Next MLB At Bat, a major league hit

Scott Kitun/The Medillian

Scott Kitun/The Medillian

Major League Baseball might be struggling to gain TV ratings, but it’s dominating the sports app market. MLB is set to release its newest version of the already successful “At Bat” application for all iPhones and tablets Thursday.

Previous versions of At Bat have featured live streaming games, access to play-by-play analysis and streaming highlights. According to the MLB website, At Bat 13 will feature over 10,000 live games, partnerships with MLB Network TV, highlights and a live news and stats feed.

MLB is concerned about recent disappointing television ratings, the 2012 World Series scored a record low 7.6 rating according to Nielsen Media Research. The product development team for the MLB Advanced Media responded by further integrating At Bat 13 with MLB TV Network to supplement viewership.

“Heaven is the ability for people to touch baseball every day in the most convenient way possible,” MLB Advanced Media CEO Bob Bowman said.

Founded in 2000, Major League Baseball Advanced Media, commonly referred to as BAM, is a limited partnership of MLB club owners created to capitalize on digital media opportunities. It has generated more than $440 million from paid-content, merchandising and ticket sales – which now represents more than 36 percent of the Advanced Media’s annual revenue.

MLB Advanced Media announced July 2012 that its MLB.com At Bat 12 app surpassed the five-million-download mark. Users streamed more than 21 million live video streams, a new single season record for At Bat and a 20% increase from 2011 season-ending totals.

Prior to the 2010 launch of the iPad by Apple Inc., Steve Jobs, former Apple CEO, asked Bowman to send a development team to Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. The objective Jobs set for Bowman was to design a new version of the already successful, At Bat, iPhone app for the iPad.

At Bat will now be available on most Androids, Tablets and Kindles – with an added bonus. If they subscribe to the tablet app, users will now have access on all mobile platforms.

“We already have an aggressive product timeline for the iPhone and other platforms, which we’d also like to launch before baseball’s opening day in April,” Chad Evans, Director of mobile product development for MLB Advanced Media, said.

In a recent feature on the MLB At Bat series by Macworld.com, they called it the No. 1 sports app of all-time and Hall of Fame inductee for iPhone, iPad and Macworld.

At Bat 13 will be launching a new pricing model this season, with three price options for users.

The standard edition of At Bat 13 will cost users a one-time download fee of $14.99, a 50 percent increase from the one-time subscription fee of $9.99 last year. Basic At Bat 13 will include all of the play-by-play analysis, live highlights, and regular season games.

Premium users can pay the one-time fee plus a monthly subscription fee of $2.99. That will allow both full-access to all streamed live games and audio, from spring training through the World Series and all MLB TV Network coverage by baseball analysts.

MLB TV Network subscribers will also have access to At Bat 13 at no additional charge.

And, for those with a little less to spend, At Bat Lite will again be offered as a free download. As was offered in prior versions, At Bat Lite will offer the free “Game of The Day” and scores and highlights.

Legends die hard

Courtesy of Vibe.com

Derek Jeter suffers a broken ankle on Saturday. Photo courtesy of http://www.bleacherreport.com

The Yankees lost more than just the game Saturday, dropping the first game of the series with the Detroit Tigers. A staple of the Yankee lineup since 1995, Derek Jeter, broke his ankle and will be out for the remainder of the postseason. To give you some perspective, the last time the Yankees were in the post season without number 2, there was no iPhone, no Twitter and no Facebook. At 38 years old, people are curious as to whether we will ever again see Jeter in the Yankees lineup. Undoubtedly a first ballet Hall of Fame’r, Jeter has been one of the most clutch batters of all-time. Jeter is a legend of the game for a reason, having won five World Series titles, five Gold Glove Awards, 4 Silver Slugger Awards and been voted an All-Star 13 times.

Torn triceps muscle sidelines Ray Lewis on Sunday. Photo courtesy of http://www.vibe.com

Speaking of first ballet Hall of Fame players, the Baltimore Ravens of the NFL also lost a superstar who has been a staple since the mid-90s. Ray Lewis suffered a torn triceps muscle in Sunday’s victory against the Dallas Cowboys. Since the day Ray Lewis stepped onto the field at “The U” and then Cleveland [and then Baltimore – if confused Wikipedia Art Modell], he has been an unstoppable force. A winner of a Super Bowl, a two-time NFL Defensive Player of The Year recipient with 15 Pro Bowl selections, Lewis is perhaps the greatest middle linebacker in NFL history. Like, Jeter, Lewis is an aging vet who may just have played the last game of his career.

