For a long time, I was in the camp of refusing to pay for TV.
At our rural home, cable was not an option. That left the satellite services, which seemed pretty expensive.
My perception was compounded by an occasional hotel stay where there would be several dozen channels, and we would zip through them, finding only commercials and very little that was worth watching anyway.
So we made do with the free over-the-air broadcasts.
Netflix finally convinced us to pay for television service with a price that was closer to $10 than $100 per month. We enjoyed the choice of programming and learned how to binge-watch.
Then last summer I stumbled across a temporary but very attractive offer to try MLB.TV (Major League Baseball) for about half the season.
As a sports fan, especially baseball, they got me, and I’m back this year.
MLB.TV includes every baseball game except home-team games (Twins here) and certain games that are broadcast nationally on another network.
The service also includes the AtBat phone app, which allows me to look up numerous other details such as the live boxscore of a game or which other teams a player previously played for.
All games are available on-demand even blacked out games a couple hours after they finish or you can jump to a specific inning to see a rally or unusual play.
The whole package developed me into a league fan instead of a Twins fan.
So with MLB.TV, I can go ballpark-hopping across the country from Pittsburgh to Washington to Atlanta to Houston to Boston to Cincinnati to Denver to Seattle to . . .
Often, I watch just an inning or two of a certain match-up, and then move onward. Or if one game gets lop-sided, there’s usually another close one to switch to.
It’s especially interesting to be able to catch the final at-bat of several close games as they wind down. On a good night, you might see two walk-offs and a foiled no-hitter.
In some ways, it’s more enjoyable to watch a game between two good teams and not have a rooting interest, than being disappointed when the local team loses.
Baseball sometimes gets a bad rap for being too slow with little action, but even hopping around, it’s surprising how many great plays or key moments you come across.
The nerd in me did the math on how much baseball there is to watch, so please indulge me for a bit.
Rounded off, the average length of a MLB game is three hours (actually about 2:52). On a day with a full schedule of 15 games, that means it would take roughly 45 hours to watch each one from start to finish a full-time job just to see one day’s action.
Of course, there are travel days and rain-outs, etc., but in the end every team plays 162 games. That makes the equivalent of three years and six weeks of full-time work to watch one MLB regular season.
What I like best is that it is so sequence and results driven the result of each pitch creates what the next situation is. That’s true in other sports as well, but baseball allows the time to contemplate every detail and strategy.
• Should the batter swing on this 3-and-0 count?
• What is the best pitch to steal on?
• Does the team shift more (or less) with two strikes on the batter?
• Is it the time to make another pitching change?
• Who’s left as a possible pinch hitter and what would be the best match-up?
• Should they pinch-run for a starter in a tie game in the ninth inning?
There are dozens of questions to ponder, and an infinite supply of statistics to help answer them.
But instead of trying to run out the clock or a frantic two-minute drill before time expires, baseball is all about performance and result, no matter how long it takes.
The ultimate moment is the home team being down a run in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and a runner on third a home run wins the game, an out loses it, or with a base hit, we might play three hours longer.
(For details, see www.mlb.tv)