Blue Beats Red Here

Blog Note – The Royals began their Kansas City Area Caravan Thursday with a day trip to mid-Missouri. Royals associate Megan Stock chimed in from the road with these comments about her first Royals Caravan trip. You can read more about the Royals Caravan on the home page of royals.com. MLB.com writer **** Kaegel will also continue to report on caravan activities throughout the month.

There’s no denying that one of the best series of the season is the “I-70 series” – when we meet the St. Louis Cardinals in Interleague play and the state of Missouri becomes a mix of red and blue. On Thursday, the first leg of our Kansas City area Winter Caravan trip, we had a small taste of that when we loaded our mini-“rock star” bus and ventured into mid-Missouri in search of some Royal Blue. And, I’m happy to report, we found it!

Our trip started with a stop in Marshall, Mo., where we found the only school in Saline County with classes in session, St. Peter Catholic School. We soon discovered that the students, who ranged from pre-Kindergarten to eighth grade, had their parents to thank for being the only kids in the area who had to hit the books that day. Apparently, the good parents of St. Peter’s spent hours in the cold, chipping away at the blanket of ice from this past weekend’s winter storm that surrounded the building. With this knowledge, we naturally assumed that we’d be meeting a lot of unhappy kids who were wishing their parents didn’t care so much about their education! Instead, we found a group of youngsters who seemed totally pumped to have the Royals dropping in for the morning. They had tons of questions for players John Buck and Luke Hudson, and also for former Royals pitcher Dennis Leonard. Some of the more off-beat questions involved some comments about golf, an agreement that riding horses was awesome and some inquires about Luke’s marital status – he’s single, ladies! Aside from that, the kids – like most kids we encounter – seemed to have the most fun dancing around in the bleachers with mascot Sluggerrr.

After loading up and hitting the road, we moved on to Jefferson City for some pasta at Madison’s Café right down the street from the State Capitol Building. Knowing we were a tad ahead of schedule, the guys wanted to make a quick pit stop at Best Buy to browse the movie selection before setting up shop at Hy-Vee for a meet-and-greet. As John and Luke walked up and down the electronics aisles, several second glances were thrown their ways. I, however, only got one second glance, from a guy who thought he went to school with me – he didn’t.

Moving on, with movie in hand, we jumped back on the bus and let driver Harold steer us toward Hy-Vee, where a line was already formed when we arrived. We scooted the Italian bread display over and parked the players at a table to greet a constant flow of fans, dressed in Royals gear, thanking us for visiting the Capital City and throwing around several positive predictions for the 2007 season.

Now, I have to confess, at our autograph session at the Hy-Vee in Columbia, we saw some red and heard some whispers of the Cardinals recent visit to the college town. However, we didn’t let that stand in our way and neither did our fans, who came out to remind us that the middle of the state is always up for grabs and that the Cardinals aren’t the only team with a World Series trophy – remember 1985? The guys signed Royals hats, jerseys, baseballs, cards and more, while Sluggerrr – who, by the way, has been out in full force for each of the Royals Caravans this year – continued to find energy from somewhere within to keep the young ones entertained. After posing for pictures and doing some interviews, everyone seemed to be a little bit worn out and a lot bit hungry, which resulted in loading up on a smorgasbord of food – chicken fingers, pizza, Chinese food – from the Hy-Vee kitchen area before saying our final byes and heading home even more pumped to face those Cardinals in June!

1 Comment

From the 1/19 NY Times

“Major League Baseball is close to announcing a deal that will place its Extra Innings package of out-of-market games exclusively on DirecTV, which will also become the only carrier of a long-planned 24-hour baseball channel.

Extra Innings has been available to 75 million cable households and the two satellite services, DirecTV and the Dish Network. But the new agreement will take it off cable and Dish because DirecTV has agreed to pay $700 million over seven years, according to three executives briefed on the details of the contract but not authorized to speak about them publicly.

InDemand, which has distributed Extra Innings to the cable television industry since 2002, made an estimated $70 million bid to renew its rights, more than triple what it has been paying. Part of its offer included the right to carry the new baseball channel, but not exclusively. The baseball channel is scheduled to start in 2009. M.L.B., DirecTV and InDemand officials declined to comment.

DirecTV is also the exclusive outlet for the N.F.L.’s Sunday Ticket package, for which it pays $700 million annually. Sunday Ticket has about 2 million subscribers; Extra Innings about 750,000, according to The Sports Business Journal. Extra Innings lets subscribers, for a fee, watch about 60 games a week from other local markets except their own.

The only other way that fans without DirecTV will be able to see Extra Innings will be on MLB.com’s mlb.tv service, but they must have high-speed broadband service. About 28 million homes have high-speed service, less than half the number of cable homes in the country. The picture quality of streamed games is not as good as what is available on cable or satellite. DirecTV is available to about 15 million subscribers.

Last month, Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, who was then the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, cited DirecTV’s exclusivity with Sunday Ticket as a reason to strip the N.F.L. of an antitrust exemption to negotiate all TV contracts for its teams. Comcast, which has complained that it cannot carry Sunday Ticket, is a Philadelphia-based company.”

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So if you are like me, in that you live in a residence that doesn’t allow satellite dishes …. you are SCREWED. MLB chases the big bucks again, and alienates its fan base … again. MLB.TV is nice, but its no substitute for being able to enjoy watching many games on a nice big TV. Thanks Bud!

Guess I won’t be able to watch the Royals in action in 07

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