This Monday, something wonderful happens: baseball season begins. I'm sure you're all as excited as I am. Also happening on Monday: the release of Major League Baseball 2K6, the latest installment of San Rafael-based 2K Sports' MLB-sanctioned videogame, wherein for the price of a pair of sneakers you can play as the pros themselves — Barry Zito, Derek Jeter, even poor old Moises Alou. While most every ballplayer joins the fun, there are a few who decline to license their likenesses. One slugger's absence in particular is glaring: Barry Bonds.
Yup, everyone's favorite juicer habitually sits this one out, which means that each year a lucky game designer and his team get to fashion their very own Bonds proxy, a player with essentially the same skill set who looks and plays sufficiently unlike the original so as to avoid pissing off Barry's lawyers.
Designing your own Bonds — what a fascinating job! To find out more I called up Erik Andreassan, assistant project manager for 2K6.
Sucka Free City: So you guys get to make up the best player in the game. Do you have any fun with that? Is there someone at 2K Sports who wanted to design Bonds based on their kid?
Erik Andreassan: I had some fun with him. Last year I gave him a big beard, just 'cause I felt like it. And I can put in any other physical attributes that I want, but I can't say he's really based on anyone.
SFC: Can you give us a preview of what this year's Bonds looks like? Is he the same as last year's?
EA: Physically he looks the same. But in [Xbox] 360 he looks a little different; he's got a bigger head.
SFC: What about a name?
EA: Ours is Joe Young. His name was created by combining Steve Young and Joe Montana's names, just to keep the San Francisco flavor going.
All of this sounded so neat that the team here at Sucka Free City couldn't resist trying it ourselves. What do you think of our Bonds proxy?