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Tag Archives: Baseball

Big series this past weekend for the Dodgers. Fortunes turned up well for the Dodgers, who took two out of three from the reeling Giants.

The not-so-great part? Trying to watch the games on the blasted television. The Friday and Saturday games were carried nationally in HD on the MLB Network, and were carried locally (in the Giants’ market) in HD and over-the-air on NBC 14 (KNTV).

Sacramento also appears to have access to Giants’ broadcasts on KNTV via their CW affiliate, KMAX. Oddly, KMAX/CW is a duopoly belonging to CBS affiliate KOVR. KMAX, and thus CBS, carries the Giants’ broadcast unedited. This means that KNTV (NBC) logos are all over the graphics, and KNTV’s sports director (who works a sideline reporter during Giants’ broadcasts) Raj Mathai appears on their network.

No idea if KMAX comes in HD, but I’d have to assume yes since the locals broadcast in HD in Sacramento. WTF?!?

So let’s summarize:

Live in the San Francisco viewing market: watch on KNTV (NBC)
Live in the Sacramento viewing market: watch on KMAX (CW/CBS)
Live anywhere outside of Los Angeles/San Francisco/Sacramento: watch on MLB Network.

Live elsewhere, but still in Giants’ viewing territory (e.g. southern Oregon, northern Nevada): watch on a regional sports network that your cable/satellite provider presumably carries. If the game is OTA, or your provider doesn’t/can’t carry the correct RSN? You’re SOL.

Confusing enough for you? It gets better. I have access to MLB.TV, but not MLB Extra Innings. Not that either would matter — since I live in Giants territory, I’m blacked out in both instances.

I have DirecTV, which doesn’t carry our locals in HD. It also doesn’t carry our local My Network affiliate, which carries certain Giants games — using the OTA KNTV feed (which originates in San Jose). Instead, DirecTV provides our market with CW/My Network programming via Sacramento’s KMAX. KMAX, again, carries Giants games in Sacramento using the KNTV feed.

And of course, although DirecTV has access to not only an HD feed via KNTV, but also presumably carries KMAX in HD as well. Yet, locally, here, they provide viewers with an SD feed of the game. I suppose this is understandable, given that officially, DirecTV doesn’t broadcast our locals in HD — the locals do broadcast in HD, DirecTV just hasn’t added them.

But what’s infuriating is that KMAX ISN’T a local here. Although it isn’t a local, it plays the part of one. And even though they (presumably) broadcast in HD, DirecTV doesn’t carry our locals in HD. Does any of this begin to make any sense?

Fortunately, since Comcast SN-Bay Area (which is available here) carried Sunday’s game in HD, so we were at least able to watch that. I assume we would’ve also been blacked out of the national TBS HD broadcast of the same game.

Even better? Since we’re also blacked out of A’s games, you’d assume DirecTV would provide Comcast SN-California, right? No such luck. So even living in A’s territory, and thus blacked out via MLB.TV/EI, there is no local broadcast of A’s games here.

Of course, this hasn’t even touched on the lunacy of Comcast SN-Northwest also not being carried by DirecTV locally, thus locking out most of the state from viewing UO and Blazer games.

As has been touched on in so many other places, MLB’s blackout rules are beyond archaic. They’re just flat-out stupid. Since your typical MLB owner is obviously focused on increasing revenue, you’d think they’d follow a simple maxim of making sure as many viewers as possible are watching your team.

I live in Giants territory, yet I don’t have access to all of the best feeds available for this team. Often, I’m forced to relinquish better national feeds in favor of worse local feeds. How does this make any sense, for either DirecTV or MLB?

No, not the Beach Boy. The guy who Casey Blake hit a HR off Sunday. The guy who does that weird crossed-arms “X” thing after he closes out a game.

This guy:

wilson

So as it turns out, Mr. Wilson was pretty irritated about Casey Blake doing this, after hitting the HR off him.

blake

Considering Blake doesn’t exactly have the reputation of being a troublemaker, you’re left to assume that this was merely an immature demonstrative gesture in response to another immature demonstrative gesture. In other words, I doubt Blake would’ve bothered if he’d known what exactly the gesture’s all about.

Here’s some advice Brian. If you don’t want people getting irritated at what appears to be an immature demonstrative gesture, then 1. either don’t do it in the first place, or 2. don’t be so tight-lipped about what it means.

I don’t think anyone is ridiculing Brian Wilson’s faith. In fact, I’d go so far to say that sport is one of the few places where most people don’t mind outward displays of faith.

You know what though, Brian? Don’t stop giving glory to God. Just be a little more mindful of how you do it, and how it’s going to be perceived. Don’t be such a Pharisee, you know, with the flamboyant, outward displays and all.