These two stars have more in common than just their legendary achievements on the field. Both players are perhaps the greatest two field generals in the last 20 years. When these two players walk onto the field, everybody is watching. While, both lead in completely different ways; Jeter doing so in a more subdued, lead-by-example, fashion and Lewis doing so with loud fiery speeches and physical dominance. The end-result is much the same, excellence.

It is not known what will happen over the next few months, but I find it hard to believe two players known for their leadership and clutch performances, would allow their respective careers to end on terms they didn’t control.

Regardless of whether they decide to prolong their journey to athletic immortality, sports fans should reflect on what these legends have given us over the past two decades.

Youtube. Ray Lewis. Derek Jeter. Now.

Chipper Jones career ends in protest

Chipper Jones, Atlanta Braves third baseman vs St. Louis Cardinals in MLB Wildcard game Friday October 5, 2012. Photo courtesy of the Atlanta Braves.

Hysterics overtook Turner Field on Friday night when an infield fly rule was called by the left field umpire. A call that resulted in trash being tossed onto the field and a 15-minute delay of the wildcard game matchup between the Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals.

Both teams entered the game with their own unique storyline.

One team, the defending World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals, took the field for their first playoff game in over a decade without All-Star first baseman Albert Pujols, who signed with the Los Angeles Angels in the offseason. And another team, the Atlanta Braves, looked to add one more playoff run to their retiring slugger’s career.

Chipper Jones, who has spent his entire 19 year career with the Atlanta Braves said before the start of this season that it would be his last.

Add then, one more storyline, when an umpire’s call resulted in the Braves finishing the game under protest.

Entering the bottom of the eighth inning with trailing 6-3, the Braves were generating a much needed rally. With runners on first and second base, Braves shortstop, Andrelton Simmons, hit a ball 65 feet into the outfield and was called out by the application of the infield fly rule.

Simmons ball was a bloop headed for short-left directly off the bat. Just as Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma began backpedaling the left fielder, Matt Holliday, quickly advanced on the ball. Once under the ball, Kozma appeared to wave off Holliday, then suddenly both players backed off and the ball dropped between them.

Almost simultaneously, the left field umpire waved his hands in the air indicating the call of an infield fly rule. A rule, that when invoked, declares the batter out and all force plays removed regardless of whether the ball is caught, thus negating the possibility for multiple outs.

This call was followed by an immediate outburst from the Atlanta crowd, which included trash being tossed onto the field and jeering of the umpiring crew.

“You cannot call that an infield fly. It’s too deep. He wasn’t camped,” TBS analyst Ron Darling said immediately after hearing the call.

Additionally, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez ran onto the field to argue the call that he would later call, “late and wrong”.

According to TBS baseball analyst and former MLB pitcher Dennis Eckersley, the call can be made all the way out to the warning track if it applies, but he felt in this case, “if anything, this call was late.”

The call, right or wrong, certainly killed the Braves eighth inning rally hopes and put a stain on the beginning of MLB Wildcard weekend.

As for the end of Chipper Jones Hall Of Fame worthy career, he made the last plate appearance of his career count. Jones managed to spark one last rally cry for the Braves as he singled with two outs against Cardinals reliever Jason Mott. But, even that was somewhat controversial as Jones reached first on a single up the middle that was nearly an out as Cardinals second baseman Daniel Descalso’s arrant throw pulled first baseman Allen Craig off the bag.

Following Jones at the plate was Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman who reached base on a ground rule double to center field, thus setting Atlanta fans up for yet another disappointing rally-killer when second baseman Dan Uggla grounded out to Descalso to end the game and pennant hopes as the Braves fell 6-3 to the Cardinals.

Despite the fact the Braves played the remainder of the game under protest, Major League Baseball has already announced that it will not overturn the call on the field and that the St. Louis Cardinals will play the Washington Nationals Sunday.