As things stand right now, there is a very real chance that the only way to watch Aaron Judge tie or surpass Roger Maris' record 61 home runs will be Apple TV+.
The New York Yankees are reportedly not fans of that possibility.
Baseball's most recognizable team has been lobbying Major League Baseball and Apple to allow them to air their game on the team-owned YES Network Friday, rather than the currently scheduled Apple TV+ exclusive, according to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post. Apple and MLB have reportedly declined the offer so far.
It remains possible that Apple will incorporate Yankees play-by-play man Michael Kay into its stream, likely to call Judge at-bats, though Kay told the Post he would feel uncomfortable taking the assignment away from the Apple booth of Stephen Nelson, Hunter Pence and Katie Nolan. YES Network officials are also reportedly amenable to just airing the Apple TV+ broadcast on YES, making the game more accessible for in-market fans.
It should be noted the Apple TV+ games are still available for free, so baseball fans only need to download the app to watch the game.
Judge hit his 60th home run of the season on Tuesday, tying him with Babe Ruth on the American League single-season home run list and leaving him one long ball shy of matching Roger Maris for the AL home run record. He remains 13 homers shy of Barry Bonds' MLB home run record.
With 14 games left on the Yankees' schedule, Judge hitting 61 and 62 feels like an inevitability given how hot he has been over the last month, and sooner is probably a better bet than later. That leaves MLB in an awkward position.
MLB's streaming push backfires on Aaron Judge HR chase
Always on the lookout for additional revenue streams, MLB decided 2022 was the year it would go all out on trying to bring its games to the digital masses.
In addition to handing Apple an exclusive slate of games, the league gave another slate to NBC's Peacock. The Yankees also pushed a collection of games behind the Amazon Prime paywall. That's a lot of apps for baseball fans to download.
The good news is the Apple games remain free, but that is likely only for a limited time. And that's not going to stop a litany of Yankees fans from being frustrated about having to go to greater lengths just to keep pace with the most exciting home run chase baseball has seen in years after already paying dozens of dollars per month to follow their favorite team.
A common refrain in the push to get games on streaming platforms is that MLB wants to reach younger viewers, but that's not going to stop many of its non-tech savvy fans from cursing MLB commissioner Rob Manfred on Friday if things don't change.