Why MLB Blackout Rules Need to End Now

Sometimes I think that MLB.tv is the greatest invention ever. However, it can never, ever, ever really take that prize while the inane MLB Blackout rules stay in place. For those of you unfamiliar with this concept, MLB will “blackout” all home and away games for people trying to dare watch the games on the internet via MLB.tv. I think the idea is twofold: (1) blacking out the games is required due to cable deals with regional networks and (2) blacking out games will get people to buy tickets to see the games instead. Both of these lines are nuts because, for reason (1), many people with MLB.tv are not likely to be cable subscribers as well. As for reason (2), how many people do you know that think “the game’s not on TV? I guess I’ll spend $100 to see it live.”

If you’ve never seen the MLB Blackout map, prepare to laugh.

So, if you live in the following cities, which teams are you not allowed to see ANY games on MLB.tv?

  • Boston, MA: Red Sox (reasonable)
  • Rochester, MN: Twins, Brewers (hmmm)
  • Klamath Falls, OR: Mariners, A’s and Giants (well, huh, that’s weird)
  • Charlotte, NC: Orioles, Nationals, Reds and Braves (Yes, all those Reds fans in … Charlotte?)
  • Des Moines, IA: [the colors blind me]: Cubs, White Sox, Twins, Brewers, Royals, Cardinals, Ham Fighters, Logicians

That is only a smattering of the fun if you examine this map in detail.

This all got me wondering – just how far away can you get from a team and still be blacked out? I tried some different combinations and here are some fun distances to consider (first number is straight line distance, second is driving distance):

  • 356/442 miles: Charlotte, NC is blacked out of all Baltimore Orioles games
  • 409/491 miles: Reva, SD is black out of all Colorado Rockies games
  • 457/567 miles: Eudora, AR is blacked out of all Kansas City Royals games
  • 542/735 miles: Clayton, NM is blacked out of all Arizona Diamondbacks games
  • 562/720 miles: Mobile, AL is blacked out of all Miami Marlins games

And the record for the continental US

  • 834/1,065 miles: Wibaux, MT is black out for all Seattle Mariners games

Jeff Sullivan of Lookout Landing pointed out that if you leave the friendly confines of the North American continent, Hawaii enjoys black outs of all Giants, A’s, Padres and Mariners games as well. Hawaii is a mere 2,725 miles from Sodo Mojo, so those crafty MLB plutocrats know that people can just hop a Hawaiian air flight to Seattle to catch a game. The Mariners have it good, though, as Alaska is also part of the team’s designated blackout zone, so those of you in Point Barrow only have 1,926 miles to fly (if you want to drive to the game, you’re out of luck – Google Maps tells me “We could not calculate directions between Point Barrow, AK and Seattle, WA.”)

So, there you have it. MLB loves money, but instead of loving all money equally, they love the money from big cable corporations more than fan money, so we’re stuck with insane blackout rules. What can we do about it? Nothing, because MLB is exempt from antitrust rules so they can do whatever they want as the owners eat caviar out of Bud Selig’s loafers on the decks of their yachts.

Enjoy the game (if MLB lets you).

 

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As the election approaches…

Been quite on the blog, but as the 2010 Midterm elections approach, I have a simple message.

Folks, don’t vote for a party, vote for a person. Actually find out about candidate and make an educated choice based on what they stand for, not some silly notion of a party “winning” or “losing” Congress. Congress is yours, not the Democrats’ or Republicans’. Don’t be afraid to vote for the Republican if you’re a Democrat if you think he/she would do a better job. Don’t be afraid to vote for the Democrat if you’re Republican for same reason. Better yet, don’t even look at the party affiliation, just look at the person. You and the country will be better for it.

That is all.

Open note to a lot of Red Sox fans out there

I was going to call this a letter, but I don’t care enough to make this long.

Quick question to most Red Sox “fans” who comment on various baseball websites about offseason moves: Why are you fans when you obviously hate the team so much? I thought this might change after 2004/2007, but if anything, it has amplified this constant spewing of hatred about every move the Sox make. I mostly blame mindless mimicry of sports talk radio – I mean, nothing gets rating like spewing hatred towards the home team no matter what. I like the Red Sox. This is not to say that I agree with all their moves (ahem, Julio Lugo), but come on, have a little faith? If you honestly think that the front office wants the team to lose, then maybe you should just go follow another team and break out the tin foil hat.

Being a sports fan should be fun – a hobby. The lot of you make it seem like a chore.

The actual NL and AL Rookies of the Year

The BBWAA announced the voting for the NL and AL ROYs yesterday, and well, it was interesting.