Most of all, I know it’ll probably disappoint the Giant faithful, but don’t forget about the meek inheriting the earth, and turning the other cheek.

Does a tree falling in a forest make a sound if there’s no one there to hear it?

canseco

Jose Canseco called a press conference in Beverly Hills yesterday soon after the Manny Ramirez story broke. The point was basically for him to say “I told you so,” which is fine, he did tell us so, and to complain (again) about MLB’s conspiracy against him. As you can see, there were plenty of good seats still available (via the SportingNews.com)

Jose, I don’t think anyone is naive enough to deny there were/are many, many ballplayers on the juice. Just don’t fool yourself into thinking anyone wants to continue to hear from a self-aggrandizer who’s convinced this whistle-blowing campaign means anything in the grand scheme of things.

In fact, the more superstars we expose as juicers, the less weight the argument that juicers had this undeniable advantage against the rest of the field. Everyone from Endy Chavez to Eric Gagne to Barry Bonds is suspected (if not exposed outright) of juicing. In other words, it’s pretty likely that just about everyone is/was juicing.

Maybe it’s time to let go of the crusade. Trying to get a leg up on your competition isn’t something exclusive to modern baseball. And get this — there are some sports where ultimately, it doesn’t matter (ahem, NFL).

On a day such as today, you can’t help but think of the old cliche, “you can’t win them all.”

And then the Dodgers go out and do just that, losing the Nationals in spite of holding a six-run lead at one point. This, without their dreadlocked leader, whose suspension began today.

I don’t think it’s fair to say every baseball player is on the juice. I also don’t think it’s fair to say most baseball players aren’t on the juice. I’d be incredibly surprised if an overwhelming majority of ballplayers weren’t guilty of using some sort of peformance-enhancing chemical, legal or not.

Of course, that doesn’t justify using them, particularly illegal drugs. But what confuses me greatly is the rather high, if not absurdly standard of purity that we insist baseball players maintain. Yet, when any other athlete does it, like say, Shawne Merriman, we figure it’s part of the game, right?

Our culture voraciously consumes all manner of performance-enhancing drugs. For crying out loud, Viagra is a Major League Baseball sponsor! There isn’t any ailment (or non-ailment, for that matter) that can’t be addressed with yet another magical pill.

And yet we react with sanctimony and high piety and righteousness when someone decides to … pop a pill or three? Sports “nutrition” is a standalone industry, with GNC stores everywhere, and we’re surprised that someone wants something to put a little pep in his … whatever Manny needed these pills for.

When its millions of dollars at stake, why are we so surprised that the competitors are doing everything they can to get a leg up on the competition?

Cheating is always wrong. But it’s superbly hypocritical of all of us — as a society and as baseball fans — for us to thumb our noses at Manny and what he did, at A-Rod, Giambi, McGwire, et. al. — when we accept it as part of our culture.

While we may not resort to using female fertility drugs, who among us can cast stones when we resort to stomach stapling, ephedra, and Hydroxycut when it comes to losing weight? Really, who among us is really doing things “the way they ought to be,” o.k.a. “the right way?”

I am honest when I say I don’t care. I didn’t care when McGwire and Sosa were under the spotlight. I didn’t care when it was Bonds. I still don’t care now that it’s A-Rod and Manny. And if it’s ever Pujols, I still won’t care.

Why?

The game is still just that. People can do what they want to get a leg up on the competition. We’re fools if we think that there’s ever been “purity” in the sense that ballplayers wouldn’t try something to make them better, if they knew they would get away with it. The only difference is that today’s greenies are far more sophisticated, and they’ll continue to be that way. HCG may be illegal today, but I guarantee there’ll be something else they’ll be using, and something else after that.

So inevitably, yes, it is part of the game; as much as it is part of our culture.

The Good: Matt Kemp, James Loney, and Andre Ethier all had a great series against the Padres. Eric Stults getting another chance to start.

The Bad: Russell Martin, Manny Ramirez, Rafael Furcal, and Orlando Hudson didn’t. Hiroki Kuroda getting injured.

The Ugly: Good grief! I know young pitchers struggle with their control, but to see Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, and James McDonald do what they did three games in a row was excruciating. Granted, I figure Billingsley will get it going sooner or later. But as for Kershaw and McDonald? Not the greatest way to start the season.

At some point, both of these guys simply need to trust their ability to pitch and not worry so much. McDonald’s body language belied that of a confident pitcher. He was fidgety, and his mechanics appeared off after he loaded the bases the first time. At some point, you wish Brad Ausmus would’ve gone out there to tell him to slow down, go back to a windup, and just pitch. After all, isn’t his handling of pitchers the reason the Dodgers went with him and not Danny Ardoin as a backup catcher?

