Bases Loaded: MLB.tv Across the Pond

Bases loaded, bottom of the ninth, two outs and the count is 3 and 2. It’s all down to this, if the ball is despatched into crowd, via the inky black night sky. The game is won. Miss, and the glory is theirs.

MLB on Apple TV almost like being there... well maybe
MLB on Apple TV almost like being there… well maybe

My first brush with baseball came with the launch of Channel 5 in the mid 90’s. Late night, after the low rent porn movies, I would sit and watch. I chose a team, based on name only; The Royals of Kansas City. The Royals also being the name of Reading FC.

Both sets of Royals during this period were less than good.. Also I can’t recall Channel 5 showing a single one of the KC Royals games. Now however, thanks to the glory of my Apple TV I can enjoy, every single strike out or homer of the MLB season regardless of whether I can stay up to see the games or not. My allegiances have changed somewhat. The draw of the Yankees and the influence of a friend who is far too wonderful for her own good, means that I now follow the boys from the Bronx.

MLB.tv is included on all Apple TV’s second gen onwards (and 39 other devices). It is a subscription service in the UK it costs £89 per year. I didn’t sign up for the whole year, because I wasn’t sure I’d get into it or if most of the games would be at stupid o clock so I signed up via MLB.com which lets you use Paypal to pay monthly. From there you sign into your account via Apple TV and you are good to go.

The MLB.tv subscription includes access to the great MLB At Bat App for mobile devices, which allows you to follow more action than you’ll ever have time for, wherever you are. You can enquire about that hitter whilst on the shitter if you so desire. You have stats, video and audio feeds.

Baseball itself for the uneducated English gent; Forget comparisons to Rounders, yes this is where the game originates but to compare it now is like comparing an iPad to a Newton. Think Cricket, think T20. If you stripped some of the English away from that and replaced it with some American English terms you’ll be halfway there. (My favourite term from last nights game was “Nowhere man’s land.” So no mans land then!) The game itself is not typical of American sport, there are long periods of action, at a low level (like cricket) but then it can change in a split second and be over quicker than an excited virgin. This is an American showcase but without the usual need to score a point every other second.

Yankee2WM
Thanks for the images.. you know who you are 😉

The Premier League take note. This is how sport should be delivered, all the games (for UK viewers, blackouts are in effect in North America) whenever you want. No adverts (yes really!) I want to be able to watch my team play, be it at the ground or via Apple TV in my pants. If you like Baseball or even have a passing interest. Well worth a look.

Bases Loaded: MLB.tv Across the Pond

Cloud Cuckoo Land

I went to school with some right pillocks (dummys, for US readers) they would embellish everything. One guy said he went on a Football tour to Russia in the Half Term holiday, forgetting that I’d seen him that holiday and it wasn’t whilst sharing a bottle of Russian Standard round the back of the Kremlin’s bins.

I have subsequently met adults who like to big themselves up. One being a “Karate” champion who clearly had been confined to a wheelchair for the best part of his life. Don’t get me wrong I am fully aware disabled people can participate in most sports, however this guy just didn’t have the air of a black belt about him.

In stark contrast, I am usually a hyper-realist. No dreams, very little embellishment (it’s 10″) feet on the floor kinda guy. However, recently I have been allowing my realist mind to take a back seat. It’s scary, and confusing for my friends. It’s not in the realms of utter bullshit, I haven’t been going around telling everyone I got in the Reading FC first team or anything. Although the way we are playing at the moment, I just might. No this flight of fantasy is perfectly achievable in a strange way, if, and it’s a huge if everything works out. If I was a betting man I wouldn’t take the bet.

I am trying every day to take solace within my dream. Because it does for the most part make me smile like a lunatic. It’s only when my long standing realism kicks in that it brings me down.

This cloud right now, Complete with Cuckoo is well worth the crushing lows for the highs (which are not all fiction) There may be a time where it isn’t and I have pop whatever bubble my head has me living in. The difficulty I have is managing my expectations. There are so many factors over which I have very little control, I am putting things in place to try and get close to the dream. However there are degrees of success with this. Let’s say the dream is to live with a beautiful girl in a nice house, where we have twenty dogs. (not too far away from the dream but hypothetical)

What if I get the house and the dogs, but no girl. Or if I get the girl and we only have 19 dogs. Will I be happy with that? Or will I live on thinking, this isn’t the dream? Only time will tell.

