PhilSox Blog: MLB.tv and the Advent of Spring Training

 


MLB.tv and the Advent of Spring Training

Between Opening Day and the trophy ceremony after the final Word Series game (and probably even a few weeks afterward, I log onto MLB.com at least once a day. Sometimes I'm there five of six times a day. But as the months of the Hot Stove begin and drag on, I visit less and less. This year, once the NFL playoffs began, I stopped almost totally. Today however, I went back looking for one particular piece of news. I found two, although one I knew anyway. The first tidbit, right on the main page reminded me that pitcher ans catchers report to Spring Training on Thursday. The other, the one I'd been waiting for, told me that MLB.tv now had its 2008 package ready for purchase.

These two small items have brought me more joy than I ever expect any Monday to hold, particularly a dreary and cold February Monday. My mind immediately transported away from thoughts of wind chill and snow forecasts to palm trees and Spring Training jerseys. The off season has whisked by in some ways and drug on in others. But the end is near. Spring is on the horizon and before we know it, opening day will be upon us.

First let me give my full endorsement to MLB.tv Premium. This will be my second season watching Red Sox games via the Internet, my first full one. While living in central PA gets me almost every Phillies game, it has historically offered me nothing much in terms of a way to follow my beloved Red Sox. Now, with MLB.tv, I can see every Sox game except those against the Yankers (which are every often on Fox or ESPN, anyway) and those where they might happen to play the Mets or the Pirates. You see, MLB.tv is subject to blackout restrictions and my house sits in an overlapping sector of Pittsburgh, Philly, and New York markets.

In the interest of fairness, let me outline the weak points of MLB.tv (as I see them) first. There's the blackout thing, of course. Now that upsets me much less since my lovely wife got me an XM Radio for Christmas. I'll get to hear the games that are blacked out. And honestly, how much does it suck to miss the Yanker games! The Sox play Philly this summer, and assuming I can't score tickets to one of those, they'll most likely be televised on the usual Phillies Comcast channel. Another drawback is the video quality. Don't get me wrong, with high speed Internet access and a decent monitor, the games on the PC or laptop are great. The video issue becomes a problem when I connect my laptop to the TV. You need to have an S-VIdeo jack to do this, but the games are no where near as clear as they are on broadcast or cable games.

Now on to the advantages! First and foremost is cost. With MLB.tv PRemium, I can watch every single Major League game. Using their Mosaic function, I can watch six at once if I want! It costs me $119 dollars for all the Spring Training games and every regular season games (minus the blackouts). Strangely enough, I couldn't find the exact price for MLB Extra Innings, the cable/satellite program that get you similar games, but if memory serves, it was about $250 last season from my cable provider. Extra Innings is also subject to the blackouts, plus I can't watch multiple games (that I know of). I get no Spring Training games with Extra Innings (again, that I am aware of) and it costs me more than double. What's more, with Extra Innings, I can only watch games at home. With MLB.tv, I can watch anywhere there is an Internet connection. In my home, with my laptop and wireless network, that means I can watch from the living room, bed room, or even out on my patio! The games that are blacked out I listen to on XM or on MLB Game Day, which gives me Internet access to the radio broadcast of either team! Hell, I can even sneak an afternoon game in at work on occasion. Let's see the Extra Innings guys pull that one off! When I do miss a game -- whether due to blackout, work, life, whatever -- I can watch the game, in its entirety later via MLB.tv! I can also watch highlights, condensed games (that show the all six outs and any scores within each inning), for every single game, whether or not it was blacked out! One more thing I can stack on top of all that? The MLB.com Baseball's Best. I can watch entire games like Game 5 of the 1980 NLCS (just finished that one!) I got to relive the 5 run 8th and Ruthven in shutting down the Astros in the 10th to send the Schmidt, Rose, and the rest of those Phils to the Worlds Series!

I know that these days everyone has a thing for HD. Games on MLB.tv, whether on the monitor or on the television, are definitely not HD. For me, nothing is HD, so I don't miss it. Plus, the $130 dollars that I save makes up for the diminished quality. Not to mention the fact that I have a wife and three kids and for some reason that TV in the living room is seldom free.

So I sit, raring to go. Waiting first for some spring training games to whet my whistle. The for opening day and the beginning of another season.

GO PHILS! GO SOX!

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