As someone who calls himself a fan of neither of the two remaining teams, the news that Kyle Schwarber was going to return to the Chicago Cubs roster in time for the World Series was news I greeted with great excitement. This is because Kyle Schwarber is the perfect baseball player, and watching him swing a bat in the postseason is something I would pay at least three dollars to see every year until the sun swallows the earth.
Look, watching great pitching is fun. Watching a professional hitter be reduced to an awkward 10 year old holding the bat at the wrong end by a Raisel Iglesias slider or a Clayton Kershaw curveball gets me fired up as hell. Great defense is fun, too. Brandon Phillips and Billy Hamilton have done things with a glove that have left me sitting in silence with my mouth open for so long that bugs started to fly in there. And we all know that to watch a Joey Votto at-bat is to watch Albert Einstein do advanced calculus.
All of that is great, but…. Come on man, just look at this shit:
There were women at Wrigley Field that got pregnant just watching that swing. The children they bore are already Olympians. If the powers that be would have cancelled the sport right then, I would have understood. You did it. People of all nations groomed the game of baseball for hundreds of years to just to reach this level of nirvana, and poor Kevin Siegrist had to just stand there and watch.
There are players like Kris Bryant who are handsome and multi-tooled and are good in virtually every aspect of the game. There are players like Javier Baez who can even the most mundane of baseball tasks dazzling to watch with his athleticism and flair. Then there’s players like Schwarber, who are 235lbs. of meat and power who were simply put on this earth to decimate baseballs into lesser dimensions.
With all due respect to those like Bryant and Baez, it’s the Schwarbers of the world who truly represent baseball in its purest form, and it’s these players who inspire me the most.
That’s why even his surprise return to the World Series isn’t fair. We were supposed to get a full year of Schwarby goodness, and instead, we’ll only see him in limited action a maximum of seven times in the postseason. That ain’t right. For all that Schwarber missed in 2016, he deserves to be able to stand in the spotlight for more than just a handful of plate appearances at the end of the year.
I want to make this right. And thanks to modern technology, I can make this right. We shouldn’t have one Kyle Schwarber in the World Series, or even two or three. Schwarber’s waited all year for his moment to come, and I don’t want to waste it.
You know where this is going.
I sat down in front of my MLB 16 The Show game this week, and created the perfect World Series team: a Chicago Cubs unit composed of 25 Kyle Schwarbers, that hit, pitch and field precisely the way a Schwarber is supposed to.
May God have mercy on us all.
For transparency’s sake, I should note that my original intention for this was to have the Schwarber Cubs - or as they will henceforth be called, the Schwubs - face the real life Cleveland Indians. I realized very quickly, however, that would be incredibly shortsighted of me. The Indians are a franchise almost as hapless as the Cubs, and they deserve a noble knight to try and erase their own decades of futility. If only Cleveland had their own chunk of bat-swinging beef to WHY HELLO THERE SWEET PRINCE
Oh, yeah. That’s the stuff. Tell me Mike, do you mollywhop the baseball from time to time?
That’ll do. Oh, that’ll do just fine.
So, here’s how this works then. I went into MLB 16 The Show and copied down the skills attributes the game has programmed Mike Napoli and Kyle Schwarber to have. Then, using the Create A Player feature, I created 24 clones using those exact attributes, while doing my best to recreate their appearance as well. The originals are included in this project, and will play their default positions (Schwarber in left, Napoli at first base) throughout the series.
The next step was launching these rosters into the game’s Postseason mode. This proved to be a tricky exercise because you can’t just play a World Series - in this mode, you must play an entire postseason bracket. Fortunately, it lets you turn any given series into a single game, which is precisely what I did for the division and championship series. I made the Schwubs and the Napoli Indians - the Napolians - each the top seed, and in the Cubs’ Wild Card place (default bracket is based off the 2015 playoffs), I replaced them with the Phillies.
This became problematic because the game *really* didn’t want the Napolians to advance. I sent them through the simulated gauntlet over and over again, and watched the Yankees knock the crap out of them continuously before the game finally spat out a favorable outcome. Then I prepared for the same routine with the Schwubs, but instead, got this on the first try.
