Opening Day of the new baseball season is just a few weeks away, but for many major league players, coaches, and scouts, Friday’s release of the new iPad is the reason they’re excited.
The tablet has ingrained itself into the fabric of the game, providing players an avenue to kill time or stay in touch with loved ones during the season’s eight-month grind. And it’s an increasingly valuable tool for scouting and game preparation.
“Look around the clubhouse,” says Rob Coughlin, the Cincinnati Reds’ manager of video scouting. “Just about every single (player) has an iPad they can use to prepare for a game.”
Coughlin believes the third-gen iPad’s improved resolution will enhance scouting and preparation efforts. The Reds installed high-def cameras at Great America Ballpark during the off-season in hopes of gaining a scouting edge.
“With the ’3,’ now you’re going to be able to see the grip on the baseball, perhaps even the rotation of the baseball and be able to (better) break down mechanics,” he says. ” A decade ago (the latest) was VHS tapes, then the quality of video improved when everything went digital. Now, the next step is getting everything in high definition. The clearer the picture, the clearer you can see what the pitcher is trying to do.”
“We talk about baseball being a game of inches – or in our case, frames,” says Los Angeles Angels senior video coordinator Diego Lopez. “If you can detect somebody tipping a pitch or maybe doing something with their mechanics, there is an advantage.”
Even when a batter requests video that details how an opposing pitcher is getting him out, Lopez will search for footage of the player producing a hit against that pitcher. ” We want them to feel more confident – to believe they can hit any pitch,” he says. ” A lot of times I’ll include their favorite song. Our goal is to try to motivate them to peak performance.”
Another purpose players love to use the iPad for is killing time. It’s a valuable resource on long trips. Players use the iPad to play games, browse the internet, or use FaceTime to keep in touch with their families during road trips.
Milwaukee Brewers pitching prospect Daniel Meadows says players at the minor league level are eagerly anticipating the new iPad, because the 4G service should be available during even the longest bus trips. “It’s with me all the time,” says Meadows, who placed his pre-order on Sunday, with a ship date of March 19.
Oakland Athletics pitcher Dallas Braden says he definitely plans to upgrade on Friday. Why? “Because it’s got a ’3′ after its name, not a ’2,’ which means it’s newer – and that also means I don’t have it. So, I’m going to have to get it.”