Wait until next year

Putting off what could be done tomorrow, today

Tag: mlb.tv

MLB.TV – What shall I buy? And when? (My Baseball Winter #5)

It’s getting to be that time. Spring Training isn’t so far off, and I need to start thinking of just how I’m going to go about watching baseball in 2010. MLB.TV is the obvious option. Access to every single game, from the first pitch of the first exhibition game, to the last out in the last game of the World Series.

But what option should I choose?

The past couple of seasons I’ve gone with the bog-standard MLB.TV option, and it’s been fine for me. I’m not a heavy user of this particular drug, and if the picture gets a little grainy at times I don’t mind. With the dreadful speakers on my laptop to match I can just squint and pretend I’m watching it on a cool old portable TV in a log cabin in 1976. Seems more authentic that way. I just need to be sitting in a wifebeater sucking on a cheap beer, howling at the screen. Or something. Well, it has been known.

But then again, I’ve always been a sucker for shiny advertising and clever payment options, where is only *just that little bit more* to upgrade. So, what do I get for my extra dough? Choice of home or away broadcast. Nice, but not essential. DVR controls to pause and rewind live. Now we’re talking. That could be good for when I drift off, or miss that key play as I reach for the pretzels. Multi-game view. I’d probably use it now and again, just to get a different feel for the game. Not essential though.

Well, thanks for talking me through that, dear reader. It sounds like the basic package will be just fine. Unless I feel a little flush and light-headed when I order. Feel free to convince me otherwise.

The price? According to my online currency converter findings, it’s £62 for cheap MLB.TV, and £74 for shiny, flashy MLB.TV. See what I mean about *just that little bit more*? Hmm. Damn them and their fine pricing policy.

I think it’s a little bit more than last year, and I’m no financial whiz, but maybe the exchange rate doesn’t help. Say, if you can predict the financial future let me know when I should buy. I’m not looking to fleece the worldwide markets. I just want my baseball a little cheaper so I can spend that money on, I dunno, takeaway curry, or something nice for the flat, you know?

MLB play-offs braindump #8 – How not to be an online baseball pundit

Last night I made the following comment on the Dodgers/Phillies series:

“So, we’re 1-1 in that series and if this game is anything to go by, we’re in for some very close-run games.”

I wake up this morning to find the Phillies have tonked the Dodgers, 11-0. Cliff Lee put in a superb pitching performance, striking out 10 and allowing just three hits.

Some pundit am I!

Both championship series continue tonight, with a rare early start for the Angels/Yankees game. I might actually catch the first few innings as it starts at a reasonable time for British fans. Otherwise, I’ll be catching the condensed game on mlb.tv, over my muesli tomorrow morning.

If you’re interested in catching some of the baseball, but don’t have TV access, or an online subscription, Matt at BaseballGB has the lowdown on the variety of ways you can catch some of the action for free. Well worth a read if you feel like dipping your toes in the baseballing waters…

Twins beat the Tigers to reach the play-offs in an epic

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162 regular season games couldn’t separate them. Neither could the regulation nine innings of their one-off game for the final play-off spot. They kept playing and playing, until finally in the bottom of the twelfth inning the Twins scored, with Alexi Casilla hitting a single, to send home Carlos Gomez from second base.

It was a horrible, horrible way for the Detroit Tigers’ season to end, particularly as they had led their division for so long. Before the Minnesota Twins made their late-season push, this was their 17th win in 21 games, the Tigers looked a safe bet for the play-offs.

But what an incredible prelude to the post-season for the neutral, like myself.

The Twins now face a massive challenge. Tonight they start a series against the New York Yankees, just 20-odd hours after last night’s win. The Yankees are arguably the strongest side in the play-offs, and very much the bookie’s favourite. To make matters worse for Minnesota, the Yankees beat the Twins on each of the seven occasions the teams met during the regular season.

I enjoyed last night’s game via mlb.tv, but was greeted TBS HotCorner, rather than the standard mlb.tv I’m used to. So, instead of the feed from one of the main broadcasters, I had the option of watching from one of eight cameras stationed around the stadium. There was also the option to watch two or four camera feeds at once.

