TechnoBuffalo celebrates MLB opening day with a series of articles on where geeks meet jocks: TechnoBaseball!
When I was a kid growing up in Upstate New York, summertime meant falling asleep on the couch to Mets games on the TV. Back then the games were broadcast on channel 9, a local NYC-area station that we got via cable, and after a long day of playing basketball and swimming with my friends, I rarely lasted past the 7th inning, no matter how many batters Doc Gooden was striking out.
As a 20something living in Brooklyn, I worked mainly as a freelancer or teacher, both of which meant I often had time on my hands come summer. Being 20something in New York City, my nights were usually given over to pursuing ridiculous ways to spend too much money without actually meeting any girls, which meant I wasn’t falling asleep to many baseball games on the tube. But I do have fond memories of listening to the occasional afternoon game broadcast to my Walkman via WFAN while I lay in our backyard hammock roasting in the Brooklyn humidity. Ahh, good times!
Fast forward to today and you need neither cable TV nor a transistor radio to follow your favorite major league teams. Internets, laptops, iPads and Androids make it easier than ever before to watch or listen to live broadcasts (and replays) and keep tabs on more stats and trade rumors than a person should ever think about during July. So ditch the Cable TV bill, and trade that AM radio in on a smartphone, and follow MLB the modern way: Using the Internet. I still recommend the old fashioned comforts of a couch and/or hammock, however.
Watching Games Online
The easiest, best, and most official way to watch baseball games on the Internet is through MLB.tv. The official streaming service of Major League Baseball, MLB.tv offers two subscription options: The basic package costs $19.99/month or $99.99/year, while the premium service will run you $24.99/month or $119.99/year. Both deals offer live and archived broadcasts of games including HD quality (where available), in-game stats, audio options that let you choose from multiple broadcasters calling the same game, live scores from around the league, and fantasy baseball stats. The premium service steps things up with home and away broadcasts, DVR controls during live games, and fancy PIP and split screen viewing options.
Also, you can watch games on your computer, iOS/Android device, and via multiple connected TV options including Apple TV and PS3.
I demo’d the service last year and it’s really top notch. For the hardcore baseball fan who doesn’t want cable TV, wants to watch games on the go, and/or just wants to stay on top of literally every pitch being thrown, it’s hard to imagine something better than MLB.tv. Unless, of course, you don’t want to pay, or don’t need to actually want to watch the games. Then there are chepaer options (keep reading).
ESPN3, the online branch of The WorldWide Leader in Sports’ ever-growing athletics media empire, will be broadcasting a bunch of MLB games this season. Subscribers to participating broadband Internet providers get “free” access to ESPN3, as do folks on college campuses and military bases. You don’t need a cable TV subscription to access ESPN3, but you do need access to one of those participating ISPs, and you’ll also need a computer or Xbox 360 with an Xbox Live Gold account.
There are also a host of sometimes-up, sometimes-down, maybe not quite legal ways to watch video streams of MLB games online. Ranging from quasi-professional operations that require special P2P apps and paid subscriptions to, literally, some woman who points a webcam at her TV set during Milwaukee Brewers games and streams the image via Justin.tv, these “services” are plentiful, generally unreliable, and not at all endorsed by our legal department. But, hey, you might find a needle in a haystack – it is the Internet, after all. If you’ve got the will, and the time, there might be a way; I suggest starting with a simple Google search.
Listening to Games via Internet Radio
Baseball is, perhaps, the ultimate radio sport. The game is literally designed for announcer-cum-storytellers who can fill time between pitches with anecdotes, tall tales, and off-the-field yarns brought to life with a mystical combination of Mark Twain’s turns of phrase and James Earl Jones’ vocal presence. While AM radio has long been the hometown baseball fan’s best friend, and satellite radio now offers a pay-per-listen solution for the diehard fan, more and more stations are offering live simulcasts for free via their Websites and/or internet radio directories.
FreeBaseballRadio offers a handy, simple, and totally amateur (I mean that in a good way) website that offers up a daily schedule of MLB games with links to radio stations offering play-by-plays online. Browsing for stations by day, game, or team is easy, and the site offers a full MLB season schedule as well. Your mileage may vary with certain of the linked stations, particularly if you’re using a Mac and/or don’t have your Web plug-ins up to date. But it’s easy and quick enough to surf on over to the site and see if they have any active, quick-loading links to coverage of your favorite team.
Major League Baseball’s Gameday Audio service offers full access to home, away, and alternate broadcasts of every regular and post-season game for $19.99/year. Subscriptions include access to game archives, and free subscriptions are available as promotional add-ons to certain fantasy baseball toolkit subscriptions. Gameday Audio isn’t free, but it offers everything in one fell swoop.
Various other services, including Apple’s iTunes, offer audio and video highlights, game of the week packages, and other goodies for baseball fans. If you’re looking for baseball online and not satisfied with the small handful of choices outlined here, searching for “watch baseball” or “listen to baseball” plus the name of your favorite media service should do the trick.
And don’t forget about the thousands of sites that meticulously track statistics, offer pitch-by-pitch “gamecasts” and offer plenty of virtual bleacher seats from which to hang out with your fellow fan and talk about the Boys of Summer. Got a favorite place to watch, listen to, or talk baseball online? Share your secret hangouts in the comments!