The Let's Play Archive

The Closer: Game of the Year Edition

by TheMcD

Part 5: Update IV - Exactly! The Game Is Always Bullshit!

Update IV - Exactly! The Game Is Always Bullshit!

♪ BGM: Transcend

Alright, so first of all, let's see what other answers we could've given in the trivia round, and what they would've resulted in.

Ben Stiller.
Jesus Christ, really Bobson?
First off, the name of the Ben Stiller movie is "The Watch" not "The Night Watch". Second, you're stretching the definition of the word "artist" pretty thin to even arrive at this answer. Third, "The Watch" isn't even in the top half of Ben Stiller's oeuvre. How can you even suggest that would be his most recognizable work? If we're talking about films in which he's acted, the answer is clearly "The Royal Tenenbaums". If he had to have more creative input, then it's a toss-up between "The Cable Guy" and "Tropic Thunder"... ...depending on whether you think history vindicated the former.
Heh... You think that Ben Stiller has an oeuvre.
I guess I'll just answer this question.

Terry Pratchett.
Really? You think that's the best Discworld novel?
I like time travel stories.
You're the only one.
Oh, come on! What's a better Discworld book?
Uh... Guards, Guards!, which The Night Watch was trying to invoke way too hard.
Huh, haven't read that one.
A-Are you fucking kidding me? Never mind, it's not important. I'll just handle this question.

What? No. God no. Paul Newman didn't live to see that godawful story disgrace the cinema.
Not the vampire romance, the crime film with Gene Hackman and Reese Witherspoon.
Really? Of all of Paul Newman's movies, you think *that* is the one he won an Academy Award for?
It's the only one I know...
I repeat myself: Of all Paul Newman's movies, *that* is the only one you know?
...Reese Witherspoon has a topless scene.
... ...I'll handle this question.

Balsamic Vinaigrette.
That's a salad dressing.
Are you sure?
I'm sure.
I'm pretty certain I saw Balsamic Vinaigrette in the theaters.
You might have seen a bottle of balsamic vinaigrette in a theater.
No, that doesn't make sense...
I'll just handle this question.

Really? You think that Stonehenge is visible from space?
How else did the aliens put it there?
Aliens didn't put up Stonehenge.
Oh, and next you're going to say that autism isn't caused by vaccines.
It isn't.
Then why have autism rates risen steadily over the last few decades, hmmm?
Diagnosis. Diagnosis has risen over the last few decades.
Jenny McCarthy wouldn't lie to me!
Yeah. Yeah she would. How about I handle this question?

My penis.
Real mature, Bobson. Really mature.
When those astronauts leave orbit, they have to account for the gravitational pull of my--
Funny that you'd refer to your genitalia as man-made. Is there something you're not telling us?
What? No. What's that supposed to mean?
I think you know what I mean.
Just... Just move on. You can handle this question.

The Moops. The correct answer is The Moops.
There's no Moops!
You sure about that?
The answer has to be the Moors.
There's no Moops, you idiot! Thankfully, I'm the one in control of the answer sheet.

That was the Nazis, right?
I don't even know where to start.
It... wasn't the Nazis?
In the 8th century?
The Nazis weren't good guys in the 8th century, were they? I always get confused by history.
There weren't any Nazis in the 8th century!
Really? Why not?
I... I don't even know where to begin. First of all, Christianity had only begun to flourish as a dominant religion. The concept of nations hadn't even truly been formed, which would have made the existence of National Socialism rather difficult. Certainly the anti-semitic aspect of everything was present at the time, but the core ethos simply couldn't form around existing ideology.
Oh. How about you handle this one?

And there we go. That trivia segment hid a whole lot of banter. Now, let's head outside and make our way into the bookstore.

♪ BGM: Spirits Among Us

I know. We just spent almost an hour doing trivia in a bar and we're only theoretically closer to fixing my slider.
That's not what I mean. Just wait a moment.

