Note: I would have posted this earlier, but I couldn’t find the booklet until I found it under my car seat a couple of days ago.
I was at an Indians-Royals game back in early June and was handed the week’s edition of “Batter Up!” that the workers hand out when you’re walking in. It contains rosters, concession stand details, the season schedule, and most importantly, a feature player and a story about him. Well, this particular week’s was Josh Barfield, second baseman ordinaire. I flipped through to the middle page, where the feature story was waiting. Usually, it’s something about the player and his kids or his contributions to a charity organization. Barfield? Not so much.
The article, titled “A True Gamer On & Off the Field” written by David Briggs of MLB.com, goes on about Barfield’s “achievements” and time spent playing video games. Take special note of the complete seriousness of the author. I will do my best to summarize the article with some quotes from it:
His days often start with video games. He then heads off to work, where his portable PSP system allows him to sneak in a few more games. And finally, before he crashes, the night winds down with yet some more gaming back at his apartment with his roommate (Ryan Garko).
It’s a scholarly video-gaming lifestyle Barfield shares with many young players in the big leagues. How many other guys walked the red carpet at last year’s Video Game Awards in Las Vegas, participated in a gaming competition during Super Bowl week in Miami and are a member of the Professional Baseball Gaming League? Yes, a professional video game league. Formed by Yankees center fielder and self-proclaimed commissioner Johnny Damon.
To Barfield’s credit, he never slacked off on his rigorous gaming routine once he made it big. In fact, his passion has only heightened over time.
“I’ve never seen anyone with so much enthusiasm for video games,” Garko said. He plays in the afternoon, at night, at the park, on the plane, pretty much anywhere but second base.
If you’re an Indians fan, you’re asking yourself where that enthusiasm and “rigorous routine” is when the guy is at the plate. As of August 7, his batting average stands at .245 (OBP .273, SLG .320). He has 2 HRs and 48 RBIs through 106 games. What a joke. I almost guarantee his stats in MLB 2K7, or whichever baseball game the kids are playin’ these days, are about double that considering his gaming abilities compared his actual baseball talents.
Barfield also loves the competition…
Right now, that competition comes from his daily NBA 2K7 showdowns with Garko, a guy who just might be Barfield’s match. The roommates guess they’ve split about 100 games in the virtual basketball arena, though Barfield is coming on strong. Winning three straight, Barfield has sent his buddy into panic mode, which means Garko’s hometown Lakers will be making a cameo.
“They’re my emergency team when things aren’t going well,” Garko said. “That’s when I take it personally.”
But Barfield will be waiting. And acknowledging he’s now reached the “big time” in the video gaming world, Barfield knows he cannot be dethroned by a mere amateur.
If I’m Mark Shapiro (Cleveland's GM), I get a trade lined up involving Barfield and Garko, ASAP. This is going to turn into a carpel tunnel syndrome nightmare.