One of the more underrated subplots of the MLB The Show Players League has been the prowess of Dwight Smith Jr. in turning his Orioles into an offensive powerhouse.
Smith entered Sunday night with confidence, blaring "Toosie Slide" by Drake in the background as he launched his stream, and he finally got his shot at 11-1 Joey Gallo and the Rangers -- but he fell, 5-0.
Though Smith was clearly in a funk as he reeled from the loss, he bounced back with such a soul-crushing performance by the Orioles' offense that he received a FaceTime call from opponent Niko Goodrum (Tigers) in the middle of their matchup.
Smith scored 16 runs (not a typo!) in the top of the third inning, aided by a ground ball off the third-base bag, a missed-catch mishap in center field and a booted grounder. Goodrum was already having a bad night, but this string of mishaps actually might have dug him into an existential crisis.
Goodrum and Smith are longtime acquaintances because they both grew up in the Atlanta area, and once Smith went up 17-0 ("I'm sending a message to everybody in the league with this, man!"), Goodrum just put down the controller and picked up his phone.
Fortunately for us, the cameras were rolling as Goodrum went through the five stages of grief (and probably tacked on a few stages at the end, to boot) while Smith rolled with laughter on the other end of the line.
Here's a sample of their best exchanges from the third inning of Smith's 17-1 win:
EXHIBIT 1, TOP 3RD
Smith sees the incoming call from Goodrum and giggles while muttering, "I'm sorry, Niko," to himself before he answers.
Smith: [uncontrollable laughter]
Goodrum: Hey, man, there ain't nothing I can do. I can't do nothing. I literally can't do nothing. I can't. Do. Anything. The ball goes down the middle. Hey, man. Hey, bruh. Hey. I'm gonna go to the bullpen, but every pitch is Down. The. Middle. I had one out and there were like, eight runs, bruh.
Smith: [more uncontrollable laughter]
Goodrum: All right, I'm gonna pitch, bruh. Let's see what happens. I'm gonna throw a pitch, and we'll just see, bruh.
A ground ball gets between two diving defenders into left field.
Goodrum: [screaming in agony]
Smith: [screaming in laughter]
EXHIBIT 2, BOTTOM 3RD
Goodrum: I'm going to take this first pitch, because this is what we're supposed to do when you're getting run like this. Let's just see what happens now.
Later in the at-bat, Smith throws an 0-2 fastball and Goodrum lines it into the right-center field gap for a double.
Goodrum: Hey, man. Hey, man. You'd better not throw fastballs right down the middle. You'd better pitch. You'd better pitch, bruh. You'd better pitch to me, bruh. Man. Throwing fastballs down the middle, bruh.
Smith: [high-pitched laughter]
EXHIBIT 3, POSTGAME
Goodrum: Y'all don't understand what's going on, man. My heart is broken right now. My heart is broken right now. I lost 17-1. They're going to be talking about me in their little group texts, man. I don't know what to say. See me in real life, though. Tell them to see me in real life.
Smith: "See me in real life!" That's all that matters!
Goodrum: That's all that matters! See me in real life!
Smith: Oh, man. I needed that, bro. Oh my god.
Goodrum: Well, as long as somebody laughs. The whole stream is probably laughing at me tonight. It's all right. Let me see what my record is. Y'all don't want to know my record. Y'all don't want to know my record. Y'all don't want to know my record. I'm out here battling, though. Don't feel bad for Niko. Don't write that. I'm out here battling.
Smith: It's tough out here battling with these teams, man. It's real tough.
Goodrum: Hey. Somebody [in my chat] says we're not going to see a winning season until 2045.
Elsewhere in the Players League, Gallo went undefeated -- of course -- to improve to a league-best 15-1, while the Mets' Jeff McNeil found some clutch hitting in a comeback against Hunter Pence's Giants to also finish unbeaten and improve to 11-3. But all the same, the antics between Smith and Goodrum stole the show.
Virtual Chris Woodward is not having a good time
As it turns out, MLB The Show does not allow for ballplayers to settle their differences in the virtual realm, as Gallo and David Dahl of the Rockies found out together during the first inning of their matchup on Sunday.
Gallo and Dahl actually know each other quite well from their days together on the 18U U.S. national team, and Dahl had some fun with his friend by throwing behind Gallo's virtual player in his first at-bat of the game. He missed, so he tried again two pitches later and made contact squarely in Gallo's ribs.
"Sets up the double play," Dahl said with a grin.
The real-life friends were both delighted with the plunking, but virtual Chris Woodward absolutely did not get the memo, as the game showed the Rangers' skipper lashing out in an irate fit that caused the home-plate umpire to issue warnings to both benches.
"Look at Woody. Woody's hot. Woody's hot! Throw him out!" Gallo said with glee. "You've got to love it. First-inning fireworks."
What does an ejection look like in MLB The Show? Perhaps we'll find out once Gallo clinches his playoff spot and decides to have a little fun with things.
Monday's games to watch
Gallo is back in action on Monday, including a must-watch matchup against National League West leader Fernando Tatis Jr. of the Padres (for personality value alone, really) and another strong opponent in American League Central leader Lucas Giolito of the White Sox. And don't sleep on the Dodgers' Gavin Lux, who will be back in action after handing Gallo his only loss on Thursday.
Others in action will include Jon Duplantier (D-backs), Josh Hader (Brewers), Luke Jackson (Braves), Carlos Santana (Indians), Tommy Kahnle (Yankees), Ty Buttrey (Angels), Brett Phillips (Royals) and Amir Garrett (Reds).
Where to watch
Over the next few weeks, the league will be livestreamed on MLB social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Twitch), MLB Network's Twitch site, "MLB The Show" social media (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Twitch), the clubs’ social media accounts and MLB.com. Each player will also stream it from their individual Twitch or YouTube accounts.
Aside from those streams, in order to provide a full gameday experience, MLB Network will provide a livestream in which it will select the best one-on-one matchups and look into other game results and friendly banter.