Maybe it was all those open letters from last year. Maybe it was the pandemic that’s stranded millions of kids at home for the summer. Maybe it was the acrimonious and off-putting labor dispute that delayed what could have been a more robust partial season. Whatever the explanation, it appears that Rob Manfred has gotten something right after five years on the job.
In an email apparently received by select Little League parents, MLB offered a complimentary pass for its uber-popular MLB.TV subscription to America’s future ballplayers and their families. There’s next to nothing outside of the tweet linked above to indicate the criteria MLB used in choosing the recipients of this free pass, but I was also able to confirm the deal’s legitimacy through the league’s customer support.
This is a step in the right direction and quite possibly a signal that MLB is not as tone-deaf about as we think. Kids from all socioeconomic backgrounds need better access to a sport that has marketed itself in a draconian fashion for most of its existence. Allowing Little Leaguers, even if it’s only a limited number of them for now, free access to watch any MLB game with their mom and dad during the middle of a pandemic when money is tight but free time abounds is a no-brainer.
But, wait. It seems that in their magnanimity, MLB forgot to turn this into the positive PR they so desperately need since virtually no one is even aware that this is going on. There have been no press releases, no tweets, and no memos on either Little League or MLB websites. But don’t worry, Joe Kelly was suspended eight games for throwing at cheaters who weren’t punished at all.
Back to the free subscriptions. MLB did a really good thing for kids and families, then totally goofed up by failing or forgetting to promote it. Sounds about right. Ugh.
Now if we could just get them to drop the blackouts for this shortened season, they might be able to redeem themselves. For goodness sakes, there aren’t even any fans in the stands right now anyhow, unless you count the cardboard cutouts of Bigfoot and Captain Kirk at Oakland Coliseum vying to get doinked by a foul ball.
Then there’s the matter of the season being in dire jeopardy as the Marlins and now the Cardinals experience outbreaks that threaten to ruin scheduled for half the league. Does a free gift really matter if you can’t even use it?