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Facebook webcast of Phillies-Mets game makes sports history

Yoenis Cespedes of the Mets watches after hitting

Yoenis Cespedes of the Mets watches after hitting a two-run home run in the first inning against the Phillies at Citi Field on Wednesday. Credit: Errol Anderson

The Mets’ 4-2 victory over the Phillies on Wednesday will be a footnote in a long season, but it might be remembered as a milestone in sports media.

It was the first time a Major League Baseball game was carried live exclusively on Facebook, not on television, the first of 25 weekday afternoon games the social media giant will present as part of a new deal with MLB.

The experiment was greeted with widespread annoyance by fans — at least those who commented publicly — before and during the game, which was produced by MLB Network, with Scott Braun, Cliff Floyd and John Kruk in the booth.

But for those who were able to access the game, it went off fairly smoothly, despite a long rain delay before the first pitch and a few times when the stream froze for brief periods.

“We are making baseball history in the broadcast world,” Braun, the play-by-play man, said at the start.

Floyd bookended the sentiment hours later, saying, “We made history, and I was part of it.”

The stream of comments on the right side of the screen included many from people who disapproved of watching on a screen smaller than their home TV, especially after they had paid for packages that include such games.

But for others, especially those outside the New York and Philadelphia markets and/or at their workplaces, it was a welcome chance to watch a game they otherwise would not have seen.

The images were produced with mobile users in mind, notably in the form of a score box that was much larger than usual.

While the announcers responded at times to comments and questions, there was relatively limited interaction.

There were no commercials between innings, allowing for interviews by the announcers and reporter Alexa Datt, including of Mets manager Mickey Callaway and pitcher Matt Harvey.

Before the game, Floyd grew frustrated with fans complaining about how to access the feed, saying, “It’s simple. Stop being lazy, people.”

For fans who did not use quiet mode to block the comments, a river of emojis — most of them thumbs up “like” symbols — bubbled up the right side of the screen.

When Braun explained to viewers how to mute the comments, Floyd said, “Why would you do that?”

Said Braun, “Hey, I agree. Talk to us!”

Later, referring to the rain delay and the longish game, Kruk said, “Sometimes you have to wait to make history. We made history today. This is something they can’t take away from us.”

The number of viewers peaked in the low-80,000s in the middle innings and seemed to average in the mid-70,000s.

On their Instagram feed, SNY announcers Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling had a message for their fans: “Good luck streaming today! We’ll miss you!”

The first nine Facebook games have been announced. The other eight do not include the Mets or Yankees.

New York Sports