MLB Won't Give Me Permission To Describe Game To Friend

Shoeless Joe Jackson. Pete Rose. Barry Bonds. Now I add my name to the end of this list, for we all have been shunned by Major League Baseball.

After watching the Diamondbacks-Astros game Aug. 23, I decided I’d like to describe the game to my friend Tyler, who was too busy to watch it. But mindful of the oft-repeated disclaimer, “Any rebroadcast, retransmission, or account of this game, without the express written consent of Major League Baseball, is prohibited,” I wanted to square my plans with league offices first. I thought my chances were decent. After all, it’s been done before.

The next morning I shot off an e-mail to MLB with my request and heard back within hours from Valerie Vieira, from the business development department in MLB Advanced Media. She asked me to call her.

I explained my situation to her and asked how to go about getting express written consent. She wanted to know if I was going to blog about the game or do a podcast, and I said no, I just wanted to describe the game to someone while sitting on my living room couch.

“How could anyone stop you from talking about the game in your own living room?” she said, taking my request as a joke.

I reassured her that it wasn’t. While I doubted the MLB spies would be able to get to me, the disclaimer made it very clear that I’m not allowed to give my account of the game, so I wanted express written consent that gave me permission to talk about the game, and I would post a blog about how I went about attaining the consent. She said someone else from MLB would be calling me.

I waited 9 days, holding my tongue about the forbidden Diamondbacks-Astros game, patiently hoping MLB would give me the thumbs-up. I called and e-mailed Valerie several times to remind her I was waiting, but neither she nor anyone else has gotten back to me.

I take this to mean I am not allowed to describe the game to Tyler. Which is just as well, because I’ve forgotten all about the particulars now. Well played, Major League Baseball. This is one treasured, legally protected account you were able to keep under wraps.

Thankfully, MLB did not require me to get “express written consent” to describe my attempts at getting “express written consent,” so here we are.

Postscript: I also asked the NBA and NFL for express written consent to describe game 2 of the 2009 NBA Finals and the Aug. 22 Cardinals-Chargers preseason game, respectively, but was ignored. At least MLB was courteous enough to reply.

(Photo: Triborough)

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