Good morning, I’m Dan Gartland. I’d definitely pay 20 bucks a month to watch my favorite team.
In today’s SI:AM:
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Will other teams follow?
Starting with tonight’s game against the Marlins, Padres fans will have a new way to watch their team—one that fans of other teams should be paying close attention to.
Last night’s game was the last one broadcast by Bally Sports San Diego. The team and MLB announced yesterday that Diamond Sports Group, which operates the various Bally Sports regional sports networks, had failed to pay the Padres their latest rights payment, meaning the team’s broadcast rights reverted to the league.
As a result, Padres games will no longer air on Bally Sports San Diego. Local cable and satellite providers will still air games on a new channel, or—and this is the interesting part—fans can subscribe to a new Padres-only MLB.TV package to watch games without local blackout restrictions. (The streaming package will cost $19.99 per month or $74.99 for the rest of the season.) The broadcast team of Don Orsillo, Mark Grant and Bob Scanlan will remain unchanged.
So why should people outside San Diego care about where Padres games will be aired? Because this is likely just the first domino to fall in a colossal shakeup of how fans watch their teams and how teams earn money. Diamond Sports Group owns regional sports networks under the Bally Sports brand that broadcast games for 42 MLB, NBA and NHL teams. It filed for bankruptcy in March and has also stopped making its rights payments to the Rangers, Guardians, Twins and Diamondbacks. The Padres are the first team to nullify their contract with DSG, but they won’t be the last.
The Padres news comes as DSG is expected to argue in bankruptcy court today that it should be allowed to pay the other four teams less than what it is required to by the broadcast rights contract, according to The Athletic.
The direct-to-consumer approach is great for Padres fans, who now have more flexibility to watch their team without having to subscribe to cable, but it could be troublesome for the franchise. The team’s 20-year, $1.2 billion TV contract wasn’t set to expire until 2032. It paid the team $60 million per year, which the Padres now have to try to cobble together one $19.99 monthly payment at a time. That’s a tricky spot for a small-market team with baseball’s third-highest payroll to be in. One source told The Athletic’s Daniel Kaplan that they believed MLB would try to launch a new regional sports network to replace Bally but that it might be expected to earn only half as much as what the previous deal paid.
Rights fees from broadcasters have been sports teams’ primary source of revenue for decades now, but as consumers have gravitated toward streaming and away from bundled cable, that structure has been on increasingly thinner ice. The Padres situation represents the first test of a system under threat.
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- Rohan Nadkarni argues that the Celtics don’t need to panic and blow up their promising core.
- The Warriors’ dynasty could be coming to an end with the departure of a key figure, Michael Rosenberg writes.
- Albert Breer examines what the market for DeAndre Hopkins could look like now that he’s been released by the Cardinals.
- Gilberto Manzano ranked the NFL’s 10 best running backs. And Matt Verderame did the same for quarterbacks.
- While the Phillies are off to a subpar start, Tom Verducci believes they’re fully capable of replicating last year’s turnaround.
- “So why are the SEC schools now afraid of internal competition?” Pat Forde asks in his column about the conference’s reluctance to move to a nine-game league schedule.
- The Padres made the rare decision to send a 16-year-old prospect directly to low A.
The top five...
… plays in baseball last night:
5. Yet another home run for Aaron Judge. He’s got four in his past three games and 18 on the season.
3. The walk-off win for the A’s on an error by Braves third baseman Austin Riley. After beating Atlanta on Monday night, it’s just the second time this season they’ve won two games in a row. Oakland goes for the sweep this afternoon.
2. Mike Trout’s diving catch in center.
1. Brandon Nimmo’s home run robbery.
On this day in 1996, which slugger earned a two-game suspension by leveling Brewers second baseman Fernando Viña with a vicious forearm shiver in an effort to break up a double play?
- Albert Belle
- Jeromy Burnitz
- Jose Canseco
- Frank Thomas
Yesterday’s SIQ: The NCAA baseball tournament begins this week (the softball tournament is already well underway), and today marks the anniversary of the longest baseball game in NCAA Division I history. How many innings did Texas and Boston College play May 30, 2009?
Answer: 25. That’s two innings longer than any other game in D-I history. The Longhorns won, 3–2, in a game that took seven hours and three minutes to complete.
“It didn’t feel like 25 innings, honestly, when you’re in the moment and you’re competing,” Texas second baseman Travis Tucker later recalled in an interview with NCAA.com. “It was just another inning at that point, another tied ballgame. Then you look up, and I don’t think we scored in  innings.”
Texas got through the game by using only three pitchers, thanks in large part to the efforts of reliever Austin Wood. He pitched 13 innings of scoreless relief while throwing 169 pitches. He didn’t even allow a hit over his first 12⅓ innings of work.
Both teams had to take the field again the next day. BC faced Army in an elimination game, which the Black Knights won. Army then faced Texas later in the day. The Longhorns won that game, 14–10, and made it all the way to the College World Series finals, where they lost to LSU.
Texas and BC’s marathon has nothing on the longest softball game in NCAA history, though. On May 11, 1991, Utah and Creighton met in the WAC tournament. It lasted 31 innings. The game ended 1–0 in Creighton’s favor just after midnight, but because the tournament was double elimination, the two schools had to meet again in a winner-take-all game that started at 12:45 a.m., just 20 minutes after the first game ended.
Incredibly, that game was also among the longest in NCAA history. It took 25 innings before Utah won 4–3 to clinch the conference championship and advance to the NCAA tournament. The second game ended at 6:10 a.m., about 12 hours after the first game had begun. Of the 56 innings played over that span, Creighton’s Kelly Prokupek pitched 51⅓ of them. She threw 390 pitches.