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Extra Innings Costs Extra

Spring was in the air this weekend in the greater NYC area and as thoughts turned toward the upcoming baseball season, I noticed that DirecTV had updated its Extra Innings Package page to reflect a price increase. Yep, it will cost you more this year to boycott the billion-dollar taxpayer-supported amusement parks that are springing up on the site of former ballparks and watch out-of-market baseball on TV.

According to Maury Brown’s excellent Biz Of Baseball blog, the new $191 price tag for Early Bird subscribers amounts to a 13-percent increase over last season. But there’s a twist: HD programming, up to 40 games a week, is now included in all subscriptions whether you have an HDTV or not. In the past, you had to pay an extra $50 for the Super Fan package to get HD. That means Super Fan subscribers like myself would actually save $28 this season. The slow HD adopters get penalized.

A break for being a loyal subscriber? From the likes of MLB? Color me shocked.

So I logged on to my DirecTV account this morning and found that the renewal rate for me as a Super Fan was actually set at $179, only $12 less than the new subscribers and $10 more than it cost me last year.

Now, I’m a sucker (in this instance defined as a die-hard Phillies fan living in the Mets/Yankees media market) and I’ll pay it. But I’m not surprised at all that MLB and DirecTV chose to raise rates in this economy. Giving loyal fans a break died a hard death with the birth of the first personal seat license. There’s no going back now.

Thankfully, Eric Taub’s piece on baseball card maker Topps trying to stay relevant through technology cheered me up a bit. Just because of the wow factor:

Beginning today, collectors who hold a special Topps 3D Live baseball card in front of a webcam will see a three-dimensional avatar of the player on the computer screen. Rotate the card, and the figure rotates in full perspective. It’s called “augmented reality,” a combination of a real image with a virtual one.

Total Immersion, a French company, brought Topps the augmented-reality technology. It has already been used in a theme park and for some auto-design work. Using the technology, card collectors see a three-dimensional version of a player and can play elementary pitching, batting and catching games using the computer keyboard.

26 days until Opening Day.