Fan-tailed Cuckoo (Cacomantis flabelliformis) 1

Cloud Cuckoo Land

Justice for the 96…. but no respect

15th April 1989, Sheffield England. FA Cup Semi Final day. Liverpool vs Nottingham Forest. All that should have been lost that day was the hope of an FA Cup Final place. As it was it was a day that caused 96 people to lose their lives. It has been a long fight for the fans of Liverpool Football Club to clear the names of their fallen, who were blamed for the Hillsborough disaster. A fight which continues some 24 years on.

Today we played Liverpool at the Madejski Stadium. (0-0 Final Score) We observed a minute silence for the 96 who lost their lives at Hillsborough. I thought although time has moved on, the game that we share and the love for our respective clubs shall forever remain. Thankfully there are now safety regulations in place that should prevent such a terrible disaster occurring again. All seater stadiums, Police surveillance, prohibited items. Fireworks and flares for example are not allowed, by stadium rules. Fans found with such items could face a football banning order (stopping them attending any match anywhere in the UK) or even prison.

So “Justice for the 96” sang the Liverpool end. Rightly so.

“Lets all do the conga, cos Maggie is no longer.” OK Macabre but I can see why Liverpool fans might rejoice in the death of a woman who presided over a botched enquiry into the death of their loved ones. Football humour has always been dark.

However. At kick off, a certain section of Liverpool fans let off a huge red smoke flare. Then at various points during the first half let off fireworks. Both prohibited by stadium rules, and endangering the wellbeing of others in their end. Police did nothing as far as I saw, there were no loud bangs in the second half so I assume either the Police did something quietly at half time or simply that there were no more fireworks to be set off.

There are two sets of double standards here as far as I can see. Firstly, if Reading fans even as much as stand up during the game they are told instantly by stewards to sit. Liverpool fans stood throughout. If a Reading fan took a flare into a away ground. They would be looking at a night in a cell. Apparently it is ok for Liverpool fans.

The second set of double standards is the issue I have most problem getting my head around. 96 people died, but they did not die in vein. Because of those people we now have a better game to see, in better equipped and safer venues. A game which can be enjoyed by all, safe in the knowledge that for 99% of the time the only thing that will be hurt at football is pride.


99% because there is always that 1% of people. Morons who don’t have a thought in their head. Don’t sing of Justice for those killed at a football match, whilst standing, running up and down the stands without a care for those around you. Don’t sing of Justice and light a flare, a flare which induce an asthma attack and kill someone. Don’t sing of Justice and let off a firework which could explode and kill one more of your own.

I’m sure those 96 would be proud.
Liverpool

 

Justice for the 96…. but no respect

He Used to Manage Slough.. He’s Not a Royal Now

Loyalty in Football it’s a rare thing indeed. Always an agent that can get you a better deal than you are on, at a more prestigious club. Players, managers everyone involved and why not. Almost everyone wants to progress and make as much money in the process just as this was any other industry. But it’s different.

Lets say you work a manufacturing plant, managing a small team of 25. When you were appointed in 2009 their work was shoddy and disorganised, no-one brought your product. Your predecessor was an arrogant man with a God complex who wanted to re-invent the wheel. You had been working under him. You did your bit quietly and professionally making a good impression on those who would become your team.

You stabilise the ship. Getting your team to produce some very good work, with minimal expenditure. It is not quite on a consistent level yet but that’s ok. Your products are gaining a good market reputation, and even when some of the best manufacturing operatives moved on to seek out opportunities in Germany you still manage to galvanise the team. Quietly working with a great passion and professionalism.

A year or two goes by. Your team missed out at the 11th hour on a huge contract worth in excess of £90 million. The CEO keeps the faith, and a year later you win an industry award and the new Russian owner nails his colours to your mast and gives you a new contract. Manufacturing with the biggest and brightest lights in the industry. In this line of work you would be given time to stabilise, maybe even fall back a little and consolidate for another assault on new markets. You are lauded as your industries leading light and your company is proud.

