But What Do You Do Between Innings?


Now that you mention it, I would like to buy a Volvo.

One thing I find interesting about the MLB.tv experience is the “commercial breaks.” To my knowledge they don’t show actual TV ads. Instead, they show either 1) the team logos or 2) MLB promos or 3) pictures of Volvos (and other static image ads).

Contrast this with other inter-inning experiences. In the olden days, watching games on cable TV, commercials gently enwrapped my attentions from the moment the game action paused until the moment it returned. Unless I desperately needed the fridge or some other domestic facility, I’d stay put between innings. At the ballpark, by comparison, there isn’t a lot of worthwhile inter-inning entertainment (apologies to Cotton Eye Joe). Normally I’ll chat with companions or buy beer.

MLB.tv is different. When I’m watching on my computer, I can flip to another game when whatever I’m watching goes into a break. This is fun, although it comes with an ADD factor; I find myself less immersed in the atmosphere and discrete drama of each game when I’m switching between two or more.

The real conundrum is what to do with myself during commercials when I’ve hooked MLB.tv up to my living room TV, because then it’s too much trouble to get up and switch to another game. And until I figure something out I’m stuck on my couch watching slideshows of Volvos.

The MLB.tv-from-the-couch experience is, if you will, the developing world/final frontier of baseball watching, and sitting here at the brink of the abyss I feel a vertiginous indecision over how to conduct myself. Read a book? Check email? Play a very short game of Call of Duty? Think about… junk? Frankly, I’m not quite sure why corporate America is leaving this decision up to me.




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16 Responses to “But What Do You Do Between Innings?”

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  1. Eric says:

    “At the ballpark, by comparison, there isn’t a lot of worthwhile inter-inning entertainment (apologies to Cotton Eye Joe). Normally I’ll chat with companions or buy beer.”

    My heart breaks — I can’t be the only one who attends games for the drama of the dot race, the agonizing count down as a small child tries to “steal” a base, or the pure human joy of the kiss cam! Inter-inning entertainment you say? I say main attraction.

    –OT aside that sort of applies to inter-inning breaks and shortening the game. The NCAA has introduced a pitch clock that gives pitchers 20seconds between pitches (it starts once the umpire makes a ball/strike call, I believe) when no one is on base, or 90 seconds after an out. If the ball is not delivered before the clock expires, it is called a ball; if the batter is not in the box, he gets a strike. At first I thought it was kind of silly, but it has really grown on me.

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    • Leo Martin says:

      I am firmly in the speeding-up-the-game camp, which is a whole other topic. The NCAA pitch clock is one idea. However, it seems like one thing that’s pretty central and special and wrapped up in the identity of baseball is: no clocks. Clocks are the ultimate source of all stress and misery in this world. Do we really want to admit clocks to the last remaining citadel of leisure?

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      • Eric says:

        I tend to agree on the idea of no clocks being a special thing about baseball.* The pitch clock, I would argue, is a nice exception. The overall game is still not timed, and the clock goes away when there is a baserunner. My first thought was that it seemed silly, but it only took a few games for me to appreciate the limitation on the pitcher delaying on the mound, or the batter taking to much time with elaborate rituals. And I say this even though the only strikes I’ve seen given were to my team (same guy, in fact).

        But, I don’t think it will ever happen in the majors. The fuss would be too great.

        *With the notable exception of youth leagues. Time limits on games can be a wonderful thing.

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        • Leo Martin says:

          For youth leagues I advocate something called the “error clock.” When the sixth error is made, that’s it, pack your bags, game over. The number of errors can be adjusted by league level.

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  2. Sam says:

    I tend to check my fantasy baseball scores while the MLB.tv breaks are occurring. Wondering how other subscribers find their “reception” when hooked up to their tv’s. I’m noticing a lot of “loading” periods during some games and would like to know if that is indicative of the service or just my lame internet service.

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    • Leo Martin says:

      Mine has been hit and miss so far. I’ve gotten great resolution for the most part with occasional loading pauses (not terrible, but annoying). Typically it’s kind of problematic for the start of the season, then gets better as MLB Advanced Media fixes stuff/the audience drops off a little.

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  3. Temo says:

    I start games a half hour late so I can use my MLB.tv like a DVR and fast forward through the commercial breaks. You’ll find that watching without 2 minute commercial breaks actually breaks the ADD factor in the other direction, and you’re more deeply immersed in the game than you’ve ever been.

    Of course the downside is that I have to disconnect myself from the internet (ie, my smartphone) for the 2.5 hours I’m watching, lest I get a compromising email or text about the game I’m watching. Some can’t deal with that kind of disconnection.

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    • Leo Martin says:

      Some would say that disconnection is what makes sports great. Some would disagree — I think an opportunity to get wrapped up in a game is a great thing.

      Good idea with the delay, I wonder if that improves streaming quality too.

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      • Temo says:

        Disconnection is what makes EVERYTHING great! I whole heartedly endorse the end of multi-tasking and being fully engrossed in whatever it is you feel like doing, at any point!

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  4. CSJ says:

    When I really have time to just sit and watch a game, I like to read a book during it. Or, get MiLB.TV and put that on your computer while watching MLB.TV on your tv. Or you can watch a MLB.TV game on your computer as well.

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  5. Steve says:

    It’s too bad mlb.tv doesn’t keep a small frame in the corner of the screen open to the game so you can play Moundball from your couch with your buddies.

    But since they don’t and because there’s nothing more annoying than watching the same stupid Coors Light commercial after every three outs and pitching change, mlb.tv’s commercial breaks are but another reason everyone should have a fantasy baseball team or two. Check your team every half inning, curse yourself for once again drafting Nick Markakis (this was his year!), and go back to your game.

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  6. What city is that Volvo in, do you think? San Francisco? I’m going with San Francisco.

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    • Temo says:

      The people in that picture look way too purpose driven and industrious to be San Franciscans.

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      • Leo Martin says:

        Agreed — in SF that SUV would be getting keyed by a homeless guy.

        Why would a homeless guy have keys, you ask? To key SUVs with. That’s why.

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        • Temo says:

          True story: Some friends of mine was on a road trip when they stopped in San Francisco for some breakfast. While sitting by a window in the cafe, they helplessly watched a homeless man smash open the window of their car and pilfer a $1,800 Macbook, running away before they could make it outside to stop him.

          Now, he probably stole it to sell it for cash, but I like to think that even the homeless in San Francisco are Apple fanboys.

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  7. KevinM says:

    Mid 2013 and I’m still looking at “commercial break in progress” . How horribly uncreative.

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