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New MLB Network will warm up baseball fans

I spent New Year’s Day cleaning up around the house and watching some football.

But then I remembered that this was also the day that the Major League Baseball's MLB Network was to go live.

I have DirecTV, and it’s on there. And I read online today that Charter has planned to add the channel as part of its digital expanded package for this year.

Former Mariner Harold Reynolds, plus a couple of other former big leaguers (Barry Larkin and Al Leiter) were on what could be the show’s equivalent to ESPN’s SportsCenter, called Hot Stove Live.

It was interesting to see the reported rumors, stats and facts flying around.

Hot Stove Live usually goes live about 4 p.m. PDT, then is repeated at various times throughout the night.

The other show Thursday was a replay of Don Larson’s perfect game for the Yankees against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1956 World Series. Bob Costas hosted the show. Larson and his catcher, Hall of Famer Yogi Berra, were in the studio to give their thoughts on the day. (Larson admits he knew he had a no-hitter; he wasn’t aware until after the game that it was a perfect game).

I also found it interesting that before either pitcher, Larson or Brooklyn’s Sal Maglie, were to take their turn at-bat, each time they would stay in the dugout until the last possible second -- they wouldn’t even be in the on-deck circle -- to come out to the plate, and get a large and warm reception from the Yankee Stadium crowd. None of the position players got that kind of response.

The game was replayed in its entirety, including the numerous Gillette shaving cream commercials in between innings. They were great. Mel Allen and Vin Scully took turns calling the game on TV. It was a blast.

I think I’m going to like this network. Here’s what it has going just during the next week:

A replay of every game of the 2008 World Series between Philadelphia and Tampa Bay; a series called Cathedrals of the Game, which gives a behind-the-scenes look at stadiums (this week being St. Louis’ Busch Stadium and Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Ballpark); a series called Baseball Seasons, the first installment looking at 1995; and the first inning (chapter?) of Ken Burns’ documentary Baseball.

As a baseball nut, this channel is going to warm up for me of few of these cold winter nights we’re going to have during the next few months.

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