Chris Gilmore used his experience as a college baseball pitcher to help himself win $1 million in the MLB 2K12 Perfect Game Challenge tournament. That's a new twist to the classic tale of the kid claiming that playing "Donkey Kong" would aid hand-eye coordination to the parent.
No, Gilmore said in a phone interview, it's true.
"It makes it a little easier," said Gilmore, a student at Brevard Community College in Florida and a pitcher on the baseball team there. "I can think like a pitcher and throw pitches in different locations and change speeds and such. You can use the pitching [wisdom] for hitting, as well. As a hitter, it helps you to read the pitcher and pick up on what he might be thinking about throwing on what counts."
Gilmore is a side-arming right-hander who didn't pitch this past season, but says his underhand fastball sits between 77-81 mph and was inspired by the likes of Chad Bradford, Brad Ziegler and even Dan Quisenberry (even though he pitched before Gilmore's time).
"My athletic director [Jeff Carr] says I throw like Dan Quisenberry," Gilmore said with a chuckle.
In case you're not 100 percent familiar with the video game, it's the one with the Kate Upton and Justin Verlander-as-Randy-Johnson commercial. Gilmore won his prize (which was given in the form of Upton presenting a giant check) at the MLB Fan Cave in New York City — a venue that added a little bit of circuses to the eight-person tournament final that concluded Friday. This was the first season that 2K sports used a tournament to determine the winner. The eight players who threw "the most perfect" game (determined by an algorithm) won a chance to go to New York for the finals. Gilmore, as CC Sabathia and the New York Yankees, beat the Detroit Tigers in the final, 10-1.
Gilmore wisely decided against using a side-armer/submariner in the tournament, considering most are relievers. But picking the Yanks and Sabathia was tough to swallow for Gilmore, considering that he's a Red Sox fan and the gamers are supposed to wear the jersey and cap of the team they represent in the tournament.
"It kind of stunk, like it was burning away at my soul, wearing the jersey and the hat the whole time," said Gilmore, a native of Connecticut.
Ah, the things people will do for $1 million. But Gilmore's distaste subsided as he advanced in the the tournament and once his favorite ballplayer stopped by the Fan Cave to see what was what.
"Getting the money is definitely a good thing, but I think my favorite part of the tournament was Nomar Garciaparra," Gilmore said. "When he came down, I didn't even know he was there at first, then somebody said, 'Is that Nomar Garciaparra?' I just looked over and was, like, 'Oh my God, that's my favorite player ever.' It was an amazing moment."
Even better, the gamer who was using the Red Sox (and a Red Sox jersey) gave the jersey to Gilmore and Nomar signed it. Yeah, I'd say Gilmore had a nice tournament.
The event did face serious allegations as the finalists were being announced. Gilmore said the story by Owen Good for the Kotaku gaming blog — which alleged the contest was tainted by others using a loophole to better their chances — didn't affect him.
"When I got here, a couple of guys were talking, saying, 'Hey, did you hear about the guy who was on the Internet saying how you can get yourself through the tournament, and get yourself to New York by cheating and changing the lineups?' — which is against the rules. But I had no idea you could even do that. I'm pretty sure that none of the other contestants got here like that at all. I think it was more of a publicity stunt for the [gamer], trying to get his name out there."
Jason Argent, the vice president of marketing for 2K Sports, said changes would be in store for next year's video game and tournament, but not because of the allegations made in Kotaku. Argent reiterated that "the contest was fair."
Spike TV will replay the final on May 24.