CLOSE

Now Commenting On:

Sports world shifts attention to Spring Training

Congratulations to the Ravens, and thanks again for the handoff. Equipment trucks have arrived in Arizona and Florida, pitchers and catchers report soon, and MLB.com's gradual rollout of the coolest technology has begun, and there's much more to come. Here's a nine-inning primer on what to do:

First inning: Order Single-Game Tickets
Most clubs have opened sales for individual games, so now is a great time to dive into the regular-season schedule and start reserving your seats. More teams than ever have a postseason shot, and more competitive balance means more competition for tickets. Consider a Spring Training travel package and buy Cactus and Grapefruit league tickets.

More

Second inning: MLB Ballpark Empire
This launched earlier in the offseason, and the number of participants is skyrocketing. The cap on Fandom levels just doubled, from 50 to 100, which means that other players are expanding their empires even further. You don't want to be left with a little bandshell and losing every game. Build a museum, TV station, sports restaurant, parking lot and everything else that goes along with the 30 simulated MLB venues today, then make sure other fans add you so you can keep growing your empire.

Third inning: Explore Player Preview Rankings
When the Super Bowl is over, fantasy baseball owners start to get serious about their upcoming leagues. MLB.com's annual rankings are a staple for drafting, and with their distinct vintage trading-card motif, which changes each year, they long ago became an official harbinger of the handoff to baseball. Who will be going at the top of most drafts? Whether it's for fantasy research or whether you just want to see how your favorite players rate going into spring, this is the must-see list.

Fourth inning: Shop for sweetheart deals
Save 30 percent on the new Astros jerseys or a Ryan Braun authentic alternate home jersey. While you're in the shopping mood, bid on a 30-minute lesson with Yankees closer Mariano Rivera or a Joey Votto game-used, slightly broken bat.

Fifth inning: Sign up for MLB.TV and MiLB.TV
The 11th annual offering of the sports technology leader is so close now, it has that bottom-of-the-ninth anticipation in a pennant-race tie game. In fact, let's just say it is hours away. Look for the annual MLB.TV Premium subscription, which enables you to watch live out-of-market games anywhere over an ever-growing array of platforms and devices. A growing number of fans also sign up for MiLB.TV so they can watch select live Minor League games, and the MLB.TV Premium package lets you save by adding it.

Sixth inning: Warm up with the Caribbean Series
The MLB.com Gameday pitch-by-pitch app is your traditional friend throughout the baseball season, and you can get reacquainted with it now by following the action at the new ballpark in Hermosillo, where host Mexico, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and such familiar names as Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez are taking the field.

Seventh inning: Start a blog
Go to MLB.com/blogs and join the masses who use their blog as a social hub connecting their Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+ and other accounts. MLB.com and WordPress.com offer the best blogging platform in the sport, allowing you to use official MLB marks and logos, embed MLB.com videos and get ranked with PRO bloggers for all MLB organizations. Like MLB on Facebook if you haven't already, and follow @MLB on Twitter and @mlbofficial on Instagram.

Eighth inning: Scout out your MLB Pipeline
The all-new MLB.com/pipeline area is baseball's foremost resource for tracking all 30 MLB organizations and discovering the next wave of your team's talent. Get scouting reports, video and stats on tomorrow's stars with Jonathan Mayo's Top 100 Prospects list, sortable by position and headed by Rangers shortstop Jurickson Profar.

Ninth inning: Watch out for the new At Bat app
The best-selling sports app of all time will be available before you know it. Look for MLB.com At Bat 13 in time for Cactus and Grapefruit league exhibitions. The MLB.com At the Ballpark app will be available by Opening Day, perfectly complementing and personalizing your trip to the game with mobile check-in, social media, offers, rewards and exclusive content.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Less