I wouldn’t say I’m the most dedicated baseball fan. I’ve enjoyed watching the sport my entire life (particularly the Toronto Blue Jays, the Oakland Athletics and the Seattle Mariners, the latter of whom I guess you could call my “local” team) and have been through a lot of ups and downs with them the last two decades. It’s just really hard to dedicate the time to watch 162 regular season games each year. Still, I remember exactly where I was on October 24th 1992 and October 23rd 1993. On both nights, I was sitting in my kitchen on my parents’ old Black and White TV watching the Blue Jays win the World Series. I was 10 when Joe Carter was urged by Tom Cheek to “Touch Em All” while Canada exploded in celebration and if you asked me at the time, I would never have thought I’d be in my 30s with a family of my own before the Jays made the playoffs again.
There’s something magical about this team. Sure, we’ve seen teams “purchased” (Steinbrenner, I’m looking at you) to do nothing but win, which is what I’ve heard a lot of people accusing Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos of doing this year. But there is something about the 2015 Toronto Blue Jays that makes them fun to watch. I haven’t enjoyed watching a baseball team this much since the millennium-era Seattle Mariners or even going back to the 1994 Montreal Expos. I guess it comes as no surprise that they’re probably the odds-on favourites at this point to win the World Series. You can’t buy the teamwork and camaraderie this squad has.
Life for me is different though. The last time the Blue Jays were in the playoffs, the only thing I had to worry about was homework. Now, I’ve got a pretty intense work schedule. Some days, I might be going from 9 AM until midnight, stopping only to have dinner and spend some time with my daughter until she goes to sleep. I definitely would not trade what I do, but it means my own free time is limited and I can rarely sit in front of the TV. In order to make the most of my time, I’ve turned to technology around me to keep me going. For this, I turn to sources like online streaming to my fix.
You have a few options to look at. The most widely accessible option is straight through the MLB. Purchasing MLB.com’s streaming is available in two ways. You can buy a postseason full-ride package for $25 US. With accessibility on 400 streaming devices (including Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Tablets, Smartphones, Apple TV, etc) this is the most comprehensive version on the market. A $10 package is also available, but subject to blackouts which could be a bit risky regionally depending on where in Canada you are.
The other alternative that a lot of Canadians have is Sportsnet Now. However, the access to this is limited to just a handful of cable providers. It should cover the majority of Canadians, however, there are a few of us (myself included) that aren’t included in the coverage network.
What other streaming options are out there that you know of sports fans?
Best ways to watch the MLB Playoffs
While I’m a big fan of online streaming (and will probably rely more on this as time goes on since I’m considering cutting my cable package,) the best way to catch the games is still on TV. Rogers Sportsnet is the exclusive home to the Blue Jays and you definitely won’t miss a minute of the action if you’re tuned in to them.
With that in mind, the MLB Playoffs is just the tip of the major sports season this fall. In addition to the MLB Playoffs, you’ve got the rest of the CFL season, the continuation of the NFL season, NHL, NBA and UFC 193 and 194 all before the year is over. It might be a good idea to look into a new TV.
Samsung’s 4K TVs (from the JU6500 up all the way to the JS9000) are generally regarded to be the best sports-watching TVs. Live Sports are classic for things like fast, cutting camera angles and a lot of generally jerky movements. Samsung’s 4K TVs have been tested time and again and are the best out there to minimize things like contrast drop, lag time and maximize colour output. It’ll serve you well no matter what sport you’re watching. If you can make time for it, I’m not going to deny that watching the big game on the couch with an amazing TV is pretty well the next best thing to being there.
If a TV doesn’t interest you and you’re more interested in something a bit more 21st century like streaming directly to one of your mobile devices, check out the latest Slingbox. Slingbox is a pretty neat device that hooks up to your PVR and allows you to stream content to your supporting device. This is a great idea if you can avoid social media and spoilers and will let you catch up to things late if you’re stuck at the office, or, like me, in front of the computer with access to my cable connection but not something like Sportsnet Now.
After considering something like a Slingbox, it might be time to look at your tablet itself. I tote my iPad Air 2 with me here and there, but for a great sports watching experience, why not look to something bigger? There are a good selection of supersized tablets out there and my colleague Brad Moon did a great piece on this entitled “Why would anyone want a super-sized tablet?” Give it a read. It’s got me thinking about my wife’s next tablet since her Nexus 7 is fading into the sunset as we speak.
Then, all that’s left is to sit and watch the American League Championship Series and beyond. In case I’ve got you looking for the schedule of games, look no further. The playoffs follow a 2-3-2 format in terms of location and a Best of 7 victory format. Since the Kansas City Royals finished with the better regular season record, they get the Home Field Advantage and host the book end games while Toronto hosts the 3 games in the middle.
Game 1: Friday, October 16th 7:30 PM Eastern
Game 2: Saturday, October 17th 3:30 PM Eastern
Game 3: Monday, October 19th 7 PM Eastern
Game 4: Tuesday, October 20th TBD
Game 5: Wednesday, October 21st TBD*
Game 6: Friday, October 23rd TBD*
Game 7: Saturday, October 24th TBD*
I know a lot of sports fans hate this term and hate the idea of bandwagons, but there isn’t a better time than this one to take up and enjoy baseball in Canada. I know a lot of people out there are clinging to the idea that the Blue Jays are Toronto’s team and not Canada’s. The Blue Jays have done what they can to address this through their cross-country tours but I’d urge you to suspend that belief for the next few weeks and “Come Together” as the Jays would say.
What follows after this year will be anybody’s guess. The Blue Jays have a lot of numbers to crunch and a lot of things to figure out this offseason. In the meantime, keep an eye on what’s coming up in the next few days and weeks and enjoy the ride to the World Series.
I haven’t been able to track down the origin of that photo (I spent a while looking last night) but I thought it captured what’s going on pretty well.
Sadly, the Royals strike first in the ALCS.
I have a feeling that Canada is about to be hit by the Bird Flu !
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