Far be it for any fan of a team, whose loftiest goal in 2012 is to stay out of the AL West cellar, to complain about TV coverage. Yet here I am, and I will. Normally at this time of year I’d be coming off of SF Beer Week and looking forward to NCAA basketball conference tournaments and the Big Dance. As I wrote yesterday, it’s all baseball for me this year. Whether this becomes a tradition is unclear. For now I’m going with it.
CSN California will carry 144 out of 162 regular season games this year, plus one spring training contest (and one A’s-Giants tilt on CSN Bay Area). Fox Sports will have two games per their Saturday game-of-the-week. The A’s don’t show up on ESPN’s national schedule. TBS hasn’t even published their schedule yet. MLB Network and MLB.tv will show another five spring training games. The coverage gaps are in the places we as A’s fans have become accustomed: midweek getaway day games.
I’ve already renewed my MLB radio subscription, so I don’t expect to miss anything regardless of where I am, starting tomorrow. I don’t need to see every spring training, especially the split squad affairs. But I am concerned about the first two games of the regular season, which are technically home games to be played at the Tokyo Dome. The two games will have their first pitches at 3:10 and 2:10 AM Pacific Time on 3/28 and 3/29, respectively. Four years ago, when the A’s were playing San Jose State to Boston’s Nebraska, the games were broadcast on ESPN, so if you wanted to stay up the games were there. This year that may not be the case.
For weeks now the games have shown up on the schedule for Mariners’ RSN ROOT Sports, and not on CSN California’s schedule. To get some clarity, I reached out to friend-of-the-blog and ace CSN producer Casey Pratt. He confirmed that CSNCA would not be carrying the games, whereas ROOT Sports would, and that there was a chance that MLB Network may carry those games even though they’re not on the schedule. An arrangement could be made per MLB Network’s retransmission agreements with the various RSNs. If it can’t, it’ll be a strange way to start the season, with no TV. Even if MLB Network were to delay it for rebroadcast in the morning, that would be fine. I’m not certain if the blackout rule for the premium Extra Innings or MLB.tv packages would be applicable in this case, with the A’s being the “home” team.
Japan games aside, the TV schedule isn’t too bad. I’d prefer every game to be televised, but if the businessperson specials aren’t that’s more reason to get out to the Coliseum. I don’t mind that one bit. That first time I hear Ken Korach describing balls and strikes, I’ll know spring’s here. Bring it on.