Friday, April 17, 2009

Father's Day is coming

This is going to be a long post, but it will be worth read. This one is a copy, and needs to be printed out, but I will provide this link also.

This is the top-12 baseball gadgets out on the market right now, and now that I have a job, I will be shopping:

Hot dogs, peanuts, beer, air conditioning, and HD games on a Saturday afternoon. Ahh, baseball for the geek chic. As old and classic as our national pastime is, baseball is often enjoyed even more with the help of gadgets. Whether we're playing the latest video game simulation, or getting our scores and standings on a mobile device, we need our baseball, and we need it now.

Gone are the days of penciled-in scorecards. Instead, we check box scores online, play fantasy baseball in online roto leagues that do all the math for us, and watch multi-camera broadcasts in Japanese. Don't fret, though, baseball purists; the gadgets on the following pages are sure to keep the dream alive, the grass green and fragrant, and the crack of the bat just as crisp as it was at the school yard.

1. Automatic Professional Baseball Electronic Scoreboard - $129.95

The Scorecast from Ambient displays scores and standings from all of Major League Baseball. In-progress games are updated almost instantly, and the schedule even includes projected starting pitchers. Ambient promises that its wireless score and standing network is available in all 50 states, and there is no monthly charge for the data. The $129 price tag probably means that this is only for serious fans, but our test unit did all it was supposed to do, getting updated scores within minutes of the first powerup. The Scorecast measures five-by-eight inches, uses four AA batteries, and can be wall mounted or set upright on your desk.

2. Radar Pitch Baseball - $24.95

Remember boasting about your 65 mile-per-hour fastball in little league, but no one believed you could bring the cheese? The Radar Pitch Baseball could just solve all that, making heroes of some and chumps of others. This authentically sized and weighted $24.95 baseball features a display that promises to tell you just how fast your high heat really is. In our tests, speed measurements were a bit erratic, but that didn't stop us from having a good time trying to get that embarrassingly paltry 50 MPH "fastball" up a bit.

3. RevFire Pitching Analyzer - $395

Maybe you're a serious pitcher looking for a pro contract and you want some deep pitch analysis. Or, maybe you're a serious baseball nerd with decent disposable income (it'll run you a cool $395). Either way, the RevFire pitching analyzer not only reads speed, but it also calculates spin rate, an important factor in figuring out how much your cutter is cutting and your curve is, er, curving. It measures spin rate from four to 50 revolutions per second, along with speed, and comes with two balls and a device that replaces a standard radar gun.

4. Games: 'MLB 09 The Show' and 'MLB 2K9' - $39-$59
(SCEA $59, PS3, PSP & MLB 2k9 - 2K Sports $59, Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Wii)
Ever since playing Baseball on the Atari 2600, we've been massive fans of baseball video games for those off days. Today, baseball video games are more realistic and complex -- and fun -- than ever. If you're looking for the best of the lot, check out 'MLB 09 The Show' for the PlayStation 3, 2, and PSP. On the Xbox 360 side, 'MLB 2K9' will do you just fine, although it lacks the polish of 'The Show' and its 'Road To The Show' mode, in which you play the part of a scrubby minor leaguer trying to make his way to the Bigs. Prices run from $39 to $59 depending on platform.

5. 'MLB At Bat' for iPhone - $10

Major League Baseball's official iPhone application is back, and it's better than ever. The $10 application still includes the live score updates, at-bat pitch locations, and video highlights that made it a great app in 2008, but the addition of live game audiocasts puts this thing in a class of its own. Consider that a subscription to MLB's radio feeds are $15 for your PC alone, and you can see that this is a heck of a steal for serious baseball fans on the go.

6. MLB Network - "Free" Depending on Cable System

Baseball couch potatoes are in for a treat this year, as the MLB Network has launched on most major cable providers. The new channel launched on January 1, 2009 and will broadcast 26 live games in high-definition on top of 24/7 news and analysis all year around. On-air talent includes such baseball heavyweights as Matt Vasgersian, Al Leiter, Barry Larkin, and Dan Plesac, just to name a few. If you don't get this channel, call your cable provider and give them a little Sweet Lou once-over until they set you up.

7. Classic Mattel Baseball - $11.99

This Mattel handheld game is anything but new, but it's a classic and we had to include it. Mattel briefly brought this '80s wonder back to Wal-Mart for just $11.99 a few years back, and you can find it for even less than that on eBay if you look hard enough. Blinking red lights and a simple control scheme make this the portable choice for retro lovers (or old people like us). Besides, who doesn't love the '80s, what with its red LEDs, baseball mullets, George Brett pine-tar freak-outs, and Rickey Henderson stealing every base available?

8. Executive Batting Practice - $24.95

Those office putting machines are cool and all, but Executive Batting Practice brings batting practice to the suit set. The $24.95 pitching machine hucks window-friendly balls that the boss man can hit with a little, collapsible bat. Unfortunately, Executive Batting Practice has been discontinued, but keep an eye out for it at layoff stoop sales near you.

9. Wii Grand Slam Sports Pack - $19.99

'Wii Baseball' provides simple relief from the complexities of the big video games, but swinging that remote around is a bit more satisfying with the Grand Slam Sports Pack. This pack of remote attachments includes a bat that clips onto your Wii controller to enhance the baseball experience. The package is only $19.99 and comes with tennis, golf, driving, and, of course, baseball attachments.

10. Scoreboard Clock - $69.99

You've got the jersey, the poster, the hat, and the videos, so the only thing left to schwag out for your favorite team is your clock, right? The Scoreboard Clock is available for all major teams, and includes the time, date, and temperature. The clock is available for $69.99 and measures an impressive 20-by-14 inches.

11. Mitt & Ball - Prices Vary

These amazing inventions, made of leather and string, are what we call the "mitt" and "ball" for a game called "catch." In all seriousness, though, let's be real: baseball season is all about getting outside and shagging some flies in the sun. Mitts and balls can be had for a lot less than most of the things on this list, and we would be seriously amiss if we didn't include the original baseball gadgets. Now get out there and play ball.

12. The New (High-Tech) Yankee Stadium - Approximately $1.3 Billion
Shutting down the original Yankee Stadium was questionable at best, but the new House That Jeter Built is a technological beast to behold. The New Yankee Stadium sports a giant 59-by-101-foot HD LED scoreboard and a $15 million Cisco network that allows fans to see replays, order hot dogs, and watch the game on the stadium's 1,100interactive, flat-panel, HD displays -- even in the bathrooms. The displays will even let fans look up traffic patterns to plan the best route home after a game.

I couldn't get the pictures to load. I'm not that smart, and don't know how to do it. But check the link out, they're all there.

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