Can you feel it? It's just about that time. That time of year when people dream of launching glorious taters like Yoenis Cespedes. That being said, it's not always easy to get a crew together for some pickup baseball. Don't give up just because you can't get a team together though. Whether you want to just take a few swings, or get some practice in before the big game so you don't embarrass yourself, any one of these batting cages can help you fulfill your dinger dreams.


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(Photo by David Colon)

A relative newcomer on the scene, Red Hook's Brooklyn Sluggers didn't open until late last year. But, a parent passing through on my visit told me that the kids of Brooklyn love having it around, especially after Brooklyn Sports and Party Center closed. If you want someone to pitch to you, you can rent one of the tunnels for $35 per half hour or $60 per hour, but if you showed up solo you can also buy tokens that get you 14 pitches for $2.50. The pitching machines use either baseballs or softballs, with the baseball pitches coming in between 40 mph and 70 mph, while the softball ranges from a slow arc of about 20 mph to a more Jennie Finch-esque 60 mph.

80A Verona Street // (315) 230-4222 //


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(Photo by David Colon)

The act of hitting can be a pretty solitary endeavor, what with you just out there trying to focus as much as you can on the ball coming out of a pitcher's hand or a machine. Still, a little encouragement can be nice, and at Cage Baseball it's required since you'll need a partner to feed balls into the machine for you. Cage Baseball rents you one of their eight tunnels instead of selling you token for a machine, at the rate of $35 for a half hour and $55 for a full hour., If your friend doesn't want to pitch to you from behind a safety screen, they'll also set up a pitching machine for you that uses either baseballs or softballs, and spits them out between 40 mph and 80 mph. And, Cage Baseball's tunnels can also be used to practice cricket, which the owners told me is getting more popular.

62-40 Metropolitan Avenue // (718) 366-2122 //


On the one hand, here you've got a place to put yourself on an island and only think about working on your swing and really squaring up on the ball. On the other hand, if you make yourself crazy and your mechanics get out of sync, you can distract yourself with some mini-golf! Before that happens though, take some cuts in one of the nine cages on offer. Just be aware that you get 30 cuts for your $3.50 token, and if you're not used to taking a lot of swings, you might be tired halfway through and start topping the ball, leading to a series of pathetic little groundouts. Don't hit the beer garden too hard, after you've swung either. After all, that's what ruined Sam "Mayday" Malone's career.

1 Randall's Island // (212) 427-5689 //


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The fearsome Pro-Batter, which can make you look foolish as you flail away at curveballs. (Photo by David Colon)

Here's a place that lives up to its name. While most batting cages will toss you one fastball after the other (which to be clear, doesn't mean an easy time in the cage) only The Baseball Center has a pitching machine, The Pro-Batter, that spits out fastballs up to 100 mph and will also throw you curveballs and sliders that make you look truly foolish. If you don't want to made to look like a dummy though, you can also just use a regular pitching machine ($55 per half hour, $85 per hour for one to five people) that runs baseballs up there between 35 mph and 70 mph and softballs from 45 mph to 60 mph. If you want to throw some data in with your dingers, you can also try out the Hit Trax cage, which reads your exit velocity and projects on a nearby screen where your ball would end up in a real stadium. That and the Pro Batter will run you $135 an hour, but if you really want to pretend to be a pro, it seems like a reasonable price.

202 West 74th Street // (212) 362-0344 //


Are you perhaps visiting City Island, by bike or any other means? Well be sure to stop in at Turtle Cove before you get there, lest you pass up an opportunity to show off your bat control and maybe win some money hustling people who think you can't hit line drive after line drive (NOTE: This only works if you can hit line drives). Or, don't hustle people and instead just try your luck in one of the nine cages that Turtle Cove has on offer, which range from slow arcs to fast pitch baseball and softball. You can pop in for a quickie and get 25 pitches for a $3.50 token, or rent a cage for $40 for a half hour and $60 for an hour. And, true to the magic of baseball, they've even got a hot dog-centered deal where you can five tokens, two dogs and a bottle of water for $20.

1 City Island Road // (718) 885-1129 //


Fun fact: Former Yankee hero/pariah Alex Rodriguez has the most career grand slams in baseball history, with 25. However, if you're one of those weepy weirdos crying about the integrity of the game and the kids and whatever, Lou Gehrig, a Yankee, still would hold the career record with 23 grand salamis if we erased A-Rod from the record books tomorrow. If you want to work on your own ability to hit moonshots in the same borough where those two dudes plied their trade, hit up Grand Slam Batting Cages. They've got 3 tunnels to rent for $50 per hour, and 3 cages with pitching machines that will spit out 15 pitches for every $.150 token you buy. The pitching machines can go from 30 mph to 95 mph, but whatever you do, don't compare the really fast fastballs to Randy Johnson. He didn't have such a good time in the Bronx.

478 East Tremont Avenue // (718) 644-3252 //