For the past three years I’ve subscribed to MLB.tv, and this year shouldn’t be any different. The $120 per year has always paid for itself in terms of entertainment dollars per hour, and now that they’ve lowered the price to $110, that goes even more so. No, I can’t watch Yankees games on it, but I can watch the Yanks on TV and have another game in front of me on my monitor. Or, if I’m feeling really ambitious, I can hook up my second monitor, allowing me to watch the Yanks, watch another game, and comment on the game thread.

As Brad Stone of the New York Times notes, there are a few upgrades to the MLB.tv package this year. It sounds like they’re going for a Netflix streaming system, rather than having the user select a speed: “Technology by Swarmcast, a content delivery network with headquarters in Minneapolis and Tokyo, will help the league determine the speed of a fan’s Internet connection and adjust the quality of the video accordingly.” So if we’re somewhere between the 800K and 1.5MB quality, we’ll get something in the middle, not the lesser of the two.

My favorite upgrade is that you can now overlay radio broadcasters on the TV feed. Sick of Kay? Listen to Sterling. Sick of them both? Listen to the out of town radio announcer. I’m not sure how widely used this feature will be, but it does raise the possibility of a feature I’ve been pondering for a while.

Why not really open up the platform? Allow users to start their own announcing channels. An individual or group could enter a special room, kind of like our live chats, where they can provide their own play by play and color commentary. Other users can then overlay that rather than a mainstream broadcaster. I can see this not only being a fun feature for fans, but something that could drum up some more interest in the MLB.tv service. Most people do not want to watch baseball on their computers, but I’m sure a number would give it a shot if they either got to call the game themselves, or if they got to listen to a less insufferable commentator.

On the technical end, the downside is that the amateur commentators won’t have a view of the whole field like the guys in the booth do. That could be remedied, I suppose, by providing multiple camera angles to the amateur announcers. Would MLB and the broadcasters be willing to do that? I’m not sure, but I don’t see why not. In fact, that might be another feature in itself, the ability to watch the game from any camera in the park.

The question which will determine the feasibility of this: How will the media outlets react? They pay big bucks for the exclusive rights to broadcast games, and they might not be on board with amateur announcers cutting into the time of their professionals. MLB won’t want to compromise their relationships with these outlets, so if they say no, that could render this idea DOA. Still, it’s something which I think would bring more viewers to the MLB.tv platform and which would provide an opportunity for new voices to be found.

Categories : NYC Sports Media
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Until this story moves forward either by a statement from A-Rod or further news developments, this should be our last post on the matter for a little while. But in the meantime…

Submitted for your approval are two opposite views on the A-Rod steroid scandal. On the one hand, Larry Mahnken at RLYW says that A-Rod is still a Hall of Famer. On the other, Peter Abraham calls this latest development a sure sign of the worst of times of baseball and doesn’t have many kind words for A-Rod.

As Monday morning dawns, where do you come out? Vote. Discuss.

Right now, would you vote for A-Rod on a Hall of Fame ballot?
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While A-Rod‘s name, as we mentioned in the podcast, will be in the steroid-related headlines for the foreseeable future, the Gene Orza scandal should have deeper ramifications across baseball. Earlier today, Jon Heyman wrote about how the union failed to do its job.

That list would have been long gone if not for the union; according to three baseball sources familiar with the testing process, players union COO Gene Orza worked long and hard to try to pare down the list. Orza’s mission, SI’s sources say, was to find enough false positives on the list to drive the number of failures so far down that real testing wouldn’t be needed in 2004 or ever.

Orza wanted to get the list down below the five percent threshold for testing to go away entirely. But after months of trying, Orza couldn’t do it, and baseball announced that a curiously imprecise 5-7 percent of players failed the 2003 survey test, enough to ramp up the testing in 2004, much to the union’s dismay.

And when BALCO investigators asked for the results of the players linked to that scandal, Orza did what came naturally to him, which was to fight. He had a history of winning his fights, so that gave him confidence that he could win this fight.

But this time he didn’t win. The feds subpoenaed all the records instead of just the BALCO boys.

All 104 players who tested positive were now at risk.

If I were one of those 103 other players, I wouldn’t be feeling too good about myself or the union leaders right now. This move could very well cost Orza his job, as Shysterball speculated, and the union some leverage during the next round of labor talks in 2011. If Orza, as originally reported, tipped off A-Rod to an impending drug test, the fallout will be even worse.

I can’t defend A-Rod though because of Orza’s ineptitude. He took steroids; he lied about it on national television; and his 40-hour silence has been deafening. Just because his name shouldn’t have been associated with his supposedly anonymous sample doesn’t excuse his behavior or actions. But the people he entrusted with his secrets have let him down, and that thread of this story will linger for a long, long time.

Categories : STEROIDS!
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In light of the A-Rod steroids revelation, we decided to do a special edition of the RAB Radio Show. We totally winged the show, deciding that an agenda wouldn’t accomplish much. This story is still very young, and there’s so much we don’t know (you’ll notice at one point that Mike and I say “we don’t know” a hundred or so times). We just thought we’d let it all out there.

