Reid Ryan says MLB is going to “figure out” meaningful local streaming in the next 12-24 months

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I’ve been beating the local game streaming drum a lot lately. As have some friends of mine. Meaningful local game streaming, that is. Starting this year some people will be able to watch local games on their devices, but only if they also have a cable plan already. That’s a matter of minor convenience for some people who want to follow a game at the office or who would prefer to sit in a room where their TV isn’t, but it’s not revolutionary. It’s not a game-changer.

And the game must change. Why? Because young people don’t consume media the same way older people do and Major League Baseball risks losing not only the current wave of cord-cutters but also the next generation of people who simply do not care about networks and rights deals. They watch media on their laptops and mobile devices and they don’t differentiate between native web programming, network affiliations or whatever. The combination of that dynamic and the unassailable fact that baseball loyalty and patronage is a primarily local thing makes the ability to for people to watch local games, on their devices, without having to shell out $150 for a cable bundle absolutely essential to the long term health of Major League Baseball. The youth aren’t seeing baseball as easily and freely as they used to. If they don’t see it, they’ll just watch something else. There is no law that says people have to be baseball fans.

To that end, Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio had Astros President Reid Ryan on their broadcast this morning. They asked Ryan, who is part of Rob Manfred’s brain trust when it comes to a host of forward-looking initiatives, about this dynamic. And about how, even though cable deals are a cash cow for the league and its clubs right now, the league is going to address the issue of meaningful local streaming.

In the audio of their exchange below, Ryan acknowledges the issue and said that while it’s certainly the case that MLB’s current prosperity is built on cable, it has to look to the future as well. Ryan says there are several proposals on the table about all of this now and that he believes that within the next 12-24 months or so some movement will be made on the matter.

Credit to Duquette and Ferrin for asking a question that a lot of people, especially people in a media landscape where cable controls most things, don’t often ask. Credit to Ryan for not ducking it and being frank about MLB’s awareness of a problem that presents just as many political headaches as it creates business ones.

How does MLB continue to make those crazy cable dollars while serving people who either don’t want cable or for whom cable is becoming obsolete? How does it make money without alienating business partners? Heck, how does it make money like this in an absolute sense given how much harder it is to make money off of content on the Internet than it is on TV in the first place?

If I knew, I’d be in a boardroom someplace. But I’m glad that the people already in the boardrooms are at least thinking about it.

Cards’ Pujols hits 700th career home run, 4th to reach mark

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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LOS ANGELES – St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 700th career home run on Friday night, connecting for his second drive of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers and becoming the fourth player to reach the milestone in major league history.

The 42-year-old Pujols hit No. 699 in the third inning, then launched No. 700 in the fourth at Dodger Stadium.

With the drive in the final days of his last big league season, Pujols joined Barry Bonds (762 homers), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) in one of baseball’s most exclusive clubs.

It’s been a remarkable run for Pujols. This was his 14th home run since the start of August for the NL Central-leading Cardinals, and his 21st of the season.

Pujols’ historic homer was a three-run shot against Dodgers reliever Phil Bickford. The ball landed in the first few rows of the left-field pavilion, the same location his two-run shot touched down the previous inning off left-hander Andrew Heaney.

Pujols received a prolonged standing ovation from the crowd – he finished out last season while playing for the Dodgers. He took a curtain call, raising his cap in acknowledgment.

The fans chanted “Pujols! Pujols!” They finally sat down after being on their feet in anticipation of seeing history.

Pujols snapped a tie with Alex Rodriguez for fourth on the list when he hit career homer No. 697 against Pittsburgh on Sept. 11.

Reaching 700 homers seemed like a long shot for Pujols when he was batting .189 on July 4. But the three-time NL MVP started to find his stroke in August, swatting seven homers in one 10-game stretch that helped St. Louis pull away in the division race.

“I know that early in the year … I obviously wanted better results,” Pujols said after he homered in a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 22. “But I felt like I was hitting the ball hard. Sometimes this game is going to take more away from you than the game (is) giving you back.

“So I think at the end of the day you have to be positive and just stay focused and trust your work. That’s something that I’ve done all the time.”

Pujols has enjoyed a resurgent season after returning to St. Louis in March for a $2.5 million, one-year contract. It’s his highest total since he hit 23 homers for the Angels in 2019.

He plans to retire when the season ends.

Pujols also began his career in St. Louis. He was selected by the Cardinals in the 13th round of the 1999 amateur draft and won the 2001 NL Rookie of the Year award.

The Dominican Republic native hit at least .300 with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs in each of his first 10 seasons. He helped the Cardinals to World Series titles in 2006 and 2011.

He set a career high with 49 homers in 2006 – one of seven seasons with at least 40 homers. He led the majors with 47 homers in 2009 and topped the NL with 42 in 2010.

Pujols left St. Louis in free agency in December 2011, signing a $240 million, 10-year contract with the Angels. He was waived by the Angels in May 2021, and then joined the Dodgers and hit 12 homers and drove in 38 runs in 85 games.