I have been a fan of the Colorado Rockies since their inaugural season in 1993.  I had deserted the Cubs the previous winter after losing confidence in the front office in the aftermath of Greg Maddux leaving town.  I decided make a clean break, and picked an expansion team to follow.

I live 800 miles from Denver.  This means that I’ve only been to one game at Coors Field, and that I have rarely had the opportunity to catch a game on TV.  Unless they play the Cubs or the Cardinals, the game is not on TV.  I have been a longtime purchaser of MLB.com’s audio package, and have listened to a lot of games over the years.

This year would be different.  I purchased the MLB Extra Innings package through DirecTV.  I would now be able to watch every Rockies game!  I looked forward to opening day.

Imagine my frustration when I found out that that game was blacked out.  Why?  Because Iowa is considered a “local market” for the opponents of the Rockies, the Milwaukee Brewers.  I have lived in Iowa nearly all my life, and I have met exactly one Brewers fan during this time.  He was in town on a temporary assignment and was from Wisconsin.

Iowa is considered a local market for six teams – the Cubs, Cardinals, White Sox, Twins, Brewers, and Royals.

The main reason for blackouts is to force people to watch game on local and regional channels.  This would make some sense – if those teams were actually available to me on local and regional channels.  I can tune in to nearly every Cubs games.  Most White Sox games are also available to me.  A smattering of Cardinals games appear on the WB during the season.

As for the Twins, Brewers, and Royals?  There is no way for me to tune into these games.

There is also gross inequality in the system.  My friend Lazy Man hails from Boston.  How many teams are blacked out in Boston?  Just one – the Red Sox.  The Sox are readily available on a regional channel.  Lazy Man currently resides in the Bay area.  How many teams are blacked out there?  Two – the Giants and A’s.  Again, both teams are readily available on local and regional channels.  Contrast this with Iowa and Nevada, which each have six teams blacked out.

The fact that I am paying a premium price for this package makes me even more upset.  If Major League Baseball is really that concerned that my ability to tune into a Rockies – Brewers game via MLB Extra Innings will somehow take money away from the local stations that carry the Brewers games, there’s a really easy solution for that.  Take some of the money that they get from me (via the conduit of DirecTV) and pay some of it to those stations.  Problem solved.  Baseball has a happy customer who will renew Extra Innings next year and the Brewers stations are being fairly compensated.

Want to know what teams are blacked out in which areas?  Here’s a nifty map.  It’s from 2006, and while there may be slightly more updated maps available, I have found this one to be the easiest to understand.