♪ BGM: Terminate

I recognize that walk-up music.
Walk-up music?
Most teams allow a batter to pick the song that plays when he steps to the plate. I'm surprised you never noticed it, given that you have been pitching professionally for several years.
That's not why I'm confused! We're in the middle of the street! There shouldn't be any walk-up music.

Fuck, it's the Machine.
Carlos Rodriguez? What are you doing here?
Isn't every day I get to break the spirit of an entire city... But of course I didn't do it alone, did I Bobson? I guess I was just curious what you two were up to. Apparently out for a drink? How quaint. I'm waiting until tomorrow to drink. That's when we're going to pop the champagne. You know, because we will have won the World Series.
I got what you meant.
And it will all be thanks to you, won't it? Down to your last strike...
Shut up!
You really thought your slider was untouchable, didn't you? You thought that a frisbee pitch like that would make you king of the world.
Or what? You're going to throw another meatball my way?
You never answered my question... Why are you here, Rodriguez? If you wanted to waste your time trying to get into a pitcher's head, wouldn't it make more sense to go after tomorrow's starter? The only way you're facing Bobson is if your team is down in the ninth inning. Seems like it wouldn be more productive to go after a pitcher you know you are going to face.
I wouldn't be so sure about any of that. You checked ESPN lately? Looked at your twitter feed?
We've been busy.
The media is calling for your head, Bobson. Don't be so sure you'll be the closer tomorrow.
What? No! Coach wouldn't do that! Not after just one bad pitch! No way! I'm right, aren't I, Moose?
His silence betrays him, Bobson. Why isn't he agreeing with you? Why isn't he defending you?
Stop it, Rodriguez. Stop it right now.
Defensive. Interesting.
You want a fight, Rodriguez? You've got a fight.
Moose, what are you doing?
I think the old man is going to try to pitch to me. Ohhh... This is delightful.
Moose, you can't! He's the reigning NL MVP! You haven't faced anyone like him in years!
Don't worry, Bobson. I know what I'm doing. Rodriguez is just a bully. I'll show him how a Hall of Fame pitcher handles a bully!
Uh, you're not in the Hall of Fame.
Well I should be!

You know, call me a pessimist, but I don't think this is going to end well. Oh well, let's give it a shot. Let's start with heat to maybe get ahead in the count quick.

Moose throws a fastball!
Strike 1! The batter swung right through the heat!

Now the opposite.

Moose throws a changeup!
Ball 1! The changeup was in the dirt! The hitter is now looking for a changeup!

Well, since he's looking for that now, back to the heat.

Moose throws a fastball!
Strike 2! The batter swung right through the heat!

Ha! You think you have me right where you want me, don't you?
Two strikes, Rodriguez. Even you have to know the odds are against you.
Just like they were against me earlier tonight, when I was facing Bobson? Just like the odds were against Carl Everett when--
Don't say that name to me!
It still bothers you, doesn't it? So close to a perfect game. I bet when he stepped to the plate, you were certain it would happen.
It was a perfect game! You can never expect something like that. There have been less than two dozen in the history of baseball.
Maybe you can't expect it going in, but when you're one out away... One strike away...
You're not going to get to me like this, Rodriguez. I'm a student of baseball history. I know that a perfect game is incredibly rare, and mostly just a matter of chance. I'm not going to get upset about losing something most pitchers never even come close to.
But you're not most pitchers, Moose. That at bat against Carl Everett was a microcosm of your entire career. Never won a World Series. Never received a Cy Young award. And that wasn't your only near no-hitter. So good but just not good enough. If you just managed to push one more strike past Everett, you would have been something special. A member of that elite club. But you couldn't even fool a man who doesn't believe in dinosaurs.
That's ENOUGH!

Well, we only have one option now. Moose is pissed and wants to put Rodriguez away with his best pitch. But Rodriguez probably knows that it's coming. And what happens when a hitter knows a pitch is coming?

