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A Productive Day

Today, I accomplished a few things, most notably getting a new battery for my watch, which died yesterday. I was told by the watch repair person that my watch, a Casio DW-6100 (I have the black version) was, as that link indicates, originally issued in 1992. I'd never replaced the battery before. Pretty good for fifteen years, although I don't think I've had it quite that long.

That's pretty irrelevant, and a real stretch to say that's the sort of day the Cubs had too, winning two games in the stretch of a little over four hours of baseball time this afternoon -- first, finishing yesterday's suspended game, an 8-6 win over the Pirates (and the headline on that "recap" doesn't reflect the additional runs that were scored, but it says "8 innings", when the game was suspended in the 7th. So go figure.), and then dispatching the Pirates 7-1 in the regular afternoon game.

So the Cubs, once 7-13, have now won five of their last six and at last appear to be playing the way some of us, me in particular, thought they could:

  • Jason Marquis had yet another solid outing, and today, walked no one and struck out five, for those of you who were complaining about his BB/K ratio; he also allowed only four hits in eight innings, improving his WHIP to a ridiculous 1.034 and his ERA to 2.09. Is this likely to continue? No, but it's a damn good start. Incidentally, he's now won four games, leading the staff, and has sixty career wins, now in seventh place all-time among Jewish pitchers (ahead of him: Kenny Holtzman, Sandy Koufax, Steve Stone, Dave Roberts, Barney Pelty and Erskine Mayer, next on the list with 91, although that number can't be reached for probably at least two more years).
  • Derrek Lee reached base in his 26th consecutive game and doubled again; that's 8 straight games with doubles. He's hitting .410 and has 17 doubles already.
  • Ryan Theriot continued his hot hitting, going 3-for-4 with three runs scored and 2 RBI.
  • Alfonso Soriano, homerless in April, has now homered in each of the first two May games.
It's all good. This is the first series win since the first weekend of the season in Milwaukee, nearly a month ago, and gives the ballclub good momentum coming into a homestand against a pretty mediocre-to-poor Nationals club, and these same Pirates.

All of that said, I wanted to call your attention to this Jeff Passan column at Yahoo today. Passan, like me (and most of you), thinks MLB's arcane blackout rules are, rather than "protecting" territories, simply pissing fans off, and we all discussed this last All-Star break.

Today's Passan column says that the blackouts are going to be a main topic of discussion at the owners' executive council meeting in New York two weeks from today:

MLB president Bob DuPuy plans to officially address the blackout troubles in front of the sport's powerful executive council two weeks from today at the quarterly owners meetings in New York. How seriously the eight-man council treats the concerns will go a long way toward proving whether baseball is serious about rewriting its archaic rules or simply raising the issue to muzzle all of the fans who are not allowed to buy the product baseball is selling.

Sound familiar? Throughout spring training, when it seemed as though the Extra Innings package would be offered only on DirecTV, commissioner Bud Selig showed a haughty disregard for the fans, mocking the thousands of cable customers orphaned by the league's proposed money-grabbing exclusive deal. In the end, MLB got its promise from cable companies that they would launch the Baseball Channel in 2009, and the majority of fans now have access to every game, every night.

Well, in theory at least. The reality is much different. Some areas are blacked out from 40 percent of the games on a full schedule. No one in Iowa can watch the Brewers, Cardinals, Cubs, Royals, Twins and White Sox. Las Vegas has its own hexagon of darkness with the A's, Angels, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Giants and Padres.

(I particularly like that phrase: "hexagon of darkness". Sounds like something you'll see in the new Spider-Man movie.)

Living in the town where my team is located, I don't have this problem, as all the Cubs' televised games are available to me. But I know many of you are scattered all over the country and, in fact, in other countries than the USA, and you are affected by the very blackouts noted in Passan's quote above.

It's time for MLB to get its head out of the 1950's and realize that its fans are everywhere, and in order for it to market itself as effectively as, for example, the NFL does, the answer is very simple:

If you want to watch a baseball game -- ANY game -- and are willing to pay the asking price, you should be able to do so. Period. No ifs, ands, or buts, no matter what your zip code or IP address is.

That's not too hard to understand; I trust everyone here does.

Now let's see if the MLB suits in New York can be made to see the light.