Looks like MLB is going to televise the first part of the draft again. Will Bud ever learn?
When people want to explain how boring something is, they often resort to the idiom “Like watching paint dry.” Well, compared to the MLB draft, watching paint dry is edge-of-your-seat, action packed drama. The sad thing is, that doesn’t mean Bud won’t keep on trying.
We all know the problem. Succeeding in baseball requires development and in all but the rarest of cases, it’s pretty much impossible for a player to jump directly to the big leagues and make an immediate impact. There are a lot of adjustments that even the best ballplayers have to make before they’re ready to succeed in the majors. Bud has been in the game a long time and he obviously knows this but something keeps him from accepting it.
I’m not sure what it is. Maybe it’s an inferiority complex because of the craziness and drama inherent to the NFL and NBA drafts. Maybe it’s an inability to accept that baseball is different. Maybe it’s just that Bud is completely out of touch and has made a lot of bad decisions that should have long ago cost him his job. Whatever it is, it means that once again the MLB draft will be televised and once again no one but the absolute junkies will tune in. Don’t tell him I said this but I bet you that not even Jeff will watch. Yeah, it’s that boring.
Don’t get me wrong here. The draft is important and when you look at the recent success of this year’s National’s ballclub, it’s obvious how important a good draft strategy can be. But just because the future success of a team depends on the players a team chooses, that doesn’t mean the process is all that exciting to watch. We know the basketball players from following them through the NCAAs. We know the football players from the bowl games and college football saturdays. Baseball players? These are guys coming out of random colleges, even more random Latin American development leagues and god knows where else. There’s no story attached to them until they make it to the big leagues.
Let me put it another way. We all know about Len Bias and his cocaine overdose death. Bias never played a day in the NBA but is still spoken of with reverence. Meanwhile, until he made it to the major leagues, Josh Hamilton was just another talented athlete with substance abuse problems. If Hamilton hadn’t have made the bigs, he’d simply be in rehab somewhere or out on the streets.
I know what Bud’s doing here. He thinks that he can drive revenue growth by trying to create drama around the sorting process. But you have to be invested in a person’s story in order for there to be drama. We don’t know anything about these young baseball players so there’s no drama in watching them get drafted. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say there’s about as much drama as watching paint dry.
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As electoral campaigns get rolling and as the candidates feel a need to distinguish themselves, the quotes become more and more interesting. Sure, there is the obvious craziness of Newt Gingrich and his moonbases but that’s just a drop in the bucket. You expect that sort of thing from a bipolar former Speaker of the House.
But what about Rick Santorum’s pledge to ban pornography in the United States? Number one, anyone who feels this strongly about so many “vices” must have a real problem. Has he even heard of Mark Foley or Ted Haggard? Number two, the states that most support Santorum, the so-called “Red States” who revel in their religiosity, also happen to be the largest consumers of porn. Are you really going to tell me that they’ll let Mr. Santorum take away their dirty little secret?
Finally, how would you even go about doing away with porn? Are you going to start censoring the internet and blocking sites that you consider “morally reprehensible”? The only place I’ve ever visited where they’ve been even moderately successful with this approach is Saudi Arabia. I don’t exactly see that as a model for the US. Besides, you’re going to have about as much luck banning porn in the US as MLB has had in banning PEDs from baseball. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and as long as boys and ballplayers are around, there will always be a will to access porn and PEDs.
Luckily it’s not just Mr. Santorum who’s divorced from reality. In an effort to prove that he, too, is just a regular guy, Mitt Romney recently let us know that he loves sports just like us. In fact, he has “good friends” who own NASCAR and NFL teams. Now, I don’t know if Mr. Romney enjoys car racing or football but there’s a pretty major difference between enjoying sports and being friends with people who own the teams. If you can’t make that distinction, you probably ought to go back and audit Running for Office 101.
I realize that I’m being pretty hard on the Republicans here. But, since they’re the ones in the middle of a heated primary fight, they tend to also be the ones making the ridiculous statements. I’m sure Obama will come out with some of his own once the general election gets underway but for now, he can just sit back and let the other side say what they want. Sounds like a plan to me. Moonbases and porn and franchises, oh my!
If you ask most baseball players if it’s justified for a pitcher to hit them with a pitch, I’m going to guess they’ll most likely say no. Likewise, if you ask most NFL receivers if it’s OK for a defender to spear them while they’re stretched out for a pass, they’ll probably say no. In general, it’s pretty hard to imagine someone thinking that it’s all right for someone else to hit them.
We’re a week late for International Women’s Day but that doesn’t mean the topic is no longer germane. Remember, you probably wouldn’t purposely throw a ball at someone during a baseball or softball game so you probably shouldn’t be punching your wife or girlfriend either.
America has become an unequal place. Yes, there’s the enforced salary cap equality of sports like football that has led to a more competitive game. But in general, the haves and the have-nots of baseball more accurately reflect what’s really happening in our society. Sure, money doesn’t always ensure that you’ll win it all but there’s a reason why the New York Yankees are the winningest team in MLB history while teams like Pittsburgh, Green Bay, Oakland and Denver have flourished in the NFL.
Inequality in sports is bad enough but the inequality between people matters even more. What does it say about a country when a Congressional committee hearing on contraception has exactly zero female invitees? I think it’s safe to say that even Kenny Powers respects women more than Darrell Issa.
Inequality also appears to be rearing its ugly head among the Republican presidential contenders, although at least one of them doesn’t necessarily see that as a bad thing. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that Santorum was trying to throw the race by saying the most patently offensive things possible. And yet, he’s not only still in the running, he’s also somehow leading Mitt Romney in polling for upcoming important contests. This continued surge of Santorum (…ahem) seems to prove not only that a portion of the country supports his worldview, it also shows us that quite a few Americans really are batshit insane.
Inequality tends to right itself eventually. The conspicuous consumption of the 1920’s and the ensuing Depression led to a recalibration in the 30’s and 40’s. Today, a similar series of events has left a recession that seems to tenaciously hold back growth outside of a fraction of the population, while a small-scale revolt against income equality has risen up in areas of the country. Are we seeing another recalibration? Me, I’d say there’s hope because there’s one place where we are all still equal.
Considering it’s the off-season, there’s sure a lot going on. Ok, maybe not so much in the world of baseball where the AL’s Prince Fielder hangover is finally starting to wear off, but everywhere else, it’s pandemonium.
Of course there was the Superbowl, which, once again, was a phenomenal game. If you’re not American, there’s a good chance you’re following either the African Cup of Nations soccer tournament or tuning in for the ongoing rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona. And somehow people care about basketball again. But, that’s just sports.
In the non-athletic domains, the action is even more intense. Syria is descending into civil war and threatens to take the rest of the Middle East with it. Mitt and Newt, both of whom should be excluded from presidential consideration based solely on their first names, continue to slug it out in the race to the Republican nomination. If that’s not enough for you, we also have Iran’s war-mongering which seems to consist mainly of vaguely Monty Python-esque threats.
There’s another Iran note that truly caught my attention, though. It seems that they’re hedging their bets on the whole nuclear program by creating an unconventional back-up plan:[youtube http://youtu.be/MJjpFYVvwBo]
I’ll tell you what, you can laugh off Iran saying they’re going to close the Straits of Hormuz. But ninjas? No one laughs at ninjas. Except maybe Chuck Norris.
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.