iPad at Work: Making Performance Enhancement in Baseball All About Information, Not Steroids

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According to a recent article at ESPN.com baseball is well and truly past its Steroid Age and is firmly into its Information Age. And the iPad is playing a starring role in this new age for the national pastime. Here’s a line even I didn’t expect to see when reading the article:

• All of a sudden, thanks to those creative geniuses at Apple, the average big league clubhouse seems to house more iPads than batting gloves.

The article is full of stories about how the iPad is playing a critical role in providing information to players, coaches, and managers on Major League teams – serving up and crunching data that’s being used to help hitters, pitchers, coaches, scouts, and managers to get a competitive edge.

Here are a just a few eye-catching bits about the iPad’s role:

It’s a planet in which Rays manager Joe Maddon flips open his iPad in a Starbucks, sips his morning cup of tea and pores over the spray charts that dictate the funky shifts his team is about to unleash on David Ortiz that night. … It’s a planet in which Troy Tulowitzki can pedal away on his exercise bike while watching every pitch Tim Hudson has fired at him over the last five years.

— Here’s Brian Jones, Video Coordinator for the Colorado Rockies:

Say you’re a pitching coach or a catcher, and you have a right-handed pitcher starting tonight against the Astros. You get out your iPad, tap your favorite app and type out, say, "Carlos Lee." Here’s how it would go from there:

"You have all these boxes you can change," Jones says. "Say you want to look at all right-handed pitchers versus Carlos Lee. It will pull up a strike zone and a guy standing there, and it will show you, like, every pitch. Then you can break it down by date. You can change the date range, and it will give you his stats, the pitches thrown, swing-and-miss percentage, everything you can think of, for those dates.

— There’s a lot of reference to how video has gone from big, clunky tapes to iPods and now to iPads.

"Now," the Mets’ Jason Isringhausen says, "guys are carrying all the information in the palm of their hand. It used to be on tapes this big."

And more from Jones:

Now the iPad has just kind of changed everything. We don’t have to have these guys come into our video room, to look at the computers. The iPad is with them wherever they go. You see guys in the elevator at the hotel, and they’re carrying nothing but their iPads. It’s kind of become the new wallet."

Baseball always strikes me as the most low-tech, old-school of the major US sports, so it’s all the more surprising at first to hear that the iPad has become such an integral part of the game. It all makes perfect sense as you read through the ESPN article though. It’s a great read if you’re a baseball fan as well.

It was only a few days ago that I was posting about the NFL’s Tampa Bay Bucs using the iPad. I’m sure we’re going to see more and more teams in just about all major sports using the iPad.

The more you look at all the places the iPad is proving to be a big hit, the more you see why it’s such a massive success overall. A huge consumer hit, making major inroads in the enterprise and education markets, big in the healthcare industry, rapidly catching on in the airline industry, used by many major hotels and restaurants, and now beginning to have a big impact in the world of sport as well.

Soon it will be easier to list the areas where the iPad is not a major force.

Patrick Jordan

Founder and Editor in Chief of iPad Insight. Husband, father to a lovely daughter, Commander of the Armies of the North, dog lover (especially Labs), Austinite, former Londoner, IT consultant, huge sports nut, iPad and mobile tech blogger, mobile apps junkie.

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