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MLB’s Blackout Rules Are Archaic & Hurt Fans

“Guam, a US Territory not part of the continental US, blacks out San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s games. Yep, Guam, which requires a layover in Hawaii if you’re flying there from the contiguous United States.”

Seth Everett



Baseball began an ambitious opening day, trying to appeal to a younger demographic.  The 2021 Opening Day will have limited (except in Texas) fans in the stands, and hope springs eternal. Still, the beginning of the season reminds TV viewers how backward the MLB blackout rules are, even in markets where the regional sports network is not available.

Here are a few cases in point.  If you live in Louisiana, you are considered the home market for the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers. That is not comparing Pearland, Texas to Houston.  That’s over 350 miles from New Orleans to Minute Maid Park.  

MLB would rather force a baseball fan in New Orleans to find a cable service than accept $119 for MLB.TV.

Billings, Montana is 817 miles from T-Mobile Park in Seattle, Washington.  Still, MLB.TV considers Billings the home territory and subject to local blackouts. It would take 12 hours to drive to Seattle from Billings (I have done that drive; it’s brutal).  

That hardly tells the whole story.  The Mariners’ territory includes 560,000 square miles and includes seven states, including North Dakota and Alaska.

Guam, a US Territory not part of the continental US, blacks out San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s games.  Yep, Guam, which requires a layover in Hawaii if you’re flying there from the contiguous United States.

This is not even about the subject of my column two weeks ago about how teams across all sports make it nearly impossible to watch local markets.

Baseball tries to compensate for this ridiculous suck-up by teams to their cable networks by lifting all blackout restrictions on streaming the radio calls of their game.  

Yes, someone reading this today remembers lying in their room somewhere in middle America trying to get the Cardinals game on the KMOX signal, which could broadcast at night in 35 states and even other countries.  Make sure to get the antenna just right.

Radio play-by-play in baseball is the easiest on the ears of all sports. Even the greatest play-by-play announcers acknowledge that football, basketball, and hockey are tough to follow along (as a listener) but the broadcast is good for people who want to know what is going on in the game.

Still, we live in 2021, and the technology in smartphones is a little beyond what first got us to the moon, let alone what is in that transistor radio antenna. The tech capabilities to broadcast video on smartphones, tablets, and televisions make the video feed too attractive and rubs in the fact that you can live a thousand miles away from a team, and still fall into that club’s home territory.

The crème de la crème of MLB blackout nonsense is Las Vegas, Nevada.  Enter in a Vegas zip code into MLB.COM’s TV website.  The blackouts include the Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Angels, Oakland A’s, and San Francisco Giants.

Iowa blacks out six teams as well.  Live in Des Moines?  Don’t expect to see the Chicago Cubs, Kansas City Royals, Minnesota Twins, Chicago White Sox, Milwaukee Brewers, and St. Louis Cardinals. The absurdity of this shows that if you build it, not only are they not coming, they won’t let you see half a dozen teams.

This is one of the dumbest things I have seen in sports media. I worked for MLB Advanced Media from 2001-2008, and I learned about this map back then. I can recall asking then-Commissioner Bud Selig at an All-Star game FanFest chat when baseball would redraw the blackout map. He said it was, “on the agenda.” Well, there’s always next year. (They say that in baseball a lot, right?)

After the column I wrote about cord-cutting, I heard from a lot of people on social media reminding me about VPN usage, and how to get around the ridiculous rules.

I can report, that while VPNs can get your devices to show that your location is not where you actually are.  So if MLB.TV thinks you are in Georgia when you are actually in Brooklyn, NY I can confirm that you are NOT breaking the law.

You are violating the terms of service if you use a VPN. With the VPN, you are streaming the game from a different location where blackouts are not in place. This is according to what I’ve read, not tried.

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While normally I ask that you tell me how you are doing, do me a favor.  Don’t tell me, and I won’t testify against you.

One thank you to my former employers at MLB Advanced Media, they still call the streaming audio component “MLB Audio.” In the early years of MLB.COM’s streaming, they called it “Gameday Audio,” so as not to confuse fans with MLB Radio.  MLB Radio hasn’t been on the air in any capacity for over a decade, and yet, they still won’t call it MLB Radio. 

BSM Writers

Being Wrong On-Air Isn’t A Bad Thing

…if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign.




In the press conference after the Warriors won their fourth NBA title in eight years, Steph Curry referenced a very specific gesture from a very specific episode of Get Up that aired in August 2021.

“Clearly remember some experts and talking heads putting up the big zero,” Curry said, then holding up a hollowed fist to one eye, looking through it as if it were a telescope.

“How many championships we would have going forward because of everything we went through.”

Yep, Kendrick Perkins and Domonique Foxworth each predicted the Warriors wouldn’t win a single title over the course of the four-year extension Curry had just signed. The Warriors won the NBA title and guess what? Curry gets to gloat.

The funny part to me was the people who felt Perkins or Foxworth should be mad or embarrassed. Why? Because they were wrong?

That’s part of the game. If you’re a host or analyst who is never wrong in a prediction, it’s more likely that you’re excruciatingly boring than exceedingly smart. Being wrong is not necessarily fun, but it’s not a bad thing in this business.

You shouldn’t try to be wrong, but you shouldn’t be afraid of it, either. And if you are wrong, own it. Hold your L as I’ve heard the kids say. Don’t try to minimize it or explain it or try to point out how many other people are wrong, too. Do what Kendrick Perkins did on Get Up the day after the Warriors won the title.

“When they go on to win it, guess what?” He said, sitting next to Mike Greenberg. “You have to eat that.”

Do not do what Perkins did later that morning on First Take.

Perkins: “I come on here and it’s cool, right? Y’all can pull up Perk receipts and things to that nature. And then you give other people a pass like J-Will.”

