Jeff Francoeur Is Good At Looking Like Chris Redfield…

I read that yesterday Jeff Francoeur of the New York Mets had a meeting with Jerry Manuel before the game.  Francoeur (who has seen his production drop sharply in the last month and a half) has been messed up at the plate and seen a stark regression in his power numbers, getting so bad he went 25 games in-between doubles.  He had this to say to the media after the meeting but before the Saturday game vs. the Brewers:

I’ve let way too many people into my circle of trust…I listened to three people last year: Jerry, HoJo and Gary Sheffield…I’ve got to listen to HoJo and Jerry, and everybody else, I’m not going to be a [jerk] about it, I’ll take their advice and let it go in one ear and out the other…Right now I’m up at the plate and I’m thinking about six different things, and you can’t hit doing that.

What’s interesting is Mets’ Manager Jerry Manuel is the main person responsible for Francoeur’s torrid (i.e. completely unsustainable) start, making him swing at pitches a foot out of the strike zone in Spring Training.  The whole point of that exercise was to show him that his plate approach stunk and to take more pitches so he could swing at hittable pitches in batters’ counts.  Since the meeting Francoeur seemed to respond, going 6-9 with 2 doubles, 3 runs scored, 2 RBIs and 2 stolen bases.  Though it’s probably a coincidence that he’s hit well after his  talk, the more probable reason goes something like this:

Manuel: “You gotta open your hips up and stop swinging at pitches over your head, Jeff.”

Francoeur: “I know, but they look so good to swing at!”

Manuel: “Hey I got an idea. Jeff, I have an exercise for ya! You know Resident Evil 5?”

Francoeur: “Yeah, good series. I seen it a few-”

Manuel: “You need to make yourself look like Chris Redfield.”

Francoeur: “…”

Manuel: “Trust me, you start looking and thinking like him, your confidence will soar. Just imagine you’re wielding a knife and the ball is some Majini’s head. I guarantee you success at the plate.”

Francoeur: “Have you gone completely insane?”

Manuel: “ehhh … that’s a good question.  But then again I’m not going to have my job taken away from  me when Carlos Beltran comes back because of Angel Pagan’s play.”

Francoeur: “… I’m gonna have to buy styling gel to replicate Chris’s hair, won’t I?”

Jeff Francoeur during Saturday's game...

Chris Redfield from Resident Evil 5

So far their is no word if Jerry Manuel plans to have struggling pitcher John Maine and Oliver Perez look like Jill Valentine and Sheva Alomar.


IGN shanked the game Kingdom Hearts 2 . . . discovers why

On Tuesday, March 28th 2006 a great rejoicing was heard around the land. Hundreds and thousands ran to their local videostores to pick up Kingdom Hearts 2, a game produced by the unlikely bedfellows of Disney Interactive and Square-Enix. Raving American schoolgirls and Disney aficionados held their copy of the latest adventures with Sora, Donald, Goofy and looked forward to interacting in new worlds like Tron and The Pirates of the Caribbean (umm, has anyone noticed yet the last one ISN’T animation?). The reviewing community was ready to welcome in the game with a parade of 9s, 10s, As, A+, SuperCompuMegaGlobul A++ to the third power or whatever stupid numeral system the establishments use to rate games nowadays. But all was not well . . .

As the gaming sites of the world like Gamespy (4.5 out of 5), (9 out of 10), GameSpot (8.7 out of 10), Gaming Age (A), and Game Zone (9.4 out of 10) all paid homage to the game, one site dared to differ. With the power of the keyboard, they committed an act so amazing that the disturbance was felt by the Jedis themselves. Out of the darkness a lone website decided to challenge the reviewing status quo by giving the extremely-hyped title a score of 7.6! That site . . . IGN (Read their review here). An excerpt from the review is as follows:

“Personally, I understand the eagerness behind KHII — I and many other guys in the office were really excited when the game arrived, and as someone who’s played and beaten the original and GBA title a number of times, I was definitely looking forward to this one. However, once I, and some of the others, started playing the game, it was a definite let down. The combat was way too simple, and while the number of attacks and abilities gives the player a lot of ways to kill opponents, it’s eventually unfulfilling and boring. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a beautiful title with a great story, but literally turning it’s back on most of the RPG elements and explorations of the worlds does the game a great disservice.”

