Pastime (noun): an activity that someone does regularly for enjoyment rather than work; a hobby; his favorite pastimes were shooting and golf.
This Sunday, the Major League Baseball season will begin as the St. Louis Cardinals visit the Chicago Cubs at a newly renovated Wrigley Field. Major League Baseball is doing a great job of embracing mobile technology, and as such, Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM) has created some groundbreaking apps over the years. Whether you follow every game of your favorite team all season, or just occasionally take yourself out to the ballgame, MLBAM's apps are worth considering. Let's take a look:
MLB.com At Bat (free, with a variety of in-app purchases)
This is MLB's marquee app, one that is in its eighth season. A universal app, MLB.com At Bat is one-stop shopping for baseball stats, box scores, news, video, and the very popular Gameday feature. Gameday displays a pitch-by-pitch simulation of the game being played, from the vantage point of the catcher in a realistically-rendered ballpark.
What's even better is that you can watch selected games, or listen to home, away and Spanish-language radio broadcasts as well. To see inline video highlights and almost-live game analysis, you need to subscribe at the Premium level -- $2.99 per month or $19.99 for the entire season. To watch every game live every day, you need to either subscribe to MLB.TV with your local cable carrier or buy an in-app upgrade at $129.99 per season or $24.99 per month. Heck, that's almost less expensive than a day at the ballpark!
MLB.TV is providing a two-day free preview today and tomorrow (April 3-4), featuring 24 games that you can watch using MLB.com At Bat. Here's the schedule:
Friday, April 3 (all times are ET)
Rays v. Tigers, 1:05 p.m., Nationals v. Yankees, 1:05 p.m., Braves v. Orioles, 6:05 p.m. ,Pirates v. Phillies, 7:05 p.m., Twins v. Red Sox, 7:05 p.m., Reds v. Blue Jays, 7:07 p.m., Mets v. Rangers, 8:05 p.m., Royals v. Astros, 8:05 p.m., Cubs v. Diamondbacks, 9:40 p.m., Dodgers v. Angels, 10:05 p.m., Rockies v. Mariners, 10:05 p.m., Athletics v. Giants, 10:15 p.m.
Saturday, April 4 (all times are ET)
Tigers v. Rays, 12:35 p.m., Red Sox v. Twins, 1:05 p.m., Yankees v. Nationals, 1:05 p.m., Pirates v. Phillies, 1:05 p.m., Reds v. Blue Jays, 1:07 p.m., Mets v. Rangers, 2:05 p.m., Indians v. Brewers, 3:05 p.m., Giants v. Athletics, 4:05 p.m., Royals v. Astros, 4:05 p.m., Cubs v. Diamondbacks, 4:10 p.m., Diablos Rojoes de Mexico v. Padres, 5:00 p.m., Angels v. Dodgers, 9:10 p.m.
And of course, At Bat is gaining an Apple Watch companion that goes live on April 24!
MLB.com Ballpark (free, iPhone only)
Heading out to your home team's ballpark over the next week or two for opening day? Make sure you have the MLB.com Ballpark app installed well before you go. Ballpark is your companion at the park, letting you buy tickets with Apple Pay at select parks, get notifications for events or deals going on in the park, and even a new My Journal feature for logging a history of ballparks that you've visited.
Last year, the app added iBeacon technology for automated check-in, offers, and descriptions of points of interest. That feature has expanded to 28 of the 30 MLB stadiums around North America for the 2015 season. Using Ballpark, you can also order food or purchase seat upgrades at a handful of ballparks at this time.
MLB.com Home Run Derby (free, in-app purchases)
Anyone who has watched the activities surrounding the MLB All-Star Weekend is familiar with the Home Run Derby, in which top hitters compete to see who can hit the most home runs. The Home Run Derby app has three built-in game modes: single player derby mode, which gives players a chance to build their skills against an AI player; arcade mode, in which players attempt to hit as many home runs as possible before time runs out, and; multiplayer derby mode, where you can enter the Home Run Derby tournament, play against millions of other players in 10-player live games, and have a chance to compete with the 2015 Home Run Derby participants.
The various in-app purchases provide a way to purchase packs of MLBucks and Coins to unlock achievements. They're a bit pricy, ranging from just $0.99 for 10 MLBucks to $35.99 for 1,000 MLBucks. Be sure to keep an eye on your kids if they are playing this game, or you could end up with a big credit card bill...