Monday, February 27, 2012

St. Louis Post-Dispatch launches baseball iPhone and iPad apps in plenty of time for the 2012 season

Last year the Boston Herald raced to get their new baseball app into the App Store in time for Opening Day. They ended up succeeding far more than the Red Sox, who suffered an epic late season collapse.

Last year's spring training was very much anticipated by us Giants fans. Coming off an improbable World Series win, we were looking forward to 2011 – why not us again? But 2011 was a disaster, and 2012 looks pretty bleak, indeed. Who will get hurt this year? Will anyone hit over .250? When will the pitching staff give up and all leave for Japan?
Last year's champions, the St. Louis Cardinals, were equally improbable. The team ended up the season six games behind the Milwaukee Brewers and only became the wild card team thanks to the Atlanta Braves pulling a late season dive that matched that of the Red Sox.

Yes, the 2011 will be remembered more for its memorable failures than for the great successes – except in St. Louis.

In the end, of course, it was the Cardinals that won it all – something they have done more than might otherwise be expected of a team not from New York. But then again, St. Louis is a great, great baseball town – which I know people here in Chicago hate to admit. (Fans here in Chicago think they have a rivalry with the Cardinals. But the folk in St. Louis know better.)

But while Hearst Newspapers*, the owner of the San Francisco Chronicle couldn't be bothered launching a iPhone to cover the Giants in time for the new season (or an iPad app at all), the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has done the smart thing by launching separate iPad and iPhone apps. Avoiding any conflicts with either MLB or the Cardinals themselves, they hav called their apps Post-Dispatch Baseball for iPad and Post-Dispatch Baseball.

Both apps are free, and both appear in the App Store under the Post-Dispatch name (yeah), which is more than can be said for the paper's main app. Both of those apps, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and St. Louis Post-Dispatch for iPad, appear under the name of the replica maker, Verve Wireless. Yep, those brand name are now out of the control of Lee Enterprises, the publisher of the Post-Dispatch – another lesson in why one must be careful when allowing a developer to launch an app for your product.

As for the apps themselves, they are the usual RSS driven news apps. What stats and standings are in here are driven by The Sports Network. With a history as rich as that of the Cardinals, you might think the sports department could have been a bit more imaginative with the content and statistics.

But at least the Post-Dispatch has launched before the first spring season game – which, by the way is against the newly renamed Miami Marlins. For the Post-Dispatch, they've opened the season with a win.

*Disclosure: a long, long time ago I was an employee of Hearst Newspapers, but in Los Angeles, home of the dreaded Dodgers.