It’s considered to be a purely American sport, and yet people all around the world love to watch and play baseball. Here in the States, the MLB is known as the big leagues, and it’s where the best of the best play professional ball.
Last year, the MLB released MLB At Bat, and it received mixed reviews. But with its latest release, MLB At Bat 11, we’ve got the app that baseball fans need to get. Why? Let’s talk it out after the break.
Let’s get this out of the way: Although it’s not required, MLB At Bat 11 is substantially improved with the purchase of an MLB.tv subscription. This service gives you access the the MLB.tv website, which lets you live stream games to your Mac or PC, and also lets you stream games to your iPhone or iPad.
The plans break down currently at $79.99 for the premium pack which includes the iOS apps, $59.99 for the basic package (also with iOS apps) and $29.99 for the iPhone and iPad subscriptions only. The prices dip as the season goes on, so if you don’t care about the first part of the season you can save some cash long term by just waiting a month or two.
This is a controversial aspect to the app, because let’s face it, not everyone wants to pay to watch baseball. I bought the subscription at the beginning of the season, and at the time there was no iPhone/iPad option. Were that the case now, that’s probably the way I’d go because I don’t watch many games on my AppleTV, even though I have that option.
What It Is
MLB At Bat 11 is a true homescreen app for any baseball fan. Since they know the game better than anyone else, the MLB knows that fans don’t care about following every team, they want their own team’s info right away. To do this, you tell the app what your favorite team is, and then the next time you turn on the app it will display your team’s info first. You get stats, the scoreboard, the next/current game and viewing or listening options right away, without touching a thing.
This home screen is your portal to everywhere else you can go. Below the box score or ticket display for the next game are a little television, headphones or an MLB logo. The television takes you to the game, the headphones let you listen to the game if you can’t watch the video and the MLB logo takes you to MLB Gameday.
I’m not a huge fan of the Gameday feature, but I know some people who swear by it. Basically, you see a generic image of a player and it shows you where each pitch goes in the strike zone, plus all of your favorite stats. It’s a good way to watch a game if you can’t actively watch it live.
For me, the killer point of this app is the notification system. MLB At Bat 11 can notify you when a game starts, when it ends and a condensed game review and when a video highlight pops up. I’ve got a lot of things going on, but I find it nice to work with the Red Sox playing in the background. By getting a push notification when the game starts, I can load up the app and watch it right then and there.
In another cool twist, the app also has a check in system similar to 4Square. Whenever you’re at a game, check in at the ballpark to show that not only you were there, but get access to expanded highlights as well. The more parks you visit, the bigger the bragging rights among your friends. You can share this info via Twitter, too.
The true gem here is the ability to watch live games, wherever you are. I know I’ve streamed games over both 3G and Wi-Fi, and although it can pixelate on 3G occasionally, it’s usually a very clear picture.
While the game is streaming, you can see scores from across the league if you want, just by touching the box icon in the corner. You can also see the current box score for the game, which displays in a semi-opaque box across the screen.
When you’re watching a game on national TV, you get generic announcers that don’t have any particular bias. With MLB At Bat 11, you can choose to watch the feed from either team’s local station. This gives you consistency as you watch more games, and it can be a bit entertaining if you like the announcing team. For me, as a Boston Red Sox fan, it’s great to hear that Boston accent and feel like I’m sitting back in Framingham watching a game.
So what’s the downside to the app? Not every game is available for live streaming. At first, this seems like a deal breaker, because that’s the entire point of paying for the service. But often, the games that aren’t allowed are playing nationally on a major network, so you can catch it there instead. Besides, there are over 100 games in a season, missing one or two isn’t a deal breaker to me.
During the season, I move this app right to my homescreen. I can now quickly and easily see how my Sox are doing in the season, and watch a game whenever or wherever I want. It’s easily something that I use every day, and I’d say it’s in my top 5 for most used.
But this is for baseball fans. For me, it’s not worth the price without an MLB.tv subscription, because I don’t want to pay $10 to watch highlights and see box scores. Sure, it’s a bit expensive when combined with the plan, but for a real fan, it’s well worth it.