The Cardinals this weekend are in Los Angeles, the scene of what many of their fans considered a crime — not being able to see Albert Pujols belt his milestone 700th career home run last September because of MLB’s media contracts.
Just like that time, Friday night’s Redbirds contest against the Dodgers also will be exclusively streamed — there will be no traditional television coverage. Apple TV+ has the game, as it did on Pujols’ big night on which he also belted No. 699.
The streaming-only telecast of the game last year, which had been scheduled long before Pujols was close to reaching the accomplishment, sparked an outcry of anger from those in the fan base who did not subscribe to Apple. Although there was no charge to view the production, an Apple account was required to watch. And of course access was needed to a device that could receive the feed (smartphone, tablet, smart TV, etc.), equipment that some fans — especially older ones — did not have.
Cardinals officials spoke to the powers-that-be at Major League Baseball to try to receive an exception for that game to make it more widely available, but were denied.
“Unfortunately, the MLB-Apple contract is very tight with no flexibility related to local telecaster accommodations for milestone events,” Cardinals senior vice president Dan Farrell said then.
Apple again is exclusively showing MLB doubleheaders on Fridays this year and its schedule is set through June. No additional Cards games are in that portion of the lineup for Apple, but it can select up to three more of their contests for its package the rest of the way.
At least this time there are no looming huge milestones that could be reached. And it’s not a late-season matchup between first-place teams, as was the case in September.
There is another difference, too, from last year. This season an Apple TV+ subscription is required to view the production, with the fee set at $6.99 per month. But Apple does offer a free two-month trial, so those wanting to sample the game without charge can do so. They’d also be able to see the other contest Apple is showing Friday — the Philadelphia-Houston contest, which begins at 7:10 p.m., as well as many others in the coming weeks.
MLB also has an exclusive deal with Peacock, another streamer, to show games on Sundays — some as early as 10:35 a.m. (St. Louis time). That’s when the Cardinals will make their lone appearance there this season on June 4 when they are in Pittsburgh. The fee for the basic tier of Peacock, which has the MLB games, is $4.99 a month.
ON THE AIR
Friday’s Cards-Dodgers game, which is set for 9:10 p.m. (St. Louis time), will be called on Apple by Los Angeles Angels play-by-play broadcaster Wayne Randazzo. He also was behind the microphone for Pujols’ 700th and had a scintillating description of the feat:
”Pujols sends one in the air. It’s deep to left. Taylor is back at the wall. IT’S 700. ALBERT PUJOLS HAS JOINED THE 700 HOME-RUN CLUB!”
Former big-league pitcher Dontrelle Willis will be the analyst Friday and Heidi Watney will serve as the reporter. Apple also plans to provide panoramic shots from a camera on a drone.
MLB’s new rules this season also are to be discussed, with former major-league umpires Brian Gorman and Ted Barrett set to join the telecast.
HOW TO WATCH
Apple says its MLB games are available on the Apple TV app on iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD, smart TVs, streaming devices and cable set-top boxes. They also can be accessed on the internet at tv.apple.com, including on Android, Windows PC, and Chrome OS devices.
Here are the step-by-step instructions, per Apple, about how to watch its MLB streaming productions:
- Have an Apple TV+ subscription and update to the latest software.
- Set up the Apple TV app if you’re using a streaming device or game console.
- Sign in with your Apple ID.
- Open the Apple TV app.
- Go to the Search tab.
- Select Apple TV+ Major League Baseball.
- Select a game.
- Select watch.
Notes: Those using a smart TV, streaming device or game console might need to set up the Apple TV app first. Also, the games are not available on Apple TV (third generation or earlier).
Former longtime Cardinals television announcer Dan McLaughlin has been doing an outstanding job this week filling in for vacationing co-host Jamie Rivers, who recently signed a two-year contract extension, on “The Fast Lane” show. That program airs from 2-6 p.m. weekdays on WXOS (101.1), the market’s FM sports-talk radio station.
McLaughlin’s sharpness in his analysis of the team has been in stark contrast to the club’s dull performance on the field. He has done plenty of homework to provide statistics that back up his opinions in his lively discussions with co-host Anthony Stalter, who also has made many salient points.
“Maybe I over-evaluated this team, like a lot of people did around Major League Baseball,” McLaughlin said on the air Wednesday, the day after the Redbirds blew a 4-2 lead in the ninth inning and lost to the Giants 5-4 in San Francisco to fall to 9-15 — the worst record in the NL Central Division. “This may be who they are.”
Among the deficiencies he pointed out are the team’s pitching problems, its poor defensive performance, its paltry number of steals and lack of power. That pretty well sums things up.
“If you don’t correct those it’s going to be this kind of season for many, many months,” he said.
He made a well-researched point about the staff’s difficulty in retiring hitters after getting two strikes on them, saying that foes in that situation were batting .204 against the Cardinals — the second-worst performance in the majors by a team’s hurlers. McLaughlin added that from 2019 through 2022 the Cards’ figure in that category was .163, eighth-best in the majors.
“The Cardinals’ pitching has been horrific with two strikes,” he said. “… You put people away with two strikes, you win.”
McLaughlin is no stranger to the station. He has been a regular guest on its airwaves over the years, has filled in on multiple shows and even had his own one-hour program for a while. His appearances are a big plus for 101.
• At the market’s other all-sports talker, KFNS (590 AM), tweaks to its Monday through Thursday lineup are starting next week.
Nate Lucas and Bob Ramsey will add an hour to their “High Noon” show, which will air from noon-3 p.m. Recurring guests, rather than Ramsey, might join Lucas on some days for the additional hour. Jim Heuer, the station’s program director, currently mans the 2-3 p.m. slot but will be able to concentrate more on his administrative duties as well as continuing to be on the air with Bernie Miklasz, whose program airs from 3-6 p.m.
KFNS owner Dave Zobrist said the basis for the moves is that Cole Bartemes is taking over from Lucas as producer of the station’s morning drive-time show, “Hot Take Central,” and Zobrist wants to give Lucas more on-air time.
The Friday afternoon schedule is unchanged: Lucas and Ramsey from noon-2 p.m., Joe Davis and Bartemes for the next hour, Andy Strickland from 3-4 p.m. then Miklasz on until 6 o’clock.
Zobrist also said the station has reached a deal to continue broadcasting University of Illinois football and basketball games for two more years.
Dan Caesar • 314-340-8175
@caesardan on Twitter