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MLB, Facebook partner for a national weekly game package

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Major League Baseball and Facebook announced this morning that they are partnering to produce and broadcast one game every week on the social media platform. It’ll consist of a 25-game package distributed exclusively on Facebook Watch in the United States via the MLB Live show Page. Last year MLB and Facebook partnered for some simulcasts with existing TV broadcasts, but this will be MLB’s first digital-only national broadcast.

How might these broadcasts differ from typical TV broadcasts apart from platform? According to the press release, “MLB Network will introduce new in-game production elements specially designed for intuitively watching, sharing and interacting on Facebook.” There will apparently be things like on-demand highlights. The specifics of that — and who will make up the broadcast teams — will come later.

If you follow the MLB Live Facebook page, you’ll be able to find the games easily. Below is the schedule of games in April. Each additional monthly broadcast schedule will be announced during the season:

  • Wednesday, April 4: Philadelphia Phillies vs. New York Mets, 1:10 p.m.
  • Wednesday, April 11: Milwaukee Brewers vs. St. Louis Cardinals, 1:15 p.m.
  • Wednesday, April 18: Kansas City Royals vs. Toronto Blue Jays, 4:07 p.m.
  • Thursday, April 26: Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Philadelphia Phillies, 1:05 p.m.

My gut take: dedicated baseball fans who already watch a lot of games are not likely to spend a ton of time watching them on Facebook, at least after the novelty wears off. People who do not seek out baseball as a matter of course, however, may very well watch games they wouldn’t have otherwise if friends and family are sharing them or talking about them on Facebook, and that could help build an audience that may not have otherwise existed.

Bonus: if the usual Facebook behavior of your weird uncle, your childhood friend and that woman you knew ten years ago, friended on Facebook and then “liked” every comment she made as a means of trying to recapture that time when you should’ve made your move but were to afraid to do so are any indication, the comments should be entertaining even if the games aren’t.

Bryce Harper will participate in the Home Run Derby if he makes the All-Star team

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Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.

Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.

Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.