It’s difficult to even know where to begin with this blog entry. Even though it’s many years in the making, it’s still difficult to put everything into words and try to lay the groundwork for an explanation. So this may seem long-winded and rambling but it’s the most important blog post I’ve ever written.
In late June I’m going to be walking away from social media and the Chicago White Sox. Yes, I know, I’ve said it before and did not follow through. This was a timing issue more than an issue of desire. I’ve been planning this out carefully, down to the last detail. And while I’ve been considering this move since at least 2011, the actual want to do this stretches back much further than that… 2001… 1997… As far as 1993.
I’ll begin with exactly what my plan is and why I want to do it. The plan part is easy, I want to play an entire college “dynasty,” or career, in the video game world. I want to play four seasons of college football, basketball and baseball. You may wonder what that has to do with the White Sox or social media, and I’ll get to that as I go on. The why, I can’t answer for sure. It may be a midlife crisis, it may be a longing for happier days, of which I’ve had many, back in the late 1990s and early 2000s. It may be a lot of things combined.
As a lot of you know, EA Sports stopped making college sports games in the 2010s (and at least one college franchise in the 2000s) due to the athletes not receiving any kind of royalties due to their likenesses being used in the games. The last college football game hit the shelves in 2014, the last college basketball game in 2010 (both on the PlayStation 3) and the last college baseball game (of which there were only two) in 2007 (on the PlayStation 2). So it is here that I made my decision to play the entire Dynasty on the 2007 games for the PlayStation 2. NCAA Football 07, NCAA March Madness 07 and MVP NCAA Baseball 07.
Yes, they’re severely outdated (like 16 years outdated), but that means less than one might imagine since updated rosters are available not only for download but on memory cards that can be purchased from eBay or other online stores. So while the graphics will be extremely dated, the experience won’t be.
Now, I want to take a step back in time and explain how I got to this point.
I have a long experience as a sports video gamer. One of the absolute highlights of this came back in 1993, when my friend Calvin and I spent a weekend playing Baseball Stars on the NES.
Baseball Stars was the first video game to include a fully programmable option, you could create your own teams and your own leagues, even with the ability to make players male or female. This was unheard of at the time, and that game was, and still is, one of my all time favorites. Calvin and I had what might be considered a fantasy draft, selecting players for our teams, as well as one minor league team each. We then created ourselves and our entire teams and proceeded to play an entire season.
The idea of “creating” yourself in a game stuck with me. My next favorite sports game (chronologically) was Tecmo Super Bowl. This was the first sports game to feature not only real teams but real players, but the “creation” option hadn’t reached it’s point in time yet. At this point, my senior year in high school, my friend Joe Nunez and I played a complete season, just “pretending” we were the players in the game, as Joe played as the Cleveland Browns and I played as the New Orleans Saints. But I wanted to “be” me.
In the summer of 1995, I bought a copy of an old NES game called John Elway’s Quarterback. This game had neither real players or real teams, just a bunch of bland players and city names instead of teams. It’s at this point I began the “dynasty” concept; I would play four “seasons” of football on John Elway’s Quarterback and then I would start playing Tecmo Super Bowl as an NFL draftee.
John Elway’s Quarterback doesn’t have any kind of stat saving ability, so while I played I kept a spiral notebook in my hand, and every time I completed a pass or ran for positive yardage, I would write that number down in parenthesis in my notebook, and if I threw an incomplete pass, I’d mark that with an “x.” Then I could figure out my completion percentage and total yards, as well as my touchdowns and interceptions. I used the “Los Angeles” team on the game as the UCLA Bruins, and when I finished, I was “drafted” by the Cleveland Browns. I proceeded to play seven seasons with the Browns on Tecmo Super Bowl, winning three Super Bowls before I quit. For whatever reason, I didn’t keep all of my stats like I wanted to.
