An entirely NEW way to watch the Nationals lose!
Well, sort of.
For Christmas, alms-giving people that we are, my wife and I purchased iPod Touches. Not for family or friends or our neighbors or the less fortunate, mind you, but for ourselves; I guess that's the mechanics of it, since we got them for each other. I got hers and she got mine -- and that's not even true since I was sick the weekend we bought them, so she ended up going to the Apple Store by herself. But at least we waited until Christmas day to open them. "Oh hey, what a surprise!"
A few months have passed, which is ample time for me to report that an iPod Touch is also great for:
a) checking out utterly pointless stuff on Twitter, such as how long it takes Ryan Hannigan to round the bases after homering;
b) deciding you don't care how long it takes anyone to do a home run trot; and
c) watching actual baseball.
That last one was a rather serendipitous occurrence from the other night when, in the midst of recompensing for inflicting the better half to far too many hours of March Madness, I decided on a whim to pony up for the MLB app. My intention was just to follow some box scores on the sly, but the reward was slamming, entirely unknowingly, into a whole bunch of free baseball. Thank you, Volvo!
In the past few days, among other things, I've seen Trevor Cahill pump himself up for a first pitch, heard Vin Scully do his thing, and witnessed Evan Meek screw the pooch. I've been exposed to a lot of baseball, pretty much all I'd ever want out of the experience of viewing MLB games on a 3-inch or whatever screen -- except, of course, no Washington Nationals. They're blacked out.
At first, the blackout process seems innocuous -- pleasant, even. A little prompt comes up on the screen asking if you mind if MLB determines where you are in the world. That's a little Orwellian, but at least the request is phrased nicely. Then, to illustrate how special you are, you're sent to a screen where your location is depicted as a nice bold circle smack in the dab of your geographic region. And, most of the time, you're congratulated for residing in a perfectly cromulent -- no, a great! -- place. Except for when you're . . .
Not that I'm complaining; I'm only blacked out of games involving two specific teams. They're the two teams I'd be most inclined to follow, mind you, but it's only two teams. At least I don't live in Nevada, or Tennessee, or wherever it is that is the epicenter of the blackout rules. Jeff Passan should report live from there someday, just to give us an even fuller accounting of the carnage.
But, you know, I am complaining. Sure, it's a complicated enough subject that "Just end the blackouts already, Budzilla!" isn't a sufficiently persuasive rhetorical flourish. You've got 30 different teams, each with their own little fiefdoms, and those 30 teams have entered into 30 different contracts with 30 different carriers, and sometimes the team is different than the carrier and sometimes the difference between the team and the carrier is no more than a legal fiction, but no matter what you've got a local carrier that is selling advertising time in its local broadcasts, and when everbody grabs a piece of a pie everybody can get quite messy. (Let's pretend that the preceding sentence applies to the Nationals in more than a minority interest sense.)
I know only the bare essentials of this topic, but the teams sell their TV rights based on how many people are around to watch their games, and the carrier sets its ad rates based on the demographics of the coverage area, and this system isn't robust enough to account for some chucklehead in Des Moines who wants to flip on oh, let's say, a Brewers game for a couple of innings.
However, if the chucklehead from Des Moines really wants to check out that Brewers game, he should be permitted the opportunity to do so, at a cost. Similarly, if I want to watch the Nationals game on my iPod Touch -- if I really, really want to do so -- I'll pay for it. That is to say, I'll pay extra, above the baseline MLB.tv subscription, as a "tax" to defray the hardship to MASN for watching the Nationals other than by watching the Nationals on MASN on my television.
Or should I say our television -- which reminds me of why I'd consider paying an additional fee for watching the Nationals on a separate device. Anyway, this solution is hardly a novel idea, and I'd have to think that Commissioner Selig has "top men" working on it now.
Of course, sorting out how to sort out millions and millions and millions of dollars would take some time, and taking some time is a theme of Selig's activities -- whether selecting a new hairstyle or deciding what is to be done with the Athletics. But I'd just like to put it out there that I'd certainly consider paying the standard MLB.tv rate plus a Nationals-specific viewing fee, right now, and that's keeping in mind that the Nats aren't really any good at the moment. My motivation might be even higher when they become good, and whenever they do become good I'd appreciate having the same opportunity to watch them on my iPod as that chucklehead from Des Moines would.
As for now, though, I suppose I can settle for enjoying free April baseball on my iPod, even if it doesn't involve the Nationals.