Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Moving, for the love of the Nats

I love where I live.

I love living downtown and watching the city of Lynchburg grow by the day. I love that I live in a brand new loft for a very affordable rate. I really love that I am only minutes away from my job.

I am moving out of my apartment the second my lease is up.

As of today (January 22, 2013) we stand 20 days till Pitchers and Catchers report for Spring Training. For baseball enthusiasts such as myself, this is one of the very best times of the year. The crack of the bat and the pop of the mitt is something I look forward to like most children look forward to Christmas morning. So, it is with that passion in mind, that I have decided I must leave my beautiful apartment and seek residence at a location that allows me to have DIRECTV, currently the only way a Lynchburg resident can watch the Washington Nationals play nightly.

Comcast, currently the only cable provider allowed in my loft, does not carry MASN or MLB Network, two channels that a fan of the Nationals/Orioles and baseball fans alike, need to get their nightly fix.

Thankfully MLB provides two services to overcome carrier scheduling issues with their excellent MLB Extra Innings Package and their web version MLB.tv. Both show all the games around the league every night, most in HD quality. Problem solved, right?

Not quite.

Due to blackout rules that few know of, and even fewer understand, living in the Nationals/Orioles "footprint" restricts viewers such as myself from being able to watch our favorite team on television because our local provider is already licensed to carry the channel. Well that's a problem, isn't? If Comcast won't carry the channel and MLB blacks out all the games of the "home" team, how is a fan supposed to watch their local team play? Simple answer, as I've found from Comcast and MLB representatives, is, "Sorry, but you're out of luck."

In dealing with Comcast, they've assured me that due to Lynchburg being such a small area, they only have a limited number of channels available to the consumer, and some would question why niche channels such as MASN are needed for the general public. Understood, but I believe that is what the Sports Tier package was made for, is it not?

If you have a channel that has the exclusive rights to carry the Nationals/Orioles available to you, don't you think that more than a few fans would pay extra to be able to watch their team play every night? I know I would, and I am sure I would not be the only one. As I stated previously, this local blackout wouldn't be a problem if MLB did not have such restrictive blackout rules.

So, let me get this straight MLB; you know there is a city consisting of 76,504 residents (2011 census), that has no possible way to access the content that you have mapped specifically for them with your predetermined "footprints", yet knowing that, you also choose to black out those fans from following their favorite team? Is this how you choose to grow your wonderful game? It's amazing more damage hasn't been done to your product with this type of thinking.

All of this sounds like sour grapes, and it very well may be. I knew going in that I would be forced into an apartment outfitted only with Comcast, but what I did not anticipate was just how hard I would take the loss of watching the Nationals play every night, and losing out on following the game I love.

Having exhausted all resources in attempting to make inroads to rectify this situation, I have come to the conclusion that the only way to get my fix of the Nationals and MLB Network is to move to an apartment that allows DIRECTV. DIRECTV, as one might reasonably assume, does in fact currently has MASN and MLB Network on its programming package.

Many friends have told me I am overreacting to not having a way to watch baseball, some have even called me childish for my willingness to uproot my life in pursuit of two television channels. Others may say I'm showing a bit of "Natitude", a slogan created by the Washington Nationals to announce pride in being a fan of the organization. Whatever the case something has to change.

In this instance, I'm willing to sacrifice a bit of my personal comfort to be able to cheer my team on from the comfort of home, wherever that ends up being.