There was much discussion on this site yesterday in dfrancon's FanPost about various blackouts that were, inexplicably, in place during yesterday's Opening Day telecast of the Cubs/Astros game. (I presume similar blackouts were in effect for other games, but I have no direct evidence of such.)
Maury Brown of Biz of Baseball, who has written intelligently on this topic many times, posted again today on the subject, quoting MLB's blackout rules:
* Local Live Blackout: ALL LIVE MLB.TV games will be blacked out in each applicable Club's home television territory (except for certain home television territories for which MLB.com may offer in-market subscription services) or in Japan.
* National Live Blackout (Regular Season): Due to Major League Baseball national exclusivities, each Saturday until 7:00 PM EST (beginning May 17, 2008 and continuing for remaining Saturdays during the regular season) and each Sunday night (for games that begin after 5:00 PM EST), all scheduled webcasts of games played within such time period will be blacked out.
* National Live Blackout (Post Season): Due to Major League Baseball national exclusivities, during the MLB postseason, if you live within the following nations or territories, webcasts of all postseason games will be blacked out: United States, Canada, Guam, US Virgin Islands, South Korea and Japan.
* NOTE: Due to broadcast restrictions, new MLB.TV and Condensed Game archives are limited to a playing time of five minutes in duration until 6 am ET on the day following that on which the applicable game commenced play.
These rules have been in place for several seasons, but they do not cover the situation that occurred yesterday. ESPN normally blacks out the home markets during its regular season Monday and Wednesday telecasts, but normally that's only the metropolitan area of each team, where a local cable or broadcast outlet is carrying the game. That makes sense -- it "protects" the local outlet's ratings, so they can continue to charge ad rates based on local viewership.
But there were no outlets carrying last night's game in Dallas, where dfrancon was blacked out, or in parts of Iowa, where six teams have blackout "rules" based on this idiotic map:
Why MLB continues to prevent its customers from watching its product is a mystery that will never be properly explained to me (yeah, I know, the Royals need that territory because they're not as popular as the Cubs -- but they don't carry any games in that area, and besides, they were rained out yesterday!).
It's real simple, Bud: if a fan is willing to pay to watch a game, whether it be by local cable, ESPN, MLB Extra Innings, or MLB.TV -- they should be able to do so, whether they are in Chicago, Houston, Iowa, Las Vegas, or on Mars.
There's an easy remedy, Bud. Use your "best interests of baseball" powers, for this surely IS in the best interest of baseball. Do it. Today.