If you are in football you get the sack.

Brian McDermott turned down an approach in February 2012 from the then Premier League club, Wolves, to stay at Reading and “finish what I started” which he duly did. Winning the Championship for only the second time in the clubs history. Earlier this week he was sacked.. I have waited a few days before writing this piece. I am so angry. Granted results haven’t been what they should have been this year and the club does sit join bottom of England’s top flight. However I am disgusted that Brian’s loyalty (been with the Club since 2000) and work counts for nothing.

Just after Christmas, Southampton, a team who gained promotion by finishing second behind us last year, sacked Nigel Adkins. I have to admit I don’t like Southampton or Adkins. I laughed. I thought that is a poor way to treat a manager who has got you so much success. That would never happen at Reading. We are a well run club, not prone to press the panic button. How wrong I was.

Brian took us from the brink of Division One (Third tier of English football) to the Premier League. He did it not by spending millions on prima donnas but by building a close knit team of players, displaying a quiet air of determination to WNG (Win Next Game) He is a man who lives and breathes football and always acted with the best interests of Reading Football Club in mind. Thanks Brian for all you achieved and the memories which you helped create. I wish you every success and I hope you find a club which treats you with the respect your talent deserves.

Save us from Di Canio.

Brian McDermott: Out on his own
Brian McDermott: Out on his own
He Used to Manage Slough.. He’s Not a Royal Now

(28 DW) The Crying Game

I’m absolutely terrible. Amy Pond has just found out that Rory the Centurion has been protecting her for 2000 years. A wonderfully written and touching story, but can someone please explain to me why I am sat watching it with tears streaming down my face. It’s TV. Not only that it’s TV I’ve seen before. Alas it’s not only Doctor Who.

Martin Clunes (him off Men Behaving Badly) recently narrated a documentary for ITV called the Secret Life of Dogs. Now anyone who knows me or has read this here bit of cyber space for any considerable amount of time knows I love my dogs. I would suggest anyone give it a watch. (I can’t believe I am recommending anything on ITV) There are some really heart wrenching stories about how people relate to their dogs. This again caused me to well up.

At football. As a celebration of last seasons successes (we won the league!) the PA guys have put the below video together…

This, if I’m not careful, gets me too. I however have to keep my shit together cos I’m in public grr manly man.

Just what is wrong with me. When I was a teen I wasn’t tearful, OK I was quite whingey little bastard when I was small, but I was me. I had lots to be upset about! Am I releasing some kind of female hormone? That comment isn’t as sexist as it sounds. Am I less of a man because I have a compulsion to cry at things? I feel a bit of a fool, but it’s natural to me so who says I can’t show a bit of emotion.

I suppose I could suppress  it and in 20 years come back and murder my family… yeah cos thats better.


Please check out the work of my 28DW Comrades at The Resident Weeble and A Piece of Pandemonium 

(28 DW) The Crying Game

5-7

I have witnessed a lot of things at the Madejski Stadium. Yesterday I saw a game that finished with a score of 5-7. Depressing thing is I didn’t go back on my promise never ever to watch another London Irish rugby fixture.

Reading 5
Arsenal 7

Even as I now write it in the cold light of day I can barely believe it. Going into the game I thought we would lose, I always do. Even when we won the Championship (English Second Flight) with a record 106 points, until it was mathematically certain I thought we would conspire to lose it. It’s the Reading way, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory with un-erring accuracy.

Even I, the most pessimistic of football fans, thought we couldn’t possibly lose at 4-1 up at half time. We had dominated, with only Theo Walcott appearing to want to play for Arsenal in the first half. He deserved this goal. More was to come. Before the Walcott goal at 4-0 we gave it the big un. Taunting Arsenal fans, and at 4-0 it was like shooting fish in a barrel. The classic jibe about Robin Van Persie “Laughing at this.” Should have stuck in my memory for years. At half time sections of the crowd were asking for a change of board. “We want our Arsenal back” they shouted. Unfortunately for us they got their wish sooner than even they could have hoped for.

