I consider MLB The Show 19 sitting at number five for best sports game of the decade the equivalent of the unsaid lifetime achievement award that can happen at the Oscars. Sometimes an actor wins the Best Actor award for a role that will not stand up as their best role, but the voters know he should already have an award by now. So he ends up winning the award as a sort of mea culpa. On some level, I think that’s what’s going on here with MLB The Show 19 being considered the best baseball video game of the decade, and as the 5th best sports game of the decade.
I say that because it’s probably not the best year ever for the franchise. It’s probably not the version people will remember the most. However, the series deserves a spot on this list for its consistency. It has been a strong title throughout most of this generation and last, and it’s easy to say it’s been the most consistent franchise the past 10 years. The community voted MLB The Show 19 as the best baseball game of the decade as well, plus it won our sports game of the year, so it has some momentum coming into this.
Baseball overall has been interesting to follow this decade. MLB 2K vanished, we had surprise hits like Super Mega Baseball, and we’ve also had steady titles like OOTP to fit into that niche as well. All in all, baseball video games are actually in a decent place if we compare it to some of the other major sports.
With MLB The Show 19, I’ve said most of what I already want to say about it within our GOTY talk, but the series as a whole deserves more attention. Looking back to MLB 13, I think that’s about when the reign of dominance started for this franchise. There’s been an iffy title in there between now and ’19, but in general it’s one of the most prolonged periods of sustained success for any yearly sports franchise.
That matters when it comes to creating trust with fans and creating an environment where you feel confident picking up The Show every single season. I’ve said plenty already in past articles about how some fans are getting frustrated with the lack of updates to franchise mode, and people have certain issues with the hitting engine, but those are normal problems every sports series has to deal with every season. Those problems are also the “good” kind of problems to have.
People care deeply about this franchise and so they want the best for it. This leads to certain frustrations and people being very vocal about the things they want. It can become toxic if they don’t know the best way to put those complaints out in the public sphere, but it’s still better than apathy. The people with issues are generally people still playing the game and who want more reasons to continue playing the game. They don’t want to give up on The Show, and that’s a testament to the goodwill you garner as a franchise when you put out a ton of solid baseball titles in a row.
So yes, I do believe we may look back on this selection and say “really, that’s the version of The Show that made the list?” But I also understand why we as a staff and a community went this route overall. Sometimes recency bias can come back to hurt you, but in this case I think it’s more just wanting to appreciate the series and not quite knowing which yearly title to pick. Plenty of versions of The Show were considered for our Sports Game of the Decade list, and MLB The Show 19 is just the one that just ended up with the most momentum and votes behind it.