OK gentlemen, Townie did his version of tips & tricks, so now I'm going to share mine for those that feel they could use a little help. I understand that some of you are not seasoned veterans at this game, and some pick it up much faster than others. It ok, we're all going to have fun with this and hopefullly you find this "players guide" helpful. A few things I should mention before I dig into it: 1) Play more. Trust me, I sucked at this game....hard. It was only until I started getting more reps in and I focused on my main problems that I started to see a vast improvement. I was constantly focusing on my eye, taking pitches, and finding better ways to get my cursor to the ball. The improvement will only come if you put the games in consistently for the first couple weeks to get used to the gameplay and all of its nuances. Just don't get discouraged if you can't put it together as fast as you would like, it's not going to happen overnight. 2) I want all of you to enjoy this game. It's only a week away (or less) until we start playing TBL for real. Competition is always fun, and I would like everyone to feel comfortable in their skills, knowing that they are able to take a pitch out of the zone, able to place a pitch in a spot they know it wont get creamed, an ultimately be able to compete and not be a doormat each and every game. What I'm about to tell you guys is designed to help everyone out if they feel that my methods are helpful and something they are willing to adopt. Some of you will shake your heads because you have your own methods that work....and thats perfectly fine. If you have any questions about the game up until opening day, feel free to ask. Once opening day hits, my tips and advice are closed to all. It's going to be a Battle Royale!!! 3) Exercise patience. Be patient with yourself, and in the game. Don't get mad if you don't see improvement right away. And be patient in the game. How many batters are willing to take the first strike in real life? Some of them even take two. Bring the pitch count up, and make the pitcher throw you stikes, don't give him strikes by chasing so often. That puts you (the batter) in a tough spot. Baseball is a game of patience, finesse, and concentration. It's a very cerebral game, so don't think that jamming away on the buttons will get your success and wins. It won't. --------------- Batting1) First of all, hit the cages - Don't work on your hitting in the cages, focus more on your eye. Challenge yourself to take pitches, and recognize where you weakness in chasing ball are. Do you have trouble laying off the high fastball or the low off-speed? Or do you simply chase everything out of the zone.Shrink the zone. Know where the strike zone is on your batter, and then shrink it some more. Focus more on pitchers that are in that smaller zone you have created (should be very good pitches to hit. Not too high, low, or in/out. Give yourself an extra split second to recognize the pitch. You should be able to differentiate a fastball from an off-speed pitch with enough repetition. Give yourself enough time that if it's a fastball, you can at least still foul it away, but if it's a change up you can pull it, or a curve you can lay off if it's dipping out of the zone. If your batting skills aren't up to par and you rush to swing at it, you're not giving yourself enough time to make a good decision on whether or not the pitch is hittable. Slow your swing and your decision making down until you have a trained eye.2) Know your batter - If you are walking up the plate with an Albert Pujols who can crush the crap out of the ball at any given time, feel free to use the power button with a swing or two. If you come up with a sub .300 hitter who doesn't have the most power, maybe it's a better idea to use the normal swing so that you don't pop up or hit a dribbler back to the pitcher, or even worse....strikeout!More importantly, utilize the contact swing (Circle, for those of you who didn't know). This is a new swing that they put in for this season that will likely neutralize the fact that they made this game harder at hitting. It's a defensive swing that is meant to foul off pitches, and fight to stay alive. I've had my fair share of battle with the contact button only to get a meatball and still rope it for a double. It works. It's not as solid contact as normal, or power if you can square the ball up....but it definitely will put the ball in play if you time if right and swing at a good pitch (and of course if you don't move the cursor in the complete opposite location).Some batters you may want to even approach the plate with the contact button. So for instance, a very fast contact hitter who can get on by way of a simple ground ball. A slap hitter is a prime candidate for use of this button. It all goes back to knowing your hitter. I won't use swing with power with a Brett Gardner like I probably wouldn't start my at-bat out with A-Rod by using contact. Match your swing to their skills, at that alone should help you out.3) How did my swing cursor go over there? - We've all been there. We've missed a pitch or two by going in the exact opposite location in which the ball was pitched to. It sucks, but who else can you blame? This skill is going to come with practice and time. I'm still trying to figure it out in a way that I feel confident with every AB. But I do have a few tricks that I use when I bat.~ Know your weakness - Do you suck at hitting pitches high in the zone, and does your opponent know it? Cheat to that location and wait for him to try and stump you with a high heater or whatever pitch he decides to locate up there. Thwart his ingenious decision by depositing one into the bleachers. Now you have him thinking, "where the hell do I place this."You don't always have to cheat your cursor to your weakness, but if you see that he's exposing your weakness, make sure you remind him that you wont be a pushover in that location all game if he isn't going to challenge you elsewhere. ~ Pick up on patterns. - Does he like to throw off-speed low in the zone, or out of the zone? Lay off the low ones until he puts himself into a hole and pipes one somewhere in a hittable location. Does he like to start batters out in a certain location or with a certain pitch that is a strike? Take the pitch a few times, but remind him that you wont take the pitch every time by anticipating it and shooting the gap with it. ~ Know his pitches - First thing I do is I identify his strikeout pitch. He may have 2, depending on who you play. Watch for those pitches when you get into a hole (0-2, 1-2). He will be more more inclined to throw you junk or something out of the zone to get you to chase. If you continue to chase, you have nobody to blame but yourself. If his strikeout pitch is a curve, give yourself that extra split second to identify the pitch, especially if it's low in the zone. That low off-speed could very well dip out of the zone, so it's important to ID the pitch before getting happy thumbs (more on that later) and swinging at a poor pitch. If his strikeout pitch is a slider, know how much it breaks and ID the pitch location and determine whether or not a slider will still be in the zone. I won't be able to help you with pitch recognition, but there will be a pitcher who tries to outwit you and throw you a fastball in a slider situation, hoping that you anticipate slider out of the zone. if you give yourself that extra second to ID it, you can still catch the pitch late in the zone, and punch it to opposite field. This skill will come with practice.~ Happy Thumbs - Yes, we all have them from time to time. Control your thumbs. Our brain tells us one thing, our thumbs do another. Getting rid of happy thumbs and accidentally swinging at pitches we don't mean to will come when you relax. Learn that taking a pitch is OK! Happy thumbs also comes when you decide that pulling a pitch is more important than waiting to ID it before deciding to swing. If you can conquer happy thumbs and learn to exercise patience, your on your way to better hitting. I will get into pitching in my next post.