Nov 3, 2023 - Sports

Cancun World Series: Where AI, baseball and parody collide

While the Astros lost the American League Championship Series in Game 7 this year, they still won the World Series on the internet. Photo: Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

There exists an alternate reality where the Houston Astros are 2023 World Series champions.

Driving the (fake) news: An online parody account used artificial intelligence and creative writing to give Astros fans something to cheer for during the World Series.

What happened: @MLBONFAX, which has accounts on X and Instagram, pitted the Astros and the Philadelphia Phillies against each other in the dreamed-up championship called the Cancun World Series as the real-life championship played out between the Texas Rangers and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

  • The Astros emerged as victors in the fake Cancun World Series on Wednesday, the same day the Rangers won their first championship in real life.
  • The account live-blogged major moments from the fake Fall Classic and used Bing's AI technology to create semi-realistic images to accompany the posts.

Details: Chris, the account's Los Angeles-based owner, asked that Axios use only his first name so he could maintain some level of anonymity with the parody account.

  • He first executed the concept with the Cancun National League Championship Series featuring a fake matchup between the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers during the 2023 postseason.
  • He also used clips of real-life games to accompany the posts.

Of note: While he used AI to generate images for the posts, he said he wrote each game's storyline himself.

What they're saying: Chris consulted with other parody sports accounts for inspiration on using AI when he started the parody postseason with the Cancun NLCS.

  • He said he had to write hyper-specific requests and describe players by their appearance for the Bing AI technology to come up with the right graphics.
  • "You couldn't just plug in names like Yordan Álvarez and Jose Altuve or Bryce Harper or Nick Castellanos," Chris told Axios. "A lot of times it wouldn't return anything, or the result wouldn't be close to resembling the actual players."

Meanwhile, Chris said the Cancun World Series was @MLBONFAX's most successful campaign.

  • For example, a single post on X announcing the series winner has garnered more than 500,000 views and counting.

💭 Jay's thought bubble: I got a kick out of watching the Cancun World Series unfold — and more so seeing the hilarious AI-generated images, like Altuve dressed as Astros train guy Bobby Dynamite, Phillies manager Rob Thomson hoarding desk fans to thwart an Álvarez home run, and this abomination of a taco.

Unlike the real World Series, this one was scripted — and the Astros were the clear winners from the beginning, Chris said.

  • "Since I'm a Braves fan, I don't want to give the Phillies any more wins."

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