MLB At Bat 11: A Baseball Fan’s Best Friend

In 2010 the MLB At Bat iPad application was demoed as part of the event unveiling the now infamous iPad. Not only did the iPad wow the world, but the MLB At Bat app drew quite a following as well.

Earlier this year there was talk that Major League Baseball did have to rush the development of their iPad application somewhat last year to make the iPad release event deadline. Though it was still very successful in 2010 they wanted to take some time and put it through a full development cycle.

MLB At Bat 2011 was released just in time for opening day. I’m a huge baseball fan so this was great news to me and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. It has quickly become one of my most used applications. Let’s take a look at all that is available in this year’s offering.

Design & Interface

Major League Baseball is becoming very well-known for being technologically advanced. They have very much embraced technology and all that it offers, and take full advantage of the Web along with offering very full-featured and well designed mobile applications. The iPad application is the crown jewel of sorts and proves itself as a perfect avenue for distributing the content the fans are looking for

Much of the application is designed to make you feel like you are at the ballpark. The Gameday section especially. I’ll go into more detail here in a bit, but this is the view where you’re essentially watching a gamecast of a game.

What makes this experience wonderful is in the details. The view of each game changes and looks just like the stadium in which the game is being played. The scoreboard across the top of the screen is also very ballpark, as it looks like the old school scoreboard (exactly like you’d see at Fenway Park). All of this, combined with many other details, almost makes you feel like you’re in the park.

Overall, the design throughout is intuitive and makes sense. If it seems like something is tappable, most likely it is. It’s quick and easy to navigate while still remaining just flat out cool. The visual design and functionality play perfectly together and you won’t find yourself wanting on either side.

Functionality

The application is broken up into four main sections: Scoreboard, News, Gameday, and Standings. Each area providing a wealth of information about the MLB and what is currently happening.

Scoreboard

The Scoreboard section displays all of the scores from games going on throughout the league in a grid format. It’s quick and easy to scan and each game is tappable to pull up additional information about the game.

I’ve found this area especially helpful to look at after a days worth of games. It’s an easy way to catch up on everything that you may have missed.

MLB At Bat - scoreboard

MLB At Bat - Scoreboard

A great animation will flip a game card to the front of the display and you’ll see information such as the box score, any available video highlights, and any associated articles (if the game is over).

Tapping on a highlight will bring up a full size video showing the highlight. While tapping on an associated article will bring up another card showing the full article.

It’s a great place to go to get the full picture of what is currently happening or what happened on any day in the past.

MLB At Bat - scoreboard gamecard view

MLB At Bat - Scoreboard Gamecard

News

This section of the application is almost an app within an app. It is basically a full iPad magazine right within the application. It feels much like other news and magazine type iPad applications.

The magazine is updated almost constantly with relevant news going on throughout the league. The News section can be sorted to display only articles that pertain to a particular team as well.

So if you’re a big Twins fan (like me) you can sort to only view Twins news.

There is certainly no shortage of information and it’s a great place to browse when there are no games going on. The app really shines in game and this provides some great out of game functionality.

MLB At Bat - news

MLB At Bat - News

Gameday

Gameday is a really amazing section of this application so we’ll spend a little more time on this one. This is what will sell the application to most people.

If you’ve seen other game cast type web applications that have been available through the MLB website and also through other sports sites such as ESPN.com then this will look at least partially familiar. I would classify the Gameday section of At Bat like a game cast on steroids.

MLB At Bat - basic gameday view

MLB At Bat - Basic Gameday View

Essentially you’re able to follow the game pitch by pitch and play by play. You’ll see the scoreboard along with animation of incoming pitches as they are thrown.

The view you’ll see is actually that of the catcher and is within an amazingly accurate rendition of the stadium in which the game is being played (used in partnership with the MLB 2011 The Show video game). I have to say I was pretty blown away by the overall look of this mode.

MLB At Bat - showing the matchup in gameday

MLB At Bat - Showing the Matchup in Gameday

From there you’re able to toggle on and off several other features. The Matchup will display the current pitcher/hitter matchup with each player being tappable to view more detailed info about them. You’ll also see pitch by pitch of the at bat.

