A List of Grievances for MLB.tv and MLB At Bat

I pay anywhere from $100 to $150 every season for the ability to watch every Cubs and Rays game I can. In the olden days, I would have paid a cable company for that service. But I’m as up-to-date as Kansas City, so I haven’t paid for cable, actually, ever in my life.

I love both of these things: MLB.tv and the MLB At Bat app for my Nexus 5. The former allowed me to watch my precious Devil Rays get whollapped while I was an intern in Hong Kong back in 2007. I’d wake up every morning, take the thirty minute bus ride to work, finish my day’s worth of work in 15 minutes, and then watch the previous night’s Devil Rays (which, at 9:30 in the morning had just finished) on my Dell Inspiron laptop (peace be upon it).

Since then, MLB At Bat has allowed me to watch Cubs games on the bus or in a car trip (given I have enough signal). I watch until I get carsick, and then I watch a few more minutes. At Bat also lets me listen to games at work. No, curious officemates, I’m not actually listening to Hall and Oates as you suspect, but actually Vin Scully. Put that biz on repeat.

But there are some problems. Some fixable problems. And some questions. As a loyal, paying customer, I demand answers.

  1. End the Blackouts. This one is obvious. Everyone hates the blackouts. They were designed back when stadiums were all built out of wood and the television was this snazzy and expensive device that was going to destroy radio and real life forever. Now that we’re blaming smart phones for destroying the television and real life forever, maybe we can lighten these blackout rules?
  2. End the Radio Delay. This one is less obvious, but equally outside of the purview of the people who run the actual coding behind MLB.tv and MLB At Bat. Still, it’s dumb as all get out and primed for the garbage heap. Sometimes, I am forced to listen to, say, an ESPN broadcast or the White Sox play-by-play team because the Rays aren’t broadcasting the game. Instead of muting my TV and listening to the fine commentary from WDAE, I have to listen to what amounts to a chlorine gas for my brain. It becomes very difficult to watch the game when I have to scream into my pillow after every Hawk Harrelson comment.
  3. AT BAT NEEDS A FAST FORWARD BUTTON. I am watching a Cubs game from last night. The Len Kasper gives a great intro, talks about the previous game, and then send it to commercial. Then my precious little phone has to stream five minutes of “COMMERCIAL BREAK IN PROGRESS”. How many hours have I wasted watching those shadows shift and move along that metallic backdrop? A “Back 30 Seconds” button is the easiest, most obvious feature for a mobile video streamer. Netflix has it. Hulu has it. And MLB.tv used to have it. And unlike Netflix or Hulu, MLB.tv has long empty spaces, so it needs a “Forward 30 Seconds” button too. Yeah, the condensed games are nice, but I want to hear Len’s insights; I want to see the graphics and get the reports on the opposing teams; I want to experience the whole game — preferably without the battery-draining wastelands that are the whitewashed commercial breaks.
  4. Well, at least this time the loading screen is showing the probable starters!

    Well, at least this time the loading screen is showing the probable starters!

  5. Is MLB At Bat opening really slowly for anyone else? In the latest update, I find myself sitting in front of the little spinning loading icon for at least five minutes every time I open the app. I never had this issue with previous versions. If a game has just started, this can prove very frustrating. All I want is the PITCHf/x report on that last pitch. Please just finish loading!
  6. Why is Classic Gameday still the only way to look at previous at bats? I am thankful the developers have left Classic Gameday available to those of who care about history or posterity or what happened five seconds ago, but it would be nice if MLB At Bat or the newest in-browser Gameday actually had that basic, essential feature of the old Gameday. How am I supposed to tweet about the ridiculous Sam Fuld triple if the zone is already showing the next hitter?
  7. Want to see that first inning Sam Fuld triple? Too bad. Instead, feast your eyes on this, the final -- and very meaningless -- at bat of the game!

    Want to see that first inning Sam Fuld triple? Too bad. Instead, feast your eyes on this, the final — and very meaningless — at bat of the game!

  8. Random Disconnections. I know others have to be suffering from this. I have had this problem for about five years, spanning two states, three cities, eight different residences, and at least four different internet service providers. (I honestly don’t remember it happening in China, so go figure.) I’m watching a replay of a game on MLB.tv, and then everything freezes. I have to quickly look at the progress bar and memorize my place in it because I know what’s about to happen: The game is about to start over at the beginning. It’s like as soon as my bandwidth gets choppy, MLB.tv pisses its pants and forgets its middle name. I think the problem correlates with MLB NexDef (I don’t remember having this problem before NexDef, even they’re even still using it) and iffy internet speed, but since I stream Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go and Amazon Prime without the shadow of a problem, I have to believe something at MLB.tv is just playing stupid.
  9. Oh, there's the Fuld triple -- squirrelled away in the Gameday designed during the Bush administration!

