***** (5 stars out of 5)
From a human perspective, Vulcans can sometimes come across as total assholes. Or, in the case of Sisko's former Academy rival Captain Solok, actually are total assholes. For the right to gloat about human weakness and frailty, Solok pits his baseball team of mighty Vulcanians against Captain Sisko's crack loose assemblage of humans and aliens who've barely heard of the game.
Weakness and frailty are indeed on display, except for the pixie Trill with Olympic-gymnast memories, the doctor with enhanced co-ordination, and the Klingon whose idea of patter is: "DEATH TO THE OPPOSITION!" Still, there's the enormous drag factor of the Ferengi, and I'm not just talking about the wind resistance from their giant caps.
The "Niners" throw themselves into the game with all the mad patriotic zeal they've brought to the war effort. Can they help the Captain win back his self-respect? Or win anything?
"Take Me Out to the Holosuite" is made up entirely of great moments. Such as the first and only time we get to hear what can only be the Anthem of the United Federation of Planets! What a wonderful musical touch! I gave this story a full three more stars than their own magazine, but the truth is they had ME actually ENJOYING a sport! That's got to count for something.
Writer Ira Behr felt the "villainous" Vulcans should have featured more prominently, but I disagree. For me, the bad guy in this story is not some bully who picked on Sisko back in school... it's the bully Sisko's become NOW. The victory is, as the best ones are, a victory over oneself.
In the words of the Niners: "To manufactured triumph!"