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An app that satisfies the demand for real-time T-ball action

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Have you ever driven by a Little League baseball field and thought, “Where’s the GOT-damn scoreboard? How am I supposed to know what’s going on in this game?”

Well, now your worries are over, thanks to the Gamechanger!

It’s, well, a game changer for how we follow youth sports. No longer do you have to ask some other parent, “What inning are we in? Is this ever going to be over?” Now, thanks to this smartphone app, you can look and say, “Fucking shit. It’s only the third inning. I’m never getting out of here.”

Developed by former Cleveland Indians single-A minor-league pitcher Ted Sullivan, the Gamechanger allows a scorekeeper at the game to update statistics, which are then accessible by mobile phone to anyone who logs into the Gamechanger network. It’s the perfect gift for guilt-ridden parents who aren’t able to make it to their kid’s game because they’re working late and/or banging the secretary.

“As a busy father, I have always wished that I could follow my sons’ games even when I couldn’t be there,” said Steve Hansen, the CEO of Weplay, a celebrity-endorsed youth sports portal, in a Jan. 27 statement announcing Gamechanger’s availability to any league that uses Weplay services.  “With GameChanger, Weplay now is on the field on an iPhone, broadcasting and sharing youth sports memories with the people who care most.” (For the record, I would never mean to imply that Steve Hanson has ever banged his secretary. I don’t even know if he has a secretary.)

The Weplay deal is a coup for the Gamechanger — a game changer, if you will — because otherwise Sullivan was looking at, league by league, trying to sell $2 per month subscriptions to parents whose leagues might or might not be feeding data to the application.

Now, even George Clooney in “Up in the Air” can know that little Johnny is 2-for-4 with an error in his 9-year-old Little League game. Grandma in Spokane can see how little Sasha in Fort Wayne is playing. Then she can call her parents and ask them why Sasha sucks so hard.

2498619968_ce16a78dd51Scoreboard update!

To me, as a coach, the best thing about the Gamechanger is that parents stop asking me what inning it is, or what the score is. (I’m annoyed because usually I don’t know without looking at the scorebook.) Better yet, the dad that would call my 10-year-old daughter’s softball manager during games to get details on score, inning and how his hotshot travel-team daughter was doing could look at the app and find out, leaving the poor manager alone with his thoughts and the incessant cheers of a 10-year-old girls’ softball team.

There are many other constituencies for tracking games with the Gamechanger. Such as:

– Ice cream truck drivers, so they know when to show up to a game and park and play their grating song OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER until you HAVE to buy FUCKING SPONGEBOB ICE CREAM BARS just to GET THEM TO GO AWAY, GODDAMNIT.

– Coaches who think they’re running a friggin’ major-league team and want to use it for “scouting.”

— Parents pounding shots at the bar, wanting a sure signal on what time they should start sobering up to pick up their kid.

— Commissioners and owners of youth-league fantasy baseball team.

— Gamblers.

– Pervs.

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Sating the insatiable demand for real-time T-ball action…

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…is a former Cleveland Indians single-A pitcher named Ted Sullivan who says he’s got an iPhone app that will track your kid’s games so you can assuage your guilt at not showing up. From the upcoming issue of Forbes:

GameChanger–due to roll out Mar. 1 in New York, Washington, D.C., St. Louis and Orange County, Calif.–is working a sizable audience: An estimated 25 million kids ages 18 and younger play competitive baseball. “College and pro fans take for granted that they can get game information anytime,” says Sullivan. “But there’s huge demand for that real-time content for youth and high school sports, too.”

Here’s Sullivan’s pitch. Each baseball squad has a scorekeeper who logs every at-bat, mainly on pen and paper. GameChanger’s friendly interface uses straightforward language instead of baseball lingo. Example: Rather than describe a shortstop-to-second-baseman-to-first-baseman double play as a “6-4-3 DP,” GameChanger lets users click on parts of the field where the ball traveled. It can also track customized statistics like “hustle points” or strong defensive plays.

Once logged in, the scoring data flows to Fungo’s servers, which can beam it, in the form of text messages, to the phones of all those busy parents and relatives–as well as to the hundreds of Web sites, newspapers and TV affiliates looking to beef up their news coverage on the cheap.

2498619968_ce16a78dd51

Scoreboard update!

Forbes points out two problems that Sullivan readily acknowledges. First, with a price point of $2 per month, he has to sell 1 million subscriptions to reach his goal of $8 million per year. Forbes estimates there is a one in 15 chance, based on iPhone sales, that a scorekeeper would have one. I would say given the technology prowess, or lack thereof, of the youth volunteers I’ve seen (unlike Sullivan, my pedigree is not the high clouds of St. Alban’s in DC, Duke and Harvard Business), the chances are far less than one in 15. But even assuming those odds, you can’t assume there is a) a scorekeeper to begin with (in my leagues, a coach keeps track of his or her team) and b) a scorekeeper so inclined to use the iPhone to enter all the information Sullivan wants.

However, I think participation would increase if Sullivan promises to track the following in real-time:

— Right fielders picking dandelions.

— Parent/coach/umpire arguments/ejections.

— How often the coach pitches his son when it’s damn clear your son is better.

Also, in targeting only guilt-ridden parents, Sullivan is ignoring a few obvious markets:

— Ice cream truck drivers, so they know when to show up to a game and park and play their grating song OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER until you HAVE to buy FUCKING SPONGEBOB ICE CREAM BARS just to GET THEM TO GO AWAY, GODDAMNIT.

— Coaches who think they’re running a friggin’ major-league team and want to use it for “scouting.”

— Pervs.