Saturday, April 2, 2011

If the Padres Win and I Don't See It, Did It Happen?

MLB as an organization can sometimes do the most frustrating things. For some reason, they seem dead set on ensuring that they never create any new fans. They have accomplished this goal in a variety of ways: putting a stranglehold on their footage which makes it nearly impossible to find clips of classic games (try to YouTube Joe Carter's World Series Winning HR and see if you can find a clip that wasn't just recorded by someone off their own TV); utilizing an insane blackout policy that, most notably, blacks out games for 6 teams in Las Vegas, which is home to a grand total of 0; and consistently dropping the ball on Opening Day.

Opening Day is fantastic and every baseball fan in America looks forward to it with the same zeal and excitement of Christmas. In previous years, MLB has started the "Opening Night" which I believed to be the previous years World Series champion in a one game showcase for the sport followed by Opening Day for everyone else (though, if memory serves, I think the Nationals had this honor once when their new stadium opened). Not a bad idea. Stealing a page from the NFL, MLB had created "an event" to bring people in.

So, one would assume the Giants would be playing in "Opening Night" this year, no? Wrong. Yes, the Giants did play a night game and yes it was on Opening Day, but it was at the end of a day full of games in the middle of the week. The first slate of MLB games for the 2011 season took place while most of America was at work. Nothing creates new fans like showcasing your sport at a time that no one can watch it. Brilliant.

To that end, the Padres opened their 2011 campaign in St. Louis at a 1:00pm start here on the West Coast. No chance to watch this while at work, so I set my DVR to record the nationally televised game on ESPN. Even tacked on an extra hour, a veteran move for anyone trying to record live sports (won't tell you how many last second drives, overtimes or 9th innings I've missed by not doing this).

Full disclosure: I live in Riverside, CA; outside the San Diego television market and outside the blackout radius for the San Diego Padres per MLB. Since moving up here more than a year ago, I have seen the Padres on MLB Network, Fox and ESPN without an issue.

Except for Opening Day. After watching the final inning of the Tigers vs Yankees game, I settled in for Tim Stauffer and the new look Padres. What I got was ESPNNews. 4 hours of ESPNNews.

I was less than pleasant to be around at this point.

After some cursing and venting via Twitter, I had to face reality. I wasn't going to be able to see the game. Therefore, might as well left the "information embargo" I had begun since 1:00pm and find out who won.

What I saw was stories of the Cameron Maybin Show. Diving catches, a game tying, down to their last out, HR in the 9th and an overall display of the potential that made him worth the relievers it cost to get him. It was a thrilling game and was reminiscent of so many of the 90 wins from 2010.

The Padres opened the 2011 campaign by winning in dramatic fashion against a team and in a city where they notoriously struggle.

Or so I'm told. Since I couldn't see it. Congratulations, you just got yourself a new customer.

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