To say I have resentments over Major League Baseball’s long-standing tradition of being completely out of touch with its fans is like saying I’m not worried about the future of the Republican party: IT’S EXTREMELY UNDERSTATED!!!
After all, we the FANS are what make professional baseball work. WE are the ones who pay $30 for a nosebleed, who dish out $8.50 for a crappy beer. WE are the ones who have to see therapists when our favorite superstars go wherever the money takes them and WE are the ones who, despite what happens in the offseason, can’t wait to get back to the ballpark and throw our hard earned money around. So when we get dissed by the governing hands of the sport we love so much, IT HURTS.
The NBA set up its own network in 1999. The NFL perfected the craft in 2003. And the NHL (yes, that’s the one where they play hockey) started its own network in 2007.
It wasn’t until 2009 — a good TEN YEARS after the NBA set the precedent — that MLB finally gave the fans the opportunity to experience baseballgasms 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. I can hardly remember life before MLBN, and I don’t want to.
But there has been something missing in its programming. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the lineup of shows they’ve been rolling out. Brian Kenny’s new Clubhouse Confidential is fantastic. Prime 9 is a classic. And nothing beats MLB Tonight. Yet the very nature of baseball fandom — getting lost in the numbers playground and tooling around for hours — seems to open itself up to a… TRIVIA SHOW!
Enter Matt Vasgersian and Baseball IQ, which premiered on the Network last night. Vasgersian’s cool. Baseball trivia is cool. How can this possibly not be a kick @$$ show?
Quite easily actually. Rather than having real fans as contestants — y’know, the type of Joe Plumber uberdork (me?) who will argue and bet stats in a bar ’til the beast looks beautiful — they instead use MLB employees:
“It will be a 32-person bracket with one participant representing MLB.com, each of the 30 clubs and the National Baseball Hall of Fame — featuring everyone from front-office personnel to equipment managers to scoreboard operators and museum curators.”
Um… (channel Eddie Murphy Delirious voice) dat’s not iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.
MLB employees?!?!?!? Would you watch Jeopardy if the contestants were limited to the authors of the Encyclopedia Britannica?!?!?!
Okay, so the “prize” money is donated to charity. Whoop-dee-doo. If I wanted to watch a charity event I’d go to a golf course. Or a walk-a-thon.
The MLB Network had a great opportunity to connect with its fans — the very people who keep the Network going — by allowing everyday folks who live/eat/breathe baseball but don’t get paid for it to shine.
Instead, they produced the equivalent of an Alfonso Soriano swing at a ball in the dirt, low and away.
Don’t hate me. ‘Cuz you know I’m right.
January is a difficult month for me. Gone are the holidays that distracted me from my baseball-less existence. The cold and dark days serve only as a reminder that the 162 game grind is still far away. And key free agents still don’t have a home!
I enjoy football. I really do. Nothing gets me through the winter quite like watching grown men beat the hell out of each other over an oblong pigskin. But three of the four playoff games this past weekend were over before the fourth quarter even started!
And yes, Derek Rose and the Chicago Bulls certainly know how to take me HIGH-UH; but on Saturday night — when I really needed them to get me through the weekend — the game was over before the second half.
THERE IS NO CLOCK IN BASEBALL.
And where there is no clock, there is only the potential for glory. In baseball, there is no garbage time.
Hate me. Fine. Just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Continuing with the end-of-year holiday tradition here at RSBS, it’s time to separate myself from my imaginary girlfriend (NSFW) and ask the interns to lock my office door so I can get down to the meaty reflection of what was the RSBS year 2011. Additionally, I must begin the sad, fiery purge of Albert Pujols memorabilia. For those of you who went to public schools, you know that maintaining a fire within a small, confined room may cause ill-fated side effects, so before I start to look like Bert the chimney sweep, let me get to it…
First of all, no year would be a good year without you, the dear RSBS reader. THANK YOU, for your readership. THANK YOU for your emails, your tweets, your comments, Facebook shares and FingerTagging! And THANK YOU for continuing to make writing about the baseball-politico world a treat for us every single day.
Like my riveting and oft rousing colleague, Mr. Krause, I too have been very impressed with our special correspondents. For me, nothing says sweet Miggy-I-Love-You quite like Mark Piebenga’s His Game Is Like Waves. It presented Miguel Cabrera in a new light — that of teacher, and, considering how much Mark has taught me about what life should be about, I continue to find its lesson fitting (and helpful!).
