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MLB's At Bat for iPad Is a Grand Slam

By John P. Mello Jr. MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Jul 5, 2010 5:00 AM PT

This story was originally published on April 26, 2010, and is brought to you today as part of our Best of ECT News series.

MLB's At Bat for iPad Is a Grand Slam

If you love Major League Baseball, you'll love MLB's At Bat app for the iPad. The tablet's expansive display gave the software's designers lots of room to be creative, and they took advantage of it.

MLB At Bat for iPad
MLB At Bat for iPad
(click image to enlarge)

Habitues of the MLB website will see a familiar interface in the iPad app. Like the website's Gameday feature, you look at the field from behind home plate. A graphic of a hitter appears in an appropriate batter's box. The strike zone is a tinted box over the plate. As each pitch is thrown, its location appears on the screen. Balls appear as green circles; strikes, red; and a ball in play, blue.

At the bottom of the display is a faceoff box showing pictures of the current batter and pitcher sandwiched between lineup boxes for the teams in the contest you're watching. To the left or right of the batter is a diamond where thumbnails of players are displayed as they reach base.

Tapping a corner of the faceoff box pops up a menu with tabs to see a text description of each pitch as it happens, a running box score of the game, a summary of what each batter did in each inning or a summary of the scoring and diagram of the field with names of the defensive players.

Baseball Cards

Each lineup box has two tabs. One displays the current lineup of a team, as well as the position players on the bench. The other tab shows the pitchers available in the bullpen.

You can tap any picture or name in the lineup or bullpen and a card with the player's face will appear that automatically flips to show his batting or pitching statistics.

At the top of the display, there's a scoreboard. You can move from game to game by tapping them. Swiping the scoreboard moves it left or right to show more games.

At the bottom of the scoreboard, is the line score of the game you're watching, balls and strikes and video highlights of the contest. Tapping the highlight thumbnail enlarges it and plays the video clip.

Price Cringe

Above the scoreboard are navigation arrows for viewing games played in the past or scheduled in the future. There are also icons for accessing MLB.TV, radio broadcasts and the app's settings. Radio broadcasts are included with the price of the app. TV costs extra.

Two annual TV packages are offered by MLB, a premium one for US$119.95 and a standard one for $99.95. The iPad features are the same in both packages -- two feeds per game (either home or away announcers), HD quality video and 2,430 games. The differences between the two are in their desktop features. The premium package has some extra bells and whistles like DVR controls, picture-in-picture and multi-game views.

MLB At Bat for iPad
MLB At Bat for iPad
(click image to enlarge)

A free TV game is offered daily. That's a good move by MLB. When many fans get a gander at a ballgame in HD on the iPad, they'll find a TV package hard to resist.

I've seen some grumbling on the Internet about the pricing of the MLB app. A major source of grousing are iPod touch or iPhone users who already spent $14.99 on the app for those devices and resent buying another version for the iPad. Admittedly, I felt that way, too. On further thought, though, it occurred to me that if the flashy interface for the app on the iPad wasn't worth $14.99 to me, then I could always run the iPhone app on the tablet. If MLB wanted to build some good will among the disaffected, however, it could throw the iPad app in free when someone subscribed to MLB.TV for the season.

MLB At Bat for iPad
MLB At Bat for iPad
(click image to enlarge)

Occasionally, the MLB app freezes in the middle of a game. Balls and strikes stop being updated. Similar problems occur in the iPhone/iPad touch app so I can't say I was surprised to see them appear in the iPad app, too. Usually, you can kickstart the action by going to another game and returning to the game you really want to watch.

Despite some minor performance problems, Major League Baseball's iPad app is a fan's delight. MLB exploits the spacious screen and high resolution graphics of the iPad to create an informative and entertaining window into the daily drama of baseball.

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