The Gameday feature on MLB.com has continued to evolve over the past few years from a simple way to keep track of a game to a fantastic resource. We now enjoy 3D graphics of each pitch accompanied by data such as pitch type and speed. Video clips of the top plays also have been inserted seamlessly into the application. In fact, for some people Gameday now includes too many options. If you are sat in front of your monitor solely following a game then it is fantastic. If, as is more often the case, you want to follow the game while doing other things on your PC/Mac, the full Gameday is a bit cumbersome.
MLB.com have therefore recently launched a smaller, more stripped-down version of the application. It’s called Gameday Mini and is a triumph of design and functionality.
Although you can access the full Gameday application for a specific game via a number of routes (a link on the MLB.com scoreboard, a link on the main MLB.com homepage where all of that day’s games are listed), the only way you can get to Gameday Mini at the moment is by opening its big brother first. When you click on the Gameday Mini icon here, the application is launched in a new small window and keeps the full Gameday open. While it’s no great effort then to simply click the cross on the latter, it would be neater if you could access the mini version directly. Maybe that’s a something for the 2009 season?
The application includes a header that displays the score, count, number of outs and details of any runners on base in the selected game. You can fill the space below this with three different types of game data. The Game function shows the pitcher-batter match-up in full, with the pitch detail graphics we’ve come to know and love from the full Gameday application. You cannot alter the view as it is locked to the ‘behind home plate looking towards the pitcher’ mode, although that’s not really a problem. Details of each pitch and the outcome of each at-bat are then listed underneath. The Boxscore mode simply provides a linescore and boxscore view of the game, both of which update after each at-bat. The summary mode takes away the pitch graphics from the Game mode and instead gives you the option of displaying full play-by-play data or limiting it to the scoring plays.
The header disappears for the fourth display mode, Scoreboard, which (unsurprisingly) gives you the latest score of each game taking place that day. Clicking on a game launches the Gameday Mini application for that contest in the same window. If the game you are looking at is in progress, you can click straight to the MLB.tv feed, GamedayAudio feed or MLB Chat room via a button at the bottom of the application.
The presentation and layout is extremely good. There’s still a fair amount of information to cram in to the window in the Game mode, but a clean and bright design means it doesn’t look too crowded. Some of the additional data you can access is also neatly hidden in the same way as experienced with the full Gameday. So if you want to see the exact speed or type of pitch, you can simply hover your mouse pointer over the specific pitch circle on the graphic display and the info pops up. If you want to know more about a specific player, click on their name and a box will appear containing various biographical/statistical data.
Having used Gameday Mini over the last few days, I’ve encountered no little glitches such as buttons not working as expected or items not displaying correctly. So it appears to be functioning smoothly right out of the box, which is always a good sign. This may be because it has benefited from the development work undertaken as part of the MLB.com At Bat application launched for the iPhone a few months ago.
Any suggestions for improvement? Well, the finishing touch would be to incorporate video clips into the Mini window. If it could be done in a neat way, that would basically make it a near-perfect application in my book. As mentioned above, creating a direct link to the Gameday Mini coverage would be a good idea as well.
In fact, a direct link would be essential because I suspect a lot of people will prefer it to the full Gameday application. Its whole design is tailored to it being positioned in one corner of your screen while you have another window or two open and that’s the way I imagine most people use the Gameday service.
That’s certainly the way I use Gameday and consequently the new Mini version suits my needs completely. It’s a very welcome development that I’m sure will prove to be extremely popular with many baseball fans.