    Oh, there’s the Fuld triple — squirrelled away in the Gameday designed during the Bush administration!

  10. DON’T SHOW ME THE SCOR– too late :(. Ah, the tedious, beautiful art of opening MLB.tv and not seeing the score of the replay you’re about to watch. I’ve tried squinting until my vision was too blurry to detect anything but shapes and colors. I’ve tried covering part of the screen with my hand and carefully navigating to the replays, sometimes by muscle memory alone. I’ve even asked others to start the replay for me so that I don’t have to risk seeing even a headline related to the game. This is no longer an issue with MLB.tv. This is specifically an At Bat problem. Do I have to make the Miami Marlins my favorite team just to be sure I won’t see any meaningful scores?! Why can’t I set my landing page to a score-free mode or a day-delayed mode? Or, better yet, just make my landing page the video feed selection. I can then navigate back to my team’s news feed if I’m still operating in normal earth time.

This is all very whiny. And it’s pretty much a shimmering monument to First World Problems, but these are issues real enough to me. Partly because I write about baseball, and therefore have to consume a lot of baseball, and therefore use MLB.tv and MLB At Bat daily. But it’s partly because I’m a fan. So I’m hoping others out there will agree with me.

All told, I love MLB.tv and At Bat. They bring baseball into the 21st century and have enabled my fandom, starting way back in 2007 when I was just a punk college kid sad about leaving behind his 10-inch dorm room TV. And I fully expect MLB will continue to improve these products. But a little complaining here and there can sometimes help.





Bradley writes for FanGraphs and The Hardball Times. Follow him on Twitter @BradleyWoodrum.

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Steve Bittenbender
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Steve Bittenbender

One of the reasons I bought MLB.TV this year (after cutting the cable cord) was that it interacted with Chromecast. It does on my Android phone, but not on my laptop, which has Chrome.

Is there something I’m missing?

Noah
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Noah

I believe you need to install the Cast extension in Chrome – https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/google-cast/boadgeojelhgndaghljhdicfkmllpafd?hl=en

Lenard
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Lenard

The Chrome extension is still in beta so it’s prone to random crashes. I have no idea when it won’t be in beta, it seems with how long Chromecast has been out that it would be a full release by now.

James
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James

I have the opposite problem. It works seamlessly with my desktop browser, but stalls out when I try to cast from my phone. After a minute or two of gameplay, the screen reverts to “Game about to Start” or whatever the graphic is from before games.

biff
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biff

WHAT has happened to the mlb.tv player in 2015?? .. it’s always been a tad finicky, but this year (watching through my TiVo) EVERY time I fast forward, the picture totally permanently freezes .. making fast forward unusable and forcing me to either watch live, or sit through all the commercial breaks. FIX THIS MLB.tv .

Beau
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Beau

On iOS there is a “hide scores” option in the app.

AJ
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AJ

On the Roku in Settings there’s a “hide scores” as well. No more hiding part of the screen with my hand!

eric
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eric

i agree, get rid of the blackouts… i live in indianapolis, so i get blacked out on a lot of teams because we are in the middle of like 8 teams… very annoying.

Deelron
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Deelron

I believe the new commissioner was on during the Nationals game yesterday and said that local team streaming is a priority (take that for what it’s worth).

Well-Beered Englishman
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Well-Beered Englishman

Last year I had very frequent (average once-twice per game) network errors during live streams. A few times a month, I’d give up on a live feed entirely because it was too buggy and dropped too often.

I’ve always wondered, when rewinding MLB TV on my TV, what the start point is. It usually says something like 4:35:08, as if I can rewind the game to three hours before it even began.

@YancyEaton
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@YancyEaton

It’s weird that you mentioned WDAE and the radio delay. I’ve tried doing the exact same thing.

Michael
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Michael

It’s kind of funny that the unofficial mlbviewer client for Linux makes for a much better viewing experience than the official browser-based client. 😛

Fergie348
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Fergie348

The local blackouts can be circumvented by using high speed VPN as part of your networking. I haven’t figured out how to make it work with mobile devices, but for my computer and my Roku it’s as easy as pie. I use UnblockUs for the VPN service, it costs 5 bucks a month and because of it I’m no longer a Comcast subscriber. FTW!!

