Monday, February 28, 2011

MLB At Bat 11 for Android

As a San Francisco Giants fan living in Europe, I have been experiencing withdrawals of baseball for the last 10 years. Some years have been better than others particularly those which have seen San Francisco more than 15 games back of 1st place (just can't motivate myself to watch a meaningless Pacific coast night game). In 2002 and 2010 however I crawled into many a workday on 2 or 3 hours sleep from watching pennant and championship races. These ball games are so great, I start to feel guilty that I miss most of the regular season.

Back in California the solution was simple; I always had a walkman or car radio tuned to KNBR, The... Sports... Leader. The soothing voices of Kruk and Kuip (back in the day Joe Morgan, Ted Robinson and Jon Miller) have been calming that gut wrenching feeling that is Giants fandom since I was knee high. While living in Europe, I have been aching for a simple solution to listen to radio gold during the regular season without being tethered to a computer. With the 2011 season, my pain has been cured.

Behold MLB's At Bat 11 app for Android devices (2.1 and up)! One advantage of living in Europe is everything in America is cheaper. A $15 buck app, magically becomes a €10 buck app! 10 bucks to listen to a season of KNBR Giants' broadcasts is a bargain in my book. Along with the audio you get a slew of interesting features. Boxscores, player profiles, schedules, news feeds, play-by-play stats and even a page to customize your favorites in team colors.

I was hesitant at first to buy it what with my experience of MLB.TV preseason snafu's. But I was like hey, 10 bucks what the hell if it doesn't work on the 1st day of Spring Training they will iron out the kinks in time for the regular season. Right after purchasing I checked the audio link. Of course it said, "Failure Connecting". But the game wasn't for a few hours so I held my breath...

10 minutes before the game I took my Samsung out again and logged on. Low and behold there he was Mike Krukow, giddy as a schoolboy with his first erection at the prospect of calling another season of winning Giants baseball. I finally have my KNBR... and the stream is smooth and clear over 3G! It does seem a bit ironic that a phone has now been made to do what a simple transistor radio has been able to since 1954 (coincidentally the last time the Giants won the world series prior to last season). The Freak had a rough start but the G-men managed to get past the D-backs 7-6.

The next morning still excited about hearing the game the night before, I thought I would fire up the app and tune into the archived game audio. Since many games don't start until 2 or 4am CET, it would be great to throw on the replay in the morning as I am getting ready for work, during the commute and for the first couple hours while I am in the office (this is what I currently do with Howard Stern's replay) without missing a beat (or in this case pitch). Minus season tickets and a private Concorde, life couldn't be much better! Now where is that page with the archives like they have on the website? Nope not there, the audio button is gone. There are the boxscores, play-by-play, video highlights, but no audio! WTF? No archived audio? No warmup while I shave? No European croissant and espresso breakfasts to the sounds of AT&T Park? No blindly whizzing past the morning work load to Duane Kuiper's tangents?

They must have made a mistake. So I quickly sent off a letter via e-mail to

...and here is their response after 2 days:

Archived Audio Android At Bat

Discussion Thread
Response Via Email(Amanda Jackson) - 02/28/2011 10:41 AM
Dear Chris:

Thank you for your suggestion.

We are always looking for ways to enhance our features and service.

If you have any further questions or concerns, please contact our Mobile Customer Support department at 1-866-306-5311.

Sincerely, Mobile Customer Support Team

Please everyone email requesting audio archives for Android At Bat 11!

Go Giants!

Following the NBA in Europe

So you’re a hoops head, but you’re 6, 7, maybe 10 hours away from the preferred starting times of the game’s top practitioners. You love Kobe and KD. Or perhaps follow one of the Eastern Conference’s big trios. The question is, how to get your roundball fix on this side of the pond?

Unfortunately, for most of us, it’s not as simple as signing up for ESPN America. It’s the most conspicuous absence from their stellar lineup (MLB, NFL, NCAA football and basketball, NHL) of both live and tape-delayed sporting events. There are other cable-based options, depending on which country you’re residing in. Germany, for instance, has recently struck a deal that ranges across several channels, a mix of paid subscriptions and free-to-air that includes ProSieben, Premiere, sports channel DSF, SAT.1, ARD, ZDF and RTL. Whether or not that option then forces some less than stellar German commentary upon the viewer has yet to be made clear (hopefully it’s better than the German language broadcast of NFL play-by-play that we get here in Austria…

Of course, being that this is the age of the internet, we’re certainly not limited to the meager offerings on the boob tube. Streaming options range from the “free but morally questionable” offerings of MobiTV, Veetle, Sopcast, stream torrents, etc, on up to the NBA’s own league package for Europe (a very reasonable $110 US for the entire regular season, every game from every club, or several other similarly priced offerings for more enhanced options, playoffs extra).

Personally, I’ve opted for the NBA’s online package (at the price/level mentioned above). The big benefit to me, other than consistency and quality, both of which are quite solid, is the time-shifting option. I rarely stay up late for games, with possible exceptions come playoff time. And this isn’t the NFL we’re talking about, with Euro-friendly 7pm start times on the weekend. So being able to watch games the next day, be it morning or evening time, is great. For a few more bucks, one can have access the entire season’s archive, but that just didn’t appeal to me, when there’s always a new game upcoming. And the price was quite reasonable, if one makes use of it. You could follow your home team for about $1.25/game, or spread the love around a bit and have it come out even cheaper. Quite a deal, especially when compared to the NFL’s exurbanite rates for far fewer games.

So, what do you think? Anyone else out there who’s putting hard-earned cash on the line to watch some ball, or is everyone focused on spring training?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Welcome to Europe.

So you've moved to Europe but still must watch American Sports. This is the place to share ideas, links, trash talk, articles and info on US sports as well as place to learn more about stuff we don't understand like soccer and motor racing on non-oval tracks.

It is also a place to plea for attention that 1,5 million poor Americans living in Europe still have little or no access to live sports coverage.