Another year is already nearly a quarter gone, and with the arrival of March comes something that sports fans everywhere have been eagerly awaiting all winter: Baseball (March what? Basket-who?). At the beginning of March the players, coaches, and staff of Major League Baseball reported to their Spring Training facilities in either Florida or Arizona to prepare for the 2012 season.
Part of that preparation includes scouting. Players and coaches spend hours upon hours reading statistics and watching video of opposing teams trying to find ways to beat them in the coming season. This batter has trouble with fastballs that are high and inside, that pitcher twitches his left eyebrow just so before throwing a curve ball. Watching video is crucial to a team's preparation, and this year it looks like MLB teams are about to get a new tool in their scouting toolbox: Apple's new iPad.
It seems that MLB coaches, scouts, and players are eager to get their hands on the new iPad. They hope its retina display and HD video capabilities will improve scouting by allowing them to see small details - like the aforementioned eyebrow twitch - more clearly. Rob Coughlin, manager of video scouting for the Cincinnati Reds, told USA Today that he hoped the iPad's HD video capabilities would allow him to see things like a pitcher's grip on the ball, as well as minute details of his mechanics.
Despite letting advances in replay technology like those used in the NFL pass by, the MLB has always relied heavily on video technology, and has generally been quick to embrace advances in that technology. Many teams, the Reds included, are installing HD video cameras around their stadium in order to collect high-quality video of players in action. The iPad provides a platform for scouts to watch that video in a highly portable format, making it easier to bring important scouting data on road trips.
The MLB has also been quicker than other professional sports leagues to embrace mobile technology as a way of bringing games to the fans. Last month they released this year's version of MLB At Bat for iOS and Android. This year's app is free, with the option to purchase a subscription to live audio feeds of every major league game. They also offer MLB.TV, a service that allows subscribers to watch out-of-market baseball games live on their mobile devices or on a variety of devices that connect to their TV (Xbox 360, Apple TV, Roku, etc.).
The new iPad was announced last week at a special media event put on by Apple. It hits stores tomorrow. Those who pre-ordered within the first two days should also get their iPads tomorrow, while those who ordered last Friday or later will have a longer wait.