get me even more interested in the 2006 Mets team, which got me hooked. Now, 10 years later, this 2016 Mets team has a chance to be my favorite ever, and my interest in these things goes back to the days of playing Backyard Baseball as a kid. I don’t know if that’s actually supposed to mean something or if I’m just scrambling for a way to bring this full-circle being because I’m struggling to find any other way to conclude this, but maybe it possibly does in some way I don't know whatever I’m going to go mash some Baseballs with Pablo Sanchez okay bye.