MLB 08: The Show has a lot of different game modes to appeal to a wide range of gamers, but when it comes to single-player the most played are Franchise and Road to the Show. Franchise offers up the standard fare with some incredible depth but it's very similar to just about any other franchise mode for any other game.
Road to the Show offers a unique single-player experience that equates to much more than a simple career mode. You can put a lot into making your digital-self the best pro he can be; yet, for those unfamiliar with the game mode this might be a bit of a daunting task. So we here at OperationSports.com decided it'd be a good idea to offer a game guide to Road to the Show. There is information that's useful to newcomers and veterans alike so be sure to read through no matter what your skill level may be.
The general strategy to Road to the Show is to create a player, sign him to a team, perform certain goals, and increase your ratings as you move up through the minor leagues and eventually get to The Show. From there you can sign lucrative contracts, and win awards before riding off into the sunset as a Hall of Famer.
So this will be a two-part guide. Part I will cover creating your player, getting started with his attributes and choosing a team. Part II will discuss what goes on during the season. So that includes meeting goals, increasing and maintaining attributes, handling manager interactions, and how to approach being signed as a free agent.
Creating Your Digital-Self
The first step you take in Road to the Show is to input general information about your player. Be sure to look in the vast library of Commentary Names to see if your last name or whichever name you choose is available to be announced by play-by-play man Matt Vasgersian. There are also 70 generic nicknames that you can use if your name isn't available, but that probably won't be necessary in most cases. I say that it probably won't be necessary because they have audio for my last name, and the only Gagnon to ever play the game (according to Baseball-Reference.com) is the amazing Chick Gagnon who played a total of 14 games in 1922 and 1924.
His coaches and players have a low approval rating for his game.
Your player can range in age from 18-to-45. Unless you want to have your player retire after you've played for a handful of seasons, you might want to make him young. We like going with 21 through 23 because you start off at AA (and that's not Alcoholics Anonymous but rather Double A) and that's usually the age of prospects at that level. If you go younger you might make the big league club before you're old enough to drink, but make him too old and you might already be declining in ability by the time you finally get the call.
There are 8 skin tone choices and you can pick any number but 42. Just be aware that if you choose a number that's already spoken for on whichever team you sign with you'll get the next closest available number.
Primary and secondary positions are exactly what they sound like; the first is what position you'll play the most and second is where you could find yourself if you're struggling to get any playing time at your primary position. Because of the potential playing time issue we suggest choosing a secondary position even though it's not required since it will give you an opportunity to get into more games early on in your career. It's also best if you pick positions with similar skill sets. So if your primary position is shortstop, a natural secondary position would be second base or maybe third base. You do have to option to pick a primary position of 1B/3B or 2B/SS and other similar combinations but we've found that choosing a primary and secondary position is more effective than the hybrid choices. The key is not to make things too crazy by going with a combo like catcher and shortstop because it'll be a problem when developing your player, which we'll get into later.
Finally you choose a throwing and batting hand.
(Note: if you make a player that throws left-handed the game prevents him from playing C, 2B, SS, and 3B. Seems like a small touch but if you've played MVP 05 you remember having left-handed middle-infielders and how weird it looked).
Up next is body size -- while it can be fun to create a short fat guy or a tall beanpole this really has no bearing on how he will play.
Now we get into RTTS's very deep appearance editor. The first option is called "Head Shape" but it also means what your default facial features will look like. Now you can obviously change everything about your player but think of this as a template of sorts. If you've played any of the recent Tiger Woods games you'll find all of this to be very familiar. Go to town creating pockmarks, forehead wrinkles, goatees, and eye bags then we can move on.
Nice dome. What's its area code?
After you've created a mirror image of yourself (or what you wish you looked like), you do more relatively pointless stuff like choosing what color bat and glove you want to use, along with stuff like wristbands and elbow guards. While you can't create your own swing or pitching delivery you can pick from nearly 400 stances and 250 deliveries from past and present players as well as some generic creations. You can preview them all to see what it'd be like to swing like So Taguchi or pitch like Ambiorix Burgos or any other irrelevant player that has a custom stance/delivery.
