14-time All-Star's final game in pinstripes headlines Friday's action
By Mark Newman
In the sixth inning on Aug. 26, 2002, Alex Rodriguez and Rafael Palmeiro of the Rangers hit back-to-back home runs off Orlando Hernandez at old Yankee Stadium.
It was the first live stream of a Major League Baseball game. It was the birth of MLB.TV.
Those same two batters would join Hank Aaron and Willie Mays as the only ones to reach at least 3,000 hits and 569 homers. Now Rodriguez is about to join his Ranger cohort in retirement, and MLB.TV will offer a free stream of the farewell game at 7:05 p.m. ET on Friday between the Rays and Yankees.
It is kind of fitting that Rodriguez, 41, goes out this way. After Friday's game, there are no remaining active players who played in that historic technology milestone.
The only other active player who was in uniform for that Monday day game -- streamed live in a postage-stamp media player to about 30,000 viewers mostly in a workplace setting -- is Blue Jays reliever Joaquin Benoit. He had just started for Texas opposite Andy Pettitte the night before, so he would have been in the bullpen or dugout.
What a paradox this has been for those who have watched live baseball via MLB.TV since 2002.
On the one hand, baseball fans have said goodbye, one by one, to a steady stream of All-Stars, past or future, who participated in that game. In some cases, the goodbyes weren't so easy. There were 13 of them in the box score. Alphabetically, they included Ron Coomer, Carl Everett, Jason Giambi, Derek Jeter, Danny Kolb, Palmeiro, Jorge Posada, Rodriguez, Kenny Rogers, Alfonso Soriano, Rondell White, Bernie Williams and Michael Young.
On the other hand, life got better and better for the average baseball fan from that landmark date to this free live stream. MLB.TV emerged not only as the leader in sports technology, but more broadly as the standard by which other OTT services are measured. MLB.TV was embraced by millions, leading the way for the spinoff of BAMTech by MLB Advanced Media, and just this week the Walt Disney Co. announced a $1 billion investment in BAMTech.
Rodriguez's homer in that landmark game was No. 287 of 696 (fourth all-time) and RBI No. 854 of 2,085 (third). It gave him 2,758 total bases toward his current total of 5,811 (sixth). Tonight, as a sign of how things have changed, baseball fans will be able to watch him from anywhere on nearly any device, just to look in as the last All-Star who played in that game punches out.
While this stream is free, signups are underway for MLB.TV Premium. MLB Advanced Media announced on Friday that MLB.TV Premium is only $20.16 for the rest of the year to celebrate the pennant races now taking shape as 10 playoff spots and the 112th World Series await.
MLB.TV Premium subscribers get the Mosaic View -- split screen or quad, available on PC or Mac only. MLB.TV Premium and MLB.TV Single Team subscribers both enjoy HD and both get real-time highlights and player stats automatically loaded moments after they occur (only for the game you are watching with MLB.TV Single Team, and for all games with MLB.TV Premium).
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.comcommunity blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.