People are going to get sick of talking about this soon. Some are already sick of it. By Thursday, our regular podcast date, it’ll be a tired subject, so we got together to talk about it tonight, in hopes that we won’t have to deal with every story on the topic from now until A-Rod issues his statement. That’s really the next big thing to happen in this saga.

Oh, how could I forget to mention that we’re joined this time by Ben. He provided an excellent take on the situation last night, and lends his thoughts to our discussion. If only we could have him on every week.

Onto the podcast. It is available in a number of formats. You can download it here by right clicking on that link and selecting Save As. If you want to play it in your browser, just left click the link. You can also subscribe to the podcast feed, which will send it to you every Thursday. You can also subscribe in iTunes. Finally, we have the embedded audio player below.

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Categories : Podcast
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thomasPhil Rogers of The Chicago Tribune wrote an interesting little nugget yesterday that I found at (where else?) MLBTR. Check it out:

There has been so little interest in Frank Thomas he doesn’t even land in the rumors. He’s not going to get ready while he’s out of camp, which is why the Players Association needs to organize a spring training camp for out-of-work players. The White Sox’s abandoned Tucson complex would be a perfect place.

First, let me plug this post from earlier today about Thomas. Secondly, it makes a ton of sense for the union to run something like this, especially in today’s market. There’s still roughly sixty free agents out there still looking for work, and a good chunk of those guys can still be assets to a MLB team and would benefit from such a camp. You could elementarily break them down into three groups:

  1. Players hurt by the market: Bobby Abreu, Garret Anderson, Joe Biemel, Orlando Cabrera, Juan Cruz, Adam Dunn, Orlando Hudson, Braden Looper, Doug Mientkiewicz, Will Ohman, Dennys Reyes
  2. Players looking to prove themselves coming off injury: Joe Crede, Scott Elarton, Randy Flores, Tom Glavine, Orlando Hernandez, Chuck James, Mark Mulder, Matt Wise
  3. Veteran players looking to prove they have something left: Moises Alou, Rich Aurilia, Ray Durham, Damion Easley, Jim Edmonds, Keith Foulke, Nomar Garciaparra, Luis Gonzalez, Ken Griffey Jr., Mark Grudzielanek, Livan Hernandez, Jon Lieber, Kent Mercker, Jay Payton, Ivan Rodriguez, Curt Schilling, Rudy Seanez, Julian Tavarez, Frank Thomas, Mike Timlin, Ron Villone

Camp certainly wouldn’t be mandatory, and the players would have to pay for their own living arrangements, etc. Pitchers could throw bullpens and live BP, position players could hit everyday and take fielding drills, stuff like that to help prepare them for the season and show what they have. Essentially it would just give these players a place to work out and gain exposure, while the thirty teams could go to one central place to see who could help them. They could even play a game against a club once a week or something.

I know there’s a lot more that goes into this idea than I could possibly imagine, but it seems like something MLBPA should be seriously considering for it’s members. Anyway here’s your open thread for the night. Talk about whatever you like, just please be civil, especially when talking about A-Rod.

Photo Credit: First Base Tickets

Categories : Open Thread
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  • The Great Mystery Player
    By

    I think we’re all aware of how great a player Albert Pujols is. He leads the National League in the Triple Crown Categories (.334 AVG, 319 HR, 977 RBI) this century, and that’s despite spotting the field the 2000 season because he hadn’t been called up yet. However, as Joe Posnanski points out, we’ve seen this kind of greatness before, and not that long ago either. Who is it? Well, you’ve have to read to find out. (h/t BtB)

    Fun fact: I saw this player hit a ball over the visiting team’s bullpen and into the left field bleachers, just over the entrance ramp, at the Stadium about sixteen years ago. That was the first time I can remember seeing something happen in person at a baseball game that truly amazed me. It was quite the shot.
    · (18) ·

  • No team for old outfielder
    By

    The off-season woes of Bobby Abreu have been well-documented around here. Showing signs of a steep decline but still managing to turn in a 120 OPS+ last season, Abreu has been a free agent fielding few phone calls this season. With a week left until Spring Training, Nick Cafardo’s sources tell the Boston Globe columnist that Abreu may have to settle for a one-year, $3-million deal. For that money, the White Sox, Mariners, Angels, Dodgers, Braves and Mets could all get in on the bidding. I can’t imagine Abreu is too thrilled about the prospects of an 80 percent paycut. · (33) ·

Selena Roberts, former New York Times columnist and current Sports Illustrated writer, has a lot riding on her Alex Rodriguez story. Seemingly without seeing the list of players who failed the 2003 drug tests but corroborating her information with four sources, she has accused one of baseball’s biggest starts and its highest paid player of juicing.

She’s also two and a half months away from publishing an exposé on A-Rod called Hit & Run: The Many Lives of Alex Rodriguez. Baseball & The Boogie Down believes that this upcoming book raising some interesting questions:

From what I’ve gathered through several web searches, the book is described as “an expose of A-Rod’s controversial path to self-destruction.” Something tells me the purpose of this book is not intended to paint A-Rod in a positive light.