Lastly, pick some walkup music that suits your taste. Sadly you can't use custom tracks here so you'll get generic ditties or maybe a brief clip from the game's pre-loaded soundtrack.
Finally, the important stuff.
If you've created a pitcher, you'll have to choose which three pitches you want to use. You can add two more as you progress, but for right now three is more than enough. Your player should feature at least one fastball and one to two breaking balls. Don't worry about changeups now because they seem to be easier to develop after you've created your player, at least compared to breaking balls. I usually stick with a 4-seam fastball, slider and any of the four kinds of curveballs.
Next, you have to apply a certain amount of "points" to your player's various attributes. Be careful because if you try and fill up everything to the max you'll run out of points very fast.
For pitchers, you start with the relevant pitching categories. It's always important to keep in mind what kind of player you're making. If he's a closer you don't need to add much stamina, but if you're a starter it's a good idea to give that category a boost. Also, pitching clutch deals with your pitcher's composure on the mound so it's needed for any kind of pitcher.
The next four categories all relate to how hitters handle your pitches. If you add to your H/9 (Hits per 9 innings) the CPU will make less contact or hit the ball on the ground more; a higher HR/9 rating will limit the amount of long balls you surrender; K/9 determines the amount of strikeouts you tally; and BB/9 deals with your control and ability to avoid walking batters.
Now you have to increase your attributes for your three pitches. Obviously fastballs need more points in speed and control but none for break unless it's a 2-seam, running or cut fastball; off-speed pitches like changeups require less speed but a good balance of control and break; breaking pitches need little speed but a good amount of control and break.
Now for the offensive players. There's a wide range of offensive and defensive categories but they vary in importance based on what you're trying to do. It's important to note that while you can essentially mix things up with offensive attributes, certain positions need better ratings when it comes to defense. Catchers are the only players who need a good blocking rating; a first or second baseman doesn't need a strong arm; an outfielder doesn't need fast reaction times (though don't neglect the category); a pitcher doesn't need a cannon arm, but it should be accurate.
Even if you've created a pitcher you can still add points to any of the same offensive attributes as an offensive player. You shouldn't have much left by now but it's best to focus on fielding, especially arm accuracy and reaction. This will help you field bunts and come-backers.
A word of warning, make sure you are 100% happy your digital Frankenstein because you cannot edit him after you advance to the next screen.
Now you're ready to "sign" with a team. I use quotation marks because you don't actually sign a contract at this point. You merely pick a team you want to "tryout" for during Spring Training. Still it's an important step in the process.
You can scroll through all 30 teams and see what they're organizational depth is at all positions as well as see which players specifically on each team you'll be battling with for playing time. Because you'll be starting from the bottom if there's an old vet ahead of you don't worry too much because by the time you get the call he might have retired or been released.
The D'Backs probably aren't the best choice for a young catcher.
So unless you're just going to your favorite team it's wise to make sure you pick a franchise that has an opening at your position. For example you wouldn't want to be a 1B and sign with St. Louis or Milwaukee, however the Yankees or Reds would be a good choice. Also let's say you really wanted to sign with the Mets, don't worry too much about the presence of Carlos Delgado in front of you because he should be gone in a couple of years.
Another thing to keep in mind if you're an offensive player who tends to be a power hitter is the DH-rule. So if you sign with an AL team you might get more opportunities as a DH than you would on a NL team. AL teams also have the flexibility to move an aging vet to DH to make room for you.
This is also where your secondary position comes into play. Since the depth of every position for every team is shown during this time it's easy to decipher what situation is the best for you. And you need to find a good situation because playing time is vital. No playing time = no points to improve your attributes.
However, if you're a pitcher you really don't need to spend much time finding the right situation. That's because pitching depth isn't a real issue except for closers. It's tough to supplant an established closer but because each team has a 5-man rotation it's easy to start off at the back end of the rotation then move up over time.
So that's it for Part I. Part II will go over what you can do on the field with your player and how it varies by position, as well as the ideal strategy for increasing attributes and interacting with your coach. We'll also delve into contracts and meeting goals set forth by your coach.