Spike Owen
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Spike Owen

I’m one of those Dodger fans that still can’t see Dodger games unless they are being nationally broadcast because of the TV dispute. Will purchasing MLB.tv allow me to watch Dodger games?

Seth Keichline
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Seth Keichline

Spike –

I live in So Cal, and I have AT&T (so I don’t get Dodger games). On both Opening Day and last night, I was able to watch the Dodgers on my iPad’s At-Bat app. So you should be good.

Spike Owen
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Spike Owen

Awesome! Thanks!

Bob D
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Bob D

I’m in same boat on Dodgers. Ly I had MLB and if i wanted to watch on TV had to wait 3 hours after game is over.If I wanted to sleep that night I would fire up the VPN on my desktop and watch it live.

Jamesonian
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Jamesonian

I love the radio delay! My local over-the-air broadcast (WJFK-FM, Home of the Nats) runs about 15 seconds ahead of my live television feed, making it impossible to simulcast our outstanding radio team (Charlie Slowes & Dave Jaegler). Unfortunately, our television announcers (Bob “The Human Quaalude” Carpenter and some former SF jock dude) are unlistenable. The solution is provided thanks to the MLB At Bat radio delay which runs about 45 seconds behind the television. I simply listen to the At Bat audio feed and use my DVR to pause the live broadcast and release it when it catches up. I use a hit or a glove pop as a visual sync point, like a movie clapboard. Voila! Live (well, OK, live-ish) TV with the dulcet tones of Charlie & Dave instead of the soul-killing monotony of Carpenter and Santangelo.

Simon
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Simon

Ha ha, can’t stop laughing about having to memorize your place on the progress bar when MLB.TV freezes. Thankfully it doesn’t happen too often. Even worse is when you want to have gameday audio on in the background and only half listen to the game while you work on something else. Two hours into the game it suddenly freezes and goes back to 0:00:00, and there’s no way of knowing where you were. Even if you do know, it has a crazy fast-forward function that jumps forward in chunks of 1 minute or 2 minutes. I’ve learned to write down the real-life time when I started listening, so if it was 3:42pm local time when I started playing the game and it craps out at 4:52pm, I know to fast forward to the 1:10 mark.

For TV archives you can jump to the next half inning if you have the clickable linescore and jump forward to the next half inning. You have to be quick though (ie within seconds of the last out of the inning) to avoid MLB.TV autoplaying a commercial.

For the most part though I really like MLB-TV. I deal with the blackouts by mostly watching archived games.

semperkafeifei
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semperkafeifei

Also, a proper condensed with commentary on replay. Cut out the time between pitches and commercials.

Living in China and purchasing NFL rewind (sssh) and MLB.TV, I find rewind is the better product. No commercials, and mlb.TV will sometimes reach a point, then restart, only to restart at that point again.

As internet is more prone to slow down, trying free games for a week or so before I buy;it’s no fun if I can’t even get 30 minutes uninterrupted (including commercials) game play.

mtsw
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mtsw

Compared to what NBA League Pass and NFL Sunday Ticket.tv subscribers have to put up with, MLB’s options are incredible.

Matt
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Matt

Trying to watch MLB.tv through the MLB At Bat app for Windows 8 is pretty atrocious, too. There’s so much wasted space, especially if you want to split-screen the action with something else. It’s easier to just use it through whatever browser you’re using.

Jorge Fabregas
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Jorge Fabregas

Minor complaint: the screen won’t rotate/flip 180 degrees on Android At Bat, which can cause awkward power cord angles when using a charger.

David
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David

I cut the cord and bought MLBTV to watch the Rays from D.C….and I have to go beg bartenders to put on the game because my credit card is still billed to St. Pete, and I’m in the Orioles market.. So much frustration.

kj
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kj

Anyone know why mlb tv and at bat is a gimme when you purchase MLB EI through most cable providers….(all?)….except Comcast?

Scott
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Scott

The blackout rules make no sense! I live on the coast of NC and subscribe to MLBTV so I can see the Reds games. When I visit relatives in Charlotte NC I am blacked out and of course there is no local broadcast. The Reds stadium is close 500 miles away , this blackout cannot possibly give me the incentive to attend a game.

Matt P
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Matt P

It gives your cable provider an incentive to pay the Reds for media rights though.

