SAT Prep for Bears

by Ryan

This is a bear.

Clearly, this bear is a Red Sox fan. Despite being a Red Sox Bear he lives in Western New York, which is about 450 miles from Fenway Park in Boston. This would be viewed as a problem for some but he is serious about being a Red Sox bear, and so he bought this. He even bought the Premium package because he’s a bear that demands to watch NESN, and demands to watch it in HD. By all accounts he is a good bear. A happy bear.

This bear knows the limitations of the package, and is usually realistic about such things. He can’t watch the Mets or Yankees because they are on TV. He doesn’t understand why Pirates or Indians games are blacked out, but all of their good players seem to end up elsewhere, so he can watch them there. When the Red Sox play any of those teams that means no internet feed of the games, but the Pirates and Mets are in the National League, and the Yankees are on TV. Having to listen to Michael Kay isn’t a good time, but this is a devoted Red Sox Bear. The Cleveland Indians are an issue this bear has yet to solve, but that is only a few times a year. All and all, he is a happy bear.

Except on weekends, when this nasty rule comes into play:

Regular Season Weekend U.S. National Live Blackout: Due to Major League Baseball exclusivities, live games occurring each Saturday with a scheduled start time after 1:10 PM ET or before 7:05 PM ET and each Sunday with a scheduled start time after 5:00 PM ET, will be blacked out in the United States (including the territories of Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands).

That means any game picked to be broadcast by Fox or ESPN can’t be watched online. That’s not a big deal for ESPN, which only picks one game on Sunday night, but Fox makes things difficult by picking three or four games and regionalizing the coverage. That means the Red Sox can only be watched by people in Boston and wherever the team they are playing is from. This makes the bear angry, but not angry enough to maul anyone just yet. He can watch the game after it is over, usually late at night while eating some honey. He is still a relatively happy bear.

Except when Fox picks FOUR interleague games, MLB Network picks THREE games and none of them on TV that night are Red Sox/Phillies. That’s 7 out of 15 baseball games not available, almost half of the games that day completely blacked out. This is something that makes for a very angry bear, especially when Daisuke Matsuzaka has a no hitter going in the eighth inning and you have no legal way of seeing it. No way at all, and Fox isn’t leaving the Yankees/Mets game despite it being all but decided. This makes for a very angry bear indeed.

Of course he can watch the game when it is over, but that is beside the point. The fact that the archaic blackout schedule means there is no way to see a potentially historic baseball game despite doing everything he possibly can to watch that baseball game is absolutely insane. No matter what package he bought, no matter what application he downloaded for his bearphone, it would be impossible for a bear living in Western New York to watch Dice-K throw 7 2/3 hitless innings against the Phillies.

Let’s say this bear was very, very devoted. He listened on the radio and knew Matsuzaka went through the first inning unscathed. At that point he decided something special was going to happen tonight and he needed to see this game. This bear needed somewhere to watch this game, he had to beat the blackout. The game started at 7:10, and so the bottom of the first inning probably ended at 7:26 or so. The game took 2 hours and 56 minutes to complete, and so that means he had 2.5 hours to get somewhere to watch at least a single pitch of this game. Trains and airplanes are out of the question, and so the bear grabs his keys and gets into his car. If he is a reckless bear and drives 80 MPH somewhere, he will travel 200 miles by the end of the game. If his bearmath is correct, his possible destinations are somewhere in this radius:

The radius should actually be much smaller because it is impossible to drive directly to any point on that map, but the bear feels like being generous. In any event, Boston and Philadelphia are not in that circle. In fact, the only city that would potentially have the Phillies game on is Scranton, PA. However, a quick check of their broadcast schedule says that they saw the Yankees game on Saturday night, too. In other words, there is literally no way this bear could have watched that game. This is a bear that should be very angry, but after doing all that research he is too tired to do any mauling.

The impossibility of the situation is actually quite sad. He could be the most Red Sox of Red Sox Bears, but watching his team is made impossible by muddled rules that have existed for far longer than the technology they hamper. The MLB punishes its most devout, profitable fans with rules that simply don’t make sense anymore, and no one is interested in fixing it. The potential history of Saturday’s game makes this single case more apparent, but this is something that happens every single weekend in baseball, and no one understands why. All it does is make for very angry bears, and important moments missed.


  1. Boo hoo for Red Sox Bear. Try being a Pirates fan. They haven’t had a .500 season in almost two decades AND I can’t watch them on TV. (I mean, maybe MLB is trying to save me from myself but still!) 😛

  2. Heather,

    I totally agree that the Pirates thing is even worse. I honestly can’t understand why we get the games blacked out here. I understand blackout logic, but any rationale I use on my own just doesn’t correlate with it at all.

  3. So what you’re saying, then, is that MLB’s archaic blackout rules are pretty unbearable.

  4. @Mike: [CSI:Miami] YEEEEAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!!! [/CSI:Miami]

  5. Ogre39666

    I’m a Sabres fan who lives about 400 miles from the Sabres so I know the struggle.