Moose throws a knuckle-curve!
Carlos Rodriguez demolishes the pitch!

Oh man, I think I hit that one out of New York state.

H-how? You just crushed my knuckle-curve!
Not much of a pitch, if I say so myself. And I do.
I... I don't know what to say.
You're old. You're rusty. That's all there is to say. Well, my work here is done.

♪ BGM: Moose

It's okay, Bobson. He's gone now.
What do you think that was about?

Well, only one choice to be made here.

Fuck that! Carlos Rodriguez is just trying to get under your skin. He's just fucking with you. I don't care if he hit a homerun off me tonight, or if he's the second coming of Ted Fucking Williams, he's got no right to talk shit like that. You're one of the best pitchers of the 90s and 00s. 270 fucking wins--
Wins really aren't the best way to evaluate a pitcher.
I know that and I don't care! My point is that you're a god damn legend. He'll be lucky if future baseball historians even talk about him in the same breath as you. He's only trying to derail us from our quest to find a pitch that can strike him out tomorrow.
Thanks, Bobson. You're right.We should hurry up and move along. The longer I stand here moping, the more we play into his hand.

TheMcD's Baseball Stuff posted:

Ted Fucking Williams is one of the names that absolutely has to come up when the question of the greatest baseball player of all time is asked. Williams, above all, was the absolute god of plate discipline. That's why he is the all-time leader in career on-base percentage at .482 - or in other words, Williams got on base nearly half the time he stepped up to the plate, which is insane. He is the last hitter since 1941 to have completed a season with a batting average of over .400.

Williams played from 1939 to 1942, then he went off to war for three years. Then he came back and continued destroying baseballs. Then he got majorly injured in 1950, shattering his elbow while crashing into an outfield wall. Then he came back and continued destroying baseballs. Then he went to war in Korea. Then he came back and continued destroying baseballs. Then he eventually suffered a decline, culminating in a 1959 season where he was actually a net negative to his team. Everybody thought he would retire. Everybody except him. So then he came back for one more season and continued destroying baseballs. To my way of thinking, there are only two hitters that compare to Williams as far as MLB is concerned, and both of those names will probably come up at some point.

As for stats, here, we have the win brought up. The win (and its counterpart, the loss) is an archaic stat that really has no more place in baseball these days. Basically, here's how it works. The pitcher that pitched the last half-inning before the winning team took the lead for the last time gets the win. Two caveats to that: The starting pitcher must complete five innings to qualify for a win. If he doesn't do that, the official scorer gives the win to the reliever he thought was the most effective. Alternatively, if the reliever that pitched the half-inning before the winning team took the lead for the last time was "ineffective in a brief appearance" according to the scorer's judgment, then the scorer will also give the win to the reliever that he thought was the most effective.

It's a clusterfuck of a stat and it really doesn't say anything anymore. It sucks.

Now, we get to take on this guy.

♪ BGM: Transcend

We go into the pitching battle, but just use the item to end it.

Here, I have a first edition of Gravity's Rainbow. Will this get me into the store?
Where did you get that?
Actually, it was the bar next--
I don't care! This is perfectly acceptable! Go right ahead!

♪ BGM: Moose

Enjoy the bookstore.
Enjoy a book store? Ha!
Not now, Bobson.

And just like that, we're in the bookstore.

