If Baseball Had Robots by Patrick Dubuque August 17, 2011 You may not have been alive back in 1991. Or perhaps you were, but you weren’t of the age where you came home from school to eat macaroni and cheese and watch Disney Afternoon on syndicated television. But if you were, and you had parents who bought you Nintendo games for Christmas and didn’t consult with you about them first, you may have once before opened up an instruction booklet to read these words: At last it can be told. How, at the turn of the 24th Century the game of baseball was changed forever. It happened in Cape Codpiece, Florida during the annual winter meetings. On the aluminum paneled walls of the posh hotel’s Presidential Room hung stirring portraits of baseball’s all-time greats. Legends like Cecil “Rooftop” Shingleton, Travis “Tee” O’ Justice, and Tip “Rude” Wayter. Around the huge conference table sat a group of sour, seething executives collectively known as the baseball team owners. The issue before them-astronomical player salaries. (A Solar League official had just ordered one of the weakest franchises to shell out $2.4 billion a year to Gomer “Go Homer” Gomez, a lifetime .250 hitter.) For hours the owners debated their options. Until suddenly Irving Flopilidopolous, owner of the Boston Banshees, leaped from his chair and slammed his fist on the table. “Robots!” he exclaimed. The other owners looked blankly at each other. Then smiles slowly crept across their faces as they realized they had found the solution-replace the players with mechanical men. No more salary demands. Better yet, no more salaries! Just obedient automatons pre-programmed for action. The now inspired owners worked feverishly that weekend to refine their new sport which they christened Base Wars. The public was quickly captivated by this bizarre combination of baseball and gladiatorial combat played by an army of armor clad cybernetic swingers. They especially loved the one-on-one battle royales for base possession, the loser of which is retired to the scrap yard. It wasn’t long before Base Wars became the new intergalactic pastime. Given the salary of Vernon Wells, it doesn’t seem as though the owners of the 2300s have made out too badly with player contracts like Gomer Gomez, but it’s silly to try to estimate inflation in the world economy of Tomorrow. Nor should we question the interior decorating decisions made by the hotels of the state of Florida. Instead, let’s concentrate on the question that mankind has been asking ever since Walt Whitman posed it in his second edition of Leaves of Grass: “Why can’t we have robots that clean our chimneys? And, also, play baseball for us?” Finally, the game Base Wars for the Nintendo Entertainment System realized that we could. And that it would be awesome. What follows is a short list of the ways in which robots demonstrate a marked improvement in the game of base-ball: A glowing, blinking, pink ball Replacing certain robot legs with tank treads Replacing certain robot legs with unicycles Replacing Linkin Park walk-up music with funky, bass-driven synthesizer New parts obtained from store, avoiding inconvenient surgery Eschewing umpires by deciding close plays by way of one-on-one combat to the death Said one-on-one combat to the death including laser swords People of the twenty-fourth century will look back on Base Wars as the moment when society finally got it – the point where we couldn’t yet realize the dream, but when we knew what the dream was. That dream, obviously, was sitting in stadiums floating in space to watch giant monochromatic automatons destroy each other with aforementioned laser swords. Destruction of the planet and consumption of finite natural resources be damned; this is a moment when we can all do little except quietly envy our moon-cavern-dwelling descendants of the future.