Rounding Third: FOX, MLB ease up on blackout rules

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Updated: 2/28 11:25 am

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - It's almost crazy that in this day and age people are still subjected to sports blackouts. Especially when you consider all the different platforms people now use to watch games.

In no sport has it been more of a problem than Major League Baseball.

For years, fans have complained, specifically on Saturday afternoons when Fox had the exclusive rights to any MLB games starting between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. ET. Essentially, everyone who paid for MLB Extra Innings or MLB.TV Premium was blacked out for all games during the window.

So, if you wanted to watch baseball during that time, you had to find a television showing the FOX game of the week.

However, both sides have given in a bit with the most recent rights agreement. Instead of being completely blacked out on Saturdays, subscribers of MLB Extra Innings and MLB.TV will now have the opportunity to watch Saturday MLB on FOX games subject to certain geographic blackouts that would have protected games assigned to local FOX affiliates.

So let's say you are in Philadelphia on a Saturday and the Phillies are one of the three Fox games, you will still be able to view the other two through your Extra Innings or MLB.TV subscriptions. In the past, that hasn't been an option and you were stuck with whatever game was on television.

It may not be a total lifting of blackouts, which, by the way, won't be happening anytime soon, but it is something. Enough anyway to keep people from complaining for a little bit.

MLB.TV subscribers also received some more good news on Thursday, as it was announced that for the first time the All-Star game and all World Series games will be available to stream.

Staying with Fox, since, well, it did release its national broadcast schedule on Thursday, it also appears close to naming its No. 1 team which will call the World Series this year.

And for those you who wanted Tim McCarver out of the Fox booth, well, be careful what you wish for. The Big Lead has reported that in addition to Joe Buck, Harold Reynolds and Tom Verducci will be in the booth.

Reynolds is a curious choice. He clearly knows the game. He was great when he was on ESPN's "Baseball Tonight" and does an adequate job now on MLB Network. But he clearly comes from the Jon Gruden school of analysis. He's never met a player who isn't doing a good job. Let's face it, a player has to do something really bad for Reynolds to find fault with him.

Between that and Buck's season-long audition for a late-night gig, Verducci will be a nice breath of fresh air. Now he is a great hire. Nobody knows baseball as much as Verducci, who is one of the best journalists in the sport.

Let's just hope he'll be able to get a word in edgewise with the other two.

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