Welcome back to real games and the beautiful life of a total baseball fan.
Opening Day is Thursday, and MLB.com is ready for a new season, as you can see from the ongoing redesign on your favorite site. You'll enjoy all those things you missed, and you'll see such new twists as a Highlight Ticker, a $5.6 million competition, and more than 2,000 live games streamed by MLB.TV's younger brother, MiLB.TV.
Here is our annual MLB.com Season Guide, with 20 tour stops to get you ready:
Maybe you're rushing to take part in Opening Day. Maybe you are looking for a Cubs Six Pack, or a Yankees mid-June seat in hopes of seeing Derek Jeter's projected 3,000th hit, or one of those tickets that will go on sale Friday for the relocated Marlins at Mariners June 24-26 Interleague Play series. MLB.com/tickets is the way to go, with new features every season.
Sign up now to watch live out-of-market games on a growing list of mobile and connected devices. Features included HD quality, in-game highlights and stats, full-game archives, alternate audio options, pitch-by-pitch widget, clickable linescore, fantasy player tracker, home and away broadcasts, live-game DVR controls and multi-game view. MLB.TV has served one billion live video streams since its inception, and now one of the Internet's largest subscription video offerings is back.
Want to watch Bryce Harper and Mike Trout on their way up to The Show? Need to track rehab assignments by your favorite injured players? Take a look at the new MiLB.com and sign up for MiLB.TV to see its new, expansive streaming schedule. Included are games involving all Triple-A teams; select games from other classifications; and select Opening Day games. It's just $29.99 for the year or $6.99 a month.
4. Scoreboard, Standings, Schedule, Stats
The global nav atop MLB.com pages starts with the four S's and is always the centerpiece of traffic to the site. It is the game's official data and a living history of a baseball season. It resets now to 0-0 records, 1.000 batting averages, and the look of Opening Day.
5. MLB.com At Bat 11
Everyone's favorite app will be updated for Opening Day with a host of new features, offers and functionalities, so now is the time to download it if you have not already. Learn all about MLB.com Mobile.
6. MLB.com Gameday
Whether you're tracking Aroldis Chapman's fastball or checking on a live box score, Gameday is always there. Use it on your computer or enjoy it within your At Bat app. You'll notice this year that everything appears in one central package, including preview, live game, game wrap, postgame highlights, photo galleries and more. What was At Bat for PC/Mac last year is simply part of the full Gameday experience now, and you can view in the "classic" mode or jazz up your app with 3D backgrounds, fantasy tracking and more.
7. MLB.com Shop
The Opening Day Virtual Catalog just arrived and you can save 20 percent on a single item to ring in the new season. Deals like that happen year-round at the MLB.com Shop, and don't forget Mom on May 8. Notice that Facebook is now integrated on all Shop items, so you can Like what you see.
MLB.com, MLB Network and MLB Productions join forces to provide new video clips 24/7/365, and you can view these in a variety of ways ranging from the main MLB.com Video Highlights page to delivery in your live-game viewing experience. Relive Tim Lincecum's World Series magic, watch the Road to the Regular Season presented by Goodyear, and download Podcasts.
Play MLB.com Beat the Streak presented by Scotts for a chance to win $5.6 million. Enter MLB.com Fantasy Baseball 2011 for free and try to win $10,000, and play the Official Fantasy Baseball Commissioner Game of MLB.com. Watch the MLB.com Fantasy 411 Show five days a week on MLB Network and interact with Mike Siano, Cory Schwartz and Co. on their MLBlog. Get daily help with Front Office 2011 from Bloomberg Sports. There's something for everyone.
10. News and Opinion
The only network of 30 traveling MLB beat writers takes you inside the clubhouses with breaking news, game stories, previews, notes and features. They also blog, tweet and answer email. A stable of at least 15 columnists including Peter Gammons, Hal Bodley, Mike Bauman, Terence Moore and Mitch Williams will provoke you to leave comments.
11. Fan Clubs
A third of the clubs now offer membership or "citizenship" and they include: Red Sox Nation, Cubs Club, The Tribe, Sox Pride Club, Twins Territory Team, Club Mets, Yankees Universe, Fightin' Phils Fan Club, Cardinals Nation and Braves Country Club.
You're already familiar with this from watching all those free-agent player introduction press conferences, right? Watch breaking news and live studio shows here year-round. MLB.com/LIVE will be on the air from 10 a.m. to noon ET on Thursday, followed by a one-hour simulcast on MLB Network. Watch host Jeremy Brisiel with analysts Mark McLemore and Rick Peterson, and remote commentary from Jeff Nelson and Pete McCarthy (Yankee Stadium) and Jim Duquette (Nationals Park).
13. MLB.com Toolbar
Put this on top of your browser and have fingertip access all season to your team's customized view for news, standings, stats, tickets and promotions, official tweets, photos, videos and more.
14. Probable Pitchers
This is the definitive place to find out who's hurling in upcoming series, so you can plan your schedules and manage those fantasy rosters accordingly. You'll also want to view the MLB.com Game Notes, to get daily info straight from the club PR departments. Those are exactly the same notes that are printed and made available to baseball writers in the press boxes every day.
MLB.com is the only place where you can find a gallery from every game for every team, straight from the best in the business including Getty, AP and club photographers. If you and Facebook friends loved those TagORamics last Postseason, then watch for more starting with Saturday's Rangers 2010 American League Champions ring ceremony. Have your photo taken at a game and then go to the MLB.com Photo Store and personalize it onto a wide range of merchandise.
16. MLB.com Auction
Bid now on a Justin Verlander Tigers jersey he wore in 2010 or a game-used base from Bobby Cox Day tribute game last October at Turner Field. This is where those pink Mother's Day bats show up each May to help raise funds for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, so get familiar with the auction block.
It's the official site for the 82nd Midsummer Classic coming to Chase Field in Phoenix on July 12. Go there now and you can order ticket strips for the week's events, buy the new official All-Star Game gear, download iTunes video from past All-Star Games, and more.
18. Social Networking
Something new is coming to MLB.com/blogs and you'll want to start your own MLBlog. Be sure to join fans and get special treatment on the official Facebook.com/MLB page as well as the Facebook home for your favorite MLB club. Follow @MLB on Twitter and more than 300 MLB tweeps, including the official accounts for your team. To see that roster just add "/connect" to your team's URL, such as WhiteSox.com/connect or Astros.com/connect. Click here to see which players tweet -- and be sure to include the #OpeningDay hashtag in your tweets.
19. Getting Involved
If you believe in strength in numbers, then it's hard to top the National Pastime. There are many MLB initiatives that allow fans to participate and help others, including: Japan Relief donations to UNICEF, Stand Up To Cancer, Welcome Back Veterans, 4ALS, Baseball Tomorrow Fund and the ongoing Honorary Bat Girl Contest that benefits Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
20. Register before you do anything else at MLB.com, or make sure you are already registered. It's quick and easy, and it is a prerequisite to enjoy many of the best attractions listed above. You might even win stuff.
Mark Newman is Enterprise Editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.