MLB The Show 23: A Questionable Marketing Decision


As an avid baseball fan, I was thrilled to learn that the upcoming edition of the MLB The Show video game series will include players from the Negro Leagues. These players, who were denied opportunities due to racial discrimination, deserve recognition and a chance to be known by a new generation of fans. Leroy “Satchel” Paige, Josh Gibson, and John Jordan “Buck” O’Neil Jr. are just a few of the legendary names that deserve the spotlight and a place in the hearts of baseball enthusiasts. It’s a significant step towards acknowledging the injustices of the past.

The Unfortunate Marketing Decision

However, amidst my excitement, I can’t help but feel a sense of disappointment due to a questionable marketing decision. One of the TV spots for MLB The Show 23 features a montage of players from the Negro Leagues alongside modern-day stars like Derek Jeter and David Wright. While this collaboration should be a celebration of baseball history, it also includes Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, infamous figures from the Steroid Era. This inclusion raises concerns about how sports games should handle players with tainted legacies.

The Steroid Era’s Impact

Let’s briefly reflect on the Steroid Era and its impact on the game. The records set during this period by players who used or were accused of using performance-enhancing drugs have always been a topic of debate. Although I personally don’t believe these records should be erased from history, it’s undeniable that substances like steroids likely played a role in the impressive feats of players like Sosa, McGwire, and Barry Bonds. Their numbers, surpassing long-standing records, left a lasting impact on the game.

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The Lingering Effect on Baseball

The Steroid Era had a profound effect on the perception of the game. It not only jeopardized the integrity of individual accomplishments but also created a sense of disillusionment among fans. Many passionate baseball enthusiasts, including myself, struggled to reconcile their love for the sport with the revelations of widespread doping. Some even walked away from the game entirely. The inclusion of players like McGwire and Sosa in the same spotlight as the true heroes of the Negro Leagues raises questions about the portrayal of infamous figures alongside baseball legends.

The Role of Sports Games

Now, let’s contemplate how sports video games should address athletes who have cheated or faced accusations of cheating. Excluding players like Sosa and McGwire entirely wouldn’t be the right approach. Controversies and scandals are an inseparable part of baseball’s history, just as records and athletic achievements are. However, more care should be taken when highlighting these players and their accomplishments within the context of a sports game and its marketing strategy.

Mark McGwire hits a baseball with a bat in MLB The Show 23.

The Need for Sensitivity and Honesty

While I don’t necessarily have an issue with their presence in advertisements, it is crucial that we approach this topic with sensitivity and honesty. These athletes have their fans and achieved significant accomplishments without the aid of performance enhancers. However, lumping them together with players from the Negro Leagues can be perceived as a lack of consideration for the historical context and the struggles faced by the latter group. Both the fans and the athletes who earned their place through fair play deserve more thoughtful representation in sports simulators.

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MLB The Show 23’s decision to include players from the Negro Leagues is a commendable step towards recognizing the contributions of these forgotten athletes. However, the marketing strategy surrounding the game raises questions about the portrayal of players from the Steroid Era alongside these true heroes. It is essential for sports games to handle controversial figures with care and provide a more nuanced representation of their accomplishments. By doing so, we can celebrate the achievements of all players while respecting the history of the game.

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OnSpec Electronic, Inc.

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