Are you the type of MLB 16 The Show player who never throws the ball in the zone? Do you consistently throw 50 foot change-ups and sliders that land in the opposite batter’s box? Are the only fastballs you’re willing to throw at least foot above the strike zone? Have you gone an entire inning without throwing one single solitary pitch inside of that imaginary rectangle? If you said yes to all of the questions above congratulations you’re a despicable scumbag who I like to call a “Dirt Dog” that is ruining online play in MLB 16 The Show.
Now just to be clear I’m not talking about the pitcher who is occasionally wild we’ve all been there when our timing just happens to fly out the window. I’m also not talking about the pitcher who nibbles the strike zone and works slightly off the plate. There’s no crime in being Tom Glavine but those blatantly defecating on the online experience by habitually pitching balls two feet outside the zone should be punished.
The most common and logical response is “well don’t swing at them”. Yes thank you for stating the obvious kinda random Twitter person. In many cases yes “just don’t swing” is the right answer but in other cases it can be damn near impossible. Quite frankly it goes against the unwritten rules of baseball video games. Where is the code of ethics?
Back in the RBI Baseball on Nintendo days, me and my friends (corroborated by other friends I met in college from different parts of the country) played where you were not allowed to throw “junk balls”. Remember in NES you either pressed down for a fastball or up for what the game deemed a knuckle-curveball. Once the ball was pitched you could move the pitch left or right in mid flight and that’s fine completely legal. For us that knuckle-curve was illegal.
The junk ball in NES was “cheap” it was something that didn’t bring value to the game nor did I prove who the better player was. If you throw junk balls in RBI Baseball it was going to be a swing and miss 9 times out of 10. And as disciplined as you think that you were more times than not you were going to swing. The “just don’t swing” mentality is not realistic. You go to the batter’s box thinking there could be a pitch to hit and if it’s outside of the zone then lay off. But if you go into the box knowing that every pitching is going to be outside the zone the few times the ball actually does come into the zone you’ll be caught off guard and you’ll miss. So maybe you walk a few times and get zero hits. That sounds like a shit experience to me.These dirt dogs prey on the fact that the majority of people online work low in the zone to begin with; it’s harder to hit a low strike for a home run than any other pitch. So given the fact that a pitch is probably going to be low in the zone and probably will be borderline you’re on alert already to swing at the low ball. Hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in any sport, hitting a baseball online might be the hardest thing to do in video games. Add in the fact that you get one or two pitches per at-bat to actually take a solid hack at failure far outweighs success. With Dirt Dogs success is nearly non-existent.
In an abbreviated game like Battle Royal (3 innings) where each at bat has heightened importance, your senses are on extreme overload. Your hands are sweaty, your heartbeats are elevated and you’re quick on the trigger to anticipate your swing. Laying off garbage in the dirt is quite a discipline. With a shortened game comes a steady rotation of relievers, many specialists, all with full stamina, most with 95+ fastballs and lethal breaking balls. If you’re telling me “just don’t swing” then I guess you’re a better person than me. To decipher between a low strike, a 50/50 ball and junk ball is extremely challenging. Some pitches are easier to pick up than others; straight fastballs and sinkers seems to be easier for the eye to identify while change-ups, curveballs and sliders are much harder. Another variable is a pitcher’s wind-up/release point and based on that motion how well can you pick up the ball.When Aroldis Chapman has a 100+ mph fastball, 88 mph slider with 99 break and a 87 mph changeup with 97 break you tell me how easy it is to not swing when you don’t see the ball until it’s on top of you. Ironically the pitchers with the best stuff (Betances, King Felix, Miller, Kimbrel, Jensen, Kershaw, Britton) that they don’t need to “cheat” with these Dirt Dogs abuse the most. Once the Dirt Dog has a lead forget it, it’s over, you’ll never see a pitch in the zone for the remainder of the game.
I’m not saying to live in the heart of the plate you’re going to get lit up if you do that. I’m asking, no I’m pleading, for everyone to act like a real pitcher. Mix speeds, mix locations, work the ball inside and outside, up and down. Don’t be predictable. Live within the confines of attempting to pitch in the zone, if 80% of your pitches attempt to live near the zone we have no beef. Any less than that you’re scum and I hope out paths never cross online.