Just because the major leagues are done and the World Series is over doesn't mean that all of us are done with baseball. In fact, my league started in October and will be going – well, possibly into 2011. What league runs that long? My table-top replay of the 1984 American League using a statistic-based game called APBA Baseball. You have a card for nearly every major league player (other than a few who only played in one or two games) for every team for a year. As you may recall, the Detroit Tigers went 35-5 that year to start the season and won the World Series in five games over the San Diego Padres. That was one heck of a team, and now I want to see if I can recreate that season with this table-top game. But hold on – this is a table-top game, not a computer simulation. So why am I writing about it for MacNews?
iScore allows you to score a baseball game without knowing the codes for the different positions, the different plays, or much of anything. Their motto is "score what you see." If the batter hits a ball into the outfield and it's caught, you touch out, then you touch where the ball went, and then you touch the fielder that made the play. If any runners were on base, you are asked what they did (tagged up, stayed put, etc.). You can even record where pitches went, what type they were, and their speed if you want. When you're all done scoring the game, you can have iScore mail you the scorecard and the stats. The stats are in comma separated value files (CSV) or in an Excel spreadsheet (or you can have both) and the scorecard is sent as a PDF. Here's a sample scorecard from "opening day." The speckle charts at the end of the PDF are empty because I don't have that data to save. The email also can contain the data in HTML format. Here's the stats from one of my games that came in the email.
All these stats are available on the iPhone/iPod Touch, too. You can see stats for a single game for for all games, or for leagues, which for iScore are arbitrary groupings of games used for splitting off stats. Leagues are a bit of a discussion themselves, but suffice to say that they are a great way to see your data in different ways. For example, you can have your softball team run through a fall league and a spring league and tournament, and by putting the games into different leagues you can keep all the stats separate, and still see cumulative stats from all three of those leagues.
iScore has options for softball and little league, too, so you can have more than 9 players batting, for example. In addition, it has links to send some info via Twitter (and since I don't use Twitter, i'm not sure what you can send in 140 characters about a ball game…). It also has a feature called iScorecast. You can send the game scoring data to a web site with a Flash animation of the game either in real time of after the game is over (check out a sample here). The animation has audio of the crowd (they groan at errors and cheer for hits, and go wild over home runs!). You can turn the audio off if you don't want it. This is a great feature if you know someone is stuck at a computer and wants to follow a game (like a parent stuck at work with the other parent score their child's game live).
You also can buy the current major league teams, players and stats for scoring the big leagues from right inside the app. On game day, you can hit a "sync" button and get the starting lineups auto-loaded!
About the only downside to the program is the need to type in all the players and teams. Originally, this had to be done on the iPhone. Now if you're scoring just your softball team, no big deal. You put in your players (once, not every game) and then the opposing team (or a generic "opponents" if you don't care about any of the other team's stats) and away you go. Now try every major league player from, say, 1984. Fortunately, you can now enter this info into a web page supplied by FTM and download the data into your iPhone. The web page has some tools for batch-loading players too, which makes maintenance a lot easier. You can also do player and team editing online, all at no extra cost.
The program has occasionally crashed on me, but when it does, you can pick up right where you left off – every play is saved as you enter it to a database, so you don't lose any data.
In addition, the support for this game is phenomenal. FasterThanMonkeys has a forum for questions and problems. I had a couple of minor problems with the program a couple of releases back. I think the longest wait I had was an hour for a response and usually had a promise of a fix in the next version within two. They seem to have someone watching the board at all times , and questions/problems receive very prompt attention.
iScore Baseball Scorekeeper is $4.99 in the app store, and I use this app almost every day (it's going to take a long time to replay all those games!). FTM is working on scoring other sports (I believe basketball is next) and I'm sure they'll do a great job with that, too.