Something that's great news for any of you who want to follow the system via video is now official: The South Bend Cubs will stream their games live on MiLBTV this season.
In previous seasons, Cubs minor league fans had glimpses of the future from their low-end affiliates, mainly at road games. However, per an e-mail exchange with South Bend Cubs Director of Creative Services and Promotions Chris Hagstrom, the Cubs' new Midwest League affiliate will now air its home games live. As an appetizer, they are also planning to air their preseason exhibition against the Notre Dame baseball team in April.
As usual, the Tennessee Smokies and Iowa Cubs will air their games live on MiLBTV. All Triple-A I-Cubs games will stream, and about half of the Smokies road games will be available. While the numbers fluctuate from year to year, the 2014 schedule had four teams streaming live last season in the Midwest League. In addition, with no reason to expect the Myrtle Beach Pelicans to stop streaming, they will be on the Carolina League website. The Winston-Salem Dash (White Sox) streamed in the loop last season as well.
With a 140-game schedule, the numbers will obviously vary per league. However, you will be able to see all the Iowa Cubs games, and in diminishing levels, the Smokies, SB-Cubs, and Pelicans games streaming on your computer or mobile device. The games stream after the fact, and will be available until late next March. The service costs $40 for the year, or can be purchased by the month. All home games above short-season Boise will be available to be watched live.
This will be helpful for the fan base at large. Even if you don't want to spend for the service (which I highly recommend), others will pick up the baton. Whether you want updates on the Kane County pitching staff of last year (including 2014 Cubs system Pitcher of the Year Jen-Ho Tseng, Duane Underwood, and the rest), the solid possibility of Gleyber Torres and some key early draft selections from 2014 in South Bend, or the standard Kyle Schwarber catching critiques, you're covered.
It's a fun time to be a fan of the Cubs minor league system. As much as I enjoyed the audio calls from Wayne Randazzo, Joe Brand, and Keaton Gillogly the last few years, video streaming will be better. Much as I will miss hearing Robbie Aaron's crew from Daytona, the live feeds from Myrtle Beach will be better. The quality of the play ought to be playoff caliber, and the streaming level gets better every year. It sounds like South Bend wants to play up to the ever-improving standard.
It had been rumored that we would get to see more of the SB-Cubs on-line, but until very recently, it had been still in the rumor stage. Now, it's official.
Is it April yet?