Baseball and hockey fans can seek to change the way professional games are aired, a judge said in allowing them to sue as a group over claims that Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League violate antitrust law in their control of television and Internet broadcast rights.
Fans sued the leagues, individual clubs and regional TV sports networks, along with Comcast Corp. and DirecTV LLC, claiming the practice of dividing live game broadcasts into exclusive territories, protected by local blackouts, is anti-competitive.
“Every class member has suffered an injury, because every class member, as a consumer in the market for baseball or hockey broadcasting, has been deprived of an option—a la carte channels—that would have been available absent the territorial restraints,” U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin in New York said in an opinion Thursday.
Thursday’s ruling focused on whether the fans can sue as a unified class. Scheindlin said they could but, in a victory for the leagues, barred them from seeking money damages as a group.
The centerfield camera sits at the center of this operation, and only its ubiquity keeps us from recognizing it as the miracle it is. With this shot, pioneered by NBC producer Harry Coyle in the middle of last century, anyone at home—or at the bar, or in line for takeout—can see the flight of a pitch better than all but a handful of people in the actual stadium. It makes what had been in the pre- and early-television days the work of conjecture or imagination—the particular break of a slider, the height of a high fastball—plainly visible. It makes your sofa, when it comes to matters of pitch-to-pitch clarity, the best seat in the house.
Still, the view is imperfect. Ask Orlins. “Centerfield cameras are a little bit of an illusion since they are slightly off to the side,” he said during his spring PR derby. “You might think you can tell when the ball is over home plate, but you really can’t.” ESPN’s new box is here to correct that imperfection, to close the gap between sight and knowledge.
But whatever small gains the K-Zone delivers in terms of clarity—not many, to my agitated eyes—are far outnumbered by the jarring, video-gameish aesthetic presence. Philosophically, it’s even worse: K-Zone coats live action in crude binary, every pitch and swing decreed good or bad according to which side of the border the circle appears on and its closeness to the gray line. Though the markings themselves are light enough, as Orlins has been sure to stress, their mere presence makes the old appreciations nearly impossible. A swing and miss at a pitch in the zone becomes less forgivable—it was right there!—and a fastball just off the corner, instead of being clever but untaken bait, is just a big white ball. A called strike that does not show in the rectangle, of course, is tragic and unjust.
Over at SI Richard Dietsch has a piece in which he asked several broadcasters and media members about changes they’d make to sports broadcasts and reporting. Fox’s lead play-by-play guy said this:
Specifically to baseball, I would make players more accessible. There is no way networks can be able to talk to NASCAR drivers before they stuff themselves into the driver’s seat of a race car to go over 200 miles per hour while we are all forbidden to talk to the starting pitcher of that night’s game. Old rules die. Someone is “in the well” before they climb on deck? They can be asked what they are trying to do in their next at bat. Cameras in the batting cage during a game would then let us see how a DH is getting ready for a big at bat. Bringing fans into the experience is paramount.
Current proposals would see MLB.com and baseball ticketing — both currently under the MLBAM umbrella — stay with Major League Baseball, while the entire streaming business would be split off. It’s big now, but only getting bigger, based on what MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told the Journal.
Thanks to Cotillo, it’s a teenage monkeyland out there.
Among the professional journalism crowd, and I suppose all baseball circles to some degree, these “kids” are a constant topic of discussion. I have seen only one of these reporters break through to the mainstream, meaning he is likely the exception, not the rule. And he didn’t get to this point by being lazy. He got his foot in the door, took advice, learned rapidly and now has a bright future. Sadly, this is not the case for many of what I call “Transaction Monkeys,” the kids who frantically tweet every minor move that can easily be found on milb.com or any transaction website. Repetitiveness is not a skill, nor should it be rewarded.
A couple of short stories about Asian pitchers and Irabu: I was announcing Yankee games in the mid-90s when I said over the air, “I wonder if we’ll ever see an Oriental position player in the Major Leagues?” Dion James was playing for the Yankees at the time, and told me about an exciting 19-year old named Ichiro Suzuki who had a chance to be the first. We all know that story. Big fan of Bernie Williams from watching Yankee games in Japan. Wears number 51 because of that.