Now, the first thing I thought is probably what you people thought: HAVE THEY LOST THEIR GODDAMN MIND??. Did the one good writer they have go out on vacation?? I mean come on now, 7.6! However, I decided to be tolerant until I delved deeper into the mystery of Review-Gate, so I decided to assemble a crack team of hardcore gamers, testers, and street researchers to find any reason they gave the game such a low score considering they gave the first game a 9.0. Maybe they found some fault everyone else didn’t. Maybe they struck upon a proverbial gaming equivalent of a “merlin” . . . or maybe IGN really did stand for IGNorance (Note the scoring disparity between the site, press, and gamers as up 3/28). After three days of extensive testing and rigorous examination, my team was stunned to see the results. What we found in the game . . . was blaxploitation.

First, we compared character designs and story from the first Kingdom Hearts game and compared it to the second. We noticed that Sora’s red/white/blue ensemble was replaced with an almost all-black outfit a.k.a “gang” colors — even his shoes are black! It was a look a whopping 75% of gang members we polled liked. Not only was that change apparent, but we saw a change in Sora’s happy go-lucky attitude and fighting style, which combined with the attire change meant his transformation from Disney wimp to badass was complete. Second, there was a trend we found in both KH games that we never could explain until now. At times in Kingdom Hearts munny becomes a factor when trying to buy newer, stronger items and accessories, and to do so you’ll need to sell of you own equipment. Donald and Goofy could do so easily (with the exception I believe of their starter weapons), but with Sora it was impossible. Considering he could receive like 20+ different ones, Why could you never sell Sora’s old unused Keyblades? The answer hit us like a bolt of lightning . . . collectable bling. Besides the in-game benefit of a stronger in-game weapon, we found out younger Kingdom Hearts fans who collected the rarer Keyblades used it as a symbol of status and superiority. Surprisingly among the elementary school students we talked to, almost half (46%) said it was more important to find every Keyblade than it was to beat the game.

After much testing of the games’ fighting mechanics, we still we unable to uncover a smoking gun until one of our testers struck gold Thursday. After popping in a GameShark and using a code (we can’t tell you it here, sorry), you can unlock more characters to accompany Sora on his quest. However, we were stunned by the choice of characters used as unlockables. As this image clearly shows, somehow Disney and Sqare-Enix got permission and used Lil’ Kim and 50 Cent as secret unlockable characters.

We tested their combos as well as their magic attacks. 50 Cent’s is a strong playable character that doubles as a summon. When your party is overwhelmed, you can use his Summon ability Perfect Gangsta Rap Shield: When damage is about to be received, summon him and he takes all battle damage, dies, revives, and starts rapping. His magical freestyling about life on the street damages all enemies for 10 secs and can only be used once per battle, only when 50 Cent is not in your party.

Lil’ Kim has a balance of strong physical attacks/magic. Besides a bevy of kicks and punches, she only has one combo attack but it’s powerful; Naked Booby Beatdown. Since she had plastic surgery she likes to show off her chest, and one boob in particular. In KH2 she uses it as a weapon and swings it at an enemy. We obtained a sample of the attack which Black Entertainment Television planned to use in an upcoming movie seen here. She starts out with one magic attack but it’s a doozy: Crab Wave. When spreading her legs, crabs escape for her pants and an wave of them attack all enemies on the screen for ten seconds.

Based on our research, we believe IGN found out the same thing my staff has discovered, and this their way of punishing Kingdom Hearts II‘s shameful use of blaxploitation, trying to get the game more appeal in the African-American community. Therefore, the game falls into such hip-hop exploited titles like 187: Ride or Die and 25 to Life and gets what it deserves. Even though I think IGN is a fairer site than most people and Kingdom Hearts 2 is WAAYYYYYY too easy, I would think it would’ve received above an 8 at least. I just hope that a lesson has been learned by both the good people at Disney and Square-Enix.