We knew Arsenal would come out all guns blazing. The old cliché “If we can keep it tight for the first twenty minutes” was uttered. Wave after to wave of attack, we weathered the storm for twenty four minutes. Then opened the flood gates. I watched in a kind of drunken nightmareish haze. No-one not even us can lose from 4 nil up. I’ll wake up in a minute.

Various people have mentioned the referee, who deemed it right to play for 96 minutes instead of the 93 he had previously stated. In those added three minutes Arsenal scored their forth goal. This makes no difference to me. In all sport, you play until the end. If the ref saw fit to play until midnight (however wrong) then the teams must play.

4-4 Extra time. Thousands of Londoners (some from “Just round the corner) jumping around like loons at a Sex Pistols gig. Three sides of the Mad Stad silent. Dazed, onlookers. Arsenal scored to make it 4-5. Ludicrous. But at least it was over, the torment of the turnaround. Done.

No but wait. Step forward Pavel Pogrebnyak to offer more false hope than a cheap rancid psychic medium searching for a missing child. 5-5. Now it was our turn to pogo like punks. Game on, we can do it. Get in! Push for a 6th.

Caught upon a wave of optimism. We lost the ball, they scored.. twice more. I would describe it but like a person involved in a horrific accident I have blocked it out. It is a blur.

Usually when we suffer a defeat, I think to myself, it’s part of the reason I go. Not to see us lose, but to experience the lows so that when those oh so infrequent highs come by I can take it all in. But 5-7…. All I can think is maybe we’ll get a sponsorship deal with Heinz next year and for all I hate my job I’m pleased I’m not a football manager. Where the hell do you go from here.

By Organic_Heinz_Tomato_Ketchup.jpg: Gordon Joly derivative work: Octave.H (Organic_Heinz_Tomato_Ketchup.jpg) [CC-BY-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

5-7

(BDYBIS) The Addiction

Ok BDYBIS 16. I was going to write about the Reading vs Tottenham game today, but we lost 3-1 and I don’t feel very much like writing about that. Call me a poor loser if you like, because I am. On the quiet of course I’m British after all. I like for things I like to win. Winning even by association makes you feel good, ask Charlie Sheen.

Part of the reason the Olympics were so good this time around is because people in the UK felt so much more involved with successes of the athletes. That is the attraction of being a sports spectator. You live with the hope of often infrequent highs, you live in anticipation that one day, just one day everything will come right and you will have your day in the sun. People who don’t “get” sport say it is pointless. Just some guys kicking a ball around or unfeasibly flexible girl balancing on a beam. Sport is much more than the activity itself.

By Francesco (cenci88) (Flickr: Gymnastic Artistic2) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Sport spectating, the eternal balancing act.
It’s the day. The travelling to the venue, the nervousness over something you have almost no control over. Crowds can influence, hugely. They can encourage and destroy someone maybe even at the same time, the lines are narrow. The criticism that would spur on someone like John McEnroe to prove the critics wrong would destroy someone of a more sensitive disposition. Sport is not played by machines, athletes at their peak will go to great lengths to maintain a neutral emotion, often with great success. Steve Davis in the 80’s springs to mind. The human being is always in there though.

One year following Reading I went to every away game bar 5 or so, not a boast as there are some that go week in week out. This season was not a good one. On our travels my Dad and I saw the team win once. Why did we continue to go? I mean you wouldn’t watch a turkey of a theatre performance more than once would you? Well whilst football has been bashed this year, it is a living breathing theatre. Unscripted you never know what is going to happen. World beaters last week turn into players who look like they have never met, seemingly overnight. So you go to reach the highs again.

It’s addictive.

It’s not just football, any and every spectator sport has twists and turns that even a EastEnders script writer would dismiss as far fetched. So whilst I experience the low tonight the Spurs fans will bask in their deserved glory. Both of us knowing, each feeling is fleeting and to have experienced the lows means we can truly enjoy the high.

(BDYBIS) The Addiction