And though I often refer to Mr. Johanna Mahmud as “the man who introduced me to the glories of the Deftones” and “the guy who schooled me on the NBA and proved why I should be madly in love with Derek Rose”, I still have room to refer to him as “the guy who writes Setting the Mahmud“! Dude puts the “tit” in titillating with every piece. The last article he wrote was inspiring, if only because he found a way to get a naked Yu Darvish, an ugly sweater wearing
Johnny Matt Damon and a crying Paula Deen all in one place; but, like Al, I have to admit that there’s real brilliance in his Theo-fied Arthurisms. Still, I’m a sucker for equating dead people to the performances of Adam Dunn and Miguel Tejada. Good work, good sir.
Meanwhile, no year-end applause would be complete without a nod to my longtime friend and confidant, Mr. Allen Krause. Known for his cynical twists on the political establishment and undying love of all things Detroit Tigers, it has been a pleasure to write on his wing. Sometimes he’s so “on” that he finds literary genius in imagery. Indeed, that endearing Krausian wit is often highlighted by rational thought. Sometimes it points out the un-fact-checked obvious, other times it gets serious, with a real call for responsibility. And, just in case you think Mr. Krause’s Libertarian-bashing makes him a soulless, automated Obamatron, this reflective piece will convince you otherwise.
But when it comes to knockin’ ’em outta the interwebs park, I have to kowtow to the RSBS Presents series. The brainchild of Mr. Krause, RSBS Presents has enlightened us on the finer points of fandom and how to stay classy while reminding us that, ultimately, positivity has upside during times of turmoil. But the best of them all was learning how to score a Republican. And here I thought it involved finding Jesus and quoting Alex P. Keaton.
Happy Christmas, Merry Hanukkah and long live King Kwanzaa!
8. Subjected Myself to Amy Grant’s Greatest Hits
7. More Beer
5. NBA Network
4. Dissected a Battery, Smoked What I Found, Had a Conversation with a Fern
3. Murder (Not Telling… HINT: Involved a Smurf)
1. This Video… Over and Over and Over Again…
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
And so in this Podcast brought to you by Lifestyles…
The RSBS crew celebrates its 30th episode by taking a stroll down podcast memory lane, remembering things that busted our (and hopefully your) guts. AIDS salad and Ron Santo’s memory get rehashed while new memories (like gay ponies v. horsicorns, an iguana named Dudley and how you can cure your foot problems) are created! Jump on board the RSBS crazy train! No stops til you question how you spend your free time!
Don’t forget to getcho Crown Royal and enjoy some happy time!
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Subscribe to the RSBS Podcast by clicking *HERE*
Subscribe via iTunes by clicking *HERE*
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Recorded Saturday, November 26, 2011
This time the “sanctity” comes courtesy of the Kardashians and the NBA:
Don’t worry, there are plenty of baseball examples, too. We just want to make sure the NFL and NBA get their recognition.
On a side note, is it just me or does Khloe vaguely resemble Shrek wearing a wig?
While some major sports leagues have actively sought parity, others have decided to content themselves with a talent and success gap that keeps getting greater all the time. At the American club level (i.e. MLB), baseball has seen fit to follow this approach. Sure, teams like the Pirates may threaten for a short period but ultimately these kind of calls go against them and the season quickly follows.
This disparity also exists on the global level but it tends to work in our favor a lot of the time. Sure, we don’t have a monopoly on the baseball talent and we’re sorely lacking when it comes to soccer. But if you want to see true inequality, consider basketball.
Let me lay it out in more concrete terms. Here are the national teams from Bahrain and Kuwait playing a recent match:
Aside from an almost supernatural ability to instantly turn into an unwieldy mob, there’s not a whole lot of talent there.
Now, take Derrick Rose:
I’m pretty sure D-Rose could take on either of those teams by himself and come away with a W. I also think there’s only one thing left to say here. USA! USA! USA!
The NBA Draft was held Thursday night, and in contrast to years previous, this one seemed to be less about an influx of young players and more about the Shaq sextape sized elephant in the room. Because by now, I think we all know that a lockout is coming, the next season might never be, and hearts will definitely be broken.
And the sadness doesn’t stop there. Think about the players who will suddenly be without work, with no pay. Will they be forced to drive Kias instead of Bentleys? Forced to drink Red Label instead of Blue? Have sex with their wives rather than the band of groupies hanging outside the team bus?
