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Aussie Baseball Fans Resent Sudden Reversal Of MLB's International TV Programming
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Did you know…
Slugging Astros outfielder Yordan Alvarez was signed by the Dodgers but traded to Houston for pitcher Josh Fields, who had a 9-10 record at the time of the deal and hasn’t pitched in the last four years . . .
Cristian Javier hadn’t pitched in 11 days before his hitless effort in Philadelphia Wednesday night but he gave hint of things to come by yielding one hit to the Yankees in 5 1/3 innings of ALCS Game 3 in Houston . . .
Vic Power of the 1958 Cleveland Indians stole home twice in a 10-9 win over the Detroit Tigers but had only one other steal that season . . .
Derek Jeter was lost for the duration after he broke his left ankle in the 12th inning of the 2012 ALDS opener against Detroit . . .
Dodger teammates Freddie Freeman and Mookie Betts, both former MVPs, rank among the Top Five MVP candidates to win the 2022 award in the National League . . .
The Phillies report 2023 ticket prices rising as inventory shrinks . . .
Kansas City wants to keep free agent pitcher Zack Greinke despite his age (39).
MLB Shuts Out International Fans in Australia
By AJ Mithen
Barely 24 hours before the first pitch of this year’s MLB postseason, Major League Baseball quietly updated its terms and conditions to black out international subscribers to the MLBTV platform.
This comes after years of overseas MLBTV watchers being able to watch postseason games through their subscriptions. Before that, fans had only unreliable local broadcasts available to them. The streaming platform was thus the only way to guarantee they could watch the games they wanted to see.
More than a few overseas watchers found out about this sneaky update the hard way — when they woke up at 3 a.m. to try and watch a game, they were greeted by an unexpected message that read ‘this is not available in your area.’
Broadcast blackouts are a notorious bugbear for American and Canadian baseball fans, and MLB’s decision to pull the rug on its international subscribers as well showed once more how out of touch the game can be with the people it needs to engage the most.
It took a few days for MLB to respond to the outcry, with a spokesperson saying the blackouts were due to ‘exclusivity agreements with international broadcast partners reached ahead of the season,’ and that as part of those agreements more games had been added, including post-season games.
MLBTV streamed the remainder of the Wild Card Series to allow fans to ‘make alternate arrangements.’ Refunds were made available to the value of the post-season package, around $25.
But another problem was the availability of the games through those international broadcast partners.
Take Australia, for example. To watch playoff baseball, you have to either have a pay TV subscription or pay to join ‘Kayo’, a sports streaming platform. Both of those cost quite a bit of money.
Also if you did join up with Kayo, games weren’t shown in parallel — you had one game and when it finished, it switched to another. When Houston took 18 innings to beat Seattle, 1-0, in the American League Division Series, Australian viewers missed the first 7 2/3 innings of the Yankees and Guardians game. This went on for the whole post-season, with games often being joined well in progress, around the third or fourth inning.
Australian baseball broadcaster Chris Coleman has been a key figure in building the profile of the game across the country and indeed showcasing Aussie baseball to the world — and he didn’t hold back his thoughts.
“To have the business end of the season yanked away from us with no notice, have to rely on third-party providers that we may or may not have a subscription with, and for that service at times being unable to provide us with feeds of concurrent games? It went beyond ‘not good enough,’” he says.
“This was a real kick in the guts. It seemed more like a call made by a short-sighted bean-counter than an organization that cares about the fan experience.”
One of the great frustrations of following Major League Baseball is its tin ear to the needs of the fan, shown in the form of blackouts, bad decisions, industrial disputes, you name it.
For a league that professes a goal of spreading its reach across the globe, there sure are a lot of inaction and cash-first options being taken that give the impression that people who genuinely care about the game (and can bring many more along with them) don’t really matter.
“Aussie fans do it, though, to follow games at the best of times,” Coleman continues.
“Our local league rarely gets the media spotlight. MLB’s visit to these shores was almost a decade ago and has had no follow-up. And now, this year’s most important games can only be watched — by people who paid months ago to watch them — by leaping through additional hoops.”
“On the bright side, knowing I can get much of the coverage from a betting app next year, I’ll save my money. And probably buy an NFL pass instead.”
AJ Mithen is an Australian sportswriter, co-host of the podcast ‘A Sporting Discussion’ and regular guest on ABC radio and RRR FM. He loves to give space to the sporting stories the mainstream forgets - and he’ll never rest until Australian baseball gets the coverage it deserves. He’s always up for a chat on Twitter @AJMithen.