It was nice to be able to actually see all of this week’s games, less the the two we missed while on the road. I love it when DirecTV offers a free preview of MLB Extra Innings, and I love it even more when they don’t block you from recording any of the preview games, as they did last year.

Things to look forward to — or should I say, eventual eBay purchases?

How about a Russell Martin MacFarlane figure, and a Manny Ramirez bobblehead.

martin

mannyEven though Manny’s been here less than a year, and probably won’t be here longer than a year and a half, clearly he would get his own bobblehead — not just from the Dodgers but from the Albuquerque Isotopes as well. But Casey Blake? Really, the Dodgers marketing department thought better of giving Blake a bobblehead before, I don’t know, Billingsley, Kemp, Ethier, or Broxton?

Finally, thoughts and prayers to the Adenhart family and the Anaheim Angels. What made that particular tragedy strike particularly close to home was the fact that I had traveled that particular intersection (where Adenhart’s vehicle was struck) many, many times at that same hour, and I still have family in the area that do as well.

Hundreds, if not thousands (sadly) of people die yearly at the hands of such wildly irresponsible drivers such as Andrew Gallo, and we never hear about it. It’s sad and unfortunate that it takes a (semi) celebrity to die for us to even consider talking about the senselessness of not only drunk driving, but a legal system powerless to do anything more than slap a repeat offender on the wrist — which ultimately, what license suspension amounts to.

How ought we fix it? I don’t know, but I wish it didn’t require innocent people dying for the issue to come to the forefront.

I had an unexpected day off today, so I thought I’d kill some time at the local card source. I was hoping to find some deals — specifically, I was hoping that 07 Topps 52 packs would’ve been marked down by now. Unfortunately, nothing of the sort was there. There were a few random markdowns — 07 Ultra, 07 Topps Update, 08 Topps fat packs — but nothing that really caught my eye.

For a second, I even conidered something high-end, as there were mini-boxes of 07 Bowman Sterling for $20. I fought the wax-ripping urge, and boy, was it strong. I even pondered buying Garbage Pail Kids, or even Obama cards. But I fought it off; and it’s probably one of the few times I went in there without spending a penny.

All this to say I cannot wait for the 2009 product to come out. I’m eagerly awaiting putting together the Topps set, and I have enough spare change I may even contemplate putting together the Upper Deck set.

This is a strange time of year. It seems like only yesterday when Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena were wishing for a miracle; when Manny was picking curveballs from his shoetops and launching them into the Wrigley Field bleachers. Knowing that pitchers and catchers report in a little more than two weeks is making me salivate at the thought of baseball. And the little tidbits — the MLB network, 2009 baseball cards — oh how they tantalize the senses.

I’m sure most have read this, but I feel it’s poignant….

It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops.

– former MLB commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti, The Green Fields of the Mind

p.s. Manny needs to sign with the Dodgers already. Scott Boras’ game of chicken is getting tiresome.

A day late, but the sentiment is the same. Congratulations Mr. Henderson on making it into the Hall of Fame.

rickey

(here’s Rickey pondering his next at-bat, just how Night Owl likes them)

As you know, Rickey ended his MLB career in 2003 with the Dodgers. Admittedly, when then-GM Dan Evans picked him up, I was quite disappointed. The Dodgers were tied for 1st in the NL West as recently as June 22nd, but were fading fast. By July 14th, they were in 3rd, 7.5 games out. The Dodgers needed some offensive punch, not to mention a leadoff hitter who could get on base. The trio of Dave Roberts, Alex Cora, and Cesar Izturis just wasn’t cutting it.

So, as awesome a career as Rickey had, he certainly wasn’t what I figured the Dodgers would get to. Nor was the trade for Jeromy Burnitz two weeks later.

In the end, it didn’t matter, as Rickey rode off into the sunset, and the Dodgers finished 15.5 games out of first place.

I thought about it last night, but in all the games I saw in person in 2003, I don’t believe Rickey ever was in the lineup. Could very well have been, but that summer was rather momentuous for me, and I didn’t get to many more games after mid-season or so.

Which led me to think — how many future HOFers have I seen play in person? Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, Gary Sheffield, and Barry Bonds (well, should be a future HOFer) come to mind. But I don’t think I ever saw Trevor Hoffman close one out for the Padres (on that note, I never once saw Eric Gagne close out a game in person), nor did I ever see Tom Glavine, Pedro Martinez, Mark McGwire, Alex Rodriguez,  Albert Pujols, or Manny Ramirez for that matter.

Fortunately, I still have plenty of time to see the last three in action — with the third preferably still wearing Dodger blue. I rarely get to see MLB games in person now, but I do plan on being more mindful when it’s future HOFers we’re talking about.