Today in sports: The baseball season begins with a whimper, Nike wants Reebok to stop selling Tim Tebow jerseys, and ferocious regional sports rivalries are alive and well, at least in Kentucky's dialysis clinics.
Baseball season began today, were you aware of this. Many were not, because the game between the Oakland A's and Seattle Mariners was played in Tokyo, with an official start time of 6:10 a.m. EST. MLB has been staging self-contained opening days in countries like Japan, Mexico, and Puerto Rico since 1999, but from a sheer terrible execution standpoint, today's game stood out. For example: the 6:10 a.m. EST start. Inconvenient for Americans, but the game is in Japan, so what can you do? Baseball's bright idea was to air the game on a three-hour tape delay on MLB Network. Saying something makes no sense is a popular rhetorical device on the Internet, particularly when discussing choices made by television types, but this is the rare case of a decision that really, truly made no sense. Why delay for three hours? The audience for 9 a.m. Wednesday baseball is roughly the same size as the 6 a.m. crowd. More importantly: why delay at all? It's MLB's network. It says so right there in on-screen graphic. The cameras were there, the teams were there, baseball was played. The reasonable course of action would have been to air it live and rebroadcast it at say, 8 p.m., when people are actually watching television. Also, the game was blacked out in Seattle and Oakland, because of MLB's arbitrary and vague blackout policy, under which games played in Asia -- Asia! -- are subject to local blackout restrictions on the west coast. [AP]
Nike, which takes over as the "sole provider of NFL Equipment and apparel" on April 1, is suing Reebok, the old sole provider of NFL apparel, for producing a batch of Tim Tebow Jets jerseys. It's an unusual story: Reebok was required to cut two separate deals -- one with the league and the other with the NFL Players Association -- to slap their brand on NFL hats, jerseys, and assorted gewgaws. The deal with the NFLPA expired at the end of February, while the agreement with the league extends through March. So they can continue selling team merchandise, but can't produce any new jerseys with a player's image, name or likeness. This likely wouldn't have been an issue, had Tim Tebow not been traded to the New York Jets right in the middle of this season of branding purgatory. (The Peyton Manning signing also was not opportune.) In the lawsuit, Nike makes the not unreasonable point that someone who buys "an unauthorized Tebow-identified NFL jersey or T-shirt from Reebok this week will purchase an authorized Tebow jersey or T-shirt from Nike the following week." Nike wants all the offending Tebow jerseys wiped from the face of the earth, and is also seeking punitive and actual damages. (A service-y, somewhat related note: if there's an NFL fan you need to buy a gift for consider checking out the league's online shop, where anything with a Reebok logo on it -- which is practically everything -- is being sold at increasingly steep discounts to make room for the shiny new Nike gear. Savvy shoppers will also appreciate the value of a $29 puffy coat, even one that features the St. Louis Rams logo) [Deadspin]