MVP Baseball 2005: The Legend of Jon Dowd, The Greatest Fake Athlete Ever
It’s June of 2003. While Justin Timberlake’s Rock Your Body blares in the background on the radio, you’re watching reruns of Sportscenter while slamming down a Stuffed Crust Gold ‘za from Pizza Hut. You see San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds snag his 500th stolen base against Eric Gagne and the Los Angeles Dodgers in extra innings, making him the sole member of the 500 home runs and 500 stolen bases club. You wonder, “wow, I can’t wait to collect his trading card and use him in EA’s next baseball video game MVP Baseball 2004.” Well, Barry had other plans. He declined the MLBPA’s common license agreement and opted to license himself, thus keeping all the revenue that came his way. Bonds had the star power to pull off this move, as this is fairly uncommon for average pro athletes or even all-stars. All in all, this meant that he wouldn’t be in licensed MLB trading card packs and more importantly, wouldn’t appear in MVP Baseball 04. What was EA going to do, knowing one of the game’s premier sluggers wasn’t going to be in the game? Create his exact opposite. A Barry Bonds without the Barry Bonds.
Jon Dowd is the name of an assistant producer who was at EA Sports at the time and someone who was working on the MVP series. His name would be used as the base to create the Anti-Bonds. Dowd wasn’t the first EA name to be put into the game. The famous Create-A-Player names Katie Roy (use it and you unlock all the classic players and stadiums) and the pattersons (either jacob, isaiah, or keegan in lowercase gives you a pint-sized player with a big ass bat that only hits 600+ yard dingers or line drives that could take someone’s head off) are all names of developers.
Dowd would make his first appearance in MVP Baseball 2004 and was a solid all-around slugger. Bonds posted a .341 BA, 45 home runs, and 90 RBIs in just 130 games in 2003 at the ripe old age of 38 so that was the basis for Dowd that year. No fuss no muss. However, things would take a crazy turn when Bonds has his best overall season in his career in 2004 and likewise, cement Dowd’s legacy as the greatest fake athlete of all time. He would become a household name in all of our childhoods.
Barry Bonds was 39 years old in 2004. Most players, especially power hitters, fall off a cliff when it comes to production at this age. Alex Rodriguez had a mini-renaissance at age 39 after some putrid, injury-plagued seasons and his infamous 2014 suspension but he was still a husk of his youthful self fans got so used to seeing. Yeah, he did hit 33 dingers but he also posted a repulsive BA of .250 and only hit for 86 RBIs in 151 games. Ken Griffey Jr. was enjoying his reunion/retirement (essentially) tour with his Seattle Mariners in 2009 but that season was far from his 90’s glory days. 19 home runs, an abhorrent .214 BA, and 57 RBIs in 117 games speak as such. A modern-day example is Albert Pujols, who was 39 last season. While he isn’t completely washed, 23 bombs, 93 RBIs, and a mediocre .244 BA are far from what we saw back in the mid-2000s. It's easy to say he’s out of his prime (and on a horrible contract). Before these seasons, all of these guys were immensely struggling as a result of their aging bodies, which leads to our next point of discussion.
Let’s get back to Bonds. So from what we saw, power hitters usually suffer a steep decline in both power and contact numbers as they approach 40. Well, Barry Bonds decided to give the middle finger again. This time to father time. He would go on to post a ridiculous .362 BA which was the best in the NL, slam 45 dingers, and hit 101 RBIs. He led all of the MLB in OBP (on-base percentage, .609), slugging percentage (.812), and OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage, 1.422). Oh yeah, and he was walked 232 times, good for first again. This also meant he only struck out 41 times, an all-time best for him. He homered more than he struck out. For comparison, A-Rod struck out 145 times in his previously mentioned age 39 campaign, good for the worst in his career. Here’s one more fun stat about Bond’s ridiculous, age-defying 2004 season. He reached base 376 times. Simple enough right? Well, he had 373 official at-bats. His proportion of at-bats to on-base percentage is 1.008, best for all time. Who’s the closest to that? Himself, twice (.833 in 2002 and .746 in 2003). Closest person who isn’t Barry Bonds? John McGraw back in 1899 (.737) and Ted Williams in 1945 (.735). Bonds would go on to receive his 4th consecutive MVP and consequently becoming the oldest to win the award. He continued to instill the fear of God onto all-star pitchers and coaches like no other. Remember, this is the guy who was intentionally walked with the bases loaded back in 1999.
With Bonds having the season that he did, being arguably the best hitter that year, an upgrade was due for the next MVP Baseball. Not for Bonds of course. Jon Dowd. Dowd is the antithesis of Barry Bonds. Bonds is black. Dowd is white. Bonds is bald. Dowd has hairstyle 4, which is a buzz cut. He also has olive-brown hair, unlike Bonds’s black hair of the past. Bonds’s number is 25. Dowd’s is 51. Bonds’s walk-up music for a while was Dr. Dre’s The Next Episode to compliment his dramatic and slow entrances. Dowd’s is set to heavy rock. Bonds has one of the most intimidating batting stances of all time, which goes hand in hand with his swagger and earrings. Dowd has the default, generic batting stance. Bonds uses gloves and sleeves when batting. All Dowd uses are some small orange wristbands. There are very obvious similarities to show that Dowd is indeed supposed to be Barry Bonds. Both are left fielders, both bat and throw left-handed, both were born on July 24th, 1964, both are 6'2 228 pounds with a very athletic build, and both can absolutely yeet a ball.
Dowd has 99 power and 99 contact vs right-handers and 84 contact and 89 power vs lefties. He has only one cold spot and its against lefties (top left part of the strike zone). Due to Barry not striking out a whole lot, Dowd has 99 plate discipline. He even has 69 speed (nice) and 90 baserunning to show Bonds’s past as a speedster. His fielding is average but far from atrocious, just like Barry. 75 fielding, 70 range, 60 throwing strength, and 70 throwing accuracy. What does all of this mean? Jon Dowd is the best player in the game. A fake player is the best in the game. If you boot up a fantasy player draft in dynasty or owner mode and pick first, guess who’s listed as the first option. Dowd. Then its Vladimir Guerrero, Albert Pujols, Todd Helton, cover star Manny Ramirez, Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, Scott Rolan, Pedro Martinez, Johan Santana, and Adrian Beltre to round out the top ten. The only players you can say are better than him are unlockable legends Jimmie Fox and the “Iron Horse” himself, Lou Gehrig. Due to his age, he isn’t exactly a value pick. He’ll start inevitably regressing due to age but he’ll give you two guaranteed triple crown years before he retires as a two-year pro. He is by far the best player for the addicting hitting mini-game, home run derby, and for using in exhibition with the Giants.
The impact Dowd left on players was immense. The fact this random dude that looks like he came from a farm was the best player in the game. He was a cult favorite amongst fans of MVP Baseball and in sports games in general. He joined the ranks of Pablo Sanchez, Madden 04 Michael Vick, and FIFA 13 Emmanual Emineke as GOATs of the sports video game. He’s a Hall of Famer in all of our nostalgic hearts.