You should have a talk with the guy outside. He wasn't going to let me and my friend into the store.
Yeah, that's no way to run a business.
Let me handle this, Bobson. My point is that we're on something of a deadline, and your employee put us in a difficult spot.
Sorry about that, he gets pretty zealous about the rules.
Anyway, we need your most recent New York Times crossword collection.
I do not like hearing an awkward silence right now. Did you hear me? We're in a hurry.
We're sold out of all our crossword books.
Are you KIDDING me?
It's the strangest thing. A guy just came in and bought every single crossword book in the store. He was wearing a baseball uniform, too. With a red cap.
Carlos Rodriguez!
So that's what he was doing here... He must have known what we were planning to do.
Hold up. Are you trying to tell me that Rodriguez knew that we were going to use crossword puzzles to help me learn a new pitch? And, moreover, that we were headed to this very bookstore, and that he could thwart us by purchasing all the books before we could get here?
I know. This is very problematic.
What do we do now?
You're thinking about doing electronic crosswords again, aren't you?
I can get them for free on my iPad...
It won't work.
Then how about we go back to the stadium and actually work on my pitching mechanics?
Listen, we had to work hard to get in here, so I think we should take a look around. There might be something else that can help.
Really? You think so?

Well, there's not a lot going on here as far as useful books is concerned, but there's somebody else here, so let's have a chat with them.

Who are you?
My name is Moose. I'm the pitching coach for the New York--
Bah. Bored. I'm not interested any more.
Hey! You can't talk to Moose like that.
I "can't"? What a bizarre choice of words. It is fascinating that you believe there something innate in either yourself or Mr. Moose here that would render me incapable of speaking my mind. Perhaps, due to your inborn physical gifts, you have been pampered and catered to throughout your entire lives. Those around you are so enamored with your talent that they suppress their critical opinions of you, leaving you unable to handle dissent.
Who the hell do you think you are?

♪ BGM: Zizek's Theme

Slavoj Zizek.

TheMcD's... Philosophy Stuff? posted:

...OK, yeah, this isn't going to be the most detailed rundown. Still, I guess I should give some sort of information here.

Slavoj Zizek (or rather Žižek, but I'm not finding those fucking characters on a regular basis) is a Slovenian philosopher. If I were to attempt to describe where he fits in on the general political scale, I would file him under "dirtbag left", as somebody who is both anti-capitalism and anti-political-correctness.

However, I'm not here to explain his philosophical thoughts, because I am wholly unqualified to do so. Shit, when I first played this game, I didn't even know Zizek was a real person. What I can tell you is that Zizek is a very unique person, and he does not give a shit what you think. At one point during a lecture, he was cut off by the presenter, who said it was time for him to take questions. He asked if he could pick the people from the audience himself, which he was allowed to. So he called on himself and asked a question to himself, that being "what would you have said if you had more time?". Then he continued as normal. In his position as a professor, he openly states that if you take one of his classes and hand absolutely nothing in, you will get top marks. If you do hand something in, then you better be prepared to have it picked apart and graded accordingly.

I believe The Closer very much replicates this uniqueness. I can't tell worth a shit if his philosophy is accurately represented, though. Now, to close this out, here are some random videos of Zizek. I post these because his way of speaking, just like his character, is very unique, and knowing this enhances the experience.

As a side note, try and see how many times you can count Zizek either sniffing or tugging at his shirt in that last clip. It's become somewhat of a habit, and some ascribe it to a cocaine habit, which, honestly, wouldn't be out of character for him.

The philosopher?
Does it really matter what I define myself as? Is that so important to you that you would question me on how I perceive my own self?
I guess it doesn't really matter.
We should go, Moose. My head ishurting from all the thinking I'm starting to do.
Good! Thinking is bad for you. It only leads to other things that are bad for you, like acting, and so on, and so on.
Wait a second, Bobson. Zizek might be able to help us.
Really? What does he know about baseball?
Baseball? What do I know about baseball? I know that it is a game, and that it is a game with rules. Therefore it is death. Baseball is death.
That is oversimplifying things quite a bit--
No, in fact, it is making things far too complicated. But I can see how you would not see that.
Really, you think this guy can help us?
He's one of the pre-eminent thinkers of our time. It would be foolish to ignore his presence.
Who is to say that I want to help you? What would be the point? You seek advancement, but I know that advancement is an illusion. We do not advance as individuals. We merely stand still while the world moves backwards.
Bobson gave up a game-winning home run tonight. He needs to learn a new pitch by tomorrow.
Game seven of the World Series!
So you wish to create a new form of pitching for yourself, so that you might overcome those who have defeated your other forms?
Something like that.
Never mind that creation is a fruitless endeavor. God botched the act of creation, who are we to think we can do better? Still, I am interested. The question remains: are you interested?
Of course I'm interested! If I have to pitch tomorrow, I need something to mix in with my fastball or I'm toast.
Mixing and toasting? To start, you fixate on food. Items that you prepare and consume. Equal parts birth and death. Fascinating.
Well you seem pretty fucking fixated on death.
Ah, turnabout. I approve, though is it not true to say that we are all fixated on death? Show me that you are truly interested in proceeding and I will assist. Since you are a man of games, we will play a game.
What sort of game?

