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The Chicago Cubs Are On The Air!

The Cubs yesterday announced their 2006 television schedule. (link opens .pdf file)

It breaks down this way: 72 games on WGN, 72 on CSN Chicago, eight on WCIU and eight on the Fox network.

Now, if you live outside the Chicago metro area and thus cannot get WCIU and may be shut out of the eight Fox telecasts, depending on where you are located, consider this:

When I was a kid in the '60s, WGN was the only TV outlet -- and while they carried a game nearly every day, they carried both Cubs and White Sox games. In general, only HOME games of both teams were televised -- road games, particularly road night games, were a once- or twice-a-year rare treat.

Even beginning in 1968, when the White Sox foolishly left WGN (foolishly from their standpoint, because they went to the then hard-to-get UHF station WFLD and thus, became the lower-profile team in the city) and WGN became exclusively a Cub TV station (a situation not changed again till the 1990's), not every game was routinely televised. In general, through the 1970's, WGN did about 144 games a year. West Coast night games and games from places like Montreal, where at the time it cost MORE to send a crew there (example: in the late 1970's, the Canadian dollar was worth MORE than $1 US), were, in many years, not televised at all.

So now that we have satellite delivery, digital cable, MLB Extra Innings and other means of instant gratification, yes, it may seem unfair to miss 10% of the Cubs' TV schedule. And it IS stupid and shortsighted of MLB to not put the Fox games, at least, on Extra Innings. Further, if you're outside Chicago, you won't necessarily miss the WCIU games. For example, the April 24 game, a WCIU game, is also being carried by ESPN. There will likely be other such games later in the year; the two already-scheduled ESPNcasts are the two Sunday night home games, April 9 vs. St. Louis and July 16 vs. New York.

Rant over, you'll be pleased to know that both the season opener April 3 at Cincinnati, and the home opener April 7 vs. St. Louis, will be on WGN. There have been bitter complaints in recent years about having these opening games not available to a national audience, and I think the Cubs have reacted to that positively.

The release of the TV schedule, on the coldest day in Chicago in two years, means we're that much closer to spring. Stay warm and think baseball.