So, I get a letter about a week later from an Asian baseball fan. Not a malicious letter but scolding me gently for referring to Asian players as “Oriental.” He said, “Noodles and rugs are Oriental, not people. We are Asians.” Fortunately for me, he put his phone number in the letter, so I called him.
We had a pleasant conversation and I told him I certainly didn’t intentionally say “Oriental’ as a slur or condescending remark. It was said innocently out of ignorance. He understood. I asked him if he would be watching the next game we televised. He said he would. He was a huge baseball fan and was complimentary of our telecasts on the MSG Network. I asked if he would please watch and listen in the top of the 4th inning. He said he would. I took the opportunity to clear up the Oriental/Asian situation.
...So, I’lll be keeping a close eye on Yu Darvish and see if he is finally the one to be able to challenge and dominate our bigger, more powerful big league hitters. For his and the Rangers’ sake, I hope he does. It will be good for the game and the Rangers profit and loss statement!
We release things drip by drip…and when I have my sewer bonds settlement statements ready for this year, I’ll release them!
Stuck at the unfortunate end of the debt-clogged sewer system of Jefferson County, Ala., you’ll find Houston Astros owner Jim Crane.
Fresh into his takeover of the Texas baseball team, Crane has been ordered by a bankruptcy judge to reveal details of his settlement with J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. over $35 million worth of sewer bonds that he bought from the investment bank four years ago—a personal investment that quickly turned to, er, garbage.
Those dirty details, which are not public, are what Jefferson County attorney are seeking amid their own fight with the bank over the complicated series of dealings that, with a little help from a corruption scheme that ensnared the county’s top elected leaders, left the county swimming in a pool of toxic debt.
Ultimately, the county—Alabama’s most populous with roughly 658,000 residents—filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection, marking the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.
Crane said he got stuck with a bum deal, too, according to court documents filed in Texas state court.
If you heard a loud thumping noise a few minutes ago, that wasn’t your imagination. It was me bashing my head against the desk as I was reading Dan Shaughnessy’s latest opus. Like all Shaughnessy articles, he channels his most emotional nerves to convince us that the Red Sox ownership (or whomever his target du jour might be) is wronging us. That their “cheap” ways are depriving us of a championship that we’re entitled to experiencing. Clearly, he does it for attention and notoriety, and perhaps we should all be immune to his shtick by now. For some reason, I can’t let go.
...Terry Francona, Theo Epstein, Jonathan Papelbon, and Heidi Watney are all gone, and we just learned that Carl Crawford had surgery on his wrist, which isn’t going to make things easier for his big bounce-back season.
I can live with all of the above – even if we won’t have J.D. Drew to kick around anymore – but I can’t stand talk about payroll limits and luxury tax obligations.
While Heidi Watney’s presence will be missed, I’m not sure how this will impact the team’s on field performance. If anything, I think the horny old baseball writers, like Shaughnessy, will be the ones missing her most of all.
Crawford’s wrist injury probably won’t make his bounce back season any easier, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be successful. The good news is that only the cartilege was torn in the wrist. Had he broken a bone, the outlook on his season would’ve been much less rosy. Recovery from such a procedure typically lasts 6-8 weeks, which would put him about 2-4 weeks behind in terms of Spring Training readiness. He seems to be a pretty quick healer, so he could be back even sooner. I don’t see any reason to panic until we’re given an actually reason to do so.
Adds Maury…“Pass the popcorn. The static’s on (again)”
File this one in the “broken record” department: prepare for yet another season of MLB’s blackout policy remaining in place.
The reason for the broken record? This story has been written repeatedly for years. A source at MLB said that for all practical purposes, the matter will likely not be addressed for the upcoming season.
For the uninitiated, the question is, “Why should I be concerned?” That depends on whether you are, or planning to, purchase MLB Extra Innings or subscribe to MLB.TV.
