Rookie of the Year
A trio of Minecraft pandas looks up through a blocky bamboo grove.

Minecraft Menagerie

The cover of Unwinnable #174 features a black-and-white double-exposed photo of a ghoulish person holding their hands up to their screaming mouth. "Every time I write, things only get worse," is written across the image in shaky red lettering.

This column is a reprint from Unwinnable Monthly #174. If you like what you see, grab the magazine for less than ten dollars, or subscribe and get all future magazines for half price.


A tongue-in-cheek but also painfully earnest look at pop culture and anything else that deserves to be ridiculed while at the same time regarded with the utmost respect. It is written by Matt Marrone and emailed to Stu Horvath and David Shimomura, who add any typos or factual errors that might appear within.


How many pandas does it take to crash Minecraft?

How many bees? Dogs? Cats? Parrots? Wolves? Tropical fish?

How about all of these animals together, spawned over and over and over by a crazed 5-year-old?

Welcome to World 67 – pronounced Sixty-Seventy World – the warped creation of my youngest son, with help and encouragement from his cackling older brother. 

When I began this column 13 years ago, my intent was to ridicule myself for being terrible at next-gen videogames after living TV-and-console-free for most of my twenties. At that time, my now-youngest son was more than eight years away from being born. Recently, as I finished Dadland’s cherry blossom park and its largest downtown fountain, and began construction on its newest and tallest skyscraper, I was reminded once again of how long I have stretched out this one-note Rookie of the Year joke. Perhaps it is time to pass on the mantel?

I will never do that, but I must admit I have serious competition.

Peter Vincent Marrone, named after his two Grandpas, saw his older brother playing Minecraft and, thus, had to try it out for himself. His first move was a wise one – he asked his dad to build him a small brick house. Inside, a bed was placed. Within moments, he realized he could attempt in vain to sleep during the day and smash the buttons numerous times to more or less break the robot voice, forcing it to repeat “RESPAWN POINT SET YOU CAN ONLY SLEEP AT NIGHT” dozens of times while he carried on with his business of stacking bee hives into the atmosphere. 

Soon, his bees were everywhere, circling the house and also buzzing inside his bedroom when he inevitably left the door open. Later, it was dogs, cats and parrots, which he would pet and feed and make love him, watching cartoonish hearts float up above their innocent heads before grabbing his flint and steel and setting many of them on fire. 


A baby Minecraft panda looks upwards as its parents hover in the background.

Over time, loading World 67, or just moving around in it, has become more and more difficult. There are animals everywhere. At first, it was fairly idyllic and picturesque – wild creatures flourishing among the many flowers and blossoming trees he’d planted, plus the manmade waterfall he’d installed not far from the house. 

Lately, he’s discovered pandas. At first, he was spawning them and feeding their babies to make them grow. But then he spawned a brown panda and his older brother became excited. “Those are super rare in Minecraft!” he exclaimed. I was forced to Google just how rare it was, and about 2% of all pandas was a number that kept popping up before I got tired of looking. This fact – and the delight of his older brother – turned World 67 into a panda-making machine. 

Now there are hundreds of pandas. A few of them are brown, and all of them are well-fed. On Sunday, Peter hopped into a hole some of his pet pandas had fallen into and was practically swimming in them, all the while stuffing their faces with greens as they continued to multiply. 

At one point, he came across the mouth of a giant natural underground cave. A few pandas were grazing outside. When he climbed inside, the depths of the cavern revealed that they were saturated with pandas, with uncanny panda faces peering from the darkness, their glowing eyes awaiting love or food or both. 

So . . . how many pandas does it take to crash Minecraft?

We don’t know – yet. Wandering around World 67, one is often greeted by lagging, or a loading box stretched across the screen. This, and the scrolling text and disembodied voice – YOU CAN ONLY SLEEP AT NIGHT – help not only to further gum up the works but contribute to the eeriness of it. It would almost be better if the computer voice started getting mad, or if the pandas didn’t look at the screen with so much warmth.  

When the game does crash, will the pandas first break into a million pixels – like a scene from my videogame nightmares – or will we just be slammed back to the Switch home screen? 

Perhaps something more sinister might happen. Last night, my youngest son told The Wife of the Year that the only way to “fix” Minecraft would be to delete World 67 entirely – plus erase his brother’s world, too, as well as his dad’s. In that case, the crashing of Minecraft will be literal, when the game card, still inside the Switch, is thrown across the room at the television, smashing both – and ending Peter’s promising Rookie of the Year campaign once and for all. 


Matt Marrone is a senior MLB editor at He has been Unwinnable’s reigning Rookie of the Year since 2011. You can follow him on Twitter @thebigm.


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