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by Matt Smith

As noted in the comments last week, MLB.com are currently offering a free five-day trial of MLB.TV for those of you considering whether or not to sign-up. It’s a great way for newcomers to give the system a proper test-run to see how it will work on your set-up and what the picture quality is like.

It would certainly be worth signing up for the Premium service to do this because as a Premium subscriber you can access either 400K streams of games or 700K. This way you can see whether the 700K stream will work okay for you. Apart from a couple of matches where the feed suddenly cut out for no reason, I’ve had little trouble watching the 700K stream on my PC and the picture quality is noticeably better than the standard MLB.TV 400K. You will also be able to download and test the Mosaic feature, although check the system requirements to see if it will run on your machine (I haven’t installed it yet to be honest, so I can’t give an opinion on how well it works).

By the sounds of it, you have to effectively sign up as if you are buying the package (i.e. putting in your credit card details etc) and they will simply bill you for the season if you don’t cancel within the allotted five days. That’s the way all of these services work I’m afraid. If you are thinking of trying it out, I would wait until the weekend when a much larger proportion of games are on live at a convenient time in the U.K. Also don’t forget to take the opportunity to look at the condensed game feature which provides ten minute highlights of every single game, every day, and of course you can watch the archived games to your heart’s content.

If you don’t fancy doing this, then you can at least watch a bit of live baseball on Wednesday night/Thursday morning. MLB.com have announced today that each at-bat between Dice-K and Ichiro will be shown for free on MLB.TV when the Mariners play the Red Sox at Fenway. First pitch is scheduled for 00.05 BST, and that first pitch will be to Ichiro so it promises to be a captivating event. It will be at 8.05 on Thursday morning in Tokyo and I imagine Japan will come to a standstill as two of their heroes collide on American soil.

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Mike White April 10, 2007 - 7:49 pm

I just happened to find your blog, and I’m wondering how baseball is viewed in Britain. How do British citizens-and for that matter, the British media-treat big events in baseball, such as Divison races, records being broken, and the World Series?

baseballgb April 10, 2007 - 8:51 pm

Hi Mike. Thanks for visiting.

Baseball doesn’t get much coverage at all over here. It’s generally just seen as “very American” and the “glorified rounders” tag is what normally gets thrown at you when you tell someone you love baseball! Soccer/football is king and it’s only when big events come around that even other British sports like Cricket and Rugby get much of a look-in really. The NFL has a growing fanbase (as shown by the regular season NFL game that will be staged at Wembley later this year) and basketball is played a bit at schools etc, but baseball is out in the cold. There’s just so much competition that it’s difficult for baseball to get any kind of foothold and the fact that it has been dropped from the 2012 London Olympics is a big blow to all British baseball fans because that would have been a great opportunity to advertise the sport (and to provide some baseball facilities which are currently thin on the ground).

The World Series generally does get some coverage in the press and any big stories will filter through (particularly things like the Bonds/BALCO stuff, so I’m sure people will be able to read about him breaking Aaron’s record if/when he gets there). We get two live games a week on terrestrial TV (i.e. the channels everyone gets), but these start at 1 or 2 in the morning, which obviously is a hindrance for potential newcomers (although the coverage is excellent and does a lot to sell the sport). Still, there is a good baseball community developing and although baseball fans are small in number over here, we tend to be devoted followers.

Baseball’s never going to be that big over here, but there’s definately a decent potential fanbase out there. The advent of the Internet obviously makes a big difference in allowing Brits to follow MLB, whether by watching MLB.Tv or simply by being able to check the scores everyday.

Drood April 11, 2007 - 1:34 am

Me again:) I’ve taken advantage of the free trial. I’ve kept my head down from baseball since Thursday so I could see Daisuke’s debut at Boston, which I watched this afternoon.

Trying Mosaic right now but it’s not working very well. Did learn something… While I don’t care, because I loathe them, Blue Jays games are blacked out for me. Now I don’t know of it’s just televised ones… But if it’s not, the fact they’d claim me as a local market when I’m 2000 miles away is just nuts!

Still, it’s good to be back. This free trial is great. Not decided if I’m going to stick with it. Lot depends on if Mosaic wants to work for me…

baseballgb April 11, 2007 - 7:08 am

Hi Drood. Glad to hear you’re getting to see some baseball. That blackout rule is difficult to understand sometimes!

I’ve heard mixed messages about Mosaic, some saying it barely works while others have experienced no problems and love it. I paid extra to get Premium more for the 700K feed rather than Mosaic because due to the time difference there are less opportunities for me to want to use it (last evening for example there were only two games being played). I might try it out someday but my PC, while not ancient, is not exactly top spec. so I have my doubts whether it will work very well for me.

Drood April 11, 2007 - 7:32 am

Well I spent most of the night playing with Mosaic. Had 4-6 games running great. However, I could only do it at the lowest quality. Though from reading the Mosaic blog, a lot of people had this, whereas it worked fine before the last update.

Instant stream switching works well. I was stunned when I dragged a game down to the screens and it started streaming instantly. Obviously all games are streaming in the background.

Switching to one game full screen worked quite well. Watched the end of the St Louis game. That worked fine at the 700k speed. (Though it defaults to the 400, so you have to change the speed at the top.)

Loaded up Dice-K’s debut game from the archive. The archive is VERY slow to get where you want. Then when the game loaded, I tried to skip ahead, and everything went horrifically out of a sync. It even started streaming the video from the beginning again at one point, while the regular audio continued. So for archived games, MLB’s site is still the best idea I think.

On the whole, I was impressed. On my laptop there were glitches. On my desktop it was flawless for live games. Only downside is I’m stuck at 800×600 on my monitor, and the interface looks nasty as all hell.

Well worth trying Mosaic out. It’s not without it’s issues, but it’s quite impressive.

Gotta say I also like how MLB.TV doesn’t force us to watch the networks commercials now, instead we get the pretty screensaver type thing during ad breaks. (Which my kids loved. My eldest, he’s 5, kept asking me to make the game at commercial the one I was watching full screen so he could see the ball bounce around:))

Not decided if I’m going to keep the subscription yet. To be quite honest, I’m considering cancelling it, then signing up from another email address for another 5 day trial, since it only says per EMAIL ADDRESS. Not per household credit card.

Whatever, it’s awesome to be able to sit back and see SIX games at once:)

baseballgb April 11, 2007 - 8:16 pm

The screensaver type ad break has grown on me The first day they had it there was no crowd noise, just the sound of the ball beeping everytime it hit something. As you can imagine, that soon became a bit annoying! I thought at the time I would like it so long as we didn’t have the 80’s computer game noises, and I’m guessing MLB may have had a load of e-mails saying the same thing!

The only problem with it is when I’m watching a game late at night. The motion of the ball bouncing around, with the gentle crowd noise behind it is the perfect cure for anyone struggling to get to sleep, and a pain for a tired baseball fan trying to keep awake!

Drood April 12, 2007 - 5:02 am

Bouncing sound? Oh good lord, it’s MLB PONG!!!:)


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