With the successful launch of the World Baseball Classic, 2006 is a busy year for baseball on the diamond and for gamers, who have difficult choices for decent baseball videogames.
But the hands-down winner of this baseball season is MLB '06 The Show. Released by Sony Computer Entertainment America, The Show offers virtually everything a true baseball fan would want.
The Show has all 30 officially licensed Major League Baseball teams and stadiums including the All-Star teams and two legends teams. Double-A and Triple-A stadiums and teams are also featured in The Show.
The real bulk of the game is in the numerous game modes. Along with the obvious Exhibition play and Home Run Derby, some new and enhanced modes make their way to The Show.
Career mode allows you to play 10 seasons or longer with a player you create. Your player starts out as a rookie and goes through all the ups and downs of a major league career, which could include being sent down to the minors.
A new and fun mini-game called King of the Diamond is similar to a home run derby but runs, singles, doubles, triples and home runs all count. A cool Rivalry mode keeps track of player stats such as wins, losses, batting average and other statistics. All data is saved on your memory card so you can compare who's the best among your buddies.
Franchise mode is back, allowing gamers to run the team from the front office. That's right, gamers get to act like George Steinbrenner and run the club. Franchise mode is so detailed it left me speechless. You can control every aspect of the team such as scouting, drafting, vendor contracts and team marketing. SCEA leaves nothing out from this mode as you have to monitor team moral by giving players decent game time and good pitching rotations. All the roster management tasks of the General Manager fall on your shoulders, including player transactions and hiring coaches.
Bringing fans to the ballpark is also part of being the GM. In franchise mode you have to keep the stadium facilities in good shape and you can control stadium food pricing. By the way, you have to do all of this during a standard 162 game season while trying to make the playoffs.