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kid-watching-tvA little stomach thing is traveling through our house. Seems to happen so rapidly, especially this time of year.

  • The FCC has proposed doing away with sports blackouts! Kind of. Does this mean the end of those frustratingly large territorial restrictions* that prevent you from seeing every game you want on MLB.tv? Not exactly. The rule being discussed by the FCC mostly applies to league-wide agreements that impose blackout restrictions – as in, we’re talking about the NFL. Leagues where the individual teams do their own local negotiating are not likely to be affected. It’s something to watch, because you never know exactly how these things will play out. The early interpretations, however, seem to be that whatever the FCC does will not impact your enjoyment/non-enjoyment of MLB broadcasts.
  • *(Cubs fans remain in a double-bind about those things. On the one hand, those exclusive territories are what allow teams to get such huge rights fees (if you’re blacked out on MLB.tv, you’re more likely to pressure your cable system to carry the team you love, and then the cable system is more likely to pay the huge carriage fees demanded by the sports network, and then the sports network is more likely to pay your favorite team big bucks for the rights to broadcast the games). On the other hand, it’s not fun to live in Iowa and be blacked out from Cubs games that you can’t see locally anyway.)
  • More on this later, but Sahadev Sharma has a great piece on the Cubs’ new bench coach, and former farm director, Brandon Hyde.
  • Keith Law called the Cubs’ Jose Veras deal the bargain of the group of recent bullpen signings, though it doesn’t sound like he loves the dollars involved in too many of them.
  • Patrick Mooney writes about the Cubs’ spending of late, or lack thereof.
  • A profile from Bernie Pleskoff on Albert Almora.
  • BN’er Mark asked me to pass along word of a benefit for a local Chicago Letter Carrier who is currently battling cancer. You can see the details here. And BN’er Chris is still letting you win a copy of his book.
  • Jay has offered to do something slightly insane: if he reaches 3,000 Twitter followers by Sunday, he’ll start Jay Cutler over Nick Foles in his fantasy league championship game. It’s a pretty significant hurdle for him to clear, but let’s give it our best shot. Follow Jay here.
  • If you’re just waking up and tuning it, it’s been a busy morning already: the Cubs have reportedly signed Jonathan Sanchez to a minor league deal, and reports (citing other reports, without links) say Rakuten has decided not to post Masahiro Tanaka. I did some rabble rousing on that one because I wasn’t completely buying what I was seeing, and it looks like I may have been right.
  • BT

    I see no upside to not posting Tanaka. I don’t believe the reports either.

    • bbmoney

      Winning.

      • BT

        Then post him, take the 20 million, and buy 5 free agents with the money.

        • Edwin

          What if Tanaka is worth more than $20MM in onfield value to them?

        • bbmoney

          Well, if those 5 free agents exist and are good enough to more than replace Tanaka but not good enough or willing to go play in the US for more money, then sure.

          Those are some awfully big assumptions though. If Rakuten is interested in winning I think it’s pretty easy to make an argument it’s worth the risk of injury/ineffectiveness to hang on to Tanaka for another year. They still control him for 2015, so they very well might be able to cash in for the exact same $20M next year.

          Sure there’s risk there, but the reward is a whole extra year of an ace pitcher (who while he might be frustrated, will still be motivated because he’ll be able to come stateside eventually and wants a big contract) for nothing but what they pay him in 2014 and a little bit of time value of money cost.

          • Edwin

            I’m sure Tanaka is frustrated, but I’m sure a player like Mike Trout is frustrated too.

          • BT

            So winning wasn’t important when the expected posting return was 50 million, but it’s important now that it’s only 20? Regardless of their actual reasons for not posting him, it will be seen as being done out of spite, it will ruin their reputation with free agents, it should ruin their reputation with Tanaka, it may ruin Tanaka’s ability to perform with them, and should absolutely seal his exit with no return at the end of the year. That seems like a horsecrap alternative to posting him, and using the proceeds, including the salary they were going to pay him, to better the team.

            • bbmoney

              Did I say that? I don’t think I said that. Of course it was still important, but $30M+ extra makes a difference in a decision….yes?

              The rest of your post is all part of their decision and might be why they end up posting him despite the 20M cap. I can’t say one way or the other or how they’ll evaluate it. But to act like there is no reason to keep him ignores the fact that the NPB is a competitive league where teams make a lot of money and try to win.

              *also Tanaka is still controlled through 2015 so it certainly doesn’t seal his exit after next year.

              • BT

                No, you didn’t say that, I don’t think I said you said that. I made a logical conclusion based on the facts at hand. If they were willing to give him up for 50 million, but not for 20 million, then roster composition for competitive advantage doesn’t seem to be their overriding concern. Money does.

                From everything I have read, Tanaka is NOT controlled through 2015. He will be a Japanese free agent after 2014. He can’t come to the U.S., but he CAN leave Rakuten. Which he most certainly will do when he gets 8 million dollars instead of 140 million dollars.

                • BT

                  now I’m reading he is signed with rakuten for 2 more years, so I might be wrong about that. I’ll see if I can’t find the other article that said he could leave them after next year.

                  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                    Two years. But teams tend to post guys two years in advance – if they wait until they have just one year of control left, the player could refuse to sign with the MLB team and just wait one more year for full free agency.

                • Edwin

                  I don’t understand what you’re saying. It makes sense that if Tanaka is worth more to the japanese team than $20MM, then they might not want to post him. If Tanaka is worth more than $20MM but less than $50MM, then the team would probably post Tanaka for $50MM, but not post him for $20MM.

