|How to Play SmallBall Baseball|
|Free Online Game Makes Anyone a Baseball Manager|
I'm not exactly a huge sports fan, and when I do occasionally watch sports,
it's a lot more likely to be hockey than baseball, but despite my limited
knowledge of RBIs and batting averages, I find myself being drawn in to the
world of SmallBall. SmallBall is a compelling free game that lets you manage
and train a baseball team which competes with other SmallBall teams over the
Internet. It has some similarities with Fantasy Baseball, but SmallBall teams
are not specifically modeled on real teams. Although some people choose
to use real names, their team's skills and statistics are unique to SmallBall.
It has a friendly graphical interface, it runs nicely in the background if
you so desire, it requires very little bandwidth, and, true to its name,
it's a quick download.
To play the game you will need to download and install the SmallBall client. If you use Windows and have IE 5.5 or higher, the required file is just under 1 MB and the install process is very painless. If you use a different OS, or you don't already have Java on your system, the download could be considerably larger. There is no version specific to the Mac, but it should theoretically run on any computer with the Java Virtual Machine loaded, although I haven't confirmed this. A live Internet connection is required.
When you run SmallBall, the first thing you see is the Start Screen. Before you can create a team you must register and get an ID number, which is accomplished by selecting "Registration" in the "Settings" menu. Enter your desired Owner name, an email address, a password, and hit "Send." Once you have an ID number, you can login and then access your team by clicking the "Training" button.
Training Makes Perfect
In SmallBall, training is where you are needed the most, unlike many sports action games where you are given control of the match itself. While it is fun to watch the games in SmallBall, your role during the competition is really just to spectate. The training screen is where most of your team's development is controlled. Here you decide who will play each position, what the batting order will be, and which skills each player will focus on. If you grow particularly fond of SmallBall, you can purchase a Deluxe Trainer that facilitates the training process. Below is a screenshot of the About.com Redballs on the free training field.
Dave's Team on the Training Field
Customizing Your Team
The first time you go into training, you will notice that your team doesn't have a name. Select "Names" in the "Edit" menu to enter a name for your team and each of your 12 players, which you can change at any time. By selecting "Colors" in the "Edit" menu you can set your team's uniform, hat, and skin color.
The "Roster" option under the "Edit" menu is where you adjust your team's batting order and field positions. To change the batting order you simply select the player you want to move and then click "Up" or "Down." Substituting active players onto the bench is accomplished by selecting the appropriate players in both columns, then pressing "Move to Bench." To change the field positions of active players you substitute players in and out until everyone is where you want them for the next game. Remember that, during the game, you can't change player positions or substitute in benched players - this has to be done on the practice field.