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Review: Watching MLB.TV Within the Bosom of France

The author wouldn’t mind faire-ing a couple of bises with the French First Lady.

If there’s anything more annoying than a young, childless person spending two-plus weeks in the South of France at the height of summer, it’s to hear that same young, childless person complain about spending two-plus weeks in the South of France at the height of summer.

Because, it’s a fact, reader: the South of France is an exercise in charm. The women are almost uniformly beautiful*; the weather is warm and dry; the vin is equal parts delicious and affordable; and the picturesque, winding rues are absurd in their picturesque-ness and winding-osity. Moreoever, an inability to understand the native language means that one is free from accidentally overhearing inane conversations that might interfere with the traveler’s illusions about this land of milk and fine honeys.

*Led, notably, by First Lady-cum-supermodel-cum-heiress-cum-classically-trained-musician Carla Bruni.

For the baseballing enthusiast, however, there’s a small sable cloud attached to the vast expanse of silver lining that is this wonderland of sophistication and perpetual drunkeness — namely, the difficulty in ever watching even a second of live baseball.

When you talk about Carson Cistulli, you’re talking about a guy who has both (a) a subscription to MLB.TV and (b) an iPod Touch, which device (i.e. the Touch) affords the would-be baseball watcher Maximum Portability™ in his baseball-watching endeavors. However, portability isn’t the real issue. The real issue is the earth’s rotation relative to the sun — and the effects of all that on the human sleep cycle.

Monday night, for example, offered a Len Kasper-broadcasted Roy Halladay start — an affair made even more interesting to the present author, owing to how Halladay anchors his (read: my) first-place fantasy team. Tuesday night offered another appealing match-up: chart-topping lefty Cliff Lee versus even-more-chart-topping righty Matt Garza — again, all narrated by the very able Len Kasper.

The great difficulty, of course, is that both games began at 7pm CT — or 2am GMT+1. It would be accurate to say that Carson Cistulli is not at his alertest at this hour of the evening. It would be equally accurate to say that he (read: I) watched a grand total of five innings between the aforementioned games before falling into dreamless slumber.

It’s at this point that the reader might proffer a number of suggestions. Like, one of them might be, “Watch a recorded game the next morning.” Another might be, “Perhaps watch only afternoon games.” A third might look something like, “Shut up, you effing eff-face.”

The first point is fine, but slightly disingenuous, I’ll suggest, as one of the great draws of sport is its improvisational nature. To know that the result of a game exists somewhere out there necessarily makes that game less interesting. To the second point, I say, “Sure.” I also say: “There are only so many afternoon games, and many of them involve the sad, sad Chicago Nationals — a team that’s even less interesting when not getting pitched at by great Phillies pitchers.” As regards point No. 3 (apropos what I can do with my eff-face), I offer no comment.

One unexpected benefit of using MLB.TV abroad is not only that the viewer is free of absurd in-market blackouts, but that one is also not subject to the Saturday blackout of FOX games. If nothing else, this frees the viewer from having to monitor the TV Guide, or its equivalent, for which FOX game will be broadcast locally.