Scott
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Scott

Which there are no local broadcasting of Reds games.

Vidor
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Vidor

Gotta be honest, yes, this for the most part comes across as pretty whiny. Expecting MLB to not show the score of a game is especially silly. Should ESPN not report game finals? If you don’t want to know how a game ends while you’re watching it, then watch it live.,

Chris Phillips
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Chris Phillips

My gripes:
1. I miss the classic radio broadcast only games. Bigger selection and I like the different perspective of hearing the sounds of the game rather then watching. Especially for the classics I enjoyed listening and picturing the times.

2. Email MLB and you get a auto email to call. I called last year and the year before about the above issue and it sounded like a 16 year old and she had not the slightest idea what I was talking about. She was polite and did get a response from a manager just saying that’s no longer available. No explanation even when I pressed. I used to pay extra for that library of classic games. I just can’t understand why it would be removed. But I get the feel that for a major organization like MLB the customer service comes across as this rinky dink operation.

Thanks for the article sir!

Nick
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Nick

I may have missed the bus on this topic, but hopefully someone at MLB.com sees this. When Gameday started out, it was superb. It had its kinks, but they were acceptable. With the ongoing refinements to the product, it has progressively gotten less enjoyable to use. The turning point for me was when the outcome of an AB appeared in the pitch log. It completely guts the enjoyment from following a game. Before this addition, it was fun to watch a close game, see “Ball in play,” and keep your fingers crossed while the hit data was processed. Now, “ball in play, out(s)” removes the only shred of suspense the medium ever had.

Furthermore, last year they said the audio feed could be synchronized with Gameday on At-Bat for iOS. This never happened, and it seems like they’re hoping we forgot about it this year. I want that option to actually WORK when I select it. Maybe it’s too hard to add a trigger to the audio feed to force the Gameday screen to update. If it doesn’t work, don’t pretend it’s possible. I’d rather not get my hopes up, and you’d rather not have another reason for customer complaints.

Btw, Bradley. I know the struggle while trying to avoid scores. I’ve used custom paper templates for different broadcasts and websites to cover my screen, a curled-finger peephole to limit my field of view while scrolling, and yelling with my ears covered while at a baseball game to avoid hearing discussions about games I’ve taped. On that topic, the Angels announcers are the worst. I was watching one of their games late in a division race while taping the Athletics game. During a lull there was a long silence, followed by, “A’s win.” Beware.

Nick
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Nick

Another note on MLBAM, condensed games used to show every pitch. I want that option back. Take out the fluff and show a 35-minute game with every pitch instead of a 12-minute game with only the final pitch of each PA. Some people enjoy watching pitchers work.

RichG
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RichG

I’ll add a few more I’ve not seen mentioned elsewhere:

1) On Roku, one of the greatest enhancements was made last year, with the addition of a soundtrack choice that allows the subscriber to choose between the TV audio, the radio audio (actually in sync with the video!), and the announcer-less ballpark-only background audio. That was great, as I love listening to the radio broadcast while I’m doing other things and being able to glance up to watch the video when something interesting happens. Then, this year, some deep thinker at MLB decided to replace the English-langage radio audio with the Spanish broadcast. I’m all for adding Spanish but, since there are three soundtracks, how about running the Spanish soundtrack instead of the “ballpark only” feed and keeping the English radio broadcast. Did anybody think that one through ???

2) MLB loves to cut off the radio feed in the middle of the post-game show. At Bat airs the ENTIRE pre-game, so why not the post-game? Just dumb.

3) Rather than seeing the “commercial in progress” graphic, how about showing us something useful: the “high home” camera shot of the field between innings, which can be obtained from the raw line feed that MLB AtBat is already using, or from the fixed high home camera now in place all all MLB parks for the replay system. For those of you that remember the first year that the added camera angles were offered for post-season play, this high home camera shot was shown between innings; it disappeared the following year, never to be seen again.

4) MLB Advanced Media is incredibly tone deaf when it comes to listening to customers. Any inquiry is given the “we’ll pass than on to the developers,” and is lost forever. While AtBat is a great product, it could be so much better. Listen to your customers, guys!!!

Bob Toole
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Bob Toole

I have an Android phone…will the $19.99 version of At Bat give me live radio broadcasts of games?

SeattleMarinerTillIDie
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SeattleMarinerTillIDie

Thanks for posting these as it appears that MLB.tv App folks actually listened and added in a +30 second button in the APP. They have yet to stop with the blackouts which are just ridiculous in this day and age where TV Everywhere exists.

