Phil Mushnick

equal time

Rob Manfred, MLB showing how little they care about fans with streaming deals

Give Rob Manfred credit. Not many in his position would admit they have no idea what they’re doing. 

However, that doesn’t diminish the reality that he has no idea what he’s doing. 

Late last week in his state of the mess address, Manfred said he sympathizes with fans who can’t find or have no access to MLB’s sudden exclusive deals with pay-walled and soon-to-be pay-walled streaming partners. 

These deals, mostly on Friday nights and late Sunday mornings, have left fans, often by design, in the nation’s largest TV markets no longer able to watch their local baseball teams without jumping through digital hoops. Clearly, money superseded all other considerations including the best interests of The Game. 

Last week, as if he were the last to know, Manfred acknowledged there are fans “who don’t have an ample opportunity to do that” — that being watch the games sold exclusively as streaming pay-bait. 

He didn’t know this was going on?! How is it that so many did back in March except the man at the top? 

Manfred added that MLB intends to “step into the digital space (streaming) in particular to provide fans with greater and more flexible opportunities to watch games.” 

Don’t do us any more favors! 

Rob Manfred will maintain – and even increase – MLB’s exclusive streaming deals.

In other words, MLB, with no idea what it was doing when this began, plans to keep doing it, but even more. “Opportunities to watch games,” never an issue, will cost fans more money to watch provided MLB continues to receive its cut to make them disappear or cost more to view. 

So Manfred, in no sensible position to further erode MLB’s fan base, will maintain this corrosive course. 

And so, as if by some paranormal episode you remain a baseball fan, you will do so despite the Commissioner of Baseball’s resistance. 

But these are days that seem bountiful in precisely the commissioners that their sports don’t need, and fans and customers don’t want. Perhaps that’s the sotto voce terms of their engagement. 

Consider that pandering PSL hustler Roger Goodell, on ESPN’s Manning Brothers telecast, declined to speak any Snoop Dogg rap-song titles because they might be too vulgar. Yet he’d already chosen him to perform his XXX act before an estimated 208 million Americans, all of whom Goodell apparently believes are beneath his standards of civility. 

And though the NBA is in an immediate need of social cleansing — top to bottom, spectators to players — with extra soap applied to the verbal and “social” messaging regions, Adam Silver doesn’t seem inclined to be the one wielding the wash cloth. 

Adam Silver
Getty Images

This week he should’ve issued a very firm and public condemnation of career NBA reprobate Draymond Green for his vulgar spew into microphones at the Warriors’ victory celebration

Judging by ESPN’s delighted, edited replays of Green’s “speech,” it was the kind of new-standard gutter act we’re all supposed to love about the NBA scene. 

But if Silver is pleased by the NBA’s continuing descent even below common indecency, and if he chooses that to be part of his legacy rather than offending the most offensive, so be it. But as Warsaw-raised movie trailblazer Samuel Goldwyn said, “Include me out.” 

Meanwhile, team owners — those who hire, enable and enrich these commissioners — offer no united public resistance. Imagine insisting that their teams stand out as civilized, as genuinely virtuous, their stadia and arenas venues in which kids and families are treated as customers, thus entitled to better. Again, quite the contrary. 

There is absolutely no upside to the direction that “our” commissioners have chosen. Neglect breeds decay. 

And Manfred now admits that while he quietly, as if hiding something, signed off on — exclusive, bottom line-padding streaming-bait deals — he neglected to find out if fans “have an ample opportunity” to see the games. 

Ghost runners and ghost viewers. Staggering. 

Sterling subs on either side of quality spectrum

In what has to be the most dysfunctional season in Yankees broadcasting history, another week of, well, dysfunction. 

It actually began well, with Justin Shackil, baby-faced Fordham man, in a public, battlefield audition as John Sterling’s sub with Sterling taking off road games. 

Working from Toronto, Shackil allowed this listener something I’d been deprived of since Sterling arrived in 1989: the ability to enjoy a Yankees game on a nice weekend day, outside, over a transistor or car radio. 

He placed the games first, stayed with it and on top of it — like the classically schooled dues-payer he is. At no time did he fall in love with the sound of his own voice. The primary goal of radio play-by-play folks, serving as our eyes and ears, was fulfilled. He was ready, willing and extremely able. 

Not so good with the next contestant, Rickie Ricardo, born Jorge Lima Jr., the veteran radio voice of Yankees baseball and NFL Eagles in Spanish. He worked the series at the Rays. 

Ricardo was earnest in his calls, too much so. Every pitch, play and commercial he read was decorated in affected flourishes and dramatic additives, thus a pitch thrown low was given annoying, richly undeserved emphasis. 

Suzyn Waldman was no help as she repeatedly interrupted him as if to assert her temporary role as the broadcasts’ Alpha voice. 

One was left to wonder if Ricardo would have been more palatable had he not chosen to sound like a bad lounge act at Richie’s Roadside Burp & Brew on the approach to Reno. 

Over to YES, where it was again time to suffer the untreated observations of the obvious and ridiculous from Cameron Maybin. Start to finish, Maybin again screamed out for the help that YES can’t or won’t provide. The same mute-button mutiny applied when Carlos Beltran enters. 

A sampler: Maybin, after Anthony Rizzo struck out, enlightened us with, “Anthony doesn’t like to strike out.” And after Aaron Hicks was again seen posing at the plate in self-admiration on a triple off the wall that reasonably could have been an inside-the-park number, as right fielder Manuel Margot fell injured, praised Hicks for his “energetic” running. 

How much more would YES charge if it produced even mediocre telecasts?

Ugh! Got to keep up with Kyrie again

I guess we’ve been sentenced to a summer of trying to figure out what’s going on in Kyrie Irving’s head. That should keep the few left who care occupied. 

Kyrie Irving faces an uncertain future with the Nets.
Corey Sipkin for the NY POST

It’s like this: If Aaron Boone has no trouble with Aaron Hicks, among others on the team he manages, posing at home plate while his “home run” smacks off the wall, why should Yankees fans care? 

Former Mets pitcher Jerry Blevins, now an SNY studio analyst, on Francisco Lindor: “Anything you get from him offensively is a plus because of how good his defense is.” Really? With Lindor signed for $341 million, Blevins has a mighty low bar. 

NBC’s U.S. Open “coverage” was hidden behind endless commercials, the USGA another major golf entity to have sold its soul. How many Rolex’s can one guy own? And host/shill Dan “What a Leaderboard!” Hicks continues to speak Golf Cliché instead of English. 

Not surprised that Michelle Tafoya, ex-NBC Sports regular and now a pro-choice Republican Party operative in Minnesota, was invited on Dan Le Batard’s podcast to have an amiable chat, but felt as if she was the victim of his leftist political “ambush.” Le Batard was a smug, intolerant creep while with ESPN. And I’m a registered Democrat — in exile. 

Michelle Tafoya recently claimed she was “ambushed” during an appearance on Dan Le Batard’s podcast.

Several readers have asked that we inform all-sports ESPN that the U.S. Open is not a PGA event. Hey, I’m still working on ESPN’s claim that Bobby Thomson’s home run “was a walk-off to win the 1951 NLCS.”