This is not the dusty wasteland of the American armies, struggling in vain to feed oxygen through the respirator of dying Imperialism. Nor is this the black-and-white nonsense of chess, which attempts to validate atrocities with intellectualism. This is the canvas upon which a true conflict between men can be wrought.
Uh... This is tic-tac-toe. And why are there only four squares instead of nine?
Simple, my friend.
If you don't already understand, I can't begin to explain. I will go first.

So, thus we have tic-tac-toe. Except Zizek has kinda fucked us here, because there is no way we can't lose. Regardless of where we put our circle, he can make a row of two and win. Or is that truly the case?

You realized that I had changed the rules of the game to make it impossible for you to win. Thus to defeat me, the only thing that you could do was to change the rules yourself. Bravo! Now it is I who cannot win, unless I change the rules once more. But even then, you can just change them back and so on, and so on. Truly, now, we can only come to a draw. For, you see, we have both agreed to change the rules which govern the rules, and now there is anarchy in which anything goes.
The game was bullshit.
Exactly! The game is always bullshit!
What was the point of this?
The point, my friend, is that simply by agreeing to play a game in which there are rules, you have already lost.
That's silly.
Rules, even in the oldest game, are not handed down from on high. They are devised by men, and men seek advantages from other men. You must always ask yourself: who is it that made these rules, and who is it that benefits from them?
Well, I'm pretty sure whoever made the rules of baseball is dead. So there's that.
Ah, you are still thinking too small. Never mind, I will help you think bigger, or at least shrink the universe so that your thoughts seem larger.

I will try to open your eyes, but I will not cut off your eyelids.
This is great news, Bobson. The help of a philosopher like Zizek is far more substantial than a few crossword puzzles.
So we're making progress! I knew we could do it!
Yeah, I'm finally starting to feel like we're on the way up.
So, what's the plan?
Let's walk and talk.

♪ BGM: Closer's Theme

The goal is for Bobson to learn a new pitch, or at least recover his slider for one more day.
Slider? So this is all about tiny hamburgers? I have a recipe, but it requires a certain hot pepper only available in the year 1992.
A slider is a type of pitch. You know, because I'm a baseball player.
Oh yes, baseball. I briefly forgot, as I was too busy thinking about God.
I was thinking we could go back and watch video of famous pitchers to inspire us. Or, now that you are with us, you could point us to a Hegelian text that will give us clues on how to deconstruct Bobson's pitching style.
While that is tempting, and I could spend all night listing off Hegelian texts that you should read, I do not believe it will be helpful.
Thank fucking god.
You see, while we require dense Marxist tracts in order to find the truth, we must seek The Truth in other places.
What's the difference between the truth and The Truth?
Everything... And nothing. The Truth makes itself much more apparent in the low arts. If you wish to understand the je ne sais quoi of the American psyche, you do not read Saul Kripke, you read Nora Roberts. You do not watch the films of Matthew Barney, you watch the films of Michael Bay.
So you're saying we should watch Bad Boys II?
No. Well, yes. But not now. Bobson, what is the lowest art you can think of?
That's easy: midget movies.
Midget is...uh...not the proper term, Bobson.

