Sunday, April 4, 2010

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

(Quick note: I'll be blogging about the poll on the right at some point during the day on Monday.  Don't vote until then!  Okay, vote if you HAVE to, but I promise, I'll explain it more then.)

The snow is melting, the sun is out, and spring is almost maybe finally here. I'm currently sitting in front of the TV waiting for the first official baseball game of the year, and I'm very, very excited about this season. For some reason I've been craving a good baseball game for a while now. As a Pirates fan, I can't wait to see if Andrew McCutchen continues to play well in his second season. I can't wait to see if Garret Jones' sudden explosion last season was a temporary thing or if he's suddenly found a comfort zone at the MLB level. I can't wait to see if Pedro Alvarez makes the leap this year and if he's as good as everyone thinks he's going to be please.

Unfortunately, I will not actually SEE any of this because of Major League Baseball's ridiculous blackout rules. Buffalo is somehow considered part of the local market for both NYC teams, the Cleveland Indians, and yes, the Pittsburgh Pirates. Despite the ads for MLB.TV that blare, "MLB.TV. Baseball Everywhere. Watch all 2,430 regular season games LIVE or on demand in HD quality", all those teams are blacked out on MLB.TV and MLB Extra Innings. That's fine for the Yankees and Mets fans among us because we get those teams' regional networks. But Indians and Pirates fans? Crap out o' luck. As if it wasn't hard enough being a fan of one of those teams right now.

I feel like MLB might need a geography lesson. Buffalo and Pittsburgh are not that close to each other. Oh, sure they're a comfortable distance for a little road trip. I'll probably get there a couple of times over the course of the season to see the Pirates play. But I think to call Buffalo part of Pittsburgh's local market is stretching the definition of the word local juuuust a bit. I think MLB needs to use this test to determine local markets (if indeed such a thing is even necessary in this day and age). Can I make it from work to the stadium in time to catch a game? Use 5:00 as the standard since that's roughly when the average American gets off work and go from there.

Going by Google Maps, if I leave work at 5:00 and don't eat, change my clothes, or run into any traffic at all (a very unlikely thing in and around Pittsburgh), and park right out front, I'll get to PNC Park at roughly 8:35. Realistically we're probably looking at something more in the 9-9:30 range. That is decidedly too late to catch first pitch at 7:05. Therefore Buffalo is NOT local to Pittsburgh. It's really not that complicated.   Extra Innings would not cause the Pirates to lose me as a TV viewer because I can't see their local broadcasts and they would not lose me as a game attendee because Pittsburgh is a three hour minimum drive.  They're just losing  me as a viewer completely.  Which kind of sucks.

MLB, I don't have a lot of money for frivolous spending, but I'm willing to throw hundreds of dollars your way.  BUT YOU WON'T LET ME.  You're lucky I love you.  I'm betting on the Pirates finishing 25 or better.  Yes, that's probably optimistic.  Such is life as a Pirates fan.

Play ball!


Jonathan said...

Yeah, it is hard being a Pirates fan. It's almost as hard being a bluejays fan. I like our new GM but we just traded away Doc and now we've got ... well ... nothing and we're in THAT division in baseball.

Heather B. said...

Yeah, you guys are in a tough spot for sure, Jonathan. That is the one thing the Pirates have going for them. Their division is probably one of the worst divisions in professional sports. If they'd finished .500 last season, they would have been third in the division and a mere game away from second in the division. Ten or so games over .500 and they would have been right near the top spot. I hope the division is that bad for a couple more seasons.

Lee Andrew said...

Heather, since he is a former Met, I've been hearing a lot of things about Lastings Milledge this offseason. He is certainly saying all the right things about maturing and getting better. If McCutchen continues to be good, Garrett isn't a fluke and Lastings Milledge can show some of that potential that almost got him traded for MANNY RAMIREZ, then it could be an awesome outfield. Church is a good fourth outfielder too (or Garrett can play first and Church can start), he started the last two years for the Braves and Mets.

In addition to Milledge they have two other once-highly-touted prospects in Bobby Crosby and Jeff Clement. If Clement doesn't work out then I bet Alvarez plays first instead of third. LaRoche hasn't been as good as expected, but better than Clement so far.

Also, if you believe the theory that players hit their prime at the 27 to 28 age then four of their starting pitchers hit their prime this season (the fifth is 26).

Heather B. said...

Lee, I agree that Milledge is an important wild card for the Pirates this year. He played really well once he was called up for them last season, and McCutchen seems to be having a good effect on him based on what interaction I've seen between the two of them. In the Pirates' "30 Clubs in 30 Days," Milledge also talked about how this could be his last chance to really catch on in the Majors because another club probably won't take a chance on him if he doesn't pan out in Pittsburgh. So like you said, he certainly sounds sincere at least.

I'm holding my breath a bit on Alvarez. I think a huge part of Neal Huntington's plan revolves around his performance in the next year or two. He's kind of a make or break guy.

Anonymous said...

The Tribe can be seen on Sports Time Ohio around these parts if you get Directv.

Blackout rules suck for MLB, it's why I never even pondered buying the MLB package. I remember on a visit to Oklahoma City there was an article about how they also had four MLB teams games blacked out(Kansas City, St. Louis, Texas, and Houston) and without looking at a map I think those teams are much further away than what our situation here entails.

The bizarre thing about the Buffalo blackout policy is that the team geographically closest to us(Toronto) is not blacked out. Just adds to the silliness that is the MLB policy....pjf-usrt

Heather B. said...

The bizarre thing about the Buffalo blackout policy is that the team geographically closest to us(Toronto) is not blacked out.

Yes! I don't understand that at all. And I believe the Jays are blacked out in ALL of Canada. Because Toronto is just a short road trip away from Calgary!

The rules seemed especially dumb when the Bisons were Cleveland's affiliate. Seems like you might want to encourage Buffalo fans to continue following the players they watched in Buffalo. But hey, what do I know?

What I need to do is just buy one of my cousins a Slingbox...