With March coming to a close and spring ushering in April, it can only mean one thing. Baseball is here. And even if you cannot sit down and enjoy all 162 of your favorite team’s games, you can certainly keep track of it all. Need statistics and analysis? Or what about watching a game on your mobile device? The Play Store has many options, and I am here to tell you which ones are worth checking out. Hit the break to get started.
MLB.com At Bat (MLB Advanced Media, L.P.)
Major League Baseball’s Advanced Media division does an excellent job handling media services and MLB.com At Bat is their crowned jewel. Coming from the league itself, At Bat will tailor your experience based upon your favorite team. The Scoreboard menu will give you a rundown of that day’s matchups. And once a game goes live, the Scoreboard will update itself every 15 or 30 seconds, and your favorite team remains at the top of the list. Tapping on any matchup will give you a foray of statistics for that game. And while inside, the app will follow the aforementioned intervals to update all stats and scores. Also, being locked into any game will allow you to use Gameday. Gameday animates the batter, strike zone, and pitching to gives users a feel of the game without being able to actually watch.
You can also signup for the $20 annual subscription fee (or $2.99 per month) for At Bat. In doing so, you are expanding the power of At Bat by adding in-game highlights, live look-ins that take you around the league, all home and away radio broadcasts (other than your home team), and an opportunity to view the MLB.TV Free Game of the Day. Without this subscription, the only video content available is the same stuff found on MLB’s official website. This limits you to just news clips. But if your favorite team is not in your local market, chances are you subscribe to MLB.TV Premium. With this subscription, you get automatic access to everything At Bat has to offer. This includes streaming every game to your device. In case you were wondering, MLB.TV Premium costs $129 per year; however, I can tell you it is well worth the money and often there are promotions going on for it and the price gets reduced by the All-Star Game.
WatchESPN (ESPN Inc.)
For the regular season, there are two primary television rights holders for Major League Baseball games. The first is the almighty ESPN and the other is FOX Sports. Until FOX Sports brings FOX Sports Go to Android, WatchESPN is the only way to get game streamed to a device for free (assuming you have one of their TV providers). So you can watch free baseball when ESPN airs games on Sundays, Mondays, and Wednesdays this season. In addition to these games, ESPN’s marquee baseball program, Baseball Tonight, can also be streamed. ESPN does intend on airing more than 100 baseball games this season and each and every team will get at least one appearance.
WatchESPN does stream in high definition and streams tend to stay up and buffering is usually due to something on the user’s end. The only downside with WatchESPN is that, like many streaming applications, battery life tends to take a hit. So use WatchESPN preferably over WiFi or when you are coming off of a good charge.
theScore: Sports & Scores (theScore, Inc.)
In need of a sports app that looks absolutely awesome, just go and download theScore right now. The app follows Android’s recommended design guidelines. Once you select MLB as your desired league, you get a rundown of the day’s games. Aside from scores, theScore has a drop-down with news, standings, and statistics. If you select a specific game, pulling down will refresh the page, and the latest action will be recorded.
Setting reminders and alerts is really where theScore shines. Almost every single page has a star at the top of it. Tapping it cues a list of reminders and alerts. When does a game start? What did Miguel Cabrera do in the last three innings against the Angels? Is there any breaking news? All of this can be delivered immediately by theScore. The developers have also teamed up with RotoWire. And baseball fans know RotoWire is the go-to for fantasy sports content.
MLB.com At the Ballpark (MLB Advanced Media, L.P.)
What if you are heading to an actual baseball game at the ballpark? At the Ballpark is definitely your best option. Again, it is an app straight from the source so it performs very well. Just in time for the 2014 season, At the Ballpark, has gotten a refreshed design. This app basically enhances your experience when attending a game and provides helpful information if you get a little confused.
An in-depth map of each and every ballpark is bundled with the app. So for every park you visit, concession and restroom areas can be found as quickly as possible. Directions with parking information are ready to be put to work as well. Having trouble navigating through the streets of New York and can’t find parking for Yankee Stadium? At the Ballpark is ready to ease the frustration. And believe me, I could have used At the Ballpark a few years ago when I went to a Yankee-Angels game in New York.
Certain ballparks will actually have offers waiting for guests when they check-in to the ballpark with this app. To take it a step further, some of them will allow food and beverage ordering right from your seat. While the ballparks on-board with these two services is limited right now, the league says “Additional ballparks will be added as they become available.” So At the Ballpark will only get better over time.
Yahoo Fantasy Sports (Yahoo)
Fantasy sports applications are pretty cut and dry. You typically go with the app for the fantasy service that hosts your league. Yahoo Fantasy Sports is a little unique since it actually houses all of Yahoo’s fantasy sports leagues. So when baseball overlaps with football in the fall, your teams are in one place.
While the design of Yahoo Fantasy Sports is nice, there are some parts that could use adjustments. The main one is how much content is on the screen at one time. Due to the black background and small, white font, things get very cluttered and it becomes quite difficult to decipher what statistics go with a particular section.
Yahoo really puts a ton of time and effort into its Yahoo fantasy sports leagues and it definitely shows both through the desktop and mobile versions. Experts from Yahoo provide insight and the company has support from NBCUniversal’s Rotoworld team, another fantasy sports giant.
ESPN Fantasy Baseball (ESPN Inc.)
ESPN does it all. And yes, they do have a fantasy baseball app. Unlike Yahoo, ESPN has dedicated apps for each of its offered fantasy sports leagues. The difference between ESPN Fantasy Baseball and Yahoo Fantasy Sports is not all that big. Here, you also get deep team management features. ESPN Fantasy Baseball makes a great companion for watching games on television since it has live scoring to update your league’s statistics right away.
And it wouldn’t be an ESPN product without the help of its other arms. The app has analysis from fantasy baseball analysts. In addition to news from these analysts, their tweets and other fantasy baseball videos will roll in. And the Bottom Line live ticker that is found on ESPN’s channels is also located at the bottom of every page. This keeps you updated with news from around the sports world.
To further your experience with ESPN Fantasy Baseball, being a subscriber to ESPN Insider doesn’t hurt. The subscription costs $39 for one year or $59 for two years. You can go month-to-month for $8.95 if you aren’t ready for a full commitment. But even ESPN Insider also nets you an ESPN Magazine subscription for free. As for the advantages with ESPN Insider and this app, it will give you push notifications for a player heading to the disabled list or if you have a player who should be starting that is currently sitting on your bench. Even more video content from ESPN’s fantasy analysts is included as well. Is ESPN Insider for everyone? No, but it does have some clear advantages.
Are you ready for the 2014 MLB season? Don’t be afraid to drop some predictions in the comments below and let me know if I missed any of your favorite apps.