If soccer is the beautiful game, baseball is the magical game.
There were some concerns that televised baseball might be doomed. That was until the Cubs and Cleveland played during the World Series. Television ratings skyrocketed because of these two teams long World Series drought.
Some of the supposed concerns were the games take too long, pitchers take too much time, batters call to many time outs, the replays, criticism of announcers, and commercials. Allegedly these lead to lower television ratings.
The lower ratings concerns Major League Baseball and Big Television, according to the critics. There is fear televised baseball was going on life support because of lost audience. Major League Baseball is looking into making some changes to appease Big Television.
The problem is not baseball. The problem is the business of baseball and its lucrative ties with television. Somewhere along the line baseball and Big Television forgot the fans. The fans who want to see magic and romance unfold on the field.
Televised baseball is getting cold. As cold as an IRS agent's heart. It is as bad and pointless as cable news. All noise. No fun.
Announcers are not characters anymore. The old school announcers were beloved. They were an integral part of the game. They were baseball as much as the players. They were a joy to listen to or watch.
Some were so good they made you feel as if you were in the ballpark.
Sportscasters are entertainers. Blow dried coifs, bespoke suits, and big egos to match their overblown salaries. Their constant repetition of meaningless statistics takes all the magic out of the game. It is boring.
Some of these guys rarely take a breath. Big Television must have a lab in Roswell, New Mexico to breed sportscasters from space aliens. They do not need oxygen.
During Game 7 of the World Series I was shocked. Joe Buck stopped talking for about ten seconds. Ten beautiful seconds of listening to the crowd and action on the field.
I went to my first baseball game at Comiskey Park. A neighbor had season tickets. He would take his and one or two neighborhood kids to the game. It was magic.
Seeing your heroes up close was indescribable. The odor of stale beer and cigar smoke along with the taste of ball park hot dogs still lingers today
In 1968 I worked as an Andy Frain usher. Once the game started the only job we had was to watch. I worked both Sox and Cubs games. Sometimes on the same day, if the Sox played a night game.
The real magic was being at the game, Sox or Cubs. Being near the field, behind the dugout, in the bleachers or nosebleed seats mattered little. Watching the people cheer, boo, and mingle while the game played on was priceless.
Baseball games were the great equalizer. You never knew who sat in the seats next to you. The rich, workers, and maybe some poor, all rubbing shoulders like equals. Talking to each other. Socializing for a couple of hours. Enjoying a game. Once you plopped into a seat all class distinctions went out. All were equal. Fans rooting for their team.
If you could not get to a game, the next best thing was watching in a bar. One or two corner televisions on a shelf chained to the wall. Sipping cold beer with a few other afternoon drinkers, whiling away a couple of hours watching the magic unfold was priceless. It did not matter if the sound was on. You followed the game not the announcer.`
Baseball is now the entertainment business. Televised games rule. Ratings are more important than the game itself.
Ticket prices skyrocketed. Regular people can no longer afford a few outings at the ballpark. Even with the cheaper seats, one game could cost over a hundred dollars for two with food or a souvenir.
Average fans are stuck with television. Big Television is where the money is at. Baseball will squeeze that quarter until the eagle screams.
The ratings are important. To keep the ratings baseball will do whatever it takes to appease Big Television. Shorten games, change rules, and move things along. The critics, most in Big Television, will keep pounding about flaws.
The magic is dying. The romance is gone.
Attendance used to be the marker of success. Now, talk is about revenue streams. How can the league bring more streams of revenue? What else can they add to the stream to turn it into a river?
Fans? They do not need them at the ballpark. They need them on couches or recliners watching television. They need them in front of computer, phone, and tablet screens. They need fans watching those commercials. Big television pays huge sums for the rights to broadcast. They need to recoup the money through ads. Ad dollars are driven by ratings.
Big Television is sucking the magic out of the game. Televised baseball would turn to reality type shows if it meant more money. "Housewives of Baseball" pregame or during the seventh inning stretch? Why not? Maybe get the Kardashian girls for appearances? They could break the satellite system and the internet.
The playoffs and World Series bring the magic back for a short time. Local fans are hyper excited. Older people remember when. History, lore, and legend are recited.
The child dreamers sleep with their gear. The old with their memories. It is a time for old and young to hope, dream, and keep faith.
That magic should start with opening day and last all year. Baseball and Big Television need a new formula if the television critics are predicting lower audiences.
They need formula to bring back the romance and magic.
Filed under: Uncategorized