It was a strangely disorienting experience, and made me realise how used I am to being led by a television director. It was interesting in the unlikely moments, such as focusing on the catcher between pitches, or on the hitter watching as he popped a ball up.

However, I’m not sure I want this feature for the whole of the post-season. It could be infuriating as it wasn’t always clear where the ball had gone, or what was happening elsewhere on the pitch. I wouldn’t mind using it for the odd inning, but it could be a little much game after game.

But baseball is baseball, I’ll take what I can get!

Watching sport on television – no longer a passive activity?

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I recently read an article in the International Herald Tribune about how sports coverage on television in the States is evolving. Cable companies have started to integrate twitter feeds into their service, so viewers can not only watch the feed while they watch a game, but also tweet themselves through their remote control.

mlb.tv, meanwhile, has integrated twitter into its media player, so you can tweet (with hash tags handily added for the game in question) and read the feed as the game progresses. I’ve tried this myself and it really is a fun addition. I imagine it works well with sports like baseball and (American) football as there are so many intervals in play. As the match is made of a series of discrete moments there are plenty of opportunities to tweet, and read other people’s tweets. Would this work so well in a faster-paced sport like basketball, ice hockey or football? I’m not sure.

As the article suggests, this sort of interaction makes watching sport at home a lot more like watching sport in a bar or with friends. Rather than just letting the game wash over you, you can state your opinion and find out what other people think, in real time from the comfort of your very own comfy chair.

‘Interactivity’ isn’t necessarily new in sporting coverage on television. Here in England, the BBC has experimented with ‘red button’ technology, where the viewer can choose which match to watch at Wimbledon, or which audio stream to listen to when watching the football – the TV commentary, radio commentary, or no commentary at all. Sky has offered similar options, plus offering a number of camera options for games. But did anyone ever watch the player cam, focusing on one man all game?

What’s interesting about the twitter developments are that the ‘interactivity’ is all about creating dialogues, between viewers and also between the viewer and the television company. Previous technology has concentrated on providing a series of viewing options. The experience remained a passive one. Now the viewer isn’t restricted to shouting impotently at the TV. Now s/he can share those views. And have them saved for posterity on his/her twitter feed.

Will this revolutionise television? Probably not in the short-term. There will always be plenty of people who aren’t interested in articulating their views, and certainly not interested in reading the views of others. There is also the quality control issue. If the feed is full of drivel, it won’t catch on.

However, if it can be built upon and refined, interactive sporting coverage on television could work. It certainly seems the best ‘genre’ for it. It’s on regularly, has a dedicated and opinionated audience, and its integral unpredictability should, most of the time, bring up plenty to comment on. A twitter feed alone may not be the answer, but something more sophisticated might be just around the corner, that will put a stop to television being a purely passive pastime for the majority of viewers.

Giants beat the Mets in 10 and the downside of watching condensed games

mlb.com has done a grand job when it comes to its online baseball coverage and I’m a great advocate of signing up for it’s audio and video service. Access to each and every game for a reasonable price is good enough as it is, but for those of us who let real life get in the way of watching sport, they kindly offer the condensed game option. In fifteen-odd minutes you get the feel of how a game panned out, with each ‘out’ edited into one package.

However, just watching the highlights of yesterday’s Giants/Mets game, I have become more aware than ever of its limitations. If only there were more hours in the day, and I’d had the time to watch the whole game, either as it happened or ‘as live’. As baseball is all about the ebb and flow, the pauses as well as the bursts of action, highlights will always be second-best. But this particular game, even from just a fifteen minute summary, seems to have been something pretty special.

The first few innings seemed like a bit of a pitchers duel, with Santana and Cain going at it. Then Wright gets a nasty concussion, the pitch actually knocking his helmet off. Santana then pitches wildly in return. The Mets fight back from 4-1 down to level the game. The Giants win in extra innings, a dramatic home run from Molina.

While the condensed game got some of this drama across, it would have undoubtedly been much more satisfying (bar the result) to watch events unfold in real time.

However, until we get a 27 hour day, with three hours for watching baseball, I guess the condensed games are a good compromise between keeping up with baseball, and actually keeping up with the real world. And enjoying the real world is no bad thing.