Hacking T-Mac: Watch Phillies Games While Listening to the Radio Broadcast

Phillies pitchers, again, got pounded on Sunday. But I enjoyed watching the game more than any other this young season.* Why? Because Scott Franzke and Larry Andersen tickled my eardrums all afternoon, that’s why.

*Harry used to always say this for games in early April. The phrase makes me all Misty May.

It’s no revelation that you can sync up a radio broadcast to its TV counterpart. I suspect many of you have done this for Phillies and Eagles games for quite some time. But one curious side effect of this digital age in which we live is that – I’m guessing – few people still have living room stereo systems with radio, and that means syncing up a radio broadcast to TV, unless you’re willing to forgo sound quality by using mobile or computer speakers, is not really an option. Plus there’s that apparent issue (I don’t know if this is an actual thing) of the radio broadcast sometimes jumping the fabric of time.

Enter MLB.tv and the many platforms on which it runs.

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Yesterday, I had an aha moment that may change my summer. And, it seems, many of you were interested in the method to my madness:

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Good news, my little minions! With just a few tweaks, you, too, could be listening to the velvety tones of Scott Franzke and the playful anecdotes of Larry Andersen.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • An MLB.tv Premium subscription ($24.99 a month, $129.99 for the year). That is an affiliate link, so I’ll get a few bones if you sign up.
  • A DVR.
  • An Apple TV, PS3, Xbox 360, Roku, Boxee or any other standalone device that supports MLB.tv (you can see the full list here). You can, in theory, use your iPhone, iPad, Android or computer, but you would likely need a charger and audio out plug connected during games.
  • Surround sound. Or a good enough speaker system to rival your usual TV audio.
  • A relative hatred for the Phillies TV broadcasters.

MLB.tv blacks out local games. So the simple choice for ridding yourself of T-Mac and Wheels, watching the game on MLB.tv and choosing the WPHT radio audio overlay, isn’t an option for live broadcasts if you live in or around Philly (archived games are available about 90 minutes after the last out, however). But. But MLB.tv does allow you to listen to the home and away radio feeds for local games. And that’s where your connected device will come in:

Step 1: Turn on the Phillies game.

Step 2: If Chad Durbin is pitching, ignore steps 3-8 and go outside or punch yourself in the neck.

Step 3: Change your TV’s input to your connected device (I use an Apple TV).

Step 4: Change your audio receiver or speaker input to your connected device. Note: this won’t really work if you don’t have external speakers… unless you want have different video and audio inputs into your TV, which would be a real pain in the ass.

Step 5: Login to MLB.tv and select the WPHT radio feed.

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You should now be hearing Franzke and LA call the game through your speakers.

Step 6: Switch your TV input back to the cable box or tuner.

If your TV audio always goes through your receiver, you should be good. If you use your TV speakers, just turn down the volume.

Step 7: Very important: The video should now be about five seconds ahead of the audio. Pause your DVR when a pitcher gets set. Wait for the radio broadcast to catch up and then hit play right when it sounds like the pitch is about to be delivered. Sync the pop of the mitt. This might take some patience and is a bit of trial and error, but I got in on the second or third attempt.

MLB.tv’s radio feeds run only a few seconds behind TV broadcasts, so you need not worry about Tweets or texts spoiling the game for you (a would-be deal breaker). Though this could change depending on your connection.

Step 8: Thank you, and enjoy the ballgame!

I was very worried that, after a commercial break, the audio and video would no longer sync. But nope. Both broadcasts marched in better lockstep than those asshole North Korean soldiers we keep seeing on TV. After an inning or two, I forgot that I was watching and listening to different feeds. It just felt… right.

There are a few drawbacks, however: You won’t be able to use your DVR unless you want to perform the whole syncing process again. It’s easy enough, but also probably annoying enough that you won’t want to do it several times per game. And while I’m fairly certain that Franzke and LA have the Phillies TV feed on their monitors, they aren’t beholden to commenting on every replay and iso. That means there will be some awkward disconnects between what you see and what you hear (of course, what you hear will be much more entertaining than whatever Wheels is trying to jam down your throat).

