MLB The Show – World War K: Trust The Plot Twist

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Start from the Beginning – Episode 1: The History of the First Base War

Previous Episode: All Stars and aWARs

As July came to a close, everything was going according to plan for the alt-2014 Royals.  Following the all-star break, the team went on a dramatic winning streak, pulling well ahead of the AL Central.  The core of the offense–Hosmer, Burrell, Holliday, and Gordon–were finally firing on all cylinders.  Meanwhile, Strike-O-Matic, Carlos Martinez, Kyle Zimmer, and Bartolo Colon routinely provided quality starts and saved the shaky bullpen from overexposure.  It was starting to look like the Royals wouldn’t have any problem cruising to the playoffs.

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It seemed as though Strike-O-Matic and Pat Burrell didn’t have much to worry about as the trade deadline approached.  But then one morning, shortly before a press conference to honor him for yet another MLB Rookie of the Week award, Strike-O-Matic injured himself by trying to iron his shirt while he was wearing it.  Of course, he was a machine, so this wasn’t really a problem.  He just needed to repair the damage to his artificial skin and reboot.  But in the process of restarting his internal computer, Strike-O-Matic regained all of the memories he had lost during the time travel process.

After all, Strike-O-Matic had been sent back from the post-apocalyptic future of 2099 to work with Mike Trout and the Angels to save baseball.  He had only recruited Pat Burrell and joined the Royals after a memory malfunction. No one assumed this was a problem, since it shouldn’t have mattered which team Strike-O-Matic helped to win, as long as it both changed history and stopped the robot masters.  But when Strike-O-Matic’s internal computer rebooted, he remembered a terrible truth.

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MLB The Show – World War K: Sign of the Moose

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Start from the Beginning – Episode 1: The History of the First Base War

Previous Episode: The New Blood (May Recap)

For years, the world believed that Mike Mussina’s baseball story ended in 2008.  At age 39, the veteran ace retired after his first 20-win season.  He never won a World Series, never pitched a no-hitter,  and never claimed a Cy Young, but with 270 wins and 3.68 ERA in one of the highest offensive eras in baseball, he was considered a solid Hall of Fame candidate among fans who knew what the hell they were talking about.  After Mussina left baseball, he spent his days doing crosswords and fixing up old tractors.  He never thought he’d get a chance to pitch again, except maybe in an old-timer’s game if he suddenly decided he could stand to be around the other old-timers.

The first robot baseball stars could be distinguished by their design.  Top robotics firms used space-aged alloys, precision-crafted joints, and advanced processors to build machines that would stand out among their counterparts.  But before long, every android player was built from one of a handful of perfected designs.  The only advances made in the machinery were slight and incremental.  Teams had to find new ways to elevate their robots–to make them better than the competition.

First efforts in advanced robot AI were led by MLB’s chief programmer, Jeff Francoeur.  Francoeur was an ex-ballplayer himself, who had retired and went back to school to devote himself to other causes after a life-changing incident in the independent leagues: he’d let his bat slip out of his hands on a strikeout and killed a fan sitting behind the dugout.  A repentant Francoeur had devoted himself to the cause of safer baseball.  To him, this meant helping transition to robot baseball players whose pressurized mechanical hands could never lose the grip on the handle of a bat.

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Jeff Francoeur in happier days.

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MLB The Show – World War K: Trade Winds Part Two

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Start from the Beginning – Episode 1: The History of the First Base War

Previous Episode: Trade Winds Part One

Pat Burrell and the Kansas City Royals thought that trading for Major League pieces in the middle of May would be a difficult proposition, but they had underestimated the power of the trading block.  After putting out feelers for a few players listed on the block, it became clear that they were more than just available–they were priced to move.  The Royals would be able to upgrade both their rotation and their lineup with some judicious planning.

The first call Pat Burrell made was to Sandy Alderson, GM of the struggling New York Mets.  The Mets had not been expected to contend in 2014, and in the new alternate future they were more than living up to expectations.  They sustained a 9-18 record in April and continued to barely limp along into May. Alderson already knew there wasn’t much hope of competing, and wanted to move some of the older spare parts off for pieces in the future.

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