The Box Score will display just what you’d think, a standard box score that is separated for each team. Plays will give you a run down on exactly what happened in each play and is separated by the half-inning. It’s a great way to jump back in a game and check to see exactly what you missed.

The Lineups will show the starting lineups and any substitutions, separated by each team. Again, each player is tappable to reveal more information. The Highlights section is one that is updated regularly throughout the game. The MLB staff is hard at work cutting highlights of important things throughout the game. You’ll see a little notification as new highlights are added.

You’re able to watch these little video snippets right within the Gameday view.

MLB At Bat - showing the matchup and highlights in gameday

MLB At Bat - Showing the Matchup and Highlights in Gameday

You’ll also have the opportunity to drop in on games and watch live from time to time. A button will appear at the top of the view when one is available. Pressing the button will take you to a full video view and you’re able to watch that game for usually about five to ten minutes. A MLB.TV subscription is not required for this access.

MLB At Bat - showing matchup and play by play in gameday

MLB At Bat - Showing Matchup and Play by Play in Gameday

The amount of information available at your fingertips within the Gameday mode is staggering and puts a true baseball nerd in heaven. Each section appears as a widget of sorts that slides out from the side of the view and is easily toggled on and off as you need. It is really a fantastic way to follow a baseball game and, in some cases, maybe even better than watching on TV!

Standings

This area is pretty self-explanatory and is by far the most basic and non-interactive portion of the application. It still does provide something useful by giving you an overall view of the standings throughout the league.

You’re able to switch between two views: divisional, and wild card. Each view shows a basic table of the standings. The large form factor does allow a pretty detailed standings table to be displayed, however. This is a place where the additional space (as compared to the iPhone app) is very well used. Teams that you have declared as your favorites will be displayed in a highlighted fashion so that you are able to quickly point them out.

MLB At Bat - standings

MLB At Bat - Standings

Even though there isn’t anything too fancy going on in this area, I will say that it still provides a wealth of information. It would be nice if the teams were tappable perhaps to view more specific info, such as news, but I can’t say I’m missing it that much.

MLB.TV Integration

At Bat does integrate with MLB.TV if you have paid for an account. You’re able to pick from all available broadcasts for each game that is currently underway.

It should be noted that the you do still need to pay for the iPad application even if you are a MLB.TV subscriber. I know this has been a bit of a gripe for subscribers and it’s understandable. Like it or not that’s the way it is, but it is nice to know that you will have some additional features on the At Bat application if you are a subscriber.

MLB At Bat - MLB.TV integration

MLB At Bat - MLB.TV Integration

Gameday Audio

By purchasing this application you’ll have access to audio broadcasts for all games that are currently underway. This is a pretty simple feature, but a very nice one. I’ve used this a great deal.

The one drawback is that the Gameday view isn’t synched up with the audio at this time. The audio is essentially realtime, like you’re listening to the radio, while there is a bit of a delay with the Gameday information.

I have heard that the MLB is working on a better way to sync those up. This would be an amazing improvement. Watching the Gameday with audio would be just perfect and I really hope that this is a future feature enhancement.

MLB At Bat - radio

MLB At Bat - Radio

Conclusion

I have had an absolute blast with this application so far. Although it definitely appeals more to the hardcore baseball fan than the casual one. If you’re just looking for some scores then this isn’t worth it for you. If you’re looking for more, however, you’ll quickly fall in love with this one.

At $14.99 this is a fairly expensive application and it did make me hesitate a bit before purchasing. However, after spending a few weeks with it I can say that it’s very much worth the price. The design of the application is excellent and it’s just flat out great to use.

The amount of different information available is truly incredible and I have to tip my hat to the MLB for doing so much with the available technology. Watching games and keeping up with what is going on throughout the league is a wonderful experience and I highly recommend this application to all the baseball fans out there.


Summary

MLB.com application designed to keep you up to date on the happenings across the league throughout the baseball season.

10