MLB to livestream games on YouTube

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YouTube and MLB have announced a deal in which the former will live stream 13 games during the second half of this season. They’ll be free games, available exclusively on YouTube (i.e. the games won’t be on any TV network or on MLB and YouTube plan to announce which games will be streamed in the next few weeks.

Thirteen games isn’t a heck of a lot, but you have to wonder if this isn’t a test run for something grander down the road. Just as Facebook has been rumored to be doing its modest live stream of games as a possible runup to becoming a bidder on  a more comprehensive broadcast rights package, perhaps YouTube is thinking about entering that world too. Indeed, they already have dipped a toe into Major League Soccer rights on a local level, so baseball does not seem like a stretch.

If anything gives me pause about this its the fact that the broadcasts will reportedly include “YouTube-themed content” which includes incorporating popular YouTube stars as part of the broadcasts. Which, as a parent of teenagers who spend a LOT of time on YouTube, makes me worry that the broadcasts will be damn nigh incomprehensible.

But that’s just the old man in me speaking. I’m mostly not too worried about this because (a) the production of the games themselves will be handled by MLB Network so camera work and sound and graphics and all of that should be pretty familiar; and (b) you can’t complain that MLB only cares about old white fans stuck in a previous era while simultaneously complaining about an effort to appeal to a different demographic. The fact is, a huge number of kids get most of their entertainment online, overwhelmingly from YouTube, so as long a the synergies aren’t embarrassing or overly distracting, it makes perfect sense for baseball to pursue them.

The proof, as always, will be in the quality of the broadcast.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.