I’ll be honest, I didn’t really think I’d stick with this for the whole game. The process of overlaying a radio broadcast to TV always sounds like a better idea than it really is. But I was two Sly Fox Royal Weisse’s deep on a lazy Sunday afternoon and I needed a voice to breathe metaphorical cool air on my nape in place of the fire T-Mac was blowing on my man parts and the cheese grater Wheels was taking to my arm. I never looked back. The audio quality of MLB.tv – provided you have decent Wifi – is much better than radio, and you don’t really notice much difference from the TV audio, other than the fact that the MLB.tv feed is not in true 5.1 surround sound.

It may seem like a lot of steps, but really, all this can all be done in about 20 seconds. Which is more T-Mac and Wheels than most of us can take.

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34 Responses

  1. Simple solution for idiots that don’t need 8 steps:

    1. Mute TV
    2. Turn on radio
    3. Sync DVR with radio

    1. Tom didn’t read this part: But one curious side effect of this digital age in which we live is that – I’m guessing – few people still have living room stereo systems with radio, and that means syncing up a radio broadcast to TV, unless you’re willing to forgo sound quality by using mobile or computer speakers, is not really an option.

      1. Or Tom didn’t want to shell out for the equipment/subscriptions.

        Face it: if you have to go through this much trouble to get the most out of watching your team’s broadcast, then your team blows.

      2. Kyle,

        Great stuff…this is long overdue subject. However for those on a budget, the below receiver only costs $150 and can do the same as Apple TV and a $130/year subscription to MLB.TV. As a bonus, it’s a available at Walmart. Any trip there is entertainment by itself.

        Yea, your not going to get a digital signal with this method but all Phillies games are in FM now anyway. Unless your an anal audiophile that lives in your mom’s basement, you won’t know the difference between regular FM radio and digital.

        Now if this is too caveman a solution for your techies out there, then buy a small HD Radio Receiver and hook it up to the A/V receiver.

        Now in the Phils were still broadcasting on 1210 AM, then yes I’d say to go digital.

        You still need a DVR from Comcast/Verizoion….or the HAWWWWWWWPPPPAAAA from Dish Network for this to work (as Kyle stated earlier).


  2. Sucks that this only works in market. Here in Boston my choices are T-Mac and wheels or the opponents (which is tempting)

    1. If you use MLB.TV on the computer (rather than an app), you can use the audio overlay feature built right into the window. It’ll let you choose the audio independently from the video. This feature used to exist in the PS3 app, but the fuckers removed it for whatever reason.

  3. You could save yourself the subscription fee if you just put on the AM feed on an $8 portable AM/FM radio. There’s no delay on AM and removes the need to sync it up.

    1. is this true ? never heard that before. is it usually the tv is ahead of the radio or the other way around?

      1. Tv is usually ahead of radio bc of the delays put on radio broadcasting; however, 1210AM is without delay for games in order to let fans at the ballpark listen to the play by play in real time. Scott & LA fans and the blind benefit greatly.

  4. also can stream audio from mlb.com with a audio subscription (20 bucks a year) use audio hyjack to delay sound…works like a charm…fuck tmac

  5. Maybe I’m alone here, but it doesn’t bother me one iota to listen to T-Mac and Wheels.

  6. i guess im in the extreme minority when i say that tmac and wheels dont piss me off that much. dont get me wrong, i do find them annoying. however, its seems they really irk people to tremendous levels. unfortunately, i dont think tmac is going anywhere anytime soon being as he inked a 5-year deal last year.

  7. I have my mlb.tv account set up through my panasonic blu ray player. it allows me to watch the tv feed with whichever audio feed i want in perfect sync. I always listen to LA and Franske with the video. No sync problems, and a hell of a lot less steps than this.

    Odd it doesn’t allow me to do the same when i try it on my pc to watch at work, but apparently this is supposed to at least work with blu ray players (roku too?) that have access to mlb.tv

  8. Figured this out a few years ago during the abortion that was the 2009 world series / 2010 NLCS coverage. I haven’t done it recently because, like you’ve documented (quite well I’ll add), it’s a lot of steps and I’m usually watching the game either at the ballpark or while doing other things.

