Liz Churchville is a native Floridian and longtime Rays fan who works in group sales for the Marriott hotel chain, and in 2011 her career took her to Boston as a transplant. On Thursday night, she was at home, surrounded by celebratory Red Sox fans but saved by MLB.TV.
While fans in Boston were watching their team clinch a postseason berth with a victory at home against Baltimore, Churchville was watching on her Xbox Live as Matt Moore started at Tropicana Field opposite Yu Darvish for the Rangers. She was "hooting and clapping" in her apartment, as usual when she is not on the road watching on her iPad or Android.
This is the kind of lifestyle familiar to millions of fans today, and it will now cost you about a gallon of gas to see all remaining 141 live and out-of-market games over these last 10 days of this regular season. Major League Baseball Advanced Media announced Friday that it dropped the cost of MLB.TV Premium to just $3.99 to follow the frantic finish.
"My boyfriend and I moved to Boston for professional growth opportunities within our companies, and the move was made even more stressful knowing that the Rays were playing the Rangers in that 2011 American League Division Series at the same time," said Churchville, 32, in an email to MLB.com during the Rays-Rangers game Thursday night. "Sadly, I listened to the Rays lose to the Rangers via my MLB At Bat app then.
"The 2012 season was the first year we subscribed to MLB.TV, because I couldn't think of not being able to watch my team just because we had moved out of the market. Being able to watch Brian Anderson and Dewayne Staats broadcast Rays games is like having a little piece of home in Boston. Most nights we watch games on MLB.TV via Xbox Live or Sony PlayStation 3, but if we are away, we also utilize iPad and Android apps.
"Another September is upon us, and the Rays are once again in the hunt," she added. "Baseball rules my nightly TV-watching for most of the year, but nothing is better than the end-of-the-season push for the playoffs. Last night, when Desmond Jennings hit his walk-off single, I found myself hooting and clapping in my apartment as if I was at the game. MLB.TV gives me awesome moments like that every night. MLB.TV has made me a better Rays fan and a better baseball fan; I can't imagine not having it."
MLB.TV Premium includes a free subscription to At Bat 13 (the top sports app of all time) for iOS and select Android devices. You can watch games live or on demand in HD on your favorite mobile and connected devices, now including Blackberry Z10. It includes your choice of Home or Away broadcasts; lets you pause and rewind live game action with DVR controls and use Clickable Linescores; and permits PiP, Split Screen and Mosaic View.
In addition to millions of fans like Churchville, players and their families subscribe to MLB.TV, now wrapping up its 11th season as the pioneering sports technology. Even players involved in the pennant chases use it.
"I think it's awesome," MLB saves leader Craig Kimbrel of the Braves said. "I actually use MLB.TV to go back and watch the game and watch mechanics and to watch other games. If I want to go back and see how somebody did, you can pull it up and watch the entire game after it's already done, just on your phone. So I think it's really awesome.
"Tendencies, things like that. We have all that at the field, but if you're not at the field, you don't have it. So it's great to pull it up or watch another game. I have friends who are on the West Coast. So if their games are not on TV, I can just pull it up and watch it on my phone, and it's just right there."
It was just right there on Thursday for Churchville. For her, it is a key piece of the overall fan experience. They catch the Rays on the road as well -- Baltimore, Toronto, Atlanta, Seattle, Anaheim, Miami and most recently Phoenix -- and she said they are flying to Tampa, Fla., on Saturday to see one more Rays home game before the postseason. Their team is part of an intense AL Wild Card battle, holding position so far.
"I hope the Rays can pull it out of the fire and finish strong this season," she said. "I grew up in Orlando and have been a baseball fan for most of my life, although until May of 2008 I had never been to an MLB game. Yankees versus Rays was my first live game, and from that day forward I have been a Rays fan. My newfound love of the Rays enabled my boyfriend and I to become familiar with St. Pete, and in January of 2009 we moved there. We lived in the area for about three baseball seasons and went to many games at the Trop in addition to going to many away series.
"Other than the Rays, I'd love to see the A's go all the way. They are like a West Coast version of the Rays. Only time will tell. Cheers to October baseball."
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog.