Time will tell what yesterday's 17th-inning Chris Davis-Darnell McDonald pitching showdown means for the 2012 American League East race. But for the world's scattered Red Sox and Orioles fans, it already proved one thing: MLB.tv can't do the job. Not long after both teams ran out of pitchers, MLB.tv ran out of broadcast ability. The people who built the system assumed that it would never need to handle anything that long. So just as the game was crossing over from the epic to the mind-boggling, in the middle of the 17th, the online folks at MLB gave their audience the 21st-century equivalent of the Heidi game. Reader Shawn T. writes from Nevada:
Being an MLB.tv subscriber in Las Vegas, you would imagine, would be great. No local team, therefore no blackouts. Not quite. Living in Sin City, I am blacked out of all Diamondbacks, Padres, Dodgers, Angels, Giants and Athletics games. (I'll save you the time, the drive from Vegas to Oakland is over 9 hours). Sure, Boston isn't blacked out from New York games that take place 4 hours away. That makes plenty of sense. (Iowa gets screwed out of 5 teams themselves).
All this said, I still pony up the cash every year to subscribe.
Their advertising says "Watch every out-of-market game LIVE". So when the second game of the season with my beloved Red Sox facing the Tigers was blacked out—I was perplexed. The game was being televised by Fox Sports, however it wasn't airing on my local affiliate. (the barn-burner of Angels vs Royals was instead) So by all means, this was an out-of-market game... but again, couldn't see it. Game 2 of the season. Already issues. Their advertising flat out lies. (I caught a portion of the game via an illegal stream.)
Last night, the Red Sox took on the hot-as-hell Orioles in what turned out to be a ridiculous ending. 17 innings. Position players pitching. Regardless of the game's outcome, it'd still be a great memory to watch. 17 innings. Over 6 hours of watching. Then, in the commercial break in the middle of the 17th: streaming stopped. Home, Away, Radio and TV. Done. They stopped providing the game. Paying customers were left to scramble for illegal streams and pitch-by-pitch coverage online.
Livid is a word. I called customer service and said I wanted a partial refund. If you watch a movie in the theater, and the projector dies with 20 minutes left in the movie, you'll either get a free ticket, or a refund. It's only right. In this case however, MLB.tv said they cannot provide partial refunds (their customer service agreed, it was bullshit). So I asked for a full one and cancelled my account.
My father still lives in Boston and has internet access. A cable box rental? $60. An HD Slingbox? $200. And I can get every Red Sox game (as well as Bruins, Celtics and Patriots).
Major League Baseball is so out of touch when it comes to its internet offerings and its customer service - they suck. There. I feel better now.