In a nutshell, there are two ways you can be hit with the “blackout blues”. National broadcast partners FOX and ESPN have exclusivity agreements in which no matter where you live, games are blacked out on MLB Extra Innings and MLB.TV.
...And about the national blackout policy, any chance that happens soon? In speaking with sources close to the matter, when asked if the possibility it won’t be considered until contracts are renewed with ESPN and FOX, the reply was, “Probably.”
And if the Rangers aren’t going to sign Fielder, the Nationals have to be considered the frontrunner now. Who else is there? Any team planning to make a stealth run at him probably would not have risked waiting until late January to make its move. The Brewers and Mariners have been on the periphery, but not as involved as the Nationals. You never know, but it looks like the Fielder sweepstakes is the Nationals’ to lose.
The process has been fascinating, and it looks for now as if the Nationals have played it perfectly. They held firm at their price for Fielder, and with the apparent (and stunning) relative lack of interest in one of baseball’s great sluggers, the market has come to them. They let agent Scott Boras dictate the terms of the Jayson Werth negotiations last winter. The Lerners struck back this time. Or at least that’s the appearance right now.
In the background of their discussions with Fielder lies the Nationals’ under-construction television deal with MASN. Like the Rangers, the Nationals could soon be expecting more cash from their rights fees. The details are few, but the stakes are explained in the story from today’s paper, with help from Chuck Greenberg, an architect of the Rangers’ massive TV deal.
The Nationals, experts say, can expect enough new revenue from their renegotiated rights fees to pay for Fielder’s potential contract – and then some. Andrew Zimbalist, an economics professor and sports business expert, said signing Fielder could enhance the Nationals’ argument for higher rights fees from MASN.
“I think it would,” Zimbalist said. “Somebody like Fielder offers the possibility of not only the team being more competitive, but generating excitement in his own right.”
Brian Evans should have made the Basketball Hall of Fame before Jim Rice made the…huh? wha??
Boston Red Sox legend Jim Rice, a member of The Baseball Hall of Fame, has just completed a new TV commercial which will promote the new single “At Fenway,” now on sale at Best Buy and Amazon.com.
The song, written and recorded by crooner Brian Evans, was produced by multiple Grammy Award winning producer Narada Michael Walden…
After debuting at #3 on Amazon.com, astonishing given the single was released in November, during football season, the commercial was filmed last Monday at The Groveland Diner in Groveland, Massachusetts.
...“Red Sox Nation is everywhere. This has truly been a D2F (Direct to Fan) campaign at this point, and we’re blown away at the response to the song,” says Evans.
ESPN will air some non-Tebow related programming this summer.
ESPN also will show the opening-night telecast on April 4 between the Cardinals and Miami at the new Marlins Park.
Former Red Sox manager Terry Francona will debut in the Sunday night booth alongside play-by-play commentator Dan Shulman and analyst Orel Hershiser. Play-by-play man Jon Sciambi and analyst Chris Singleton again will call the games on ESPN Radio…..
April 8 ChiSox at Rangers
April 15 Angels at Yankees
April 22 Yankees at Red Sox
April 29 Rays at Rangers
May 6 Phillies at Nationals
May 13 Angels at Rangers
May 20 Cardinals at Dodgers
May 27 Nationals at Braves
June 3-July 1 TBD
July 8 Yankees at Red Sox
July 15 Cardinals at Reds
July 22-Sept. 23 TBD
As I said yesterday…“The ONLY downside to Clubhouse Confidential is the nightly commercial for Intentional Talk.”
I’ll be appearing on Clubhouse Confidential on the MLB Network. We are taping this afternoon and I’m pretty sure it will be broadcast tonight. The show typically airs 5:30pm and 7:30pm ET and then probably 8 more times after that. We’ll be talking baseball-reference.com and some other stuff.
I’m looking forward to meeting their crew and I’ve been incredibly impressed with how they are promoting sabermetrics on the show. If you are a stathead, it is time well spent.
