A bunch of baseball-related podcasts were removed from iTunes. Why?

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When we woke up yesterday morning we lived in a world where any baseball fans who so loved their team that it inspired them to tell everyone about that love could do so in the form of a podcast on iTunes. When we woke up this morning multiple baseball podcasts had been removed from iTunes, at the request of Major League Baseball and/or Major League Baseball Advanced Media on intellectual property grounds.

Multiple podcasts, including Twins podcast “Gleeman and the Geek” (hosted by HardballTalk’s own Aaron Gleeman), another Twins podcast “Talk to Contact,” Pirates podcast “Pirates Prospects,” Mets podcast “Mets Musings,” Cubs podcast “Bleacher Nation,” Yankees podcast “It’s About the Yankees, Stupid,” Rangers Podcast “Rangers Podcast in Arlington” and several others were removed from iTunes.

A few moments ago an MLBAM spokesman released the letter it sent to iTunes regarding the podcast takedown:

 As we have done in the past, yesterday we notified Apple about certain podcasts on the iTunes Store whose titles and/or thumbnails include infringing uses of trademarks of Major League Baseball and certain Clubs.  And, as we have done in the past, we asked Apple to have these trademarks removed from the podcast titles and thumbnails. Although we did not ask for or seek to have any podcast removed from the Store, it has come to our attention that Apple removed them.   Given our many years of experience in notifying Apple about trademark issues on the Store, we trust that removing the podcasts was an oversight, and ask that you please look into this matter as soon as possible.

Thank you for your cooperation.

A couple of things on that:

1) Apple is not dumb, so I don’t know that I buy such “an oversight.” Earlier today Apple was referring inquiries to MLB/MLBAM, so this all sounds like buck-passing and butt-covering in the wake of what has turned into an uproar among baseball fans online;

2) If it was an oversight, wonderful. When is it going to be rectified? As of now the podcasts have not been restored, and that’s the big issue if you happen to be in the business of getting people to listen to your podcast.

Either way, the initial action by MLB/MLBAM is questionable as is. Use of team names may have offended MLB/MLBAM’s sensibilities, but as of now there are multiple team-named podcasts still on iTunes and many of the podcasts removed do not contain team names in the title. They may, however, note in the podcast description that they are “A [Team]-related podcast” or the like. What’s more, if it’s merely the name that offends, send a cease and desist letter about name usage, don’t have the product — which is nothing more than a couple of people talking about baseball, just like talk radio or this blog — totally removed from existence. Or don’t ask Apple to do it. They don’t control these podcasts, they merely host them. Which, by the way, makes MLBAM’s statement all the more dubious. If you want marks removed, ask the people who put them there to remove them. You contact iTunes If you want the podcast obliterated.

However this started and however it shakes out, count this as an other instance of the creation of ill will between MLB and the people who, by definition, are its biggest and most dedicated fans. Which, along with its silly, antiquated blackout rules for television broadcasts and web streaming, is the sort of thing it can’t seem to prevent itself from doing, apparently.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.

Orioles acquire Alec Asher from the Phillies

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The Phillies announced on Tuesday that the club traded pitcher Alec Asher to the Orioles for a player to be named later.

Asher, 25, was the victim of a roster crunch. He was not going to make the 25-man roster and the starting rotation at Triple-A Lehigh Valley was already full. The Phillies acquired him from the Rangers in the July 2015 Cole Hamels trade.

Asher had good results in 27 2/3 innings in the big leagues last year, posting a 2.28 ERA with a 13/4 K/BB ratio. While it didn’t show in those stats, the right-hander sometimes struggles with command and he doesn’t miss bats often enough to make up for it. The Orioles, however, are happy to add some pitching depth.