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NY Post
New York Post
22 Jul 2023


NextImg:MLB’s hideous streaming partnerships are filled with arrogant greed

Not since the Jersey Nets ran a guns-for-tickets promotion — Don’t miss your chance to sit beside a dangerous felon! — have I been more confused by a marketing strategy.

If you or I were the commissioner of baseball at a time when a greed-driven absence of foresight found MLB bleeding viewers and interest, what would we do?

For starters, we’d do everything in our power to make baseball telecasts available on the most affordable and widely viewed TV networks. No one would have to search for the games, or pay more and more to watch. We’d try to restore baseball as the national pastime, thus every fan, young and old, would know where to go and when.

In local throwback terms, the Mets once could be found on Ch. 9, the Yankees on Ch. 11. Then on SNY and YES. Once, as in three years ago.

We wouldn’t mess with conditioned TV habits because we’d recognize that this is no time to take baseball audiences for granted, no time to sell the telecasts at auction.

Commissioner Rob Manfred has made MLB more difficult for fans to find with streaming subscriptions.
MLB Photos via Getty Images

But the Rob Manfred regime went the other way, challenging fans to spend more and to search harder if they wanted to watch baseball. Here, the Yankees have become an almost weekly exclusive on the Amazon Prime streaming operation.

Manfred and the Yankees’ shot-callers allowed the team’s games to become the cheese while devoted fans became lab rats in exchange for Amazon dough.

The Yankees-Angels game Wednesday was one of 20 mostly cherry-picked Yankees games this season to be hidden — held for ransom — behind Amazon Prime’s pay wall, thus it was lost, by financial design, to untold but cost-conscious tens of thousands.

Would you have normally watched that game had it been on YES? I would have. But would I buy Amazon Prime in order to watch it? No. I refuse to fund MLB’s arrogant greed.

Another two Yankees games have been lost to Apple TV+ pay streaming, and another to Peacock streaming. Twenty-three games. And more are likely to come.

Apple TV+ hosts weekly MLB games as part of the league's streaming subscription partnerships.

Apple TV+ hosts weekly MLB games as part of the league’s streaming subscription partnerships.
Getty Images

And with ESPN money changing Sunday afternoons into Sunday nights to exploit the largest TV markets, this has become another of MLB’s institutionalized pimping plans — even if the johns, baseball fans, are on the wane.

Sunday night, Mets at Red Sox on ESPN will be the latest work-the-next-morning endurance test. Sunday night baseball was once out of the question as the worst possible time to schedule games. Saturday and Sunday 1 p.m. local starts were the best times.

Now, most Saturday afternoon games begin after 4 p.m. to meet Fox’s financial terms. The Mets have become a Saturday night home team.

Meanwhile, Manfred and the Yankees risk further conditioning of the fan base to live without Yankees telecasts. How much money is it worth to further diminish interest in the Yankees?

Rob Manfred is pictured at the MLB Draft in early July.

Rob Manfred is pictured at the MLB Draft in early July.
MLB Photos via Getty Images

When will the Yankees awaken from their greed-stricken insouciance, which already includes thousands of the best seats in the house priced so hideously high that they’ve remained empty since the new Yankee Stadium opened in 2009?

Is ingesting hemlock a marketing strategy?

How is this in the best long and short-term interests of baseball and its most fabled team? Why do Manfred’s “marketing plans” include nothing for MLB’s most important business partners — its remaining fans — except the offer to rent hammers with which to beat ourselves unconscious?

To borrow from Ronald Reagan, “Mr. Manfred, tear down this paywall!”

WFAN remains stuck on the belief that its viewers aren’t bright enough to distinguish crude from clever. Or sports from the sounds of gastric flatulence.

Its “Boomer & Gio” weekday morning drive show still targets not just young adult males, but disaffected slobs.

Last week, Gregg Giannotti and Jerry Recco — the latter subbing for “Weekday” Boomer Esiason (the profane phony who plays a gentleman on CBS’s NFL weekend studio show), held a “hilarious” conversation on penis enlargement, likely trying to exploit an audience that included desensitized junior high students prior to attending mandated summer school.

Reader Robert Feuerstein: “I became so embarrassed for these two clowns I had to switch them off.”

Recco and Giannotti are both fathers. One wonders if they treat their kids and families to such clever repartee around the dinner table. Or is that just for WFAN audiences?

Reader Jim Curnal, astute inspector of baseball, strongly suggests that we take mph readings of pitchers’ fastballs with a sack filled with grains of salt.

Curnal: “ ‘Statcast’ velocity is gauged as the ‘out of the hand’ — the speed at which the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand. But it has been scientifically proven that there’s a decrease … as the ball reaches the plate — a little thing known as gravity.”

Thus, what’s regularly shown, spoken and hyped as 100 mph doesn’t reach the batter at that speed.

“Years ago, when Jugs [predecessor speedguns] were used, the velocity was measured as the ball crossed the plate.” And that, not 100 mph, is what hitters face.

Only media members think that we all think the world of LeBron James. His ESPYs announcement that he was not retiring (who thought he would?) included this modest self-assessment:

“The day I can’t give the game everything on the floor is the day I’ll be done. Lucky for you guys, that day is not today.”

What a self-entitled jerk.

LeBron James announced at the ESPYs that he plans to return for the 2023-24 season.

LeBron James announced at the ESPYs that he plans to return for the 2023-24 season.
Getty Images

So the celebrity golf tournament last weekend, televised by NBC, was determined when some fool in the crowd hollered during the backswing of co-leader Mardy Fish, pro tennis player, allowing Stephen Curry to win.

Fish claimed that when confronted afterward, the offending fool admitted he had a bet on Curry. As they say in cockney, “Shock of me life.”

Mardy Fish had a fan shout during one of his swings at the American Century Championship last weekend.

Mardy Fish had a fan shout during one of his swings at the American Century Championship last weekend.
Getty Images

Could see such coming several years ago when betting on players, with the PGA Tour’s encouragement for its cut began. Jason Day, one of the nicest men on Tour, withdrew with a bad back after one round, then was upset and flabbergasted when he received a pile of hate-filled emails from “fans.”

And there’s plenty more where they came from.

The easiest MLB team to root against? I’d go with the Padres.

Despite an annually overflowing payroll, the team is loaded with loud-mouthed, vulgar, jog-to-first overpaid preening showboats Juan Soto, Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr.

Fernando Tatis Jr. and the Padres have struggled this year despite their massive payroll.

Fernando Tatis Jr. and the Padres have struggled this year despite their massive payroll.
Getty Images

As of Friday, the Padres, with their $251 million payroll — third highest behind the Mets and Yankees, two other overpaid, underachieving teams — were 46-51.

As reader Bill Hoyt writes, the Padres will give Machado a Gatorade shower for “turning a double into a double.”

Thursday, there were just 10 MLB games played. But six teams struck out a minimum of 11 times. Three K’d 13 times, one 14 times, one 15 times. In Twins-Mariners the DHs struck out five times in eight at-bats.

Small wonder camp kids at summer afternoon games look so bored. I used to be on the edge of my upper deck outfield seat.