“This is not a vanity project” The Chakram Bullshiit Launcher is fully loaded, sir!
Schilling is, and has been for the past 31 years, a gamer. He honed his controller skills on an Intellivision video game system. His first favorite game was - surprise - “Major League Baseball.”
“I was at the right age for consoles, when ‘Pong’ was the ‘Need For Speed’ of the day,” Schilling said. “(‘Major League Baseball’) was like the greatest baseball game ever. If you had a consistent playing partner like they do in ‘Starcraft’ now, every game was 1-0, and you had to hit a home run down the left field line.”
...Schilling is now the chairman and founder of 38 Studios, a video game company that is getting set to release its first title, “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning,” on February 7.
“Gaming, outside of the Lord, baseball and my family, was always my thing,” he said. “I took this very much as I did my baseball career. I scouted the industry for about five or six years, and I took notes and I went to a lot of lunches and a lot of meetings with people that were in the industry and just get a feel for what I was up against.”
...“I’m a very routine-oriented guy. Deep down inside the game dev process, there is that routine, but the wins and losses are much farther between. And they are different. When you win a game against the Yankees on Monday and it’s on ESPN and all over in the newspapers, there is immediate instant feedback. This is very different. You have to find wins and losses in different ways.”
“I don’t miss anything I did for a living. I was born to do it for a long, long time. The things I got to see and be a part of, I’ll be forever grateful, but I’m looking for the new schedule, the new playing field, the new World Series. That’s been the challenge is to find where and when and how those things happen here.”
I would take a mutant like Josh Clay over Wayne Hagin…but I will settle for Josh Lewin.
According to Newsday’s Neil Best, “Josh Lewin has emerged as the leading candidate to replace Wayne Hagin alongside Howie Rose in the Mets’ radio booth.”
Last month, Mike Puma of the New York Post said WFAN recently auditioned Jim Duquette for a spot in the Mets radio booth, since “Wayne Hagin is not expected to return.” According to the report, Billy Sample, WFAN reporter Ed Coleman and SNY host Chris Carlin were also being considered.
Creamer: His Life and Times. Terrific interview with Womack. (answers shortened here to save site/brain from exploding)
Who’s the greatest baseball player you covered?
Willie Mays. Period.
I seem to remember that Bill James, using his fabulous, desiccated statistics, demonstrated that Mickey Mantle, who was Willie’s almost exact contemporary, was actually the better player, and I’m not equipped to argue with Bill, although I’ll try. And there are DiMaggio, Williams, Musial, Barry Bonds, Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez – no, wait. I didn’t cover DiMaggio, who retired after the 1951 season — I didn’t start with Sports Illustrated until 1954. But that’s still a pretty impressive collection of players to put Willie on top of.
You’ve written biographies on Casey Stengel and Babe Ruth. If steroids had been a part of the game when Stengel and Ruth were players, do you think they would have used?
Sure. Yes. Absolutely. Hell, for decades before the big scandal about steroids in baseball, clubhouses used to have plates or dishes filled with little candy-like pills players gulped or chewed on routinely. My mind is gone – I forget what they were called.. Uppers? Bennies? I can’t recall. But that was standard. Athletes are always looking for an edge and that was a way to get them fired up. I have never been as upset by steroid use as the moralistic holier-than-thou baseball writers who vote on the Hall of Fame. What a bunch of self-important phonies!
I mean, you’d think all an ordinary player would have to do is take steroids to hit 70 home runs or bat .350. But I think McGwire was telling the truth — he took steroids to hold back distress, to make him physically able to play the game. Steroids don’t make a player good. Think of the hundreds, even thousands of players who have been in and out of the major leagues and who may have dabbled in steroids and think how few have hit 50, let alone 60 or 70 homers.
Want to out that fantasy app you’ve been developing in your mom’s basement out there? Now’s your chance:
CBS Corp., in a move aimed at boosting its share of the nearly billion-dollar fantasy-sports business, is opening up its CBS Sports website so outside developers can create apps geared toward fantasy enthusiasts.
