This Sunday we’ll be ten weeks away from the 2016 MLB regular season beginning.
That’s still a long way off, and wishing away ten weeks of your life isn’t the best approach to life, but we can at least be happy to see baseball slowly emerging on the horizon.
There have been two bits of news over the past couple of days that are of interest to how we watch the games.
The first is confirmation that MLB is changing their Opening Day format. In recent years we’ve become accustomed to the MLB regular season proper (i.e. excluding some earlier games taking place in other countries) getting underway with a single Sunday Night game before most of the teams then get going on the Monday.
That approach turns the opener into an event for the two teams involved, but it leaves most teams having to wait another day and, slightly selfishly, has always been a bit of a pain for fans like us in the U.K. You wait months for the action to start only to have to wait until gone midnight for the first game to begin.
Why couldn’t they play a game or two on the Sunday afternoon, as they do throughout the rest of the season?
Well, if you have had that thought in the past then the answer has arrived. There’s no great reason why they couldn’t and now they will.
At 18.05 UK time on Sunday 3 April, the Pittsburgh Pirates will host the St Louis Cardinals for game one of the 2016 MLB season. Two hours later, the Chicago Cubs will start an early interleague series against the Los Angeles Angels (EDIT: looks like the game on Sunday is actually an exhibition before they play ‘for real’ on Monday) followed one hour later by the Toronto Blue Jays beginning their defence of the AL East crown at the Tampa Bay Rays.
There will still be a Sunday Night game to enjoy and it promises to be a good one as we have an immediate re-match from the World Series with New York Mets travelling to Kansas City to take on the Royals. That will be a bit painful for the Mets, especially if the Royals are presented with their World Series rings in front of them, but that could be the catalyst for an exciting opener.
It’s how regular season baseball should be: several games going on that you can enjoy. It’s a brilliant move by MLB and should make that Sunday a real treat before then carrying on with a feast of baseball on the Monday afterwards.
Hopefully BT Sport will show a couple of those games and we’ll also have the wonders of MLB.TV to watch every game live too.
In that regard, some early news about the MLB.TV subscriptions has been reported. A recently settled court case around TV rights has offered up the news that MLB will be adding the option to buy a team-based MLB.TV subscription (i.e. paying to watch all of your chosen team’s games) at a provisional price of $90. The MLB-wide subscription is apparently going to be available for $110 which would be a $20 reduction from 2015.
I would guess that most people keen enough to pay $90 to watch all of their team’s games will see paying the extra $20 as an easy decision and it does make me wonder whether there’s more to those potential prices than meets the eye. We’ll have to wait and see on the details when everything is confirmed as to precisely what the final figures will be.
When looking at the US dollar prices, we do need to factor in the nasty surprise of a year ago when it became apparent that changes around tax in the EU meant that we now have to pay the equivalent of our standard 20% VAT on top, a not insignificant amount to add on.
We’d all prefer not to have to pay extra, but one way to feel a little less frustrated about it is to remember that everyone in the States has to deal with a variety of blackout issues (i.e. being blocked from watching games involving local teams – and often not very local teams – and those on national TV) that we are exempt from and that we get to watch all of the play-off games too. So we actually get quite a bit more from our subscription than those Stateside, which makes having to pay a little more for it marginally less annoying.
The MLB.TV subscription details are usually announced in mid-to-late February, so we should have all of the details in four weeks or so.