Major League Baseball is following in the pixelated footsteps of the NBA -- which recently ran an NBA 2K Players Tournament featuring stars like Kevin Durant and Trae Young -- with a longer-term video game spin of its own.
The MLB The Show Players League began Friday, with a 29-game season scheduled to run through the month of April -- culminating with a World Series on May 2.
Each of the 30 MLB teams is represented by a real-life member of that team's roster, who controls himself and his teammates against other MLB players and their teams. Each player streams his games online from his individual Twitch or YouTube accounts, plus MLB is providing an NFL RedZone-like experience, highlighting the best one-on-one matchups, updating game results and showcasing banter between players.
With opening weekend now in the books, here's a quick look back at what happened as baseball's social distancing experiment started in earnest.
Who's got game
"Joey Gallo is good," May said. "I've watched him and he's played a good amount of things. I think he's really good, but I'm not sure about a lot of the other guys."
By the end of Friday night, he was proven right.
Yp, @JoeyGallo24 is absolutely INSANE at the Show.— Trevor "IamTrevorMay" May (@IamTrevorMay) April 11, 2020
BUT I'M COMING FOR YOU. LIKE A PHOENIX, I'LL RISE FROM THESE 1-3 ASHES AND TAKE THE SHIP.
REMEMBER THIS TWEET.
Gallo entered the league unsure of himself and how good he actually is at the game -- and ended the weekend as the only undefeated player.
Who, um, doesn't
Since the launch of the game, online chatter surrounding MLB The Show has focused on complaints about the game's fielding mechanics and the inconsistency with many of the fielders.
May ran into issues with the fielding system at multiple points during his games on Friday against Garrett.
"Throw the ball!" May yelled at his infielder. "What am I supposed to do there? What am I supposed to do? 3-0, he just rolls it over to short and my guy just drops it."
"Guys, it's not the system I'm using. Trust me, it's not. Every system is like this. Every single one. There's just a chance it's not going to work. I have three errors. One of the errors is me getting behind the ball and fielding it and he just drops it. It just decided to make him drop it."
May, one of the most popular Twitch streamers in baseball, finished the weekend 1-3.
"I'm more of a Road to the Show guy," May told ESPN. "So head-to-head matchups, I'm not great. I don't base run or anything. That's definitely a weakness and I've changed up how I pitch and stuff so I'm actually going to enjoy playing more against humans."
Moment of the weekend/Best trash talk
In a moment that immediately highlighted the potential of the Players League as a personality showcase for baseball, Snell, Garrett and Eduardo Rodriguez chatted about the difficulties and challenges of facing a hitter with immense power like Gallo. In what felt like a conversation a player might have with a reporter, Snell recalled a story where Gallo bunted against the shift to get a single before hitting a moonshot home run.
"We're playing at the Trop against the Rangers. Gallo is up. He lays a bunt down the third base line against me," Snell said. "In my head, I'm like, 'Really, you're going to bunt?' Next AB? This man goes 800 feet, dead center. You're gonna bunt and then go 800 feet dead center and put a hole in the back of the Trop?"
Gallo promptly re-created the moment. Now down five runs in the first inning, Snell replaced himself in the video game with reliever Diego Castillo -- and trash-talked his virtual self.
"Bro, I just got absolutely molly-whopped," Snell said. "We got a mound visit. 'Blake, how are you doing out there? You're giving up all these bombs. We gotta go to the bullpen.'"
Blake Snell having to pull himself after getting destroyed by Gallo in the first inning. 😀 pic.twitter.com/mPSY33T8lI— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 11, 2020
More funniest/most memorable moments
Garrett experienced the knuckler of Ryan Feierabend for the first time in video-game form.
Yoooo he's a cheat code.. https://t.co/kAPecuhdtv— CountOnAG (@Amir_Garrett) April 13, 2020
Ryne Stanek's dog Goose caused some minor chaos during a stream.
Ryne Stanek's new dog, Goose, had a lil accident 😳 pic.twitter.com/11AEmRkjve— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) April 13, 2020
White Sox broadcaster Jason Benetti jokingly criticized Lucas Giolito's broadcasting abilities -- and got reprimanded by the White Sox starter's Twitch moderators.
HAHA my mods don't play Jason 👋🏻 https://t.co/X75SMH07pI— Lucas Giolito (@LGio27) April 13, 2020
Niko Goodrum walked off with a homer ... and celebrated with style.
Jon Duplantier (Arizona Diamondbacks), 3-1
Fernando Tatis Jr. (San Diego Padres), 3-1
David Dahl (Colorado Rockies), 0-0
Gavin Lux (Los Angeles Dodgers), 0-0
Hunter Pence (San Francisco Giants), 0-0