The dark night of the soul is over. Baseball's exhibition season has begun, and with spring training come mobile apps and websites to help you root for the home team, whether you are at the ballpark, at home, or on the road.
Tune in to baseball games
MLB.com's At Bat app (Android, iOS) is the yardstick other sports apps should be measured by. The well-designed app is easy to navigate, does an impressive job of displaying information on a small screen, and doesn't annoy you with unceasing alerts. The app provides the latest baseball news and lets you tailor the feed to your favorite teams. The scoreboard shows the day's games, with live updates and links to broadcasts and pitch-by-pitch feeds. With a $19.99 subscription, you get all available radio broadcasts for any game, from spring training through the World Series. For $109.99 a year, you get all that plus television broadcasts. The TV portion has blackout restrictions, which fans gripe about and which MLB seems to be trying to address this year. In addition to the mobile apps, you can log into the MLB's website for the same set of features.
Follow along at the park
Ballpark (Android, iOS), another MLB.com app, is your companion at a game. Once inside a park, use the app to check in (it uses a ballpark's geo-fencing location services) to earn rewards and view park-exclusive content. The app includes a journal that keeps track of your games. You can see parks you've visited, which teams you've seen play, and your personal win-loss record.
Manage a team
Through fantasy baseball, you can manage your own baseball team, competing with friends or complete strangers. ESPN hosts fantasy baseball leagues (Android, iOS), where you can create your own or join one already set up, using standard or custom rules.
Join the social
And it's not just the teams -- players take part, too. Oakland A's pitcher Sean Doolittle and his girlfriend, Eireann Dolan, for example, send out a steady stream of entertaining tweets on dogs, social issues, Star Wars movies, and of course baseball.
For sports writers, Joe Posnanski and Keith Law are good sources to start with. For analysis, David Pinto provides short, timely insights. John Thorn, the official historian for Major League Baseball, takes the long view.
And finally, if you'd rather play than watch, Strat-O-Matic, the 50-something tabletop baseball game, has embraced the digital age this year. Strat-O-Matic said it will update player cards daily, based on current statistics. Previously, player cards were based on statistics from the preceding year. Batter up!