Baseball season is here! After last week’s opening weekend nothing has us more excited than seeing our favorite teams back in action, flinging fastballs and stealing bases. And what better way to celebrate the return of the national pastime than with some great iPad apps ? These suggestions celebrate all things baseball, whether you’re swinging for the fences in a Home Run Derby, tracking fantasy progression or simply showing love for the game. Let’s hit the mound!
MLB.com At Bat ’11 (MLB Advanced Media, $14.99)
True baseball enthusiasts will want to make a beeline for this officially endorsed Major League Baseball app first. At Bat ’11 is a fan’s dream come true, featuring every aspect of the sport covered right on the iPad screen. Signing up during the month of April provides free access to MLB.TV for the entire month, providing a specifically chosen game to view each day. After that, a monthly fee of $19.99/$24.99 or yearly fee of $99.99/$119.99 needs to be paid to access all of MLB.TVâs features.
But At Bat isn’t just a place to watch games. Users can also catch key plays and pivotal moments from every game with Live Look-Ins (again, without blackouts), catch pitch-by-pitch recaps with cool video rendering from the PlayStation 3 game MLB 11: The Show, watch archived games, view video highlights and get their fill on all the breaking news. This includes roster changes, trades, schedules, league standings and live radio broadcasts. This one’s a must for devotees to the diamond everywhere.
2011 Complete Baseball Encyclopedia (Lee Sinins, $1.99)
Featuring a wide variety of statistics for all the official MLB teams and players over the years, the 2011 Complete Baseball Encyclopedia is the go-to tool for sports writers, stat trackers and casual fans alike. It also provides plenty of customization options, letting users put together their own leader lists to display however they please. Using a hassle-free menu system, you can easily put together favorite home run hitters, pitchers, hitting stats, standings and so much more. It doesn’t have a fancy interface like At Bat, but what it lacks in flash, it more than makes up for in numbers.
ESPN iScore Baseball Scorekeeper ($9.99, Faster Than Monkeys)
ESPN is a highly trusted source when it comes to baseball coverage and news, so it’s easy to recommend its dedicated iPad app, iScore Baseball Scorekeeper. Not only does this program track stats for professional Major League Baseball games, but it goes even further, providing scores and stats for college, high school and youth baseball games for teams across the country. Using an intuitive interface, iScore provides a number of options, from checking out a Complete Scorebook Output to opening up a Team Manager section for would-be team leaders to edit their rosters and line-up for game time – perfect for Little League sessions.
That’s not all. Fans can also track how players are doing with the innovative Pitch Tracker and Batting Spray Chart, checking what kind of pitches are being hurled at the plate and how hitting percentages are panning out. There’s also the ability to invite others to check out the game in action through live statistic updates, via either iScoreCast or TwitterCast. Though no video options are included, it is the next best thing to being there, and an ideal alternative for parents that just can’t make their kids’ game because of work. iScore Baseball Scorekeeper is ideal for baseball aficionados.
Hit the Deck Baseball ($.99, Mike Miller)
Back before we were spoiled by hyper-realistic baseball video games, we had to get our fix by going to the arcade and playing old-school video games. Mike Miller’s Hit the Deck Baseball recreates this era with a painstakingly realistic stand-up machine, where players swat away at metallic balls to hit lined-up targets in the upper playfield, scoring everything from singles to home run. With five modes (including an addictive Home Run Derby) and beautifully recreated visuals and sound, it’s almost the next best thing to owning a machine, without the hassle of replacing costly components. Not bad for a dollar purchase at all.
Flick Baseball Pro HD ($4.99, Freeverse)
Finally, if you’re looking for a fun baseball game with a variety of modes and extras, Flick Baseball Pro HD is a sure bet. What it lacks in official Major League Baseball licensing, it more than makes up for with superb accelerometer-based batting and pitching controls, along with tap-related controls for players in the outfield. There are also two difficulty settings available, for both kids and pros alike.
Flick Baseball Pro also has a superb season mode, with complete stat tracking for each of your teams, through game seasons that go anywhere from 11 all the way to a full 165! And if there’s no time to play through an entire nine-inning game, the simulation mode provides immediate results and moving on to the next round. On top of that, customization is available, letting you create original players and teams from scratch. (Let’s hear it for the Digital Beerhuskers!) Freeverse’s Flick Baseball Pro HD is a grand slam out of the park.