On Wednesday night, for example, my iPhone vibrated and my free MLB PrePlay app, sponsored by T-Mobile, asked me to predict the outcome of Lonnie Chisenhall's last at-bat. I predicted that Tampa Bay, the team I predicted last spring to win its first World Series title in 2013, would finish its first game of the postseason with a strikeout swinging.
Then Fernando Rodney threw a pair of 99-mph two-seamers to Chisenhall for a quick 0-2 count, and then dialed up 100 for a foul. The fourth pitch was an 85-mph changeup that no living person could have resisted, and Chisenhall predictably chased it in the dirt for strike three.
The Rays eliminated the Indians, 4-0, in the American League Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser on TBS. While I greatly empathized with the disquieted departing Indians fans at Progressive Field, I could not help feeling that the ensuing champagne celebration in the visitor's clubhouse had a personal tug. Boom! That was 225 points for me, a correct Rays score prediction, and a five-pick winning streak at the end.
It gave me a final total of 1,610 points -- despite missing many opportunities for picks while I spent the middle innings amid the distraction of New York's Times Square, picking up our daughter after she took a bus home from college for a long weekend.
So what if I had the Rays over the Phillies this fall, in what seemed like a proper fifth-anniversary series? So what if I predicted that Cleveland would force Rays starter Alex Cobb to throw between 13 and 19 pitches in the bottom of the first inning? (He threw eight to remove the crowd and set the tone for the evening.) So what if I then got heckled in the MLB PrePlay chat scroll after asking if 1,610 was a worthy number? You remember only the good stuff when it's for fun, and this app, like Cobb and Rodney on Wednesday, is the good stuff.
MLB PrePlay is a great way to immerse yourself into the postseason, whether you are a New York or a Chicago fan who has negative canine action in this hunt; a Pirates fan wanting to make the most out of every second now that a meaningful October has arrived; or a fantasy baseball player who wants to transfer your season-long prowess into a micro-fantasy competition.
I had just made a great number of predictions, especially about the future.
"PrePlay and T-Mobile offer fans the perfect easy-to-play and fun complement to their live postseason baseball viewing experiences, whether they're at the game, at home or on the road," said Jamie Leece, VP, Gaming, Major League Baseball Advanced Media. "The friendly challenges in this prediction-based mobile game will grow more intense as the anticipation and drama of every postseason pitch builds. It's a natural fit for our fans to further their enjoyment of the postseason."
Your mobile device should be dominated with MLB apps this month. MLB.com At Bat, the most popular sports app in history, is a season-long staple that even lets you follow this month live with Postseason.TV. And there is MLB.com At The Ballpark, which this summer won Best Sports Technology at the Sports Business Awards, perfectly complementing any trip to an MLB ballpark.
It is clear that MLB PrePlay warrants home-screen status as well. Two National League Division Series began Thursday, with Pirates-Cardinals and Dodgers-Braves, and you can use your app in advance to predict the winners, pitchers' lines and each starter's fastest pitch. Click "GLOBAL" to see what percentage of fans agreed or disagreed with you. Then, after the "Star-Spangled Banner" is sung, I predict you will be making a lot of predictions, as I did in the Rays-Indians game.
Download MLB PrePlay and fire it up on your iPad, iPhone (3GS, 4, 4S and 5), or iPod Touch during any live MLB game to make predictions for the coming play while you are watching baseball on TV. You can also enable geolocation from the app to get access to special in-stadium features while you watch the game live.
It could be anything from an at-bat to a pitching change to an inning gone wrong -- MLB PrePlay lets you weigh in with your predictions before, so you can brag later. Some of it is common sense; in baseball, you are lucky as a batter to hit safely in one out of every three at-bats.
The app is also a great way to connect and compete with your friends. Send them a challenge so you can compare picks in real-time and chat with them while you enjoy the game.
"It's a way for fans who love the game to truly immerse themselves in the game and show off their baseball knowledge -- or pure luck," Tigers fan and ardent MLB PrePlay user Rob Linker of Flint, Mich., said in an email to MLB.com. "If a fan is sitting and watching/listening to a game intensely, he or she might as well have the app open and click along. Or even if you're doing some housework and aren't paying much attention to the game, you can still use the alerts of the app to just try to score points. You're rewarded by playing as much as possible and by your baseball knowledge, so it's kind of for everyone and anyone, casual fans or fanatics.
"I personally like the pregame predictions the best because I like being able to say I knew this game would end this way or that I called that final score. Not to mention they're free points when you can't follow the game or you want to follow a different game."
Some people make postseason predictions in the spring. Some people make postseason predictions every minute or two. In 2013, I have been doing both.
"The adrenaline was definitely going pretty fast there early in the game," Cobb said.
Well, yes. The iPhone was vibrating, and there were 12 seconds to decide what happens next.