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Athletics 1, Cubs 0: Blacked Out, Thrown Out

In which I tell the story of how I was unable to watch this game, while cooped up in an airplane.


Before I get to the recap of the Cubs' 1-0 loss to the Athletics Thursday afternoon, I have to rant a bit, so here goes.

Bud Selig, you suck.

And just in case you didn't get that, I meant suck Suck SUCK!

Here's why. I was flying back to Chicago from San Francisco this afternoon, and figured I could watch the game on my iPad, once we got past the 10,000-foot level where the flight attendants tell you that you can bring out your portable electronic devices.

So I did. And what did I see? "You are in a blackout area."

Say WHAT? Bud, I am at 38,000 feet in an airplane, far from Oakland or Chicago. Why is that a blackout area? At first, I thought, perhaps I am in a blackout area while I'm in the A's territory (which covers all the way to the Nevada/Utah line, hundreds of miles from Oakland), but when the plane crossed into Utah, nope, still blacked out. Then I checked the IP address of Southwest's WiFi carrier. That's in Kansas -- not a blackout area. Maybe there's a problem with MLB.TV on airplanes? Nope, I could watch any other game, except the Cubs/A's.

What sense does this make, blacking me out when I'm in an airplane and all I want to do is watch my baseball team for a couple of hours, using a service I have paid for?

If any of you knows why I would have been blacked out on this flight, let me know. I couldn't figure it out. So I was stuck with Gameday. Maybe that was for the best, because the game, as you know, came down to two plays:

  • Starlin Castro being sent home on a single by Alfonso Soriano in the fourth inning. It looked like a good send at first, but Castro was thrown out by Yoenis Cespedes on a perfect throw. I watched the taped highlight online -- which happened to be from the A's announcers, who said Castro was "jogging at first". If so... that isn't good.
  • Welington Castillo's passed ball in the seventh, which allowed Derek Norris to score the only run of the game.

Passed balls happen. That one, unfortunately, happened at the worst possible time. And it happened in an inning that new Cubs reliever Matt Guerrier should have been out of, after Chris Young singled off him with one out. Castillo threw Young out trying to steal second. Two out, no one on. Good, right? Not so much. Guerrier walked the next hitter, Norris, who was singled to third by Seth Smith, and then scored on the passed ball.

The Cubs had a shot at tying the game with a two-out, nobody-on brief rally of their own in the ninth; Castro singled and went to second on a throwing error that allowed Nate Schierholtz to reach base, but Soriano flied to right to end it.

The send of Castro? Maybe Castro wasn't running at full speed; the ball wasn't very deep, but he should have scored. Here's what Dale Sveum said:

Draw your own conclusions.

All of this ruined yet another outstanding outing by Travis Wood, who gave up just three hits and a walk in six shutout innings. At 101 pitches entering the seventh, and not having to have him bat, I might have let him go one more inning. But Dale Sveum apparently wanted to try out the new guys. They didn't pitch badly; Pedro Strop threw a 1-2-3 eighth after the passed ball got an unearned run charged to Guerrier. 1-0 games are tough; this was the Cubs' third 1-0 loss this season, and the fifth time overall they've been shut out.

Wood also made a slick fielding play, snaring a line drive by Nate Freiman to end the fourth inning. A's reliever Ryan Cook made a nearly identical snag on a liner hit up the middle by Dioner Navarro to lead off the eighth. Incidentally, Freiman was a Rule 5 pick last winter by the Astros from the Padres; he got to Oakland via waivers near the end of spring training. That's got to be one of the better pickups in recent years; Freiman, a huge man at 6-8, 250, is having a good season as the RH portion of a 1B platoon for the A's, hitting .338/.388/.519 against lefthanders.

So the Cubs finish the nine-game road trip with a 5-4 mark; that's not bad, but they very easily could have won eight of the nine games. The only game the Cubs weren't in at all on the trip was the first one, the 9-3 loss to the Brewers June 25.

Truth be told, following the game on Gameday isn't bad -- you can see where all the pitches go, it updates pretty close to real time, and within a few minutes you can see the video highlights. But again, I paid for MLB.TV. There's absolutely no sense in blacking me out on an airplane. Get with it, Bud. This is 2013, not 1974.