At about the same time every year, I find myself with too much time on my hands. The Vikings have finished another season without a Lombardi Trophy, the Timberwolves are hardly a basketball team, and the Wild fail to do The State of Hockey hockey proud. What is a Minnesota sports junkie living in Chicago supposed to do?
Thankfully, the start of baseball season is upon us. Teams have reported to Spring Training, and the first game of spring is this Sunday night (February 27). All across the country, sports fans like me live in hostile territory, transplanted from their home market with few options for keeping up with their favorite team.
Fortunately, one option is fantastic in every way.
MLB.TV allows sports fans to stream any out-of-market game during the regular season over the internet. For an arguably reasonable price of $120, fans of America’s Pastime have the entire season at their fingertips, in their living rooms, at the airport, at work, or anywhere else you can imagine. The package comes with video broadcasts of every out-of-market televised game, as well as the radio broadcasts of every game for the times when watching the game is not an option.
This works quite well using the web-based player on a PC, but it truly dazzles when it comes to my favorite PS3 app (sorry, Netflix). On days where my home internet was running fast, I was able to stream Twins games in 720p. On the other days, the video quality could be degraded gracefully to match connection speed, keeping me from missing any of the action. Since living in Chicago would otherwise limit me to watching the Twins play the White Sox if the Cubs don’t have a game the same day, this subscription is a godsend.
As for the user interface, it’s all fairly standard design. The video player has pause, rewind, slow motion, and fast forward controls, as you would expect. If you have a DVR, this won’t add much to your viewing pleasure. If you’re like me and stuck with obsolete DirecTV equipment, you’ll wonder how you ever watched a sporting event without it.
A couple of the more attractive features include the ability to switch between broadcasts for the current game. If the game is televised in each team’s home market, you can choose which feed to watch on the fly. Also, if watching A-Roid run up the score with his artificially enhanced muscles gets boring, you can easily pick a different game to watch, all without leaving the UI. Overall, it’s much more convenient than the less-developed PC interface.
MLB.TV is not without its drawbacks, however. For one, the commercial breaks are incredibly boring, even by baseball’s standards. On the PS3 app, you just get a blue screen informing you that your game will resume shortly. On the PC, they play lame commercials later on in the season, and is about as exciting as a game of curling. Occasionally, the game fails to resume streaming after a commercial break, which the only fix is to exit the game screen and re-load it. Nothing horrible, but annoying nonetheless.
With the second season of MLB.TV on the PS3, I’m sure the app will be better than ever. If they can make the commercial breaks less boring and fix the occasional streaming glitch, Major League Baseball just may knock another one out of the park. If you’re a huge baseball fan and you didn’t check it out last year, make sure you don’t miss out on any of the action this year.