A's Open The Regular Season; Fans In Bay Area Can't Watch

Opening Day should be an official holiday, but A's fans don't get to share in all of the excitement.

It takes a special kind of baseball junkie to wake up at 3:00 a.m. and watch Opening Day. Or to stay up and watch it. The start time was right in the middle of the no-sleep/early-wake spectrum for the West Coast. To watch this game, you needed to commit. There were a lot of Mariners and Athletics fans who were willing to do that.

It's Opening Day! Pomp and/or circumstance! Pageantry! Festivities! More importantly, baseball. With an event this important, I figured it was perfect for live-blogging. Here goes:

Star-divide

2:59 a.m.
Only a couple of hours sleep, but the hammock isn't electric and the cot isn't springy with regrets, hello to the unbeds of the world, hope this isn't infected, and stop. Oh, hey, is that coffee?

3:01 a.m.
Sorry about that. Better. But the liveblog is delayed because I can't find the game on TV. Funniest thing. The A's cable network isn't running it, which means that MLB Network is my only option … and they're running it on a tape delay that starts in three hours. That can't be right.

3:07 a.m.
After some googling, it turns out this is legitimate. Wow. Opening Day is not on live TV in the market for one of the participating teams.

3:10 a.m.
No worries. I'll just pull up MLB.tv. Ah, baseball.

3:11 a.m.
Says that I'm blacked out. Can't watch it live. This … has to be a mistake.

3:19 a.m.
Sent an e-mail to MLB.com, asking if I could give them more money in exchange for more of the product I've already purchased. Crossing my fingers.

3:31 a.m
I found the radio feed on an FM station, and now I'm using Starting Lineup figures to recreate the action in my living room. God, I miss baseball.

3:43 a.m.
I don't remember Walt Weiss having 63-inch biceps. I'm starting to think that these figurines are inaccurate.

3:44 a.m.
Sorry. Action figures.

3:47 a.m.
i thoght that love was fleeitng until i met u leila

3:49 a.m.
Sorry. The Jose Canseco figurine took over my computer when I was in the bathroom.

3:53 a.m.
Screw this, I'm going back to bed.

Star-divide

There are two things going on here:

1. No one gives a crap about the Oakland A's
And I'm not writing that in the ha-ha sense. I'm including Major League Baseball in this heading. The whole reason the teams are over in Japan has nothing to do with us. I can understand that. It was to expand the game's reach, to broaden the international markets. Teams were going to have to make sacrifices. Let's see, we'll bring the Mariners because of the star power of Ichiro, and … the A's because no one gives a crap.

An Opening Day without a live broadcast is unthinkable, even if it starts at 3:00 a.m. local time. But MLB doesn't care because it's the A's. And the MLB Network has no problem running the game on a tape delay after the 392nd repeat airing of 30 Clubs in 30 Days runs from 3:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. because it's the A's.

This reminds me of the Montreal Expos in 2000, when they didn't have an English-language radio deal. It's not as serious, but almost as offensive.

Note: MLB Network has reversed course for the second game, and they will air it live at 2:00 a.m. PT/5:00 a.m. ET. Quite nice.

2. MLB Blackout rules are still awful
The rules, dumbed down: Major League Baseball does not allow you to have a local broadcast streamed to your electronic box because they want you to watch the local broadcast on a different electronic box.

The blackout rules for MLB.tv and the internet broadcasts are a little more complicated than that. There are different cable providers who count on regional sports networks to bring x number of subscribers et cetera, et cetera …. Still, it shouldn't be an insurmountable problem. I would like to buy your product, Major League Baseball. I have cash. I will throw the cash at your feet. Please pick it up. I just want to watch baseball when I'm working in my office. I promise I'll keep the commercials on. I just want to watch a live feed of Opening Day like the people in Seattle. Please pick up the cash.

Okay, fine. Here's more cash. Please take it. Please let me watch your product when I don't have a television around. Please pick up the cash.

The Olympics figured out a way to handle this. You'd go to the NBC site, select your cable provider from a drop-down menu, enter some sort of code, and get the Olympics streaming on your computer. That way, the people without cable were still excluded for being poor and unfortunate, and the people with cable got to watch the product they had paid for. There is no reason that baseball can't figure something else out.

How about the MLB.tv Super Premium Plan? I'll pay an extra $40 to get in-market games every year. I provide my cable-provider information. MLB gets $20. The cable provider gets $20. If my cable subscription lapses, so does my access to in-market games. There has to be technology that makes that work. Here. Take my money. All of you. Please. I'll pay $50. Who do I make the check out to? Hello? I will go to the ... the ... post office and get a money order if that's what you want. Gold? I can get gold. Plasma? I guess I'm not using all of mine. We can make this work. Just take my money.

What a mess. The people who love baseball the most -- who are willing to readjust their life to watch the first game of the season -- are completely screwed. There's everyone else, then there's 50 feet of crap, and then there are A's fans. Way to play up Opening Day in one of the home markets, baseball. But, whatever. They're just A's fans, right?

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