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Video Game / MLB: The Show

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Everybody Loves The Show.note 

Welcome To The Show
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MLB: The Show is a Major League Baseball video game series produced by SIE San Diego Studio, a development team that is part of SIE Worldwide Studios. The series debuted in 2006 for the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable (though it's technically a continuation of the older baseball sim series that began in 1997 on the original PlayStation; that phase of the show was simply titled MLB followed by the year). There has been a new release in the series every year since 2006, with '11 being the last PS2 version. The series was on the PS3 from '07 to '16, with '17's release being the first on the PlayStation 4 exclusively.

The main feature of the franchise is the Road to The Show. The player makes their own Player Character from scratch to guide from tryouts in Baseball City, Florida, through the MLB draft, through any given team's AA, and then AAA, affiliates, until finally you get to the titular Show itself, the major leagues. Aside from online multiplayer, another unique mode is Diamond Dynasty, wherein you create your own MLB team (logos, uniforms, location, etc.) and wage war against the other 30 MLB franchises to become the #1 baseball team in the entire country.


On December 9, 2019, it was announced that MLB: The Show would be ending its PlayStation exclusivity as soon as 2021 (see Last of Its Kind below). The first game post-exclusivity, MLB: The Show 21, was released on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S on April 20, 2021 with cross-platform multiplayer support. On January 31, 2022 it was announced that Nintendo Switch has joined the line of platforms starting with MLB: The Show 22. Cue the Flying Pigs.


This Series Contains Examples Of...