  9. TMac and Wheeler stink. Amazingly, they get worse every year. How is that possible. That Greg Murphy guy is stealing money…I call his reports the “Daily News” update. Everything he reports was already in today’s paper. In L.A. we trust.

  10. If you’re going to go the route that Kyle posted you could also use the MLB.com At Bat for $19.99 for the season or $2.99 month. For the cost of the MLB.tv subscription you could sit in the Rooftop Bleachers where the radio feed is played.

  11. Kyle,

    I have been a follower since 2010 but I am not a minion and don’t like being called so, even if you were just kidding around. There is nothing that I would do for you that I would not for any other human being I have never met. That is all…

  12. Tom MaCarthy and Chris Wheeler are, without question, the worse broadcasting team in the history of televised sports. I mute the TV and watch the games in complete silence. Thanks for the info

    1. +1
      In baseball, as in life, sometimes the simplest answer is the best.

  13. Between MLB Gameday Audio ($20 for the entire year), 1210 AM and 94.1 FM, at least one of them is close enough to the TV feed – or just a little ahead – for my purposes, and a lot cheaper than MLB TV. I haven’t listened to those yahoos on the TV side since Harry passed. Larry and Scott should have been given the TV job right then.

  14. Why does it seem more fulfilling to go with MY IDEA? Punch Wheeler in the bean bag every time he says “middle in”. And if that doesn’t work we take him out back and shoot him.

  15. If everyone hates T-Mac and Wheels, myself included why don’t put them on radio and put the radio crew on TV. That would make too much sense and they are locked into long term contracts with T-Mac and Wheels. They are not going to give the radio guys a raise which would be expected if they working TV. Who said the Phillies make any sense anyway. They fired Scott Graham whose voice is so good he replaced HK for NFL Films.

    1. Ran into Scott when he was calling a St Joes game a few weeks ago. Let him know what a big fan I was and how disapointed I am he is no longer a Phils announcer. He was and is fantastic.

      “Put this 1 in the win column for the Fightin Phils!”

  16. In the event that you don’t have a DVR, I found that if you have a surround system and disconnect the center speaker, you get the game with the stadium sound and none of the dumbass.

  17. Since having surround sound is one of your requirements, most receivers have am/fm radio you nitwit. Free solution: turn on fm on your surround sound receiver, sync your dvr to it. Drink beers while deuche bags spend $24.99 and an hour of their time following 8 steps to deuchism.

  18. You can also just download MLB At Bat on your android or Apple device for $15, and it gives you the option to listen to any available radio broadcast for every MLB game for the season.

    Saves you about $105 on the season, but of course, you don’t get the availablilty to watch any games at all, which doesn’t really matter, because, like you said… they black out local games anyway.

  19. Can we take this opportunity to talk about how horrible Jim Jackson’s Phillies commentary is? Whether the team is doing well or getting beat up, the last thing I want to hear as I grow more frustrated or celebratory is Jim Jackson kissing the other team’s ass or dickriding their standout ball players. Stick to hockey man

    1. I couldn’t agree more. JJ stinks for baseball.

      The overall state of announcing in Phila. is poor:

      Merrill Reese A+
      Mike Quick C+
      Chris Wheeler D
      Tom McCarthy D+
      Gary Mathews C
      Greg Murphy D-
      Larry Anderson A
      Scott Franske A
      Jim Jackson (b) D+
      Jim Jackson (h) C+
      Keith Jones B
      Steve Coates C+
      Bill Clement A-
      Tim Saunders B-
      Chris Therien B+
      Mark Zumoff C
      Makil Rose B
      Molly Sullivan C-
      Tom McGuinis B+

  20. We always listen on the radio. For us, it’s not that TV announcers are so bad, it’s that Scott and Larry are so good! Take the worst game (actually, would ya?) and it will still be a good time in their hands. Their personal relationship is perfect – just enough banter, but always with the right amount of humor and respect. Even in the” invamist,” you’re going to be entertained.

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