And what is the lowest form of video game?
Don't say midget games. Don't say midget games. Don't say midget games.
Eroge. The Japanese erotic visual novel. They are but flimsy pretexts for graphic displays of cartoon nudity, framed in poorly-written juvenile romance stories.
I do not like where this is going.
So you ask me: "Zizek, what does this have to do with pitching, or baseball, or anything of any relevance?" Well, while destiny is fake, it has nevertheless brought us together at a convenient time. I am in possession of one of these godawful pieces of dreck, and I believe that you will find it useful for reasons other than masturbatory.
This is all fascinating, but am I the only one who notices the never-ending hallway we're in?
It is symbolic. Truly, what is life but a never-ending hallway? Surely you do not anticipate the end so much that you hurry to reach it.
If you say so.
So you think that we need to play a x-rated Japanese visual novel to help Bobson?
The greatest of insights comes from the lowest of art. Once, I convinced a suicidal man to embrace his existence by compelling him to listen to the greatest hits of Britney Spears. You do not understand the value of your own heartbeat until you are overwhelmed by the steady thrum of insipid pop. It is like the tick-tock of the devil's clock, and it forces you to keep living, if only to provide an alternate rhythm to the universe.
I think we should do it, Moose. What's the worst thing that could happen? I haven't seen any cartoon breasts in like... three days.
Okay, then it is decided.

♪ BGM: Zizek's Theme

I do not approach my problems like you and Moose. I am not a pitcher, and thus I cannot use baseballs to overcome obstacles. Rather, I use critique to deconstruct ideas...and my enemies.
Oh, critique? Like when you go to a restaurant and the soup is only warm, so you go on Yelp and write a review saying the food is "pedestrian". I can totally do that, too.
I should kill you.
Okay then...
Currently, I can only use two types of critique. We may learn more as we continue our journey.
What's the difference between the two?
You would not understand. But I will try to explain. ...
You're not saying anything.
Exactly. I will demonstrate, by examining the concept of irony.

So, thus we have arrived at another combat tutorial. Combat in this game is really not what you would have expected going into this game.

Anyway, Zizek has two types of critique he can use against enemies. Let's take one for a spin.

Zizek applies a Marxist critique!

Irony conceives of itself as the rejection of ideology, but it is an ideology all of its own.

When you apply a critique, you are given two options to continue the thought. Choose the correct one and deal "damage". Choose the incorrect one and don't deal "damage". Here, let's pick "smash the system".

Exactly! One cannot build with a gun, though one can always kill with a shovel.

We need to get three correct to get through this tutorial, so let's do some more.

Zizek applies a Kantian critique!

Is it not true that an external environment is necessary for the establishment of the self? If so, and if we are to believe that we have any value, then we must believe that there exists counter-value beyond the bounds of our own flesh.



And one more. We get the same one as above when we try another Marxist critique, though there are several different critiques that can be thrown at you randomly. With that, we've finished the tutorial.

Looks easy??? Are you kidding?
You were just, like, talking. I can do that.
Let's just move on and pretend that you never said anything.

♪ BGM: Silence ♫

He seemed like a strange man, and I didn't feel entirely comfortable with his plan to help me by playing an erotic Japanese video game, but we were running out of choices. More importantly, we were running out of time. The Machine had somehow gotten wind of Moose's idea to fix me using crossword puzzles, and foiled us before we could even begin. As we traveled to Zizek's house, the clock struck 12. It was midnight, and for all of Moose's optimism, I still hadn't even begun to learn a new pitch. Normally I would have never been caught dead playing a fucked up Japanese video game, but if someone as smart as Zizek thought it was what I needed, I was willing to swallow my pride and choke back disgust.

♪ BGM: City Theme

If you want something to eat, just check the refrigerator.

And here we are. That'll be it for this update - next time, we dive into the wonderful world of eroge. And trust me - it's not going to go the way you think it will go. Then again, I doubt you have any real idea on how things will go at this point.