Baseball is back, and you can forgive us for getting a little excited about it—our offices are just two blocks away from the San Francisco Giants’ ballpark. Teams play 162 games in the regular season alone, so they’re taking the field almost every day. You’ll want to enlist the help of your phone to be sure you don’t miss a clutch performance or walk-off home run.
Your Android device can serve as your perfect baseball companion, with plenty of apps to help you stay connected to your fantasy league, keep on top of trade rumors, and of course monitor your favorite club. We’ve compiled the best apps for the new season, so no matter where you are you’ll be connected to as much baseball as you want.
Watch every game, though be wary of blackout rules
Major League Baseball is again offering its MLB.TV subscription, which gets you every single game for the 2015 season.
If you’re planning on using your Android phone or tablet to watch games or stream them with a Chromecast, you’ll want the premium package. It’s $130 per year (or $25 per month), which gets you any game on up to 400 different kinds of devices.
You can watch it on your Android phone or tablet with the MLB At Bat app, which is the recipient of a rather svelte Material Design refresh just in time for the start of the new season. Even if you don’t plan to watch games on your phone, the At Bat app is an excellent way to follow scores and games in progress. Plus, there’s a cheaper $20 per season subscription that lets you stream radio broadcasts within the app (including local games).
The key caveat here is broadcasting blackout rules, which prevent you from streaming games in your local market. For example, if you live in Northern California you can’t fire up a Giants or A’s game; you have to watch it through your cable or satellite provider.
So if you were hoping to use MLB’s TV package as a way to catch local games even though you’re a cord cutter, you’re out of luck. Head to MLB’s blackout checker to find out which team(s) you’re locked out of viewing through the streaming package.
Follow the scores, news, and rumors
While MLB At Bat does the job well, there are other apps that also do an excellent job of keeping you updated on the world of baseball.
ESPN just got a major redesign, finally making it fluid and free of the crashes and bugs that often plagued it.
You’ll need to create an account, either with the traditional email and password method or through Facebook, to save your favorite teams. You can then customize how often you get alerts. Your phone can ping you at the start of a game and every few innings if you want. Alerts also push to your Android Wear smartwatch, so you don’t even need to pull your phone out.
The ESPN gamecast feature is also here, so you can get pitch-by-pitch coverage of any game. It would be great if this had a pull-to-refresh feature for those times when you hop out of the app and come back later.
Another good contender is CBS Sports, as the app takes Material Design seriously and syncs all your preferences to your online CBS account so you can follow scores on the web as well as on your Android device.
Many are also fans of theScore, which has a lot of customization options and a dark aesthetic for those who want their sports app to appear as manly as possible.
Also don’t forget about Google Now, which has rather impressive sports capabilities. If you’re using the Google Now launcher, this is the fastest way to check out on how your team is doing or who they’re playing. Just open up Google Now and it will pop up a card right in your stream.
To turn on the magic, you’ll need to head to the Google Now menu, select Customize, and tell it what teams you’re interested in following. Then you’ll see a card each day with the upcoming game or live results of an ongoing contest. You won’t get constant push alerts, but if you’re using the Google Now Launcher it’s by far the fastest way to quickly check out a score or find out when the next game is.
Stay connected to your Fantasy leagues
Fantasy baseball is big business, and you don’t want to miss out on how your team is performing or if there’s a sleeper pick that just went live on the wire.
ESPN Fantasy Baseball is back for another season, but unfortunately the interface is still stuck in the minor leagues. The last update was in February, so hopefully the ESPN team will deliver some enhancements with the new season underway.
Yahoo Fantasy Sports handles baseball and any other of your Yahoo leagues, so no need to grab another baseball-specific app if you’re already a Yahoo fantasy player.
CBS Sports Fantasy is another all-in-one solution; it handles leagues from ESPN, Yahoo, or of course CBS Sports. CBS is also Android-friendly in that it takes Google’s design guidelines seriously, producing another app that looks great on Android.
Grab some apps before you head to the ballpark
If you’re heading to a game at some point this year, grab the MLB.com Ballpark app. It’s kind of like a Foursquare for baseball, with the ability to “check in” to a game.
But it goes beyond the social experience with some handy in-game extras. For example, at some parks you can use the app as your ticket to the game. You can also use it to buy tickets, get a map of the stadium, or try for a seat upgrade. There are even some parks where you can order refreshments with it.
It’s part of a great package by MLB, which has done a good job of bringing America’s pastime up to speed in the digital era.