I’m sure Alex is aware of the book and I’m sure Alex knows who Selena Roberts is. Why would he give her the time of day and answer any questions she asks him? She should have known that he’d blow her off when she asked him about testing positive. His failure to say anything to her shouldn’t be read as an admission of guilt, which is kind of how it came across in her interview with Bob Costas. I may not have the quote 100% correct, but she basically said, “He could have said I don’t know who your sources are but their dead wrong.” Hence, she believes her sources even more.

Could this be just a ploy to sell a few extra books? If Alex comes out and says she’s wrong and that he never tested positive, then what? Then it turns into he said, she said and then how do we know who to really believe. What if someone trots out 4 anonymous and “reliable” sources that say he didn’t test positive and the SI article is a fabrication. It’s not out of the realm of possibility, especially when people say they have anonymous sources. There’s really no way for anyone, other than the person citing the sources, to verify it’s authenticity, right?

It’s certainly an interesting scenario, but the more time that passes without a statement from A-Rod, the less likely it is. If A-Rod wants to shed some doubt on this list, he first has to know for sure that he isn’t on it. At some point in the future during the Bonds perjury trial, the entire list will be made public, and if A-Rod has any doubt about his name’s appearing on it, he can’t do this.

RAB commenter Artist formerly known as “The” Steve summed it all up in an e-mail to me this morning:

For the sake of his legacy, denial is his only hope. I’ve heard HOF voters (Ken Davidoff) already say they won’t vote for him if this is true. But he can’t do that credibly if the Feds have the original list and samples and that eventually becomes public. According to the Bonds court case, they do. So everything will come out eventually.

I think he’s boxed into a corner. He HAS to fess up, and live with the consequences.

A 100 percent complete admission will be the first step in rehabbing an image, and as the silence continues from the A-Rod camp, the next few days will be quite telling.

Categories : STEROIDS!
Comments (167)
  • Tarnished forever
    By

    Buster Olney opines on the A-Rod fiasco and feels that the Yanks’ third baseman is tarnished forever. Kiss the Hall good bye. Kiss the MVP awards good bye. From here on in, he’s simply A-Roid until death do us part. It’s not fair; it might not even be accurate; but now that the media has decided to pass judgment on a scandal it collectively ignored for the better part of a decade, that’s the way things are in the wonderful world of baseball. · (54) ·

Feb
08

Disappointment

By in STEROIDS!. Tags: · Comments (96) ·

When the A-Rod news broke this morning, I wasn’t surprised or outraged. Nothing that comes out of this ongoing steroid mess can shock me anymore. Rather, I was deeply and truly disappointed.

Alex Rodriguez was supposed to be one of the Good Guys. Since he was drafted in the early 1990s, he had labels attached to him, labels tagging him as one of baseball’s all-time greats. He was a natural talent who knew how to play the game hard. When, at the age of 20, in his first full season, he took Seattle and the AL by storm, we knew we were witnessing history.

Over the years, we know the A-Rod saga. He signed on with Scott Boras who pushed him to become the best in everything. A-Rod couldn’t just be the best player in baseball. He also had to have the best contract ever and eventually had to play on the best team ever on baseball’s biggest stage.

Now, I don’t mean to intimate that Boras’ pushing or A-Rod’s own internal demons led him to steroids, but it’s hard to ignore that theme in all that we know about A-Rod. As the last five seasons have unfolded, we have seen A-Rod’s highs and lows. We’ve seen Slappy McBluelips turn into a two-time MVP winner turn into a non-clutch post-season choker turn into an adulterer and now a steroid user.

Underneath it all, the kid I once was and the baseball fan I still am are both disappointed. I’m disappointed that one of those Good Guys, one of those players who went on TV and told Katie Couric that he never used steroids would turn out to be a liar and a fraud, disappointed that one player destined for enshrinement on his natural talents alone would throw it all away because everyone else was doing so why shouldn’t he.

Maybe I’m being too willfully blind to the history of baseball. Ty Cobb was a racist who never would have played against non-white players. Babe Ruth was hardly a model citizen. Mickey Mantle was a drunk, and countless players have philandered their ways across the baseball landscape.

Maybe the problem isn’t with the players, but maybe it’s with the fans who try to idolize guys who are just professional athletes. Maybe our heroes never existed; we just dreamed them into existence and refused to acknowledge their flaws until it was far too late.

In the end, moral outrage is sure to rule the day. The same reporters and league officials who turned a blind eye to steroids for twenty or thirty years will breach on about the ills of the drugs and baseball’s corruption, past and present. The games will go on, and I will live and die with the Yankees. But as anything scandal breaks, as another big name falls, the part of me that believes in baseball as America, that, as Annie Savoy does in Bull Durham, believes in the Church of Baseball, will feel a little less sure about the game and a lot more disappointment. Who are our heroes after all?

Categories : STEROIDS!
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