Good News: Baseball Will Stay In Sports Page Headlines All Winter
By Dan Schlossberg
This is the time of year I start thinking of Rogers Hornsby.
The Hall of Fame second baseman, who was also a major-league manager, was once asked what he did during the winter months.
“I look out the window and wait for spring,” he said.
As a baseball purist with no interest in any other sport, I couldn’t agree more.
For me, there will be no sport worth watching until pitchers and catchers report — my favorite four words of the baseball lexicon.
That won’t happen until mid-February, weeks after Punxatawney Phil & Co. have searched in vain for their shadows.
The 2022 World Series between Houston and Philadelphia will end tonight or tomorrow [I picked the Astros in six in this space last weekend]. After that, it’s open season for free agents, trades, and other preparations for next season.
At least we’ll have the Baseball Winter Meetings for the first time since 2019. Cancelled by Covid twice and the lockout once, this week-long event invariably captures the back-page headlines of the big-city tabloids.
And why shouldn’t it? Baseball is America’s national pastime — even with such dubious developments as interleague play, wild-card winners, and the “Manfred Man” ghost runner that destroys the integrity of extra-inning games.
The Rules Committee has wisely killed the shift, limited the number of attempted pick-off throws, and even enlarged the bases but the game will still be the same: nine innings, a nine-man batting order, and 60 feet 6 inches from the mound to the plate.
Speculation over who signs where will keep baseball writers busy but the crazy salary spiral sparked by Marvin Miller will continue all winter and beyond. Current characters like Steve Cohen, the hedge-fund mastermind who owns the Mets, will continue to spend millions on old players, forcing everyone else to overpay too.
George Steinbrenner must be enjoying the spending frenzy he launched so many moons ago.
For me, I’ll spend the winter on new book projects. The New Baseball Bible, which began life in 1980 as The Baseball Catalog, will have a new look and maybe new name for its updated version, scheduled for 2025. I also have a contract to draft a book on my favorite player of all time, Hank Aaron, since 2024 is the 50th anniversary of the home run that broke Babe Ruth’s cherished career record.
I also hope to congratulate my friend Dusty Baker at the Winter Meetings. Although he won a World Series ring as an outfielder for the 1981 Dodgers, he had never won one as a manager — even after taking five teams into the playoffs (Giants, Cubs, Reds, Nationals, and Astros).
I remember writing a magazine profile of Dusty that the editor headlined, “The Next Hank Aaron.” Dusty remembers too, though both of us knew that nobody could ever replace the home run king. Not even some guy named Barry, who topped 50 home runs only in the year he hit 73.
As Yogi once said, something’s not kosher in the State of Denmark.
Next month, Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, and other suspected steroids cheats could surface again when the Hall of Fame convenes its Contemporary Baseball Player Era Committee to vote on an eight-man ballot to be announced Nov. 7.
Candidates who used up their maximum 10 years on the “regular” ballot will be eligible for this off-shoot of the Veterans Committee. Fred McGriff should be a no-brainer. But arguments can still be made about the steroids guys even if they were never suspended or convicted.
Controversy fuels baseball talk and Hall of Fame votes are always rife with debate.
If that’s what it takes to keep the greatest game in the winter headlines, so be it.
Off-season’s greetings to all !!
Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ is the author of 40 baseball books. He covers the game for forbes.com, Latino Sports, USA TODAY Sports Weekly, Sports Collectors Digest, and other outlets. E.mail him at email@example.com.
“I don’t know if our players wanted to hug me or slug me.”
— Hall of Famer Wade Boggs after he drove in the tying run in the 21st inning of a 1981 Triple-A game that lasted 33 innings
The wife of Pawtucket pitcher Luis Aponte didn’t believe his excuse when he arrived home in the wee hours of the morning after the game was mercifully suspended in the 32nd inning . . .
A full-season 2023 ticket plan in Philadelphia’s Diamond Club is going for $12,500 . . .
The first sweep in World Series history was engineered by Boston’s “Miracle” Braves over the favored Philadelphia Athletics in 1914 . . .
Winners of annual awards given to writers and broadcasters by special Hall of Fame committees will be announced on successive days (Dec. 6 and 7) at the San Diego Winter Meetings.
Know Your Editors
HERE’S THE PITCH is published daily except Sundays and holidays. Brian Harl [firstname.lastname@example.org] handles Monday and Tuesday editions, Elizabeth Muratore [email@example.com] does Wednesday and Thursday, and Dan Schlossberg [firstname.lastname@example.org] edits the weekend editions on Friday and Saturday. Readers are encouraged to contribute comments, articles, and letters to the editor. HTP reserves the right to edit for brevity, clarity, and good taste.