Let the Spring Training games begin

Don’t let the cold weather outside tell you otherwise. The long winter months are over.

Even if the gritters are out on the roads and going outside without a thick coat, hat, gloves and a scarf on is to risk catching pneumonia, from today you can always settle down in the evening and whisk yourself off to Florida or Arizona.

Whisk yourself off to baseball.

Spring Training games are similar to pre-season friendlies in football. They are not competitive games in any sense. They do not grab hold of your attention and are easy to walk away from well before the final out is made; however, that really doesn’t matter.

Just as the best pitchers will only look to pitch an inning or two early on in Spring Training, fans check in to a game for a few frames to ease their way into the long grind of the season ahead, albeit with the World Baseball Classic due to provide plenty of fireworks in the middle this year.

There are four games to start us off on Friday. At 18.05 U.K. time the Detroit Tigers begin their game against the Atlanta Braves. The other games – Cincinnati Reds v Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Royals v Texas Rangers and San Diego Padres v Seattle Mariners – all begin at 20.05.

None of these games are being covered on TV and therefore they are not available to watch on MLB.TV (plenty of games will be watchable on MLB.TV over the course of Spring Training); however there should be radio coverage via the MLB.com subscriptions and I’ve long been a great advocate of listening to ballgames. Just like with cricket, baseball suits the medium of radio perfectly and there’s little better than relaxing on an evening with a ballgame in the background.

Details of the MLB.TV subscriptions from a British perspective can be found here including lots of very helpful comments from baseball fans passing on their experience of using different connected devices.

The MLB At Bat app was launched on Thursday. The basic app – with news, scores, stats and video highlights – can be downloaded for free. MLB.TV Premium subscribers simply need to add their account details into the app to then use their subscription to watch and listen to live and archived games.

If you don’t fancy buying the MLB.TV subscription but want to follow games lives then you can pay $20 (£13) to upgrade to the premium services in the At-Bat app that will add live radio commentary streams. Apple device users have the option of a $3 (£2) monthly-recurring fee.

It’s worth restating, to avoid potential disappointment, that the only way you can watch the live video streams through the At Bat app is to pay for the MLB.TV Premium subscription as well (although there is normally one free live streamed game most days to enjoy).

If you think you might want to add the MLB.TV subscription later in the season (at a discounted rate) then think through how much you would use the premium At Bat app (i.e. the live radio streams) in the meantime before purchasing now. The $20 premium app features come as part of the MLB.TV Premium subscription so in a sense effectively you would be paying for this twice if you buy it now and then get the MLB.TV Premium subscription later. Still, if you plan to get MLB.TV Premium for the second half of the season and will listen to plenty of games before then, it might be well worth paying that extra $20/£13 to get the radio streams on your chosen device now.

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5 Responses to Let the Spring Training games begin

  1. peter February 22, 2013 at 11:11 am #

    baseball is back only 38 days till opening day

    • Matt Smith February 22, 2013 at 11:39 am #

      Counting down those days!

  2. Ben February 22, 2013 at 2:21 pm #

    “there’s little better than relaxing on an evening with a ballgame in the background”

    Yessssssss

  3. Roly February 22, 2013 at 8:16 pm #

    Matt, one question I can’t seem to get answered anywhere is if you can download the games to watch offline (if you have a premium MLB.tv subs.)

    I work away from home during the week and sit in a hotel room bored. I am not willing to pay the £15 a night the Marriott charges for internet so would love to be able to download the previous weeks games whilst at home and take them with me to help the evenings go by…

  4. Matt Smith February 23, 2013 at 12:21 pm #

    Hi Roly. No, I don’t think you can download the games, unfortunately. MLB.com offers classic games and I think you can download some archive games through iTunes etc, but I’m pretty sure they are things you have to buy separately rather than being something you can access through your MLB.TV subscription. Would be great if they did add it – such as with the BBC iPlayer app now – but a lot of these online subs (especially U.S. based ones) work on the assumption that we’ve all got 3G etc devices with extensive mobile data plans that allow us to access the internet constantly. Great for those who can afford it, I suppose, but not so helpful for the rest of us!

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