Some things to talk about while a golden TV moment is on tap for later this afternoon...
1) CSN Houston offering free trial
Some movement in the CSN Houston negotiations, as they announced in a release today that a free trial will be offered for the next 37 days on many cable providers. From the release:
Comcast SportsNet Houston (CSN), a partnership between the Houston Astros, Houston Rockets and the NBC Sports Group, today announced that they have offered an unprecedented program to provide the new network -- free of charge -- to Satellite, Cable and Telco providers across a five-state region. The 37-day free trial, which has been presented to DIRECTV, AT&T U-verse, DISH, Suddenlink and more throughout the network's five-state region, is set to begin immediately and extend through Sunday, May 31, in order to provide:
-Live, HD coverage of the Rockets first-round NBA Playoff games vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder, including pregame and postgame coverage, live news and analysis
-Key upcoming Houston Dynamo matches vs. the Colorado Rapids, LA Galaxy, D.C. United, Sporting Kansas City and New England Revolution
-The Astros first Intra League series match-ups vs. the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, as well as another clash vs. AL West and Lone Star State rival Texas Rangers
"We understand that fans have been frustrated as we work through our negotiations with providers and have already collected more than 100,000 petitions for our network," CSN Houston President and General Manager Matt Hutchings said. "While those negotiations must continue, our leadership team feels that this next stretch of games for the Rockets, Astros and Dynamo should be made available to the fans. This free trial comes with a sizable loss that our network will take on, but we feel that it is the right thing to do. We are hopeful that our affiliate partners at DirecTV, AT&T, Dish, Suddenlink, Time Warner Cable and others across our region will take us up on this unprecedented offer and make it available to their customers."
There are numbers to call to figure out where your channel will be located during the free trial. Here's how to contact the different major cable providers:
DIRECTV --- 1-888-777-2454
AT&T --- 1-800-288-2020
DISH --- 1-888-656-2461
Suddenlink --- 1-877-794-2724
Time Warner Cable --- 1-800-TWCABLE
Why is this important? You can make the case that this free trial is part of the negotiations for CSN Houston to show just how much demand there is for the channel. If you want to watch the Astros or Rockets or Dynamo and you don't currently get CSN Houston, make sure you try and tune into the free trial. The better ratings they get for the next 37 days, the better shot we have that this thing gets wrapped up in the next six weeks.
2) Grossman's successful debut
Jose Ortiz has an article up today tracking Robbie Grossman's parents, who got to watch their son make his major league debut Wednesday in highly successful fashion.
The Grossmans headed where many Little Leaguers in Houston dream of playing one day. They dropped Robbie off outside Minute Maid Park with a simple message from Mom: "Just go play ball."
"I plan to," replied Robbie Grossman, a lifelong fan of the Astros.
There's lots of good stuff in here about players making debuts, including that Grossman had 30 minutes to get to the airport after he was called up. Is that reason enough to move the Triple-A team to The Woodlands?
3) MLB discussing safety changes
Thanks to Hardball Talk, we get this story about MLB discussing possible security changes . The meeting was set up before the Boston bombings, but I'm sure that will make these discussions all the more important. One of the things already on the agenda are bringing backpacks into stadiums:
Each team has different policies for fans, although the general major league limitation on bag sizes is 16 inches by 16 inches by 8 inches. Teams might talk about whether they want to cut that down from the size of a standard school backpack to something such as a laptop carrying bag.
At Yankee Stadium, "briefcases, coolers and other hard-sided bags or containers are not permitted." At Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium, wrapped presents are banned along with cameras with lenses of 12 or more inches. The Orioles ban bags with wheels at Camden Yards.
How many of you have brought backpacks into MMP before? I do when I'm working, but I'm not sure they're limiting those. For those of you who went to games this weekend, did you notice the increased security at MMP and did it slow down entering the game at all?