When Major League Baseball gets underway next week, don't limit your enjoyment to watching the game in person or on your living-room big screen. These days, apps running on a second screen — a smartphone or tablet — are becoming as integral to watching the game as cold beer and peanuts.
A second screen enhances your experience in ways that just aren't possible any other way, delivering everything from analysis, player stats, and interactive features to tools for communicating with other fans watching the game.
We've rounded up seven of the best second-screen apps that belong on your smartphone or tablet this baseball season. Download and install one or more before Opening Day on Sunday to make sure you're game ready when the ump yells "play ball!"
MLB At Bat
As second screen apps go, Major League Baseball's eight-year-old At Bat is still the ace of the rotation. Even the free "lite" version has enough features to make any seamhead giddy, including breaking news, player stats, scores, standings, schedules, interactive rosters, and the ability to customize your homepage as a hub for your favorite team. You can also receive push notifications to alert you to game starts, lead and score changes, and in-game video highlights.
Still it's worth ponying up for the premium features ($3 a month/$20 a year, free for MLB.TV subscribers). You'll get access to a treasure trove of complete classic games in the video library, real-time box scores with pitch-by-pitch tracking, and each team's live local radio broadcast for every game from spring training through the World Series. The last is particularly useful when you want to mute national network blowhards and tune in to your hometown broadcast team.
The iOS version of the app received several updates this season, including a new UI for all 30 team pages, player search expanded to include all active and historical players (both iPhone only), and Spanish language support. (Android, iOS, Kindle Fire)
MiLB First Pitch
If you like keeping tabs on baseball's prospects, download MiLB First Pitch. A companion to MLB At Bat, it provides similar coverage of 150 minor league clubs with scores, stats, news, video highlights and push notification game alerts.
As with the big — league app, the basis are free but you must buy into video streams of games — both live an on-demand — and other premium offerings, but it's the best way to scout tomorrow's stars while following their parent clubs on TV. Platoon it with At Bat for complete coverage of your favorite team's entire organization. (Android, iOS)
If you prefer your baseball coverage from a third-party source, it's tough to beat ESPN's free flagship app (formerly Scorecenter). In addition to scores and standings, it will keep you supplied with a steady stream of injury reports, contract signings, and other breaking news from around the league. Swipe over to the ESPN Now tab for social media content from ESPN writers, teams, players, and other baseball insiders.
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