Monday, July 06, 2009

Review: MLB.com At Bat 2009

So I was fortunate to travel to Hawaii a couple of months ago. I was very excited to get away as I was getting swamped at work and really needed a vacation. The fortunate thing was that the Dodgers were doing really well (and still are), but I was going to miss most of the games. Then at Dodger Blogger Night, Chris from dodgerfan.net told me about the MLB.com At Bat 2009 application for the iPhone. And since I have an iPhone, I said what the heck, I will try it out. And boy was I ever glad I did!

I was familiar with the MLB.com format as I utilized it a lot to watch Dodger games on my computer when I was out of the Los Angeles market. So when At Bat 2009 came out, I sort of knew what to expect. The app has all of the neat extras. It lists the games for the day and the box score on the bottom of the screen. It lets you scroll to a certain game, it gives you the "Gameday" screen with the batter and the placement of the pitch. There is also the "Field" screen that tells you who is on base and who is on defense. There is the standard "Box Score" screen for the home and away teams with all of the extra information like weather, umps, wind speed. Finally there is the "Summary" screen that tells you the plays for the inning and the scoring plays for the game. Everything updates in 15-30 second intervals depending on your settings. In the "Extras" section, there are the standings for both leagues and the wild card, MLB.com in the Safari web browser, and the typical settings and terms and conditions sections. But there are two features that really make this application stand out: streaming audio and video.

First, the audio. Sitting on the beach on the North Shore of Oahu listening to a Dodger game was great. Then after the game, I would put on the snorkel gear and go into the ocean to cool off. It was also really neat to switch to the visiting team's station to hear the announcers' reactions to the same play. Was pretty funny to hear Charley Steiner scream like a schoolgirl and then switch to the away station to hear the announcer call the play in a monotone voice. I tried it out at Dodger Stadium and it seems like it was about one minute after the action. It worked fairly well on the 3G network; however, I still have trouble obtaining a good signal at Dodger Stadium when it starts getting crowded.

Second is the video. Yup, that's right, video. Originally, the video consisted of highlights of the game. I work a lot during the night and miss some of the games. So I switch over to the highlights and love watching them after work. Plus, they seem to post the highlights fairly quickly after they happen. They also have some of the "FastCast" reviews for some games in the Extras section which show some nice highlights around the league. Next, the MLB.com staff added the "Condensed Game" feature, which shows the final play of each at-bat. On the latest Ethier walk-off, I was able to skip to the end of the game and watch it. But now the MLB.com staff has blown my socks off with STREAMING VIDEO. For certain games, usually about two a day, they stream the game on the iPhone. It works pretty well using the 3G network as well, and you don't need to be on a Wi-Fi network for it to work. And if the game is broadcast in high definition, the clarity is really sharp. The only downside (which is a pretty big one) is the blackout restrictions. It seems that the iPhone maps where you are located and if you are within a catchment area of the game, you are out of luck and cannot view the game. Now I know there are all these rules about licensing and television rights and contracts and all, but come on. Do you really think I want to watch a game on an iPhone screen instead of a television screen? That is WHY I have the At Bat app, so I can keep up with the game BECAUSE I don't have access to a television screen! But, it is still great fun to watch out-of-market games. I must admit I have had the Dodger game on my television and another game that is out of market on my iPhone, much to the chagrin of my wife.

The only other downside of the application is that it drains the battery. With the last game against the Rockies on the 1st of July, I had the iPhone PLUGGED IN and listened to the whole game and at the end there was NO MORE BATTERY left. None. Zip. Zero. It drained the phone dry. The phone saves energy by turning off, but you are still able to listen to the game audio. This saves energy, but you don't know how much battery you have left until it is too late. I guess it really isn't a knock on the application, but rather on the phone itself. So it is more a warning to anyone out there who listens to the whole game.

I do envision the day when they are able to stream all the games (as well as other apps that will allow for TV viewing). But until then, I think the At Bat 2009 application is phenomenal. Check it out! (In no way am I affiliated with MLB.com nor MLB nor Apple and the above opinions were my own.)

3 comments:

Steve Sax said...

AC convinced me to buy this app.

I figured it was worth the price of 5/6th of a Dodger Stadium beer.

Erin said...

If you haven't already been in the press box, AC, ask your brothers about the media password. I was getting the wireless signal from my seats down by the foul pole, so I think it works pretty well. It would make that app go extra fast.

Nic j said...

I like the condensed game feature. It's like watching a full game in 20 minutes.