I've been a subscriber to MLB's Gameday Audio package for a number of years and I've often raved about how great a service MLB Gameday Audio is.
Every game, both teams' radio broadcasts are available to choose from, and the perfect archival system allows us Irish-based MLB fans to enjoy the previous night's games first thing in the morning here in Ireland (or anywhere in Europe or on Earth).
I've probably listened to 600 games through the archives over the past four seasons. In fact, I've listened to so many Met games since April 2006 that I suspect Howie Rose's family hears less of him than I do.
Until this year.
For reasons that escape me – and legions of other fans who have aired their frustrations on MLB's support forum – MLB rolled out a new audio player for their online radio broadcasts on Opening Day.
To put it mildly, it has not been a success. Those who developed the new audio player seem to have virtually no idea what those who want to listen to baseball want.
What's particularly annoying is that, as even the most casual fans knows, baseball has a whole month during which the 30 teams prepare for the coming season.
It's called Spring Training, and MLB had that whole month to test their new player and iron out any kinks. They chose not to do so.
Prior to Spring Training, MLB debited our accounts for another year's subscriptions, and during Spring Training we were listening to the games with the old player.
There was no hint that big changes were afoot, or that those of us who paid would be losing functionality we've come to think of as standard.
So Opening Day was a stunner. Generally it's a day full of excitement and ritual for fans, including those of us who live in Ireland or elsewhere in Europe.
On Opening Day this year the new audio player was launched like a boulder from a catapult aimed at the fans. It didn't work and we were left with no baseball, no excitement, no Opening Day sense that 'hope springs eternal'. We had nothing but frustration.
After a few days they got the new audio player working - sort of. Some teams' broadcasts were missing, and others only turned up 12 hours or more after the games had finished.
And there are no controls in the player. This is fundamental, and is the clearest sign that MLB's software development team had no concept of what baseball fans want in an online radio player.
We already had it! Games archived within 45 minutes of the last out and the ability to fast forward, rewind and pause. Oh, and we need the broadcasts to work. We don't need much more. It is radio after all.
Unfortunately we have none of that. We have the games, finally, that we can play, but we can't fast forward, rewind and pause. That means when you start a broadcast you have to just let it keep going, even if you have to step away for 20 minutes or if there is a two-hour rain delay.
Anyone who has ever worked a VCR can fathom how ridiculous it would be if every VCR had those functions disabled after a few years on the market. That's what MLB has done in 2009.
Oh, and often the signal just drops, as it did for me the other day in the 5th inning of a Met game. That meant I had to choose between starting over from the beginning – including half an hour of pre-game – or just forgetting about it. I chose the latter. And the next day I didn't bother.
That's what MLB is doing to me. It is turning me off. I love baseball and I find it hard to imagine going back to the baseball-less existence I endured through the 1990s. Yet, now I'm left pondering a future without my beloved game once again.