10 Apps and Gadgets to Take Out to the Ballgame

NEW YORK MainStreet -- The 2012 Major League Baseball season is costing fans a bundle in ticket and beer money, but smartphones and tablets are two places where fans can slide under the tag a bit.

Teams have a hand in fans' wallets the minute they step to the ticket counter, but free and low-cost apps for stat geeks, fantasy baseball freaks and fickle game watchers make it a bit easier to enjoy the game without dumping a truckload of money onto the field. It's also an incredibly long season that has almost five full months left to go, which makes an app purchase a huge value.

We went flipping through the various app stores and found the 10 most essential baseball apps of the 2012 season. These apps are all top contenders for your time and money this season, even if your team isn't:

MLB.com At Bat 12

Platform: Apple ( AAPL) iOS and Google ( GOOG) Android

Price: Free to $14.99

Shocked that the MLB would charge nearly $15 for an app? It's the same league that thinks it's awesome to charge an average of nearly $30 a game for tickets, so don't sigh too deeply. At least those 15 bills buy you pitch-by-pitch updates, video highlights from games in progress and live radio broadcasts to go with free At Bat Lite content such as scores, news from MLB.com, schedules, rosters and team standings. Want a better deal? Download MLB's free At The Ballpark app and get a directory of your local ballpark, team schedule and ticket info and -- for Miami Marlins, Arizona Diamondbacks, Philadelphia Phillies and Houston Astros fans -- mobile food and beverage ordering.

Baseball Trade Rumors

Platform: iOS

Price: $2.99

It's a one-trick app, but it does that trick better than anyone in the business. MLBTradeRumors.com is on top of trades from the offseason to midseason replacements, so if your squad turns out to have a fragile pitcher in the starting rotation or needs a bat for a second-hand playoff push, this is the app that's going to tell you who's coming your team's way and how much his services will cost.

EvriThing Baseball

Platform: iOS

Price: Free

By culling stories and information from 15,000 sources and breaking it down into 30 slideshow feed categories including trades, injury reports, roster updates and free agents, EvriThing is as close to baseball omnipotence as you can get. Just point it toward your favorite team's news or favorite category and let the information overload begin.

Baseball Prospectus 2012

Platform: iOS

Price: $9.99

The good news for baseball geeks is that the pages of stats, clever player bios and team forecasts found in the pulp edition are all here, with fans now able to sort stats however they choose. The bad news? That $9.99 price is per league, which adds up to $20 for those who want NL and AL stats.

FanGraphs Baseball

Platform: iOS

Price: $3

FanGraphs' neon green game data line separates the casual fan from the full-on baseball geek. The app has live box scores each game, lifetime stats for every player from 1974 to present and real-time win probability graphs based on in-game action. Throw in some minor league stats and salary data and FanGraphs starts to make that $3 look like less that two cents a game pretty quickly.

Fantasy Monster Pro

Platform: iOS and Android

Price: $4.99

We know your Yahoo/ESPN/CBSSportsline fantasy league has its own app, but do they let you check all your fantasy league teams at once? Regardless of site? Didn't think so. Sure, it'll let you change lineups, check scores, trade players, check match-ups, view standings and rosters and read player news, but it makes that $4.95 worth your while by allowing you to use the app for fantasy football, basketball and hockey seasons too.

GameChanger Baseball Scoring

Platform: iOS and Android

Price: Free

So maybe you're not as adept at filling out the scorecard as the guy behind you with the golf pencil and reading glasses who's kept score in the same seat for 34 years. GameChanger doesn't care and helps out newbies with tutorials and touchscreen scoring. You can also make your scoring public just so friends online can compare or to show folks at home how your kid's college team in Kodiak fared during a weekend tournament.

iBaseball Cards

Platform: iOS

Price: 99 cents

Considering that the main reason kids aren't collecting baseball cards the way they used to is that they have a ton of games and gadgets at their disposal, a baseball card app seems about as useful as a digital buggy whip. When kids and adults can fit binders worth of card art and stats into the palm of their hand and keep a wish list of cards and tons of information on cards they have, a baseball card app suddenly seems pretty useful.

Ballpark Envi

Platform: iOS

Price: 99 cents

OK, so it's a lot less interactive and functional than some of the other apps, but its exhaustive library of stadium photos comes in handy when you want to see what all 100 years of Fenway Park's history looked like during a game in Boston or if you wanted to see where Bernie Brewer used to live before Miller Park was built. Not a bad way to take in all 50 years of Dodger Stadium or the last few weeks of the Marlins' new digs in Miami.

Baseball Legends

Platform: iOS

Price: 99 cents

Don't wait for baseball trivia to flash up on the scoreboard between innings. Baseball Legends throws nearly 1,200 questions at fans from various points in baseball history. Either take your time or answer as many as you can in in 90 seconds. The national pastime doesn't pass very quickly, which leaves plenty of opportunities to play as the game on the field progresses.

-- Written by Jason Notte in Boston.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte.

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Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Esquire.com, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, the Boston Phoenix, the Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent. He previously served as the political and global affairs editor for Metro U.S., layout editor for Boston Now, assistant news editor for the Herald News of West Paterson, N.J., editor of Go Out! Magazine in Hoboken, N.J., and copy editor and lifestyle editor at the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, N.J.

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