Ronart7
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Ronart7

Mlb TV subscriber for a few years now and it is getting worse and worse. Living in Las Vegas, a city in a state that has no MLB team and I can’t watch any games from six teams. That translates to 20% of the regular season that just gone. First I found out that the Premium package’s benefits of postseason games was a lie as TBS broadcast games were blacked out. Now this. i can’t help but feel totally ripped off this year and if this blackout issue doesn’t go away I certainly won’t waste my money ever again.

Jon
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Jon

My Chromecast stream drops out randomly.

Connection isn’t lost but rather the TV changes from the live game in progress to “this game will begin shortly”.

Restarting my phone & chromcast sometimes makes things last longer – other times there is no hope. I assume I’m not alone with this problem?

Playing directly on the phone does not drop in this manner.

– Jon

Gator
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Gator

Does anyone know if there is a market size priority given? I can watch any redsox game at any time, however the Marlins feed always freezes. luckily the Marlins are playing the redsox this week, so I can watch the game.

Sean
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Sean

I use both services and agree with you on most points. One question though: where can I see the screen you’ve shown of the pitch count (and batter standing) in real time on my computer?

Ron w
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Ron w

MLB and buffering go hand in hand. I have put up with this for 2 seasons from MLB. The first sweet MLB rep I spoke to said my bandwidth was unstable. The second sweet rep I talked to ( last night) said it was my New Samsung Smart TV. From what I read here in Las Vegas it seems to be a MLB problem. I told her I was going to VPN. She told me it would make it worse. I said it can’t get any worse than it is now. She is calling me back tomorrow night to try and fix things, but as from what I read here in the comments section it can’t be done. As I see the problem to be Major League Baseball. They don’t want any other enterprise raining on there parade .i will keep you informed on my progress with MLB.

Billyboy of Florida
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Billyboy of Florida

My reception has been bad for the last two years. I am on Fios, have a SONY TV with an MLB App. Several times in the course of a game it becomes statue maker without sound. Also, suddenly the screen says “Close” and that’s the end of service. Last night in the 3rd inning. I have been on the phone with MLB this spring with a nice fellow who nevere heard of the problems and asked me to call him again when I found out what is wrong so he could help other customers. Verizon Fios sends me to Sony, SOny sends me to MLB. Some of the phone calls were 1 or 2 hours long. No one knows anything. Is it just me: has anyone else had and solved these problems. One other thing. I have a friend 500 yards away on comcast and he has never had these problems.

tz
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tz

Regarding the freezes.

The problem is DEF. MLB, not my Roku box, not my cable, it’s MLB. I’ve run ever test in the book- it’s MLB. Everything else works fine, except the stream coming in.

Fix it, please. For the price we pay….it’s not whining.

Che
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Che

I have been blessed by the MLB gods! I’ve been subscribing to MLB.tv for the past 10 years, every since I moved from the North Jersey to the Philly suburbs. (Well, maybe, I’m just lucky)

The only team that is blacked out is the Phillies, therefore I can watch every Yankee game all season long – except if they play at 1:00 on Saturdays, and when they play the Phillies. Personally, these days don’t get in my way. I’m usually doing something else on Saturday afternoon, and just watch the replay later, and how often do the Yanks play the Phils – a three game series once every three years. Regardless, I still agree that the blackout rules are dumb.

I’ve dealt with the streaming issues in stride. Each year MLB switches technology – media player, then Silverlight, then flash, then nextdef, mp4 and now the new media player. Each year figuring out the best way to view a game. I’m a simple fan with simple needs. I want to watch the game live, or a few hours later. When I watch the game a few hours later, I don’t want to see the final score until I’ve finished watching the game. I watch the game on a Kindle, a Playstation, a Desktop PC, Windows Phone or Android Phone – depending upon what device fits my mood or location. I have a lot of devices, and each has a different experiences. All I want is for each device to be set to not show any final scores for the last 48 hrs, and a way to skip over the commercial lock.
Some devices allow the scores to be blocked and it works well (Playstation) – some do not (Kindle)
None allow you to skip the commercials once they start. Like Pavlov’s dog – The YES network end of inning music is my key to stopping what I’m doing, and very quickly hitting the fast forward link (desktop version only) and the play link to skip over the commercial lock. Each season I quickly learn how to time the clicks to skip exactly 2:00 minutes.

For the love of BASEBALL!!!!