I’m listening to “Tessie” by the Dropkick Murphys as I rack my brain for a time I was young, free of worry, and hitting baseballs up ramps with Jon Dowd because MVP Baseball 2005 was life.
I’m not here to make the case that the baseball game with Manny Ramirez on the cover was the best sports game ever, because that’s a waste of time. Of course it was the best sports video game ever.
Instead, I am here to appreciate how a simple, yet complex game was way before its time and perfect in every way.
I’m also here to call out how the nine-song soundtrack doesn’t align with your music preference today, but you still know the words and love it. It’s part of what makes this game really special.
Here you go, please listen as you read (sorry, “Pressure Point” by the Zutons isn’t on Spotify):
The intro, in all its boxy, low-def glory, puts Manny at the plate and lets us relive history for a bit before choppily cutting into the game’s features. That’s all OK though because we got a Lance Berkman cameo and “We Got the Noise” is playing in the background.
The greatest mini game ever: RAMP HITTING
I can’t explain why hitting in the direction the computer told you to with help from ramps was satisfying, but I spent hours doing this. I HAD to reach the next round.
It was repetitive as hell but addictive in the same sense.
Nailing the ramps to get power boosts, avoiding the vortexes and tractors, I mean what more could you ask for from a baseball video game?
EA Sports, it’s in the game: ALL 38 CAMEOS
You never knew what you were going to get. But they were ALWAYS corny.
Get off my blog if you don’t know what I’m talking about: Katie Roy > Jon Dowd
OK, fine, I’ll fill you in.
Creating a random player named Katie Roy would unlock all stadiums, jerseys, and most importantly, all of the Hall of Famers.
This was the Easter egg all the nerds craved, and it was so randomly beautiful.
You’re a real one if you turned up Katie Roy’s stats to 99 overall, too.
In previous editions of the game, players like Kevin Millar were omitted from the game if they didn’t sign the Player’s Association licensing agreement. But MVP Baseball wasn’t about to go on without Barry Bonds.
So it gave birth to his twin who looked nothing like him, Jon Dowd. He was literally Barry Bonds without being Barry Bonds.
Boss move, EA.
The Dynasty Mode
This game was so before its time.
Switching between rosters in the minor leagues and major leagues was easy, the load times were swift, everything was customizable, and you were probably jamming out to some hipster rock en route to the World Series.
This game was a dang dream. It had SINGLE-A rosters.
I don’t care about your MLB The Show game for PlayStation 4.
Why SB Nation loves MVP Baseball 2005
1. I have spent an embarrassing number of consecutive hours playing the hitting game with Ichiro or Dmitri Young. The hitting game (like a home run derby, but with weird ramps and stuff on the field as well) is fantastic. Also, if I remember correctly, Ichiro tries to run to first after every swing even though it's not a real game.
2. I know all the words to a bunch of awful mid-2000s "indie" rock songs by, like, Louis XIV because of this game.
3. I have nearly come to blows with my best friend because when I got down a lot I'd just intentionally hit his batters over and over again. This game made it waaaay too easy.
4. For some reason we always played as minor league teams and I was always the Modesto Nuts. I almost bought a Modesto Nuts hat once.
MVP ’05 was so good. I used to play it all the time when I was 13 and had just moved to Norway (so no baseball and no friends), and I found an online forum solely dedicated to MVP ’05, where people posted player rating edits and create-a-player attribute numbers for historic players to add to your game. I made a bunch of internet friends and I remember the game very fondly, even though it was almost impossible to hit home runs with lefties.
I also used to play against my dad, and I did this thing where I’d drop the controller and walk out of the room right after throwing a two-strike pitch. It would piss him off because he usually struck out, until that time he hit a grounder to short that turned into a triple because I was in the next room.
I think a huge part of what made MVP Baseball so great was that its predecessor never improved and its successor was worse. Triple Play 96 for Sega Genesis was immeasurably better than any of the subsequent next gen games before EA changed the name to MVP and improved it significantly. Then the first couple editions of 2K and The Show after the death of MVP weren't nearly as good. So I — and many other people — ended up playing MVP Baseball 2005 for several years, downloading roster updates rather than buying new games. Everything about it from the actual gameplay, to the dynasty mode, to the way the ballparks looked, to the unlockable retro stuff was both more fun and more in depth than any other sports game that had come out before MVP, and I'm not sure anything improved on it until several years later.