Well, friends, at 1:10 PM today, the Florida Marlins will make their 2010 season debut in beautifully renovated (after only one year) Citi Field against our NL East foes, the New York Mets, and I won't be able to watch it.
The geniuses over at MLB headquarters decided to schedule practically every opening day game this season in the afternoon. Now this is nothing new, and in fact, I rather enjoy the concept. It's an excuse for business men and women all over the country to sneak off to catch a ball game on a beautiful day, or for dads to pull their sons out of school and allow them to experience a shiny, hopeful start to a long season without worrying about getting home too late. My father and I make it a point to close the office early each opening day and take all our employees to the game. But for those of us that are not privy to the home field advantage of opening day baseball, we are left high to dry.
You see, the brilliant minds over at MLB who really do such a wonderful job managing the league, decided to work a deal with Fox Sports and other TV providers, giving them exclusive blackout restrictions for intra-market viewing. Combine that with the really cool service offered by MLB.tv, and that means that for those of us at work with no access to a TV, but might even have an MLB.tv subscription, we STILL cannot watch our home team play on opening day!
And on this I call BULL! Opening day is supposed to be a time where the whole country roots for their home team, and a large majority of Marlins fans support their team via television broadcasts. My whole disdain for online blackout restrictions will someday be the topic of another article, but for now I say, why not open opening day up to online viewing anywhere, with NO blackout? Open the MLB.tv service to everyone for free just on opening day. Think of all the potential subscribers the MLB can gain by giving them a sampling of their awesome service to those viewers who would have never thought to pay the premium price of $170 for a season’s worth of catching multiple games at once.
All the MLB needs to do is to look at the numbers generated by CBS sports who, with their partnership with NCAA, broadcasts every March Madness tournament game for free online with no blackout restrictions. Now I really don't know how much of a money maker this is for CBS or the NCAA, but think of the press that would be generated for MLB if they did this. And think of how many fans would enjoy the goodwill and spirit associated with presenting a free Opening Day game for everyone?
And just a word for all those who will say, "But Jesse, you could always listen to the game on the radio." Yes that's true, if you work in a building that doesn't make AM radio sound like a bunch of static. And you could always listen to the radio broadcast on the MLB.TV service either through your computer or your iPhone, but there is something magical about watching your favorite team take the crisp, clean cut grass on a bright, sunny afternoon that I wouldn't want to miss for all the color commentary in the world.