AL winner: Andrew Bailey RP (Oakland) – He was definitely impressive, was he really that much better than Brett Anderson? Speaking of Brett Anderson, how did he did up with only 1 2nd and 1 3rd place vote? As Rob Neyer points out, Brett Anderson was better (in a fielding-independent world) than either Neimann or Porcello, both of which scored a lot more votes.

NL winner: We can all be a little saddened by the fact that Chris Coghlan OF (Florida) somehow conned the voters to get the win. I mean, are that many BBWAA writers still impressed with a pretty batting average? Apparently so. I would like to be the first to congratulation our 2009 version of the immortal Todd Hollandsworth. Now, how J.A. Happ got more votes than Tommy Hanson will baffle me for quite a while too (and poor ol’ Andrew McCutchen came in 4th! Fourth, people!)

Where did it all go wrong?

Last year, my team, the Oncoming Storm, won my fantasy baseball league. This is no small feat. The league is a 14-team 7×7 head-to-head league with huge rosters and very competitive owners. Somehow, the Oncoming Storm snuck by the favored opponent in the championship game and I won my first championship in the league’s six year history.

So, how have I followed this up? By sucking. It is mid June and my team currently sitting in 5th in the 7-team Laramide Division with a winning percentage of .489. Where has this season gone off the tracks? Let us try to find out.

First off, my seven keepers:

The Keepers:

  1. Grady Sizemore – CLE/OF – This is a great starting point. Grady’s terrible season and DL trip has almost single-handedly brought the team’s fortunes with it.
  2. Nick Markakis – BAL/OF – Nick hasn’t been hurt, but so far he’s only hit 7 HR, a disappointment by most accounts.
  3. Josh Hamilton – TEX/OF – The last of my great OF trinity, and another injury-plagued, disappointing season. It is hard to recover from this trio’s maladies.
  4. Justin Morneau – MIN/1B – A good keeper, but see Alex Gordon (below).
  5. Dan Haren – ARI/SP – One of the few unmitigated successes in my keepers.
  6. Joakim Soria – KC/RP – My first foray into keeper a closer in a few years. Soria’s injuries and KC’s ineptitude is making this hard to swallow.
  7. Daisuke Matsuzaka – BOS/SP – This is the killer. Daisuke has been terrible this year. Amongst the other players I could have kept: James Shields, Matt Garza, Edinson Volquez and the real killer, Victor f&%king Martinez. I was counting on Daisuke to be my #2 SP. Lately I’ve been pondering releasing him outright. Ugly.

The Draft Picks

I had the #12 pick in a snake-style live draft.

  1. Alex Gordon – KCR/3B – I was so excited by this pick and thought he could anchor my offense with the OF trinity. Then he started out terribly. And then got injured. I had very little depth at 3B when he went down (to be specific, Nick Punto), so I hastily traded Justin Morneau for Adrian Beltre and Matt Garza. Up until very recently, the trade was a disaster. Now, it is closer to a mixed bag. Still, hard to recover from this.
  2. J.J. Hardy – MIL/SS – Again, excited to get him, but his 2009 has been a disaster.
  3. Scott Baker – MIN/SP – The start of 2009 was rough for Baker, but he’s rebounded nicely.
  4. Mariano Rivera – NYY/RP – Mo has been very up and down, but still is one of the league’s leaders in saves.
  5. Kevin Slowey – MIN/SP – Slowey’s season has been solid so far, albeit a little inconsistent.
  6. Jarrod Saltalamacchia – TEX/C – A bit of a disappointment so far, with only 5 HR and an OBP of .300
  7. Howie Kendrick – LAA/2B – He’s been terrible, but I luckily traded him (and Elvis Andrus) for Orlando Hudson and Randy Wolf. That trade turned out well for me.
  8. Chien-Ming Wang – NYY/SP – You know, at the time, I was excited to have snagged Wang at this point in the draft. He seemed to be recovered from his foot injury, but like Daisuke, Wang has been horrific.
  9. Mike Gonzalez – ATL/RP – Solid especially considering our league counts both saves and holds.
  10. Mike Cameron – MIL/OF – Good start, but cooled off significantly lately. Can’t complain about the 12 HR and .360 OBP though.
  11. Kurt Suzuki – OAK/C – He’s had his ups and downs, but generally pretty solid as one of my 2 starting catchers.
  12. Edgar Renteria – SF/SS – Injuries and weak bat has not returned my optimism for the Colombian SS.
  13. Paul Konerko – CHW/1B – 8 HR/41 RBI/.347 OBP, a strong comeback for Konerko (but not enough to come close to replacing Morneau at starting 1B).
  14. Wandy Rodriguez – HOU/SP – A month ago, I would have been singing Wandy’s praises. Since then, he’s 0-4 with an ERA to match. I hope he can figure out how to pitch again.
  15. Felix Pie – BAL/OF – Fail.
  16. J.P. Howell – TAM/RP – I told myself to not draft non-closer RPs in the draft, but I did anyway. He’s been solid. Traded away with Garza for Clay Buchholz and Nolan Reimold in the rebuilding phase.
  17. Jeremy Guthrie – BAL/SP – Danced on the edge of mediocrity until he took the full plunged. Released.
  18. Jon Rauch – ARI/RP – See Howell, except a failure. Released.
  19. Ryan Sweeney – OAK/OF – Huh? Released.
  20. Jeff Neimann – TAM/SP – I hung onto him until he began to suck. Released, but then watched him get his act together for a few starts. Now he’s bad again. Ah well.
  21. Cody Ross – FLA/OF – His brutal start led me to release him. However, I might have been hasty.
  22. Junichi Tazawa – BOS/SP – Minor league flyer. Still sitting in one of my two minor league roster slots.
  23. Nomar Garciaparra – OAK/1B-3B – Injuries made this a bad pick. Released.
  24. Yuniesky Betancourt – SEA/SS – Bad season, but I released him before the season anyway.
  25. Aaron Rowand – SFG/OF – Traded in the preseason for
  26. Yusmiero Petit – ARI/SP – Eh. Last round flyer that didn’t work out.