                • bbmoney

                  That wasn’t a logical conclusion at all. All decisions in life are cost vs benefit decisions. $30M+ could easily be enough to sway their decision even though winning is important.

                  And everything I’ve read on Tanaka, including some of Brett’s posts say he’s controlled through 2015.

        • bbmoney

          The reports could easily be wrong and he ends up getting posted. But I can understand them not posting him this year.

  • kgd

    Blackouts are easy enough to circumvent. MLB should just come up with some agreement with local TV stations to pay them a licensing fee when they show a game in a particular territory.

  • jh03

    MLB.tv blackouts are annoying. The worst one I’ve had was that I was blacked out of Tampa/NYY in Davenport, IA. I’m pretty sure it was Mo’s last home game and I wanted to tune in, but I couldn’t.

    Luckly, the app didn’t black me out on my phone. I couldn’t watch on my computer, which was on my lap; but I could watch on my phone, which was in my hands. Makes sense, right? At least I got to watch Mo.

  • Revery

    As a Southern Illinois Cubs fan forced by a lack of market options and geography to use cable that does not carry CSN, yet a subscriber to MLB.tv, I literally get to watch 29 out of 30 teams- all except the Cubs.

    • jh03

      Can you watch the Sox?

      • Revery

        They don’t count.

  • CubFan Paul

    From the Mooney piece:

    “Cubs had a final 2013 payroll of $100.9 million…according to luxury-tax calculations from the commissioner’s office obtained by the Associated Press”

    • Edwin

      I’m interested in how they calculate something like that. Do they take into account the money a team takes on or gives up in trades?

  • Kurt

    Allowing teams to decide on blackouts is ludicrous in MLB. I live 5 1/2 hours from Pittsburgh, yet the Pirates have me blacked out on the MLB package. Since the Cubs play 18 games with Pittsburgh, I lose out on over 10% of the season. Therefore, MLB loses out b/c I’d be more likely to buy if I knew I would see all Cubs games.

    And after how the manager of Tanaka’s team used him at the end of this past year, I’d be concerned if he played another year in Japan. Having said that, I agree that he gets posted.

    • Spoda17

      When the Cubs play Pittsburgh, I can’t watch the Cubs broadcast on MLB Extra Innings, but can watch the Pittsburgh broadcast… I live 5 1/2 hours from Pittsburgh… I live 1 hour from NYC and 2 hours from Philly… no blackouts when the Cubs play the Mets or Phillies… makes no sense,

  • http://permalink toby taylr

    hey brett do you think we’ll be making a move for a actual leadoff hitter? and maybe a projected 25 man writeup coming soon?

  • Ricky

    I wish they would do something about the restrictions for MLB. Living in Des Moines being a Cubs fan (and an avid fantasy baseball player) that works from home, I like to watch games while I work. I get a good amount of Cubs games on regional channels, but not as many as I’d like. MLB.tv blacks out so many teams in my area (Chicago is 6+ hours from here!) including the Cubs, Sox, Royals, Twins, and Cardinals. I have to resort to watching a laggy, “borrowed” stream online.

  • ETS

    If I live in Iowa and had a friend in California and my friend wanted to buy me MLB.tv for Christmas so they buy it and set up the account give me the login information – would I have CA or IA blackout restrictions?

    • Ricky

      I could be wrong, but I think it’s based off of your IP address, so you’d be blacked out in IA.

    • jh03

      You have the restrictions of where you’re at when you log on. They use your location and determine if you’re blacked out or not.

  • Cheese Chad

    I made the decision last night to start Cutler over Foles in my championship. I’m putting all my rooting into one basket.

  • Joker

    Good thing I already follow Jay. I couldn’t live with doing that to him.

  • Dan

    Foles is the obvious play, but Cutler has a nice matchup and there are some whispers of the Eagles benching their players early if they clinch. In a championship game where you look to play the safer player, you could argue that Cutler would be the better play.

  • You got bats, we got Wood. Travis Wood.

    If you think Cutler is the better fantasy play, then you should have your head examined. Sincerely, someone who played with Foles in high school and is also in his own fantasy league championship. Foles is a top-5/top-3 fantasy play at the moment, Cutler is nowhere near that.

    • frank

      Not saying who’s the better play since I’m not involved in fantasy FB (used to be but not this year)–but if the Eagles try to control the clock and the game by running the ball against the Bears’ horrible run defense, it might be a tougher decision than just who’s had the better numbers up til now, especially given Philly’s bad pass defense.

  • Esteban

    Great write up from Bernie Pleskoff. Loved having him in my Twitter feed this fall during the AFL. He is as good of a scout as they come. Very honest and to the point. Thanks for sharing the link Brett.

  • EB

    As a student at the University of Illinois, I don’t get CSN+ or WCIU in Champaign. It drives me nuts when I can’t watch and the Cubs are blacked out on MLB.tv

  • Mike

    Blackouts are ridiculous, period. I don’t have cable, and I am not getting it ever, so if MLB wants to forgo my $150 hoping it would get instead what, $1 a month from Comcast if I sign up, it’s their loss.

  • LeappepTaut

    Spam.

    • TOOT

      Best advise? Go study.

    • TOOT

      Engineering if you can handle.

  • arta

    lol, lol

    • TOOT

      100k! LOL

    • TOOT

      Have a very merry Christmas, arta!

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