The Legend of Bartleby Cheezburger
For those like me, who can't conceive of ever playing out 162 9-inning games once, never mind multiple times, who in fact can even really think about playing a single 90+ minute game, Road to the Show mode is a godsend. Essentially MLB: The RPG, every new Road to the Show career starts with you creating a player. In my case, it was Bartleby Cheezburger ("Cheeseburger" was one letter too long. Apparently 11 characters is the cutoff point). Bartleby was decked out with some basic stats of my choosing (and none can be higher than 45 to start with) and a decent selection of character creation options (although I always just choose "randomize" in the situations) before being dumped into the major league draft. Bartleby was chosen by the pathetic Cleveland Indians and was immediately slated to be their starting second baseman.
If you haven't played before, the key here is that when you play through games with your RttS character, you only "play" when your player is up to bat or has the ball hit to him. The rest of the game is very rapidly simulated and just breaks in when you need to do something. You just hit the ball, run the bases, and take care of your one spot on the field. You can even set the baserunning to happen without you, and the fielding to only require you on non-standard chances. With this method, and other options set to speed up the pace, you can get through an entire nine inning game in under 5 minutes. Not only that, those 5 minutes are all action packed. It's pretty much your personal highlight (and lowlight) package. Obviously, if you create a starting pitcher (or catcher), you'll be playing much longer games, but this is offset by only playing every fifth game.
Between games, you can spend training points to play minigames to improve specific stats. You might have to try and hit a series of curveballs, or turn double plays as a shortstop. You earn more training points by successfully completing in-game challenges such as driving in the runner, making enough putouts, or just plain getting on base if you have been in a slump. You'll also receive long-term goals, such as hitting .300 over the next two weeks that also will earn you training points. You can track your own position on the team depth chart, and after the first spring training you'll likely be sent down to AA or AAA ball for some seasoning. Play well enough, and you'll eventually get the call up to the major leagues for good. Keep improving, and when your RttS player finally retires you might go to the Hall of Fame.
Bartleby Cheezburger had a terrible spring, got sent down to the minors, started tearing it up, but then tore an ACL and had to sit out the rest of his first season. He struggled in spring training again and spent more time in the minors, but something clicked early in his second season and he eventually played in the Futures All-Star game and got the call up to the last-place Indians in his second September. After batting .272 with 5 homers in the last month of the season, optimism was high he would return for the starting job in year 3, but a broken hand in spring training derailed the entire year again. It was then that Bartleby decided to retire for good, his great potential unfulfilled.
While RttS is the selling point for me, I don't mean to denigrate the old-fashioned baseball mode either. Unfortunately, modes like that are best enjoyed with a human opponent, and regrettably Infrastructure mode is still nowhere to be found in this version of MLB 11. Unless you know a neighbor with a PSP and a predilection for baseball, one who wants to spend a couple hours sitting nearby, you are not going to have anyone to play with. Those with PS3s can always try for an Ad-Hoc Party, but you still need to know someone with the same setup who will be sitting home for a few hours. The PSP version also doesn't get the yearly additions to its PS3 brother, so no co-op play or new Pure Analog Control (which of course is not possible with the PSP hardware). In fact, the only real addition from last year's PSP version is an "enhanced AI", which probably won't mean much to most players.
There is no doubt though that you will not find a prettier, better presented portable baseball game more packed with features. Sure, the lack of real online hurts. It hurts a lot. But the Road to the Show mode is really the show stopper here, and that is an entirely solitary experience, once that is amazingly well suited for the "gaming on the go" that the PSP does so well. Trust me, as a very jaded baseball gamer, I strongly stand by this series as the one that brings the fun back to baseball.