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Open Thread: Cubs vs. Phillies, Saturday 4/12, 6:05 CT

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Knowing this will probably start a firestorm of discussion, MLB and the MLBPA reached an agreement on more stringent drug testing yesterday; as a result, no one named in the Mitchell Report will be subject to any penalties (i.e., suspensions). Further:

Friday's agreement also ensures there will never be another Mitchell report, as both sides agreed to keep players' names private until discipline is imposed in any future probe. The sides also agreed a player would be given any allegations and evidence against him before any investigatory interview.Will this do any good? Only time will tell.

Also today, Maury Brown wrote at Baseball Prospectus on the TV blackout rules, which I just wrote about last Monday. The BP article is behind their pay wall, but I thought this part of it was important:

Extra Innings had approximately 750,000 subscribers last season, according to the Sports Business Journal. That will be a small fraction of the subscriber base for the MLB Network which will see a staggering 47 million viewers--the largest cable channel launch in history. So, when Selig said a couple of years ago, "I hear more about people who can't get the game, and, yes, I've already told our people we have to do something about it," addressing the blackout policy is a case of self-preservation. Congress hasn't stuck their nose into the blackout policy (yet), but if the noise coming from fans is loud now, it will be earsplitting with the MLB Network coming online.

Here's the deal, though. The national exclusivities will still be in place, and even if the "local" territorial issue is tweaked, it's not going to be enough based on MLB's need for local broadcast deals and the number of games in play. In other words, MLB can't get to the NFL's level, and therefore, the best MLB can do is try and lessen the blow. There will still be arcane blackouts that cause you to scratch your head. There will still be fumbling around to try and figure on who is, or isn't blacked out that day. There will still be that massive national blackout, and when we all get MLB Network (well, everyone that has cable and satellite television), we're going to be seeing some form of blackout policy there as well. Only in baseball would there be a collective head nod to the idea that it's good business practice to restrict consumers' access to your product.

I added the emphasis in the last paragraph. Get your heads out of your collective butts, MLB owners. If someone wants to pay to watch your product, why won't you let them???

Today's Starting Pitchers
Ted Lilly
T. Lilly
Cubs
vs. Cole Hamels
C. Hamels
Phillies
0-1 W-L 1-1
9.72 ERA 1.20
5 SO 10
2 BB 5
1 HR 1
vs. Phi -- vs. Cubs

Small sample size on those numbers; Lilly isn't that bad, and Hamels isn't that good. Well, maybe Hamels is -- he's been the Phillies' top young pitcher for a while, and they need him to step up and become an ace. He hasn't faced that many current Cubs, but Alfonso Soriano has homered three times (in 20 AB) off him; Ryan Theriot (5-for-10, a double, a HR) and Aramis Ramirez (4-for-8, a HR) have also hit Hamels well. Expect to see Reed Johnson starting tonight vs. the lefty Hamels.

Today's game is on WGN; for more info see the MLB.com Mediacenter.

MLB.com Gameday (2007 version)

MLB.com Gameday (2008 version)

Baseball-reference.com game preview

As usual, an overflow comment thread will post at 7:30 pm CT.

Discuss amongst yourselves.