Cautious reviews follow New Year's launch of MLB Network

Big League Stew

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I'm going to be honest: Apart from double-checking that it was actually on my DirecTV guide, setting the DVR for Don Larsen's perfect game and a few Hot Stove clips on MLB.com, I haven't spent much time with the newly-launched MLB Network yet.

Thankfully, though, there are at least five people among the 50 million subscribers who did get to watch and I've taken the liberty of excerpting a few of their initial reactions in the space below. To perhaps no one's surprise, there are plenty of introductory wrinkles to iron out.

But like refusing to review a restaurant in its first month, most people are willing to give the league some more time. I'll add my own thoughts as I log a little more couch time, but until then, feel free to post your thoughts on baseball's new venture in the comments section.

Tim Malcolm, Phillies Nation: "The network itself is something to salivate about: 24/7 baseball on television. Hardcore fans like myself wait all night for 'Baseball Tonight' to air, even if the show could use a complete reconstruction. So now that there's a whole network devoted to the game, I'm keeping it on my TV almost all the time, just to keep updated. For casual fans, the network will provide opportunities to learn more about the game. All in all, it's a victory no matter what."

Ian Casselberry, Bless You Boys: "Here's my strongest initial thought after watching three-plus editions of 'Hot Stove,' their off-season studio show: If you're going to discuss transactions that teams have or haven't made — for instance, why Manny Ramirez hasn't signed with anyone yet — three ex-players aren't going to give you a full insight into the situation. Harold Reynolds, Al Leiter, and Barry Larkin all said, "Hey, I'd want that guy as a teammate. I'd tell my GM to sign Manny." Okay, sure."

Patrick Smith, Bugs & Cranks: "The whole network kind of has that eerie infomercial feel. Like at any minute somebody's going to tell you there's only 20 minutes left to buy the die-cast model of Fenway Park or the Limited Edition Plush Rally Monkey. There are wildly expensive sets and toothy anchors you haven't heard of. And bright graphics and team logos in high definition. In all, MLB Network feels very corporate and very sterile. I'm sure, with some time, the network will develop some personality and lose a little bit of stiffness. Like a new glove, you gotta give it a workout and break it in. But you'd think that, since the NBA, the NHL and the NFL have all launched networks to varying degrees of success, baseball might have learned from some of the mistakes those leagues made along the way."

Paul Sullivan, Chicago Tribune: "How big is this? In one of the promos for the network, which can be seen in 50 million homes, Commissioner Bud Selig called the launch 'stunningly huge.' After sampling the fare over the weekend, we can report that 'stunningly huge' may have been an embellishment. It took about 10 minutes of viewing Friday before the Bartman clip was played and grainy black-and-white Yankees videos were omnipresent. But the network figures to be a nice place to turn once the season starts and there's actual news to cover."

The NaturalMevs, Diamond Hoggers: "We're surprised that no one thought to do the MLB Network before now, unless of course you count YES Network, which was a genius idea. If only every fan base had a channel devoted to their team's history, nightly game, and then some analysis! Every. Single. Day. Do you have any idea what it would do for the sport? Hopefully the end result of MLB Network is rave review after rave review raising the awareness of our favorite sport and causing the competition to up the ante a little bit."

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