Baseball is Back

March 6, 2013

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There may be snow on the ground in your neck of the woods, but it’s time for baseball to begin!  Baseball is already alive and well.

Spring Training

Spring training began in mid-February, and games have been underway for a while now.  If you subscribe to MLB.TV, you can watch these games on various types of smart devices (not all games are available).  I’ve tried to connect from an iPhone (worked great), Roku (slightly awkward, but worked), Kindle Fire (didn’t work on the first day, but games are now available), and my Panasonic Blu-Ray player (still doesn’t have the Spring Training games).

I’m switching from MLB Extra innings to MLB.TV this year.  Overall, I think it’s a good switch.  MLB Extra Innings is $200.  The base MLB.TV package is $109.99 (for computers only).  It costs $20 more for connected devices (which includes the iPhone, Roku, and Blu-Ray player).  I opted to buy the minor league package for $20, which will allow me to watch some minor league games (only on a computer sadly).  That’s more value than MLB Extra Innings, for $50 less.

I won’t pretend that MLB.TV is perfect, though.  Each device I’ve used has a different interface, and the differences generally aren’t related to the technical constraints of the device.  In a perfect world, the experience should be nearly identical on every device.  Even worse, the fact that the spring training games are available on some devices and not others is unforgivable.  The availability of minor league games only on computers is also very perplexing – why not make these games more readily available instead of forcing people to their computers?

Fantasy Baseball

My fantasy baseball league draft is under way.  We have a very unconventional setup.  We can only start one player for each letter of the alphabet (last name).  The changes player valuation considerably.  For the draft, owners are randomly assigned 2 letters for each of the 10 rounds, and can pick any player from those letters.

I’m through the first twenty picks of the draft and at this point no major holes are evident.  I got my infield in order first, and then filled out the rest of the team.  I’ve tried to get a bit too cute in recent year – notably, last year trying to corner the market on good catchers to create demand – and it had generally bitten me in the rear.  This year I played it pretty much straight up.

World Baseball Classic

World Baseball Classic

World Baseball Classic

The World Baseball Classic is well under way.  Cuba and Japan have advanced from pool A and Chinese Taipei and The Netherlands from pool B.  Pool C and D (in Puerto Rico and the U.S.) begin play this week.  By the time you read this, Japan and Cuba will be near the end of their much anticipate game.  Both have already clinched spots in round 2, but the winner gets a better seed in the second round.

I’ve had the good fortune to watch bits and pieces of a few different games so far, and it’s definitely enjoyable baseball.  It’s nice to see fresh faces as a reminder that baseball in not just a sport in the Americas.

The WBC staggers the games, with two players from each pool playing the first day, before all the teams are in the fray on day two.  It might be good from a PR perspective, but it’s horrible from the standpoint of fair play.  For example, let’s look at pool A.  Japan and Brazil played on the first day, matching their aces.  On day two, they each played teams who hadn’t played yet – meaning that they also had to face that team’s ace – and obviously couldn’t match with their ace, who had started the previous game.  In the case of Brazil, they faced Cuba’s ace in the second game.  This setup creates an unfair advantage for the team that are idle on the first day.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Evan
    Mar 06, 2013 @ 05:45:01

    All is right with the world at the start of the baseball season. This will be year 2 or 3 for me with Even though I get the Phillies games on normal TV, I get a subscription so I have easy access wherever I am. After years of being screwed by the blackout rules (for the first few years at my old house, I couldn’t get the games on TV, and they were blacked out on, I’m in a good spot now – I get the games on TV, and I’m far enough east by about a mile that I’m not blacked out on

    So, are you in the prediction business? Any idea who will be good this year?


  2. kosmo
    Mar 06, 2013 @ 11:12:13

    If I was a Cardinals fan, I’d be completely screwed. They aren’t on local TV here (Cubs and White Sox are the 2 teams that get coverage), but they are one of 5 teams that are blacked out (MLB insists that the Royals are also blacked out here, but they aren’t).

    Houston could be historically bad. They’ve been bad for a few years, they’ve shed their remaining good players, they are moving to the tough AL West (remember, the schedule is unbalanced – lots of games within your division), and all their players will be facing completely unfamiliar opposing players and parks. Bad situation.

    The Astros effect could also push three AL West teams into the playoffs. If Houston loses 110 games, someone has to win those games. Likewise, the NL Central teams could take a step back, in terms of win totals and individual stats. A random player from that division could play exactly as well in 2013 as they did in 2012 and their stats will be worse due to a change in the average level of competition.

    I think the Blue Jays are a good team to watch. They jumped on the Astros fire sale and got some good talent. They’ve made a few under the radar moves that could help them.

    Yankees could do worse than expected due to injuries and increase competition in the division. At the beginning of the year, they are going to be without A-Rod and Granderson.

    And, of course, the Rockies are going to win the World Series.


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