Friday, October 30, 2009

Aw2pp's Wii Baseball Tips

I apologize for this post. You can't expect me always to maintain my usual level of brilliance. This post goes out to my children, especially Jason, who, for the life of him, can't figure out how to beat me in Wii baseball. My Wii baseball rating is something like 2200, which won't impress the local junior high crowd*, but qualifies as big-time stuff at the Moose Lodge down the road.

* - According to my marketing department, we aren't really reaching that demographic anyway. I guess piano blogging just doesn't capture the next generation's attention like it should.

Here, for the benefit of all (or at least Jason), are my tips. I'll post them in the context of competing against the computer itself, but they work just as well when going against a live human being.

In some respects, Wii baseball success is brought about by doing things successful baseball players and teams do at the MLB level. One of these is to take a lot of pitches. Except in certain circumstances (hold that thought), I don't swing unless there are two strikes on the batter. The goal is to quickly elevate the other pitcher's pitch count, so that they get tired and start making mistakes. The #1 thing I wish I could do better is to hit foul balls on purpose. If you can, good on ya. I can't, so I take as many pitches as I can.

The difficulty here is that it's hard to be successful with this strategy if the other pitcher is pounding the strike zone. If they are throwing a lot of strikes, you're likely to see some quick scoreless innings. Thankfully, this is pretty rare. Don't stress if you aren't scoring much, if you get elevate the pitch count, you'll score plenty when the other pitcher tires out.

A best-case scenario is that the pitcher will walk a few batters, and maybe you'll pair a few walks and hits to score a few runs. But for the first (and to a lesser extent, second) inning, the most important thing is to get the pitcher to throw lots of pitches, hopefully at least 25 per inning. You'll know they reach that point when they start sweating. After they throw 50 pitches, they'll begin sweating profusely, and... well, I get ahead of myself.

Don't throw strikes
Meanwhile, while you are on the mound, stay out of the strike zone. Again, much like real baseball, the goal is to get the batter to swing at your pitch. Wii batters tend not to take many pitches; if you can get them to swing at something out the strike zone, it's almost always a good thing for you.

As a warning, I'll add that if you have a big lead, especially a big early lead, the Wii computer will override your pitch location selections, and you'll end up throwing strikes whether you want to or not. Natch, the other team will then smack the ball around the yard like it's the All Star Home Run Derby. Just accept it. Sometimes, the machine just has to have its way.

When I get two strikes on a Wii batter, I almost always throw split finger pitches until they strike out, dribble a grounder to an infielder, or walk. Which leads me to...

Recognize the split finger pitch
There are a couple things you need to know about the split finger pitch. First and foremost, it is never a strike, unless you choose to swing at it. Second, you can't hit it. The computer can, if it is in the mood, and may sometimes (very rarely) get a hit, but you can't. Which means you should never, never swing at it.

Once caveat: if the computer is in a grouchy mood, it will make you "miss" a split finger pitch, and you'll end up lobbing a slow meatball right down the middle of the plate. On which the batter will tee off. Dance with the devil...

Mix Up Your Pitches
Pretty simple, and again, much like real baseball. Alternate the speed and location of your pitches. Fast in, slow away, vice versa. Get two strikes, then throw your split.

The Exclamation Mark
Here is where you close the deal. Assuming you have made the other pitcher throw a lot of pitches, somewhere near the middle to end of the second inning, they'll get really tired, sweating a storm. When they get to this point, you'll notice them making "mistakes", which you'll recognize by the appearance of an exclamation mark (!, just to be clear) above their head when they deliver a pitch. When you see an exclamation mark pitch, go ahead and hammer it. This is my exception to the "Swing only with two strikes" rule... if it's the third inning, and the pitcher is throwing one exclamation point after another, I'll go ahead and swing with the wild abandon of a Dominican rookie.

The tireder (hey, that's a word?) they get, the more mistakes they'll make. When you get to this point, it is not uncommon to plate 10 or more runs in an inning.

- Aw2pp, filmed live before a studio audience

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