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Blue Jays games will be blacked out on MLB.TV in Canada

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Canadian MLB.TV subscribers received an email yesterday that informed them that Blue Jays games will no longer be able to be streamed live on the league’s streaming service. Those wishing to stream Jays games will now need to subscribe to Sportsnet NOW, a streaming service provided by the broadcasting network that carries Jays games on television.

As Andrew Stoeten wrote in The Athletic, Canadian subscribers were unable to view the Jays live on MLB.TV until the mid 2010’s, when the restriction was lifted. MLB.TV subsequently became a popular purchase for Canadian fans.

Sportsnet is owned by Rogers Media, which also owns the Jays. Clearly this is meant to be a moneymaking opportunity for Rogers, but it’s remarkably shortsighted and petty.

Sportsnet NOW comes at a comparable price to MLB.TV, but it doesn’t carry the whole league. By encouraging fans to subscribe to MLB.TV. you also encourage them to check out baseball as a whole and grow love of the game. And for those fans who are already avid MLB.TV watchers and enjoy the full scope of baseball, they now have to shell out for a second streaming service that isn’t on as many devices as the app they already use.

MLB.TV’s blackout restrictions have long been the source of ire from customers. You can check exact blackouts for each ZIP code here. Fans in Iowa in particular have been vocal about their dissatisfaction. Plugging in a ZIP code from Des Moines spits out a result saying that customers there can’t watch six (!) teams live. That’s bad news if you’re a fan of the Cubs, White Sox, Royals, Twins, Brewers or Cardinals. Why Iowans wouldn’t be allowed to stream games being played by a team from Minnesota is beyond me.

Similarly, Hawaiian customers are also barred from live coverage of six teams. Sorry, you simply can’t stream the Angels, Dodgers, A’s, Padres, Mariners or Giants if you live in Hawaii. Moving to Alaska won’t help you if you’re a Mariners fan, either. They’re blacked out up there too.

It’s all very silly. I understand why the blackouts exist. They want you to watch the games on TV or subscribe to the relevant cable network’s streaming app, so that the sports networks make money. But in an age of cord-cutting, it’s unnecessarily aggravating. It’s also counterintuitive to growing the game.

Sorry, Canada. Looks like you’re getting screwed here.

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Royals outfielder Gordon to retire after 14 seasons

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Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon, the former first-round pick whose rollercoaster career took him from near bust to All-Star and Gold Glove winner, announced Thursday he will retire after the season.

Gordon was the second overall pick in the 2005 first-year player draft following a standout career at Nebraska, where he won the Golden Spikes Award as the best amateur in baseball. He made his big league debut two years later and, after a few years shuttling back and forth to the minors, moved from third base to the outfield and finally found success.

He wound up playing his entire 14-year career in Kansas City, joining only George Brett and Frank White as position players with that much longevity with the franchise. He heads into a weekend four-game series against Detroit with the third-most walks (682), fourth-most homers (190), fifth-most doubles (357) and sixth-most games played (1,749) in club history.

The three-time All-Star also holds the dubious distinction of being the Royals’ career leader in getting hit by pitches.

While he never quite hit with the kind of average the Royals hoped he would, Gordon did through sheer grit turn himself into one of the best defensive players in the game. He is the only outfielder to earn seven Gold Gloves in a nine-year span, a number that trails only White’s eight for the most in franchise history, and there are enough replays of him crashing into the outfield wall at Kauffman Stadium or throwing out a runner at the plate to run for hours.

Gordon won the first of three defensive player of the year awards in 2014, when he helped Kansas City return to the World Series for the first time since its 1985 championship. The Royals wound up losing to the Giants in a seven-game thriller, but they returned to the Fall Classic the following year and beat the Mets in five games to win the World Series.

It was during the 2015 that Gordon hit one of the iconic homers in Royals history. His tying shot off Mets closer Jeurys Familia in Game 1 forced extra innings, and the Royals won in 14 to set the tone for the rest of the World Series.

Gordon signed a one-year contract to return this season, and he never considered opting out when the coronavirus pandemic caused spring training to be halted and forced Major League Baseball to play a dramatically reduced 60-game schedule.

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