Tag Archives: mlb network

Famous Last Words, A Decade in Advance

As I’ve noted on this site many times, I’m starved for baseball right now. So I’ve been watching some of the All-Time Games on the MLB Network, even though their listings and what they actually show don’t always jive.

F’rinstance, on Saturday, the cable guide said they’d show the Mets’ home opener from 1985 (which Gary Carter won with a walk-off homer in his NY debut). But they showed Tom Seaver’s 200th victory instead. Which was a fine alternatvie, except that Tom Terrific looked extremely strange in that hideous 80s White Sox uniform.

On Sunday, they showed a Tigers/Yankees game from 1976, where Mark “The Bird” Fidrych started for Detroit. I’d always heard that The Bird was a maniac who alternately delighted and annoyed crowds with his mound antics. But this sample from his only good season didn’t provide anything too exciting, at least to my eyes. Maybe people were more excitable back in them days.

What really piqued my interest were the pregame introductions. Each member of the two teams stated their name, position, and hometown, as is routinely done in nationally televised football games these days.

When they got to Yankees skipper Billy Martin, he said “Born Berkeley, California, died New York.”

Both Billy and the camera crew laughed heartily at this. Viewed with historical perspective, this statement is either eerily prophetic or possessed of the kind of doomed gallows humor found in most Alcoholic Literature (see: Under the Volcano, A Fan’s Notes).

It floored me so much that I wanted to rewind it, tape it, and post it to YouTube. And then I remembered that MLB is a total dick when it comes to posting video. So you’ll have to take my word for it. Or watch the game when they rerun it, which I’m sure they’ll do 900 times or so.

The Metrics of Met Fans

As I’ve noted before, the MLB Network has done a pretty good job so far, particularly with their Hot Stove show. But that program annoyed and disappointed me last night when host Matt Vasgersian brought up the subject of the Mets and how they can’t “buy a headline” right now and how the Yankees have been dominating the back pages.

He queried ex-Met-and-Yankee Al Leiter on the subject, and the ol’ lefty insisted that New York is a National League town. This brought stunned, laugh-filled reactions from the assembled host: Vasgersian, Harold Reynolds, and recently retired first baseman/molasses imitator Sean Casey.

The other guys on the show had no counter-argument. They probably didn’t think they needed one. Just the notion that NY was an NL town, to them, was so ridiculous that it didn’t warrant a rebuttal.

jacket.jpgI don’t agree with Mr. Leiter that NY is an NL town. It’s a baseball town. And within that universe, there is enough room for large, rabid fan bases for two teams. There are more Yankee fans than Mets fans (26 championships and a 60-year head start will do that), but to paint the Mets as some poor widdle stepsister is ludicrous.

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Bob Costas, Meet Joe Torre

costas2.jpgI’m very excited to be on the MLB Network, and I’m even more excited to interview manager Joe Torre, who’s written a book you may have heard a little something about.

torre2.jpgHah! Good one, Bob! I’m excited to be here, too.

costas2.jpgIt’s fitting that we’re having this interview in Studio 42, our facility named in honor of the legendary Jackie Robinson. After all, Jackie Robinson broke racial barriers, and you wrote a book!

torre2.jpgUm, thanks, Bob. Those two things aren’t really equivalent, but I do admire Jackie and his contributions to the game…

costas2.jpgDon’t be so modest, Joe! Sure, Jackie Robinson fought against a prejudice that modern minds can barely comprehend. But you–you told us what Brian Cashman said about A-Rod behind his back!

torre2.jpgBob, I don’t pretend anything I’ve done is as important as what Jackie Robinson did…

costas2.jpgNor should you. Because your achievements are far more important than Jackie’s! What did Jackie Robinson do except endure pain and burdens none of us can even begin to imagine? But thanks to you, we know that David Wells was a jerk!

torre2.jpgWhen did you turn into such a sarcastic jerk?

costas2.jpgI’m not being saracastic! All I’m saying is, why stop at baseball! Surely when the history of literature is written, up there with the greatest passages of Joyce and Tolstoy and Hemingway, there will stand your description of Roger Clemens slathering his nads with Ben-Gay!

torre2.jpgBite me, you midget.
/storms out

costas2.jpgJoe, please don’t forget me when they’ve carved your face on Mount Rushmore!

A Post for Baseball Nerds and Grammar Nazis Alike

Thus far, the MLB Network has played things pretty much by the book. A Hot Stove show, incessant World Series highlights, the occasional poorly chosen retrospective. Nothing out of the ordinary, nothing remotely daring.

But they have been daring in one respect: their news crawl.

Watch any news network these days, and you will see a news crawl. Nearly all of them employ the present tense, as in OBAMA ISSUES STATEMENT ON ECONOMY or BRETT FAVRE CONTEMPLATES RETIREMENT, NAPS. In fact, I would say all of them do, except that I haven’t seen every network in the entire world. Don’t worry, I plan to.

But when you watch the MLB Network, their news crawl only uses the past tense. As in RICKEY HENDERSON ELECTED TO HALL OF FAME or ATLANTA BRAVES SIGNED DEREK LOWE TO RIDONKULOUS CONTRACT.

This completely flies in the face of News Crawl Protocol. And yet, it’s more grammatically correct. Because these events, for the most part, are not ongoing events. They are finite things that have been done and will not be repeated.

The use of the present tense is journalism shorthand, used in headlines and quick blurbs at the top of broadcasts to stress the URGENCY and IMMEDIACY of the news. Technically, it’s grammatically incorrect. But we’re used to present tense being used in this manner, so we don’t think twice about it.

In fact, when I first noticed the MLB Network opted for past tense, my first instinct was that someone had screwed up. My Copyeditor’s Sense detected something wrong. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was everyone except MLB who was wrong.

And that is the last time you will read the words ‘everyone except MLB was wrong’.

I applaud MLB Network, because I’m sure there was somebody in that style meeting who fought to keep present tense, because past tense sounded weird. And this visionary said, “NO! We will single-handedly undo 8 years of News Crawl Grammar Tyrrany!”

Or, knowing MLB, they picked a style with little regard for tradition or public preferences and just ran with it. In either case, kudos!

MLB Whistles Nervously

I know how hard it is to start up a network. I mean, not personally. It’s not something I’ve ever done myself. I just imagine that it involves an intense amount of preparation, planning, and elbow grease, on top of the nuts and bolts inherent in running any company. It’s hard enough to put one show together, let alone a whole new lineup, and hire brand new studio personalities, producers, camera crew, etc., while also wondering when the soda machines are gonna get delivered.

I realize it takes a while before a new network can find its way and forge a unique vision. I’ve been watching SNY since it debuted, and those first few months were pretty rough. But hey, look at that lineup now, huh? *crickets*

So I’m willing to cut the brand new MLB Network an enormous amount of slack. I don’t expect them to have compelling programming just yet, especially during the baseball free month of January.

I mean, sure, MLB has cracked down on everyone who’s ever posted any footage of professional baseball anywhere online, so you’d think that they’re sitting on acres of vintage film that they refuse to let anyone else show in any form. And sure, they’ve had several years since they announced the launch of this new network to digitize all that old film, so they wouldn’t have to show the 2004 World Series highlights and last year’s playoffs over and over again.

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