The next time I decided to do a Dynasty was 1997, and it was much more advanced and involved than the 1995 version. This time, I was using the Super Nintendo and was playing both football and basketball at UCLA, using College Football USA 97 and NCAA Final Four Basketball and when I finished, I created myself on Madden 97. This was leaps and bounds ahead of what I had done before, with College Football USA 97 keeping all of the important stats I needed and, while NCAA Final Four Basketball didn’t really have a season option, I made the best of it and played what amounted to four full seasons. When this was finished, I was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers on Madden 97 but I never got around to actually playing for them.
This was not my least successful run, but it was definitely not my best. While College Football USA 97 was a million miles ahead of keeping my own stats with a “fake” team, there was still no option to create myself (however, on the Sega Genesis version of College Football USA 97, player creation IS an option) and the game play was so unbelievably slow, there was no real enjoyment to be had playing the game. But the fact that I was able to play football AND basketball was a revelation and really did change everything.
Fast forward to 2001. I had upgraded to a Sony PlayStation and the first thing I did was purchase NCAA GameBreaker 2000 and NCAA Final Four 2000, as well as NFL GameDay 2000. These games were all produced by Sony’s 989 Studios, and what a major improvement compared to my previous dynasty. I could play a full career at UCLA in both football and basketball with real stats, schedules, etc.
I enjoyed this immensely, and allowed myself to be drafted on NFL GameDay 2000 and ended up with the Carolina Panthers as a second round pick. I decided to run with it. A couple of games into my second season with the Panthers, it said my character had suffered a knee injury and I ended up being out the rest of the season. This was doubly bad when, at the end of the year, I was on the Panthers’ list of retired players. This bothered me more than it should have, and it would be nine years before I decided to try again.
I went on to pick up MLB 2000, and by 2004 I was completely off on college (and pro) football and basketball, and subsequently bought MLB 2004 and MLB 2005. Once the MLB The Show series started, I bought every game every year, including 2023. As I mentioned, during this time, EA Sports stopped producing college sports games, and at some point in the early 2010s I did buy NCAA Football 10 and NCAA Basketball 10 and eventually bought NCAA Football 13 and NCAA Football 14. They were never used and, in fact, NCAA Football 14 has never been out of the case. I just didn’t feel anything anymore for college sports, I was all in on baseball.
The problem with that is I have burned myself out beyond the ability to even function anymore. My life has been all baseball, all day, 365 days a year since 2004. I got on social media in 2005 (MySpace) and it’s been posting stories and lineups and transactions every day for 18 years. And I am ready for a change.
And I’m ready to take a step back in time to happier days and even though I know the experience won’t be the same, I still want to take the time and do this one more time, a little better than the last time I did it, because now it’s time to play college football, basketball and baseball. The complete experience.
I have procured brand new, unopened copies of NCAA Football 07, NCAA March Madness 07 and MVP NCAA Baseball 07 as well as updated rosters for each. I’m going to create myself and play all the way through, all three sports, until I “graduate.” After that, I’m not sure what I’m going to do. I may “get drafted” on Madden 07 or I may buy the newest Madden (whenever that may be) for the PS5 or I may break down and play Road To The Show for the first time on MLB The Show. I’m not worried about it right now. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. Right now, my focus is on unfocusing on the White Sox.
I’ve not yet decided if I’m going to do this dynasty with the WVU Mountaineers or the UCLA Bruins but at the moment it’s definitely 90% UCLA. That decision will come within the next month. The other decision I’m battling with is what to do with social media. I know the vast majority of people who are friends or followers on social media are there for my White Sox posts, so my plan at the moment is to just create new social media accounts strictly for college sports. I’ll keep my other accounts in case this idea falls flat or something happens to hasten my return to the way things are now. I’m hopeful that doesn’t happen and I hope my friends who enjoy college sports will follow me to my new platforms. That decision will also be made in the next month.
So, in closing, as I stand right now, I’m fully planning on making this project a reality. And while I’ll be using PS2 games, I have a backward compatible PS3 that does upgrade the graphics slightly. Once I’ve made the decision, I’ll be boxing up all of my White Sox memorabilia and putting it in storage. I figure this project should take roundabout two years to finish completely, at which a White Sox return is certainly possible.
Thank you for taking the time to read.