Trades

  • Aaron Rowand SFG/OF for Andy Sonnanstine TAM/SP – Rowand has been better than I assumed (pre-season trade). Sonny didn’t last long on my roster.
  • Andy Sonnanstine TAM/SP for David DeJesus KC/OF – DeJesus was a nice acquisition for Sonny, but DeJesus didn’t last long on the roster either.
  • David DeJesus KC/OF for Casey Kotchman ATL/1B – Kotchman has been a solid CI for me. The injury wasn’t well-timed, though.
  • Elvis Andrus TEX/SS & Howie Kendrick LAA/2B for Orlando Hudson LAD/2B & Randy Wolf LAD/SP – This one has been a pretty solid win for me.
  • Justin Morneau MIN/1B for Adrian Beltre SEA/3B & Matt Garza TAM/SP – Not good. See above.
  • Clay Buchholz BOS/SP & Nolan Reimold BAL/OF for Matt Garza TAM/SP and J.P. Howell TAM/RP – First trade in rebuilding.

Key Free Agent pickups

Currently on Roster

  • Add: Adam Kennedy – OAK/2B – His hot streak gave the season some hope.
  • Add: Scott Podsednik – CHW/OF – Who’da thunk it?
  • Add: Luke Scott – BAL/OF – Now, this is a FA signing that was a masterstroke so far. We’ll see if Scott keeps it up.
  • Add: Carl Pavano – CLE/SP – Up and down, but to get any up from Pavano is a plus.
  • Add: Scott Feldman – TEX/SP – Surprisingly solid so far.
  • Add: Angel Guzman – CHC/RP – Solid MR.
  • Add: Brian Bruney  – NYY/RP – When he hasn’t been hurt, he’s been a great MR.
  • Add: Mark DiFelice – MIL/RP – Solid MR.

No longer on roster

  • Gary Sheffield – NYM/OF – Maybe gave up on him too quickly.
  • Willie Aybar – TAM/UT – Good while Bartlett was out.
  • Alberto Callaspo – KCR/2B – Had a good run with him.
  • Josh Outman – OAK/SP – Again, I might have released him too quickly.

The long-and-short seems to be that my pitching has not worked out and injuries have really hurt my offense. Hard to get a long way when most of your keepers end up hurt or duds. Add that your first two draft picks being terrible/hurt and some poor panic trades, it becomes a recipe for losing. So now the rebuilding has begun …

California, vote NO on 8.

So, today, driving back from work, I was accosted by “Yes on 8” (get rid of gay marriage in California forever) at an intersection in my town. When I made clear my distaste for “Yes” – by a thumbs down – I thought the children they had employed to wave signs were going to come after me with rocks.

And it is not like this made me decide that “No” is the way to go. Prop. 8 takes away people’s rights, so if you think you are protecting “values”, what you’re actually doing is the same thing as banning interracial marriage. You take away people’s right to express their love and commitment, and more importantly, you legislate people’s rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. So, if you truly believe that all men are created equal, then the choice is obvious: NO on PROPOSITION 8.