Lessons in Procrastination: R.B.I. Baseball 3

If you’ve yet to read The Cultural Importance of Keith Hernandez, posted yesterday by my esteemed NotGraphs colleague Dayn Perry, and not yet watched the slightly not safe for work short film “I’m Keith Hernandez” he shared, trust me: do so. I’ll wait.

Twenty minutes well spent, eh? I told you so. When any short film begins with Keith Hernandez’s Seinfeld cameo, you know it’s not going to disappoint. And on a cold and snowy Monday afternoon up in the Great White North, “I’m Keith Hernandez” scratched me right where I itched.

Procrastination through baseball; I’ve got it almost down to an art. And recently on my travels along the highway of information, I hit the jackpot: R.B.I. Baseball 3. While video games have certainly come a long, long way, there’s nothing like a game of baseball displayed vividly in 8-bit graphics, using baseball’s 1990 rosters.

I was the Toronto Blue Jays, of course. It was an afternoon affair, in Kansas City. Dave Stieb versus Kevin Appier.

It wasn’t pretty, an 11-1 Royals final. Dave Stieb took the loss after giving up six runs in the first inning, and was spelled in relief by Jim Acker, Jimmy Key, Duane Ward and Tom Henke. My only run came courtesy of an inside the park home run by John Olerud. It was wild. Appier went the distance for the Royals, striking out 12, Tony Fernandez and Junior Felix twice, and Kelly Gruber three times. By the 8th inning, Appier was tossing junk 27 MPH. But it didn’t matter; I couldn’t hit him.

Some pointers:

• When you’re ranging right with your shortstop, trying to get to a ball in the hole on the left side of the diamond, your left fielder is running to his right, too. And when inevitably your shortstop doesn’t get there in time, you’re screwed. It’s maddening.
• On fly balls, there’s no assist circle on the field, where you’re supposed to end up to catch the ball. More madness.
• The sound effects are utterly amazing. Appreciate them.

Did I get rocked? Absolutely. Most importantly: I had fun. And that’s what counts. They were twenty-seven minutes I wouldn’t ask to be returned.

I also found, on the same website, Nintendo’s 1983 release, Baseball, and 1987’s R.B.I. Baseball.

Enjoy. And don’t mention it.

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Navin Vaswani is a replacement-level writer. Follow him on Twitter.

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I also had a good time with the game. “Ken Griffey Presents”
They don’t use the real players names, but you can mostly figure it out…


First, thank you for the link to ‘I’m Keith Hernandez’–great stuff. Second, if you ever want some tips on how to succeed at RBI Baseball III, just let me know. There are a few flaws in the AI–namely base-running tactics that exploit the defense–which enable me to win more than 99% of my games on the most difficult setting.

Like any film starting with a Keith Hernandez cameo in Seinfeld, an article starting with a reference to RBI Baseball III won’t disappoint either. Good job, Mr. Vaswani.


Let me know when you pull off a suicide squeeze.


Thanks to the AI, an attempted suicide squeeze basically results in a double as long as it isn’t caught in the air. Once the pitcher fields the bunt, he will automatically throw it home. The runner on third simply needs to run back-and-forth between third and home without getting halfway to the plate. While that’s happening, the hitter is free to advance to second base without a throw from the catcher.


I am the greatest RBI Baseball 3 player of all time. I have been undefeated in the game for close to two decades.


Procrastination through RBI Baseball 3 story:

Back in my first few months of my old job that involved watching baseball, I was training a new employee on the inner-workings of the clipping system. It was a Sunday night in the middle of summer, so Sunday Night Baseball was the only thing keeping him and I in the building. I can’t remember who was playing (Texas, probably) but I can remember this: It rained a lot that night. 20 minutes into a rain delay I loaded a website on my work computer that allowed me to play RBI Baseball 3 for free online.

I instructed the rookie (as part of his training) to find out who the best two teams in the game would have been. As a pair, we picked the Oakland Athletics to represent our training session. He would manage and I would play. With McGwire and Canseco we were sure we’d have more than enough runs on the board for Dave Stewart, who had won our hearts earlier in our lives as a member of the World Series Winning Blue Jays.

After a Canseco 2-run shot in the 4th put us ahead, we scrapped together a few more with some Ricky Henderson steals and handed 4 runs to Stew. And Dave Stewart was perfect through 5. Throwing smoke and off-setting it an un-hittable 12-6 that bounced in the dirt and a sweeping slider, he was locked in.

In the 6th, the 12-6 curveball stopped bouncing in front of the plate. Now it was just a slow meatball. But Stew busted two guys inside into ground outs and used the sweeping slider for a called 3rd strike. Perfect through 6.

The rain continued to pour in Texas. The prompter operator and the ticker guy had now heard rumours of the potential no-hitter taking place and they trickled over to bear witness. Stew responded to the pressure with an impressive first-pitch-swinging pop out and a battle 3-2 count ground out. The 7-pitch took a lot out of him and it was clear his fastball and straight control pitch now moved at the same speed. Even the side-to-side movement was slower. Mumblings and doubt started to spread. Stewart responded with a 4-pitch flyout to finish 7 perfect innings.

A deep breath, 3-outs later and Stew was back on the hill. No fastball, no curveball, no hits, no walks. The leadoff batter in the inning swings at the first pitch and laces a line drive right at the short stop. One loud out. The batter also loads up on the first pitch and hits it deep. Way back. And caught at the warning track. 2 outs. 2 very loud outs.

“One good pitch. One good pitch and I’m through the inning.” I say out loud, and just as quickly, the dream is dead. A line drive single into right field and the perfect game is no more. Applause from the viewers and a few pats on the back, but no glory. The next batter wastes no time, lining a 2-out double into the gap. Runners on 2nd and 3rd in a 4-0 game, the trainee pats me on the back. “Great game with Stewart. It’s time for Eck.” I shoot him a look and say “One more good pitch!”

No budging. The deal was that he’d be manager and I had to honour it.

Eckersley got a 4-out save in a 6-0 A’s win.

Oh yes, and it eventually stopped raining in Texas. (Or wherever it was)


Just lost 12-0. No idea how you managed to score.

25th Hour


Al though, this site is going to cost me many hours of my life now.


I don’t know how much truth there is to this story as I’ve played countless games of RBI 3 for the NES (you said 8 bit graphics), and you lost 11-1 to Kansas City. What I don’t elieve is the complete game by Kevin Appier.

In all the games I’ve played the CPU has never thrown a complete game, usually by the 4th or 5th inning they go to the bullpen. So Appier going the distance striking out 12 is not believable to me. Although him throwing 27 mph in the 8th inning does sound about right. If no baserunners got on, they might (again, not likely) have kept him in the game.

Also scoring your only run on an inside the park HR with Olerud, come on? He’s one of the slowest players in the game. Maybe if it was an error or one of the glitches that allowed it, but a straight inside the park home run would be very difficult (though not impossible) with him.

Archi…. Oakland was my team from RBI 3. I actually threw a one hitter against the NL All Stars with Bob Welch, Chris Sabo broke my perfect game bid with a one out single in the 7th.

It was this and the originial RBI, the series went downhill with the Genesis versions.