Former Tigers pitcher Jack Morris was named on the second-most ballots - nearly 67 percent.
In the aftermath, Peter Gammons, one of the preeminent baseball writers of all time, talked on MLB Network about how he put Morris on the ballot the first three years he was eligible, but stopped because another baseball writer had displayed extensive statistical proof to him that Morris’ 3.90 ERA was “not because he pitched to the score” but rather because he lost a lot of leads.
Right then I decided this coming year, the first time they are eligible for election to the Hall of Fame, I am not voting for Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens or Sammy Sosa.
...Gammons said Bagwell is like a hockey player (whatever that means) and was one of those 10-to-12 hour per day in the weight room guys, who lost weight later in his career (ala Pudge Rodriguez) because he had a shoulder injury that prevented him from lifting. It’s the type of thinking that was prevalent from many baseball writers during the steroids era. Always buying the story. Unfortunately, I was one of them. I’d like to think I’ve learned my lesson.
...But if Hall voters are going to be so picky about the career ERA of Jack Morris, why not about possible PED use?
I strongly feel this: If Morris gets in, it will still be the Hall of Fame.
If Bonds, Clemens and Sosa are inducted, it would become
(Yanks out Rogers’ Dictionary of Cliches ~ Looks for entry form)
USA Today baseball writer Bob Nightengale joined KESN-FM’s Galloway & Co. last week to discuss the Rangers’ meeting with Prince Fielder. Here are some highlights:
On who will sign Prince Fielder:
I think Texas. Texas has never gone away from this thing. I think they want to put a stranglehold on the division and what the Angels just did with C.J. Wilson and Pujols, they answer back with this and once again they’re the favorites and could be the favorites for a long time. And I think if you sign Prince Fielder, you’re guaranteed to get three million fans, as well.
On how good Fielder could be with the Rangers:
The sky’s the limit. I think a minimum of 50 or 60 home runs. Not just in that ballpark, but with the protection in that lineup, surrounded by everybody. And you’ve got money coming off the books too, so it’s really going to help the Rangers when you’ve got Young coming off the books and those types of guys. But I think by pure numbers, he’d be the number one hitter in all of baseball by a mile. I think he would be Juan Gonzalez all over again.
(bullet) MLB should have a minimum payroll. It would require all teams to at least attempt to be somewhat competitive, and fairness is an issue. For instance, how much of an advantage will the Angels and Rangers have in the wild-card race because they have 19 games each against Oakland?
(bullet) According to Bill James’ projections, the Athletics’ most productive hitter next season will be DH Brandon Allen, with a slash line of .243/.327/.449, 22 home runs and 71 RBIs.
(bullet) Melvin is a major upgrade in the dugout, probably the best manager they’ve had since Tony La Russa (although Art Howe was much better than the movie’s portrayal by Philip Seymour Hoffman suggests).
(bullet) MLB scoffs at Forbes’ projections, but they’re the best available.
(bullet) Wolff is very close to Selig, but so far that does not appear to have gained him any advantages.
(bullitt) There are bad writers and there are good writers - and then there’s Rogers.
The deleted scene in question features Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) discussing the team’s relief pitchers with field manager Art Howe (Philip Seymour Hoffman). The two butt heads several times in the film, as Beane recommends fielding undervalued, unorthodox players over the objections of the more conservative Howe.
This time he’s singing the praises of Chad Bradford over Mike Magnante. He concludes his own pitch by telling Howe to bring Bradford out of the bullpen no matter what. “If we’re in, let’s say to make it easier on you, any situation. OK? Righty, lefty, two outs, one out, the umpires want to finish the game throwing darts … Bradford!”
It’s no surprise, however, when Howe does the opposite. Magnante promptly gives up a home run, and the crowd boos lustily. Beane then makes a rare (and illegal) trip to the dugout during the game to tell Howe what a costly f-you that was, and adds: “Those boos; they’re for you. Drink up.”
It’s a clever scene, probably cut only because we see so much sniping between Beane and Howe that their animosity is already clear.