|Baseball games can be seen anywhere these days, like on this iPad.|
Since heading off to college, I have been a displaced fan for most of the last 34 seasons. At first, change came slowly. ESPN was born and nightly highlights became a must-see. That was a revelation.
Then ESPN began broadcasting weeknight games. By then, I was living out East and I would just be thrilled every time the Brewers were on. That wasn't often as the '90s wore on. But at least there was WFAN, the first 24/7 sports radio station. Updates every 20 minutes were a must to follow the games. And then AOL came along, and for the time there was a way to get real-time information.
As the digital age gained speed, MLB offered its Extra Innings package on cable and satellite TV. For only slightly more than the cost of my opening day ticket at Citi Field, I could watch nearly every game all season. And now the same service is even cheaper via the computer, iPhone and other mobile devices. In fact, the cost for this season was only $14 more than that Mets' ticket. (It would have been even closer in price, but my friend Kevin paid the service charge.)
So now I can watch virtually any game whenever I want. They are all archived and offer a choice of home or away broadcasts for both TV and radio. There are even condensed versions of every game.
All of this technology brings unexpected changes. One thing I have noticed this year is that catching every pitch doesn't seem so important. When only a few games each season were available, I was riveted to the TV. Now, I know I will be seeing the Brewers whenever I want and can even watch the replay on demand. Each pitch doesn't seem so crucial (don't get me wrong, I still catch most them).
Even at least one Hall of Fame player has noted the big changes. Mike Schmidt, the Phillies great, said in an interview on MLB.com that he watches ballgames wherever he is, even on a boat in the Bahamas. But he talks about how technology has put players onstage at all times. To Schmidt that's a high price in lost privacy and explains it least in part why player salaries have exploded.
So next time you sit back and watch a ballgame, or even just read about your favorite team on the web, think about how lucky we are to have the baseball world at our fingertips whenever we want it.