Jason Williams: “I don’t get passes on this show.”

Perkins: “You had to, you had a receipt, too, because me and you both picked the Memphis Grizzlies to beat the Golden State Warriors, but I’m OK with that. I’m OK with that. Go ahead Stephen A. I know you’re about to have fun and do your thing. Go ahead.”

Stephen A. Smith: “First of all, I’m going to get serious for a second with the both of you, especially you, Perk, and I want to tell you something right now. Let me throw myself on Front Street, we can sit up there and make fun of me. You know how many damn Finals predictions I got wrong? I don’t give a damn. I mean, I got a whole bunch of them wrong. Ain’t no reason to come on the air and defend yourself. Perk, listen man. You were wrong. And we making fun, and Steph Curry making fun of you. You laugh at that my brother. He got you today. That’s all. He got you today.”

It’s absolutely great advice, and if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign. It means they’re not just listening, but holding on to what you say. You matter. Don’t ruin that by getting defensive and testy.


I did a double-take when I saw Chris Russo’s list of the greatest QB-TE combinations ever on Wednesday and this was before I ever got to Tom Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski listed at No. 5. It was actually No. 4 that stopped me cold: Starr-Kramer.

My first thought: Jerry Kramer didn’t play tight end.

My second thought: I must be unaware of this really good tight end from the Lombardi-era Packers.

After further review, I don’t think that’s necessarily true, either. Ron Kramer did play for the Lombardi-era Packers, and he was a good player. He caught 14 scoring passes in a three-year stretch where he really mattered, but he failed to catch a single touchdown pass in six of the 10 NFL seasons he played. He was named first-team All-Pro once and finished his career with 229 receptions.

Now this is not the only reason that this is an absolutely terrible list. It is the most egregious, however. Bart Starr and Kramer are not among the 25 top QB-TE combinations in NFL history let alone the top five. And if you’re to believe Russo’s list, eighty percent of the top tandems played in the NFL in the 30-year window from 1958 to 1987 with only one tandem from the past 30 years meriting inclusion when this is the era in which tight end production has steadily climbed.

Then I found out that Russo is making $10,000 per appearance on “First Take.”

My first thought: You don’t have to pay that much to get a 60-something white guy to grossly exaggerate how great stuff used to be.

My second thought: That might be the best $10,000 ESPN has ever spent.

Once a week, Russo comes on and draws a reaction out of a younger demographic by playing a good-natured version of Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man. Russo groans to JJ Redick about the lack of fundamental basketball skills in today’s game or he proclaims the majesty of a tight end-quarterback pairing that was among the top five in its decade, but doesn’t sniff the top five of all-time.

And guess what? It works. Redick rolls his eyes, asks Russo which game he’s watching, and on Wednesday he got me to spend a good 25 minutes looking up statistics for some Packers tight end I’d never heard of. Not satisfied with that, I then moved on to determine Russo’s biggest omission from the list, which I’ve concluded is Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates, who connected for 89 touchdowns over 15 seasons, which is only 73 more touchdowns than Kramer scored in his career. John Elway and Shannon Sharpe should be on there, too.

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BSM Writers

Money Isn’t The Key Reason Why Sellers Sell Sports Radio

I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions.

Jeff Caves



Radio Sales

A radio salesperson’s value being purely tied to money is overrated to me. Our managers all believe that our main motivation for selling radio is to make more money. They see no problem in asking us to sell more in various ways because it increases our paycheck. We are offered more money to sell digital, NTR, to sell another station in the cluster, weekend remotes, new direct business, or via the phone in 8 hours. 

But is that why you sell sports radio?

In 2022, the Top 10 highest paying sales jobs are all in technology. Not a media company among them. You could argue that if it were all about making money, we should quit and work in tech. Famous bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed twenty banks over twenty years. He reportedly said,” that’s where the money is”. Sutton is the classic example of a person who wanted what money could provide and was willing to do whatever it took to get it, BUT he also admitted he liked robbing banks and felt alive. So, Sutton didn’t do it just for the money.

A salesperson’s relationship with money and prestige is also at the center of the play Death of a Salesman. Willy Loman is an aging and failing salesman who decides he is worth more dead than alive and kills himself in an auto accident giving his family the death benefit from his life insurance policy. Loman wasn’t working for the money. He wanted the prestige of what money could buy for himself and his family. 

Recently, I met a woman who spent twelve years selling radio from 1999-2011. I asked her why she left her senior sales job. She said she didn’t like the changes in the industry. Consolidation was at its peak, and most salespeople were asked to do more with less help. She described her radio sales job as one with “golden handcuffs”. The station paid her too much money to quit even though she hated the job. She finally quit. The job wasn’t worth the money to her.

I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions. I never wanted to sell anything else and specifically enjoyed selling programming centered around reaching fans of Boise State University football. That’s it. Very similar to what Mark Glynn and his KJR staff experience when selling Kraken hockey and Huskies football.  

I never thought selling sports radio was the best way to make money. I just enjoyed the way I could make money. I focused on the process and what I enjoyed about the position—the freedom to come and go and set my schedule for the most part. I concentrated on annual contracts and clients who wanted to run radio commercials over the air to get more traffic and build their brand.

Most of my clients were local direct and listened to the station. Some other sales initiatives had steep learning curves, were one-day events or contracted out shaky support staff. In other words, the money didn’t motivate me enough. How I spent my time was more important. 

So, if you are in management, maybe consider why your sales staff is working at the station. Because to me, they’d be robbing banks if it were all about making lots of money.  

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table



Demetri Ravanos welcomes the two newest members of the BSM Podcast Network to the show. Brady Farkas and Stephen Strom join for a roundtable discussion that includes the new media, Sage Steele and Roger Goodell telling Congress that Dave Portnoy isn’t banned from NFL events.

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