Siberian Baseball

Monday, April 02, 2007

Major League Baseball, land of the Sodomites

Hellfire and damnation, Major League Baseball has sodomized more fans today than they can fit into most of their big league ballparks. Don't believe me? Here's the link to their blog dedicated to "fixing" the "itty-bitty" bugs they've run into today.

It's safe to say that the natives are more than just a little restless.

If I wasn't waist-deep in the backed up sewer that is the Mosaic, I'd be absolutely giddy with the nerd war that's flaring up over there. It's an ongoing debate between whines to "Give us what you promised!" and "I'm in IT and they're doing the best that they can!" mixed in with a few folks I'm almost certain are plants to try and settle everyone down.

The reason that I'm not giddy is because the whiners are more right than the apologists on this one. (You may want to skip down if you're not ready for an extended discourse on this - Frankie was right in his post the other day - I think this might become my pet issue for the season in varying amounts of copy).

The arguments are breaking down as follows:

* It's not the user's fault that the servers can't handle the demand.
* It's not the user's fault that did not properly test/spec their equipment for these types of workloads.
* While the Mosaic feature (which previews 6 games at once, albeit at a lower video quality) might be an add-on, it is something we're paying for, so it should work as advertised.
* Multiple bugs and promises to fix things "asap" are not good enough for Opening Day.
* The user has every right to be mad because of the problems from today.

What I truly suspect happened here was that all of the nerds who had previously watched all of these games on cable are now flooding the servers and are used to the actual television quality instead of the "near television quality" that is being promised with the Premium package. I don't think it's too much to ask that a paid service provide what it has promised in writing, regardless of actual server loads or truncated schedules because of short-sightedness by the parent company.

The percentages of displaced cable fans are probably along the lines of 2 percent switched to Dish, 1 percent gave up on baseball because they felt used and 97 percent went over to, which is where the conspiracy theories started popping up in the first place. The more I hear that MLB tried to force the fans' hands and push them to their exclusive Web content, the more I believe it, especially after today.

When I got home later in the day - so we're not even talking issues during the bulk of the games - I saw plenty of lag, a few bugs everyone was seeing and constant freezing of the video signals. In addition, the audio signals were pretty awful. Imagine watching a YouTube video of someone videotaping their television - we've all seen those - and you get a pretty good idea of what is charging $120 to $90 for.

From a personal standpoint, I deal with customers, technology and managing customer expectations all of the time as I work on projects. One of the golden rules for me personally is to resist any job where I feel that I'm giving the customer an inferior product, compared to what they have. (Personally, I miss being able to rewind, as I've been spoiled by TiVo. However, even with TiVo, I still missed the gem on LaRussa last night that was either caught or made up by the guys at Diamond Hoggers.)

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that a situation like that will not end well. People think they want a big, expensive system with projectors and new speakers, but in some cases, they will be worse off than they were when we stepped on site. And these are people who voluntarily call us to upgrade - not angry fans forced to use Web streaming to watch out of area games.

Now, those fans have a product that is worse than they had last year, is apparently untested and unable to keep up with demand - especially with the cable wrangling going down to the wire - and I can't see how is going to be able to make up ground quickly enough to fix this problem.

Adding in the inconvenience or having to run everything through a computer, now there will be an unusable product, too? I can honestly say that if things don't get better within the five-day trial period, this is money that would be better spent anywhere else.

The last thing baseball needed to do was give angry fans an excuse to pull their cash out of MLB's pockets. I really wonder in future generations of fans will be able to say the name Bud Selig without spitting on the ground as well.

(Image from



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