It took just one chance for the Schwubs to absolutely throttle the Phillies. Jeremy Hellickson was outdueled on the mound by Kyle Schwarber, and each subsequent Phillies pitcher found himself subjected to the same fate. It’s a bloodbath. And the championship series turned out the same way! The Napolians took sim after sim before they finally conquered the Rangers. The Schwubs, meanwhile:
I swear to God this was the first simulation of this game. I gave MLB The Show one shot at telling me what would happen if Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers went up against 25 Kyle Schwarbers, and the result broke my heart. The game knew what had to be done: Have the southpaw work a great game on the mound in a do-or-die setting, only to have his bullpen blow the lead on a four-run bottom of the eighth. I’m so sorry, Clayton. You don’t deserve this.
Let’s just forget about this and get onto the Better World Series - the Destroyer of Worlds Series.
Schwarber and Napoli are strikingly similar players in The Show. Their contact abilities and arm strength rate around average. They both have plus power, limited fielding abilities, and virtually no footspeed or desire to run the bases whatsoever.
Because of this level playing field, I didn’t really know what to expect entering the series, aside from a lot of dingers. And boy, was I rewarded with some top-notch moonshots right away. In a spectacular display of irony, the first two home runs of the World Series came off the bats of each team’s respective pitcher, with each coming in their first plate appearances. Pitcher Napoli’s happened to be a grand slam, and it was a big part of Cleveland jumping ahead 7-4 through four innings.
Then, in the bottom of the fifth inning, this. This is the reason I set out on this project (all gifs in this post courtesy of chief RR internet maker Matt Allaire).
A 442-foot hard salami to cap off a 6-run inning that took the Schwubs from down three runs to up three in a matter of minutes. The Napolians’ grand slam in the second was the first one in a World Series since Paul Konerko in 2005. It took three innings for it to happen again.
The big inning wasn’t something the Napolians could recover from. After tallying seven runs on nine hits in the first four innings, they mustered just one run on five hits in the final five frames. The Schwubs, meanwhile, just continued to pour it on. The first game finishes with seven dingers. The PA announces after the game a final duration of 4 hours and, 29 minutes.
The machines are just getting started.
Final: Schwubs 15, Napolians 8
Because I gave each clone the exact attributes the original has, every pitcher in this series has phenomenally poor pitching skills. Schwarber, unsurprisingly, has zeroes across the board, but for some reason, the crew behind The Show gave Napoli a 4 in stamina and a 16 in BB/9. I’m not sure if they believe control and general durability are just things you acquire after 11 years in the big leagues, but I’m sure the Napolians will take any advantage they can get.
Without any stamina to speak of, both pitchers’ arms are flaccid and numb at about the 40-pitch mark. Hence, why none of them throw past the fourth inning at any given time. They also each have just three pitches: a four-seam and two-seam fastball, which top out at roughly 81mph, and a change-up that registers around a nice 69mph.
Anyway, Game 2 got out of hand very quickly, and basically never got better for Cleveland’s side of things. The Schwubs milked the ugliest inning in World Series history for eight runs in the 2nd, and that was only the beginning of the carnage.
This actually happened:
No player in World Series history has ever hit four home runs in a game. This Schwub hit five, all of them no-doubters. And I swear to God each one travelled farther than the last.
The Napolians, when they weren’t giving up dingers, were doing a lot of this:
Cleveland pieced together a six-run fifth that included the third grand slam of the series, but really just spent most of its time watching Schwub after Schwub run around around the bases unrestricted. I have now simulated four games with this Schwubs team, without controlling so much as a single pitch in any of them, and the Schwubs have won all four. This is God’s team.
Also, the original Mike Napoli was benched in this game, only appearing to pinch hit in the sixth inning. Really not sure what to make of that, but let’s hope things improve for the Napolians in front of their home crowd.
FINAL: Schwubs 27, Napolians 11. CHC leads 2-0.
Real Mike Napoli got back in the lineup! Here’s his first PA of the World Series in Cleveland.
The good news for the Napolians in this one was that they hit the first three dingers of the game, and didn’t allow the Schwubs to leave the yard until the seventh inning. The bad news is they still trailed by two entering the seventh, and the Schwubs didn’t hit just one homer in the inning - they hit four.