  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality: There is no scouting game immediately before the Major League Baseball draft. The MLB Scouting Bureau held open tryouts prior to 2015, and individual teams now have open tryouts to fill their Rookie and Single-A ball club. But as a simple way to get the player into Road to the Show, substituting for that process with something more intuitive and player-friendly like a brief tutorial of game mechanics followed by a pair of low-stakes games is a good choice.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: As the series has gone on, it has become supremely friendly towards player customization and accessibility for all skill levels and types, from gameplay to presentation, so that the game can be complex or as simple as a player demands without compromising the whole experience:
    • Having trouble fielding or baserunning, or simply don't want to do it? There's an option for the AI to do that for you.
    • Want a simpler 16-bit style approach to hitting, fielding, and pitching over the modern day meters and mechanics? There are independent options to turn each of those into an old-school aim-and-press-X mechanic.
    • Want a quicker game? You can turn off all the presentation flairs like camera cutaways and even the AI delay between pitches.
    • Players can save mid-game and finish it later if they need to be elsewhere, simulate half-innings (if the player just wants to hit or pitch), full innings (if the player wants to skip to crunch time), and to game completion.
    • Hitting and pitching have separate difficulty levels and sliders, so players can find a sweet spot for both stages of the game independently. The game also offers dynamic difficulties for both, where the game will slowly raise or lower the difficulty level batter by batter depending on how well/poorly the player is doing. Even the scale of how much the game auto-adjusts difficulty can be adjusted.
  • Developer's Foresight:
    • Blast a home run out over the fence and hit one of the famous landmarks of a certain park? (e.g. the Liberty Bell at Citizen's Bank Park, Minnie & Paulie over Target Field, the fountain in Kauffman Stadium) There's an achievement for that!
    • The game also has a control option that requires just a single button to play, designed specifically for physically disabled gamers.
  • Dump Stat:
    • Not really possible after the overhaul introduced Stat Grinding as the main way of leveling, but Contact is largely seen as a completely useless stat, due to Power doing everything it does, but better.
    • Bunting and Drag Bunting tend to go absolutely ignored by the majority of players because it's less exciting than creating a power hitter that can send ball out of the yard, and also because bunting as a mechanic is extremely unreliable.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Taking aside the earlier MLB (year) entries, MLB 06: The Show (and 07: The Show for that matter) both featured additional minigame modes: one mimicking the Home Run Derby, and the other being a brightly-colored, timed arcade mode dubbed "King of the Diamond" (where only a pitcher and catcher are physically present, and certain actions, like hitting targets in the outfield, gain points). These minigames weren't present in the PS3 version of 07 The Show and have been completely absent since. 07 also let you play with teams comprised of classic players (Golden Age and Silver Age).
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: The commentators can announce many first names, last names, city names, and team nicknames for custom teams and players.
  • The Hero's Journey: A modern, sports-centered example of it, as detailed in Road to the Show.
  • Last of Its Kind:
    • Sony was one of six(!) companies to release a console baseball sim in 2003note ; today, it is the only one left on the market, and until a landmark deal struck in 2019, a first-party PlayStation exclusive at that to the chagrin of baseball fans without a Sony machine. And unlike similar cases in other sports game genres, this is not due to a league exclusivity deal; everyone else bowed out due to time lapsed from a prior exclusivity deal in the aughts (EA),note  poor games and sales (2K, Microsoft), studio closures (Acclaim, 3DO), and escalating license fees (EA and 2K again).
    • This trope is actually the reason Major League Baseball and Sony came to a lucrative agreement to bring the first-party series to other consoles beginning in 2021. For most of the The New '10s, no one stepped up to create baseball sims in the wake of The Show's dominance, leaving MLB's own media team to develop an arcade/sim hybrid revival of RBI Baseball for Xbox- and Nintendo-starved fans, which was poorly received. MLB worked out a deal with Sony to bring their seminal sim elsewhere, since there's little financial point for MLB to have a well-regarded official baseball game if it's only exclusive to one console.
  • Leitmotif: Since the start of The Show series, the game boots up with a 30-second fanfare at the main menu that has become synonymous with the series for long-time fans, especially its ending flourish.
  • Lucky Charms Title: Starting with MLB The Show 16, MLB is actually not spelled out on the official title logo, but represented by the MLB logo in its place.
  • Market Based Cover: Starting in '12, the cover has featured different players for releases in different markets, primarily Canadian, Taiwanese, and Korean markets.
  • New Season, New Name: Has happened twice in franchise history. MLB 06: The Show was the first iteration with the Road to the Show mode, and The Show subtitle was added to the game to promote it (Sony did a similar tactic with its NBA games, first with NBA 06: Featuring The Life and NBA 09: The Inside). Later, the game's official title underwent a tweak in 2016; with the game often being referred to as MLB The Show rather than MLB [year], the title was switched up to reflect it, going from MLB XX: The Show to MLB The Show XX.
  • One Stat to Rule Them All: Road to the Show has a couple of examples of this.
    • Power is the single most important stat a batter can have, because it can either bypass or help indirectly build the rest. For example, Plate Discipline and Plate Vision are non-issues if the player is good enough, and it's far more efficient to build Contact and Speed by launching extra-base balls and homers using Normal swings. About the only things Power doesn't help with are Bunting and Stealing, but those stats are relatively useless without Contact and Speed anyway.
    • Speed is the most important stat for a fielder, because it enables said fielder to get to the ball and make a play faster. The only exception is Catcher, where Blocking and Arm Strength are the two most important stats, but even then, Speed will help a Catcher with Bunt Defense. In addition, it's a good stat to have if your character doesn't excel at extra-base hits, thus preventing him from being released due to poor batting performance.
    • BB/9 makes the pitching interface much easier to use, thus enabling the player's pitcher to put the ball where they want it. It doesn't matter how good your character is at hurling flamethrowers or breaking pitches if those pitches constantly miss outside the plate (or worse, over the plate).
  • Player Character: Typically made for Road to The Show, where you choose, among other things, your position, equipment, and—starting in '17—your attitude to certain incidents that come up in Road to The Show's cutscenes.
    • Character Customization: It goes beyond that. You also get to choose which songs play when your player comes to bat, hits a home run, strikes someone out, even (through uploading to the system itself) what people cheer at you while you're playing!
  • Recycled Title: There's two games with the year 2006 in the title, but they are actually different games. MLB 2006 was the first SDS-developed game, released in 2005. The next game, released in 2006, is MLB 06: The Show, with all the annual upgrades, the new Road to the Show mode, and matching the year in the title with the release year. Unlike other sports, MLB plays its schedule within the same calendar year, so it doesn't need the year-in-advance title like Madden or NBA 2K; to avoid confusion with which game is supposed to go with a specific baseball season, baseball developers in the mid-aughts began to match title and release years.
  • Scenery Porn: The stadiums are all painstakingly recreated for The Show. MLB 09 introduced time-of-day cycles; instead of shading stadium lighting and shadows for day/afternoon/night in static form all game, the game replicates every stadium's lighting as they are in real-life over a three-hour game at a specific time, and in later games, specific months. This greatly enhanced the game's visual fidelity, recreating everything from the notoriously difficult afternoon shadows around home plate in Oakland, to the stark daylight-to-night-time cycle of 7pm local time games.
  • Screw Destiny: You can wait for your character to be picked in the draft...or after Baseball City, you can pick what team you want to play for and your name is automatically called when it's that team's turn to pick.
  • Stat Grinding: In The Show 18, Road to the Show character growth was changed so that rather than earning generic points that could be allocated anywhere the player chose, characters can only improve by using those stats in game or by undergoing special training specifically for that stat. That means if you want to say, become a better baserunner, then you have to successfully steal more bases. Keyword: successfully. The Catch-22 is that if you're bad at the skill in the first place, you will have an uphill climb trying to improve at it. Especially since out-of-play training only occurs on the team's days off and which training is available is randomized. Then again, you could always buy special equipment from the online marketplace to give marginal improvements to those stats and thus make them easier to use/train with.
  • Violation of Common Sense: Due to the Stat Grinding mechanics of later Road to the Show games, it's sometimes in a player's best interests to do things that no real pro baseball player would do.
    • Particularly, Challenges; even if your team really needs you to simply put the ball in play, if the game tells you to "Power Swing for a double or more", it's in your long-term interests to do it.
    • As an outfielder, you gain Arm Accuracy and Arm Strength points for throwing to a base you have no chance of getting an out for rather than throwing ahead to bases you need to cover.
    • If you want to boost Steal points, it's better to run on first movement even if you're not sure if the pitcher will try for a pick-off.
    • To gain Plate Vision, it's actually better to swing at strikes early or late so that you'll foul them off and get more pitches rather than risk putting the ball in play.
    • To gain Plate Discipline, it's better to check a swing at pitches you know aren't even close to the strike zone.
    • To gain general baserunning stats (or complete baserunning Challenges), it's better to NOT take any extra bases even if you have the opportunity, so that you have more chances to steal bases.