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As @diarrhea_dad might say when the subject of MLB’s blackout policy comes up, “Oh god.”

It’s terrible, and the real bottom of the barrel bullshit is what happens Saturday afternoons on Fox. Say there’s three games scheduled: Yankees vs. Red Sox, Phillies vs. Braves, and Brewers vs. Cubs. Of course one would be able to see those teams in their respective home markets, but things get really fucking annoying when you’re living outside of your favorite team’s home city. Let’s say you’re a Phils fan living in LA and the local Fox affiliate isn’t showing that game, which makes sense because you’re 3000 miles away. You’re stuck watching a 5-hour broadcast of the GREATEST RIVALRY OF ALL-TIME Yankees vs. Red Sox where half the game will be cutaways to pointless manager interviews and Tim McCarver spewing excessive Derek Jeter praise. And the worst thing of all, even if you shell out the money for MLB TV, it’s still no game for you. You’re blacked out.

So why is this? Does MLB hate us? It sure as hell seems like it sometimes. But according to the the blackout policy’s Wikipedia page (h/t to Wikipedia), that’s not the case at all:

Fox has certain rights for afternoon MLB games on Saturdays, and ESPN has the same rights for night games on Sundays. Broadcasters cannot show games of in-market teams, regardless of whether the game is home or away, if the game of the local team has a certain start time (usually there are no other games scheduled at these times). This, at least theoretically, is to make people watch the out-of-market game on ESPN or Fox. The reasoning is that since people will not be able to watch their favorite team, they may be willing to settle for some baseball, even if it involves teams they are not as excited about. This results in higher ratings for the national broadcaster by pulling baseball fans away from watching their own team.

Thanks, MLB and Fox!

But moving onto the map posted above, there’s yet more dumb things about the blackout policy. And I actually had fun with this part, mostly because I like looking at maps.

If you live in Las Vegas or Iowa, you’re basically fucked when it comes to watching games, even if you have MLB TV. There is the potential to miss six games (a total of 12 teams) because the blackout territories are needlessly massive.

Those of you lucky enough to live in Iowa (and I’ve been there before, so I’m being sincere when I say “lucky”), are in the blackout territories of the Cubs, White Sox, Brewers, Twins, Cardinals, and Royals. Let’s say you live in Northwood, which is on the Minnesota border slightly over 100 miles from the Twin Cities. The local cable system probably airs every Twins game. But what if you just moved there from Kansas City and are a rabid Royals fan? First off, I’m sorry, but secondly, you’re screwed if you wanna catch your team. You’re likely not going to find your team on TV, and even if you pay for MLB TV, Bud Selig says “haha” because you still can’t see your team. You’ve been blacked-out! Note that Northwood is 333 miles from Kansas City.

Las Vegas and southern Nevada is dealing with the same minefield of ridiculousness. Don’t even think about buying MLB TV, because there won’t be any Athletics, Giants, Angels, Dodgers, Padres, or Diamondbacks games for you. And by the way, the Bay Area is over 550 miles away. Well, there’s always the radio broadcasts.

But things can’t get worse than they do in Homestead, Montana. Residents of this city are part of the Mariners blackout territory, although it’s 1146 miles from Seattle. Local cable probably isn’t showing the team. It’s worth noting that both Minneapolis and Denver are around 700 miles away, yet those teams are not blacked out. Seems logical.

MLB, get your shit together.



  1. Jason says:

    You forgot about Hawaii and Canada, all of the west coast teams claim the entire state of Hawaii which is over 3000 miles away and claiming an entire country for Toronto – thats rather bold.

    • dsloan says:

      You’re right, I did forget them. Canada I did consider, but it slipped my mind at the end. With Hawaii, I never even considered them, but I am not surprised that all of the west coast teams claim the state. If MLB really wants to hold onto the blackout policy, but have some sort of middle ground with fans in areas that are heavily effected (IA, south NV, HI, Canada), there should be some sort of graduated payment scheme. Some folks should be paying less because they are receiving less of the product.

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