The Schwubs put together a seven run seventh inning, and entered the bottom of the eighth leading 18-9. The Napolians then put together easily their boldest rally of the series, piecing together seven runs in the eighth and then a leadoff homer in the ninth. After trailing by nine runs with six outs remaining, they got the tying run to home plate with two outs in the ninth and oh jesus really why
There haven’t been many strikeouts in this series, for good reason, but none have been on pitches as down the pipe as that one. That’s just painful.
The Schwubs are a game away from sweeping.
FINAL: Schwubs 19, Napolians 17.
For some reason, when you’re creating players, “Schwarber” does not pop up as an option for a last name you can have commentator Matt Vasgersian say in the game. I tried the next closest option, Schweitzer, for Game 1, but that just sounded very profoundly wrong and made me feel sick. So, after that game, I went in and gave each Schwarber clone his own absurd name that Matt had to read on the air. The name on the jerseys was unchanged, but depending on who stepped to the plate, Matt would very seriously announce a name like “Dubya Dubya”, “Big Dog Mad Dog”, or “Barack Obama”. Infinitely better experience from that point forward.
To begin Game 4, both starting pitchers tossed two innings without allowing a hit or a walk. I’ll repeat that: In a potentially decisive World Series game, Mike Napoli and Kyle Schwarber *both* threw two innings of hitless, walkless baseball. Because why the hell not.
Game 4 was a damn emotional rollercoaster after that. The Schwubs scored five times in the top of the third inning with the help of a grand slam, with Napolians using the next three innings to score nine straight runs. Joe Maddon, in this time period, lost his damn mind and used seven pitchers to pitch to 12 hitters. Six of those hitters scored.
The Napolians carried an 11-7 lead into the top of the seventh, which was naturally the least safe four-run lead in history. The Schwubs scored six runs in the inning, again with the help of a grand slam that doubled as the longest home run of the series, travelling 453 feet.
Wanna see it? Yeah. Yeah ya do.
Chicago hit back-to-back dongs in the top of the eighth, but it didn’t need them. The Mikes fought valiantly in front of their home crowd, but there was no standing in the way of Schwubs. A team of destiny is just that, and all six times I threw this group of potato mashers through The Show’s simulation engine, the machine spat out a decisive win.
FINAL: Schwubs 15, Napolians 11
Wanna talk numbers? Me too.
The Schwubs slugged .883 in these four games. .883! They had an OBP of .495 for the series, reaching base 100 times in 202 plate appearances. The Napolians, for their part, shredded a .398/.442/.744 line as a team in 190 PA’s.
Now that it’s over, I can admit that before this series started, I was worried that I’d created a baseball abomination. I had images of Schwarber, hopelessly out of his element on the mound, missing home plate by three feet in every direction. I had images of repeated groundballs to shortstop Mike Napoli that would be awkwardly fumbled with and dropped. Visions of endless innings tormented yet excited me. Baseball purgatory did not seem out of the question.
But this was no game of 3rd graders trudging from base to base, waiting for a mercy rule that isn’t coming so they can just go back to the van and eat a peanut butter sandwich. This was your old man’s slow pitch softball league, with kegs of Busch Light in each dugout and dingers punctuated by double plays that occur at the speed of tectonic movements.
21 errors between two teams in four games seems bad, until you picture Kyle Schwarber at second base. And their 33 combined walks issued? I would have guessed double that. Hell, the Schwubs combined for just 3.25 walks per nine innings! The real Cubs walked 3.23 per nine in this year’s NLCS! Kyle Schwarber has the command to be a regular starting pitcher, is what I’m saying.
The offense wasn’t handed out by bad defense and lack of strikes. No, the offense was earned – aggressively, persistently, and brilliantly. In four games, 36 home runs flew a total of 13,752 feet through the air. Baseballs were brought to the stadium by the hundred, only for them to be launched out of the stadium by the thousand. No lead, no matter how big or how late, was safe.
Fifty meatheads in a best-of-seven slugging contest is how every season deserves to end. Congratulations to the Schwubs on their title. Maybe one day the Cubs will win one, too.
In the meantime, let’s watch a dramatic video of real Kyle Schwarber dogpiling with 24 of his likely thousands of clones, also brought to you by RR’s handsome #content #creator Matt Allaire.