Joe Lavin

March 9, 2004

The (Imaginary) Life of a Baseball Mogul


It's 2009, and the Boston Red Sox have just won the World Series. Or at least they have in my imaginary world. You see, I've recently begun playing a rather addictive computer game called Baseball Mogul, in which you get to be the general manager of a baseball team. Sure, it's a stupid game, but, hey, with no baseball over the winter, what the hell else was I going to do with my free time?

Even if it didn't really happen, it was great to see the Red Sox win their first World Series in 92 years -- over the Chicago Cubs no less. Inexplicably, a 43-year-old Tim Wakefield was on the mound for the final out. Veterans Nomar Garciaparra, Derek Lowe, and Trot Nixon provided solid leadership, while budding superstars like pitcher Cordell Laban and outfielders Bryant Neumann and Chris Snelling dominated the game. And World Series MVP Oliver Mulhall managed to step up big time, clinching two games with his late inning heroics. Sure, these players might be fictional, but that doesn't detract one iota from their impressive accomplishment.

Unfortunately, it wasn't so easy to win at this game. I was playing at the beginner's level -- where there's no limit on the money you can spend -- and it still took me seven seasons to win a World Series. In my first year, I managed to get to the seventh game of the World Series only to lose to the St. Louis Cardinals. After another loss in the playoffs, I decided that, damnit, I was going to buy myself a championship. I suddenly turned into the George Steinbrenner of the Light Side and signed just about every free agent superstar I could find. Soon, my lineup was so impressive that Nomar was actually batting eighth. I ran off seven consecutive division titles, left the Yankees far behind, and yet every year I collapsed in the playoffs. One year, I won an incredible 117 games in the regular season and still was swept in the playoffs.

In the words of my girlfriend Jody: "Wow, they can't even win in your little make-believe world there." Maybe the Curse of the Bambino really is true, I thought. Of course, I don' t want to lend too much credence to the curse, especially since I later disproved it by going back to 1919, not trading Babe Ruth to the Yankees, and letting the computer play out the remaining decades. The Red Sox still couldn't win a damn thing.

Besides, there were other reasons for my failings. One year, I accidentally used my ace pitcher Pedro Martinez in a meaningless game on the last day of the season. When the playoffs rolled around, he was unavailable to pitch, and the Red Sox were swept yet again. As a typical Sox fan, I immediately looked for a "Fire the Manager" button until I realized that I was the manager. Damn. Instead, I had no choice but to ship Manny Ramirez out of town. Sure, he didn't do anything wrong, but this is Boston. Somebody had to be blamed.

Before you think that I regularly spend all my days playing computer games, I should point out that this is an anomaly. I almost never play computer games. That's because I know how easy it is for me to become addicted to them. I don't ever want to find myself trapped inside playing a stupid computer game on a beautiful, sunny day when I could be doing far more important things with my life, like, for example, staying inside on a beautiful, sunny day to watch a baseball game on television.

Now, though, I have managed to combine my computer addiction with my baseball addiction, and I clearly have a problem. I can't seem to stop playing. The only good thing is that I at least know I have a problem. Okay, I knew that back in 2006 and still played another three years. (Real time: one week.) "I'm just going to play until I win the World Series. That's all," I told myself. Now that that has finally happened, it's time to put the game away. Since spring training is finally here and the real baseball season is less than a month away, I think I might just be able to do it.

Then again, another championship might be fun, and watching that Cordell Laban pitch for the Red Sox is a true pleasure. It's a shame he doesn't exist.


©2004 Joe Lavin

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