If you think professional basketball players will be able to just find work elsewhere, like the rest of us Joe Six-Packs would be forced to do, you might want to rethink the way the world works. Here, let Washington Wizards point guard, John Wall, prove my point:
The truth is, ya get these guys off the court and… well, things can get ugly.
Here’s hoping the NBA learns some valuable lessons from its MLB brethren, before it’s too late.
For those of us caught up in the modern technocratic lifestyle, establishing a clear line between friend and foe makes life a bit simpler (albeit unpleasant at times). When prompted for an opinion, we often don’t have time to think; we must know, must be ready to jump on a topic and run. And this is where established distinctions are helpful (even if detrimental to peace — sorry!).
It’s 2011 and enemies abound. In the NBA, LeBron is the antithesis of good. In politics, we have Sarah Palin. In humanity, it’s Charlie Sheen.
But what do we do when our “enemies” aren’t that bad at all?
Over the weekend, the St. Louis Cardinals got swept by the Milwaukee Brewers, a feat that not only caused a bit of embarrassment for me and my fellow bird fanatics, but also knocked the Cardinals out of first place all together. Am I angry? Do I want to hold my breath and take a hammer to my digits? Am I going to hurt someone?
No, of course not. It’s June and the NL Central race has barely begun. But I must say, even if it does come down to St. Louis and Milwaukee in October, I will have a hard time hating on the Brewers like I do the sCrUBBIES.
On Saturday, I went to Miller Park for the very first time and I have to say: it’s a beautiful place full of beautiful people genuinely enjoying our beautiful sport. Have you ever seen a sea of tailgaters for a baseball game?!? I mean, everyone was so… nice! And the park experience was so… pleasant… and the atmosphere was so… positive!
Prior to this excursion, my understanding of the Brewers organization could be summed up in three sentences: Beat you in ’82. Bud Selig was a better owner than a commish. And Prince Fielder is HONGRY.
But really, after taking in the Miller Park experience I have to update my mental Rolodex. It’s not every day you visit a rival ballpark and are welcomed with a smile and a handshake. And as often as I’ve donned my ’06 WS patched Yadier Molina jersey into enemy territory, only at Miller Park was I stopped and commended on my team’s run of that year. And did I mention the cheese curds!?
Oh what heaven!!!
Don’t worry, dear readers, I ain’t gettin’ soft. I’ll box a Brewer if I gotta; but in a world where negativity rules the infoway, I find it refreshing to give credit to those who are pretty cool folks.
That being said, I hope the Brewers lose every one of their games from here until the end of the season.
Hate me ‘cuz you can, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Will you be watching the MLB draft? LOL.
The MLB draft is to professional sports drafts like the Tony awards are to major awards shows. It happens and I’m sure there are people who care but those people are the exception, not the rule. Here’s the problem.
The MLB draft doesn’t matter because the players drafted, with very few exceptions, are not going to make any sort of short-term impact. Most of them are barely known at this point because that’s not how baseball works. Sure, there may be some stud who comes out of college already boasting an MLB level pedigree but in reality, most of these guys, if they even ever make it to the big leagues, are going to be playing a few years in the minors to get ready. Baseball requires a level of apprenticeship that just isn’t necessary in other sports.
The NBA and NFL drafts play well on TV because not only have these guys already played on the national stage and in the national spotlight, fans and teams also make the assumption that they will have an immediate impact. Guys like Reggie Bush and LeBron James can start every game of their rookie campaign and instantly make a team relevant. In baseball, that just isn’t the case.
That being said, I can appreciate what Selig would like to do. Sure, MLB’s revenue may be growing but a little statistical analysis will show you that this growth is dwarfed by that of the NBA and the NFL. To keep up and remain relevant, MLB must constantly search for new ways to entertain, new ways to create revenue and new ways to attract new recruits.
Unfortunately, pimping the MLB draft isn’t the way to do it. I’ll explain by going back to the Tony awards for a second. The problem with the Tonys is that theatre is no longer relevant in the US. Film and TV have both surpassed it in terms of entertainment and cultural and societal critique. That’s why people have Oscar parties and chat about the Emmies but couldn’t care less about the Tonys. Similarly, MLB doesn’t hold the same cultural relevance at this point in time as either professional football or basketball. Sure, the fans still care but people not only watch the NBA and NFL games more regularly, they’re also willing to watch the two leagues’ drafts.
So you make a good point, Mark. And to answer your assuredly rhetorical question, no, I will not be watching the MLB draft just like I won’t be watching the Tony awards. MLB needs to make itself relevant again before there’s any chance that I will.