By Ralph E. Moore, Jr.
“Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks.
I don’t care if I never get back.”
Lyrics by Jack Norworth, melody by Albert Von Tilzer, 1908
Recently, I decided to watch the Orioles’ first post season playoff appearance since 2016. I turned on the television to set a reminder up for gametime and I could not find the game against the Texas Rangers listed.
First, I went to MASN, then MASN2: nothing. Then I tried our five local regular, non-cable channels and it wasn’t listed on any of them.
I was striking out –pun intended. So I posted an inquiry about it on social media, only to be told the game would be broadcast on a FOX Sports channel (FS1). I had never heard of that particular channel, so I scrolled through the channel list and found it was channel 857 on Infinity.
Watching local baseball in Baltimore simply isn’t what it used to be.
To view regular, home team, Major League Baseball (MLB) games, you must subscribe to a cable service. That’s where MASN and MASN2 come in. The networks became available to our region on April 4, 2005.
The Mid-Atlantic Sports Network or MASN is what is called a high-definition regional sports network (RSN) serving seven states from Harrisburg to Charlotte, as in, Pennsylvania to North Carolina. Its flagship teams are the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles. MASN is also featuring live game coverage of area college teams and conferences. One has to pay for the cable channel so, there’s a price for the ticket. There is no more just turning on the television and checking out the game. Oh, how things have changed for the everyday fan.
MASN operates a second network, MASN2, which is the overflow channel when there are scheduling conflicts between contests. Every cable and satellite provider that gets MASN receives MASN2, too. Sometimes your game is on cable channel 4 (MASN) and other times its on 17 or (MASN2).
My point is that easy, free access to our hometown team’s games is no longer free. That is concerning…
Then, there is the price of tickets to the playoff games–another shocker! In the American League Division Series I saw some amazing ticket prices. Standing room only in the lower reserved terrace came with prices ranging from $106-126. I am not sure, but I think these are stand up prices, literally. The club boxes are $216, while Upper boxes are $161 and Upper Reserved seats are $157. On the list, Field Box seat prices peaked at $819 while Club Infield seats were at a bargain price of at most $772.
Clearly sports are big businesses, but they used to be for the common woman and man. But the inaccessibility of television viewing on local channels and the unaffordability of tickets for many in our town makes you wonder when and how did this happen? Are we becoming an economy for the elites– only not just in entertainment. College educations are very expensive, the prices of cars are steadily on the rise. Buying a house gives one pause as interest rates make purchasing questionable at best. Common folks need baseball.
It can be easy summer fun, if you can find it on television, on the radio or online. It is improving in pace. And the playoffs are a great shot in the arm for the city’s residents, who suffer from some serious challenges, which we will overcome.