Baseball and TV

I could not believe my eyes when I read Major League Baseball’s new television deal.

TBS will air national Sunday Game of the Week and playoff games! Did TBS think they were signing a deal to air every sitcom ever produced?

Once I got over that initial shock, I read something that had me down for the count.

Fox will air Saturday Baseball Game of the Week for the entire season and not just May to September! Where is Ashton Kutcher? 

Fox airing baseball in April. Whoa!  Isn’t this the same network that thinks the baseball season begins on Memorial Day? Can’t let the local viewers miss Stargate SG-1 Atlantis!

This isn’t a rant bashing Fox entirely. Their NFL coverage is good and I’ve enjoyed some of their comedies through the years like Married with Children, Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, The Simpsons and Family Guy.

I have wanted better baseball coverage from a national non-cable, non-satellite network (in other words free TV) since NBC last aired the Game of the Week in 1989!  I think NBC should have aired the Saturday Game of the Week for life. I still remember Jack Morris’ no-hitter in 1984 because it was the Game of the Week.  Alas, it was not to be as CBS outbid NBC for the rights for 1990-1993 paying more than a $1 billion for the right.

The past 16 years have been miserable for baseball coverage on free television!  Remember CBS? Of course you don’t because CBS’ coverage was sub-par at best. The only games I recall on CBS were the NLCS and the World Series. Did the American League have playoffs from 1991-1993 or did they go old school have the best record go to the World Series? The Baseball Network? Yeah, one of those 90s things I didn’t get like Lilith Fair and Mad Cow Disease. Remember the 1995 World Series when ABC and NBC alternated coverage? Good times boys and girls!

Where is the MLB Channel? There’s likely a legal reason why, maybe expressed written consent? NBA has NBA TV and, NFL has the NFL Network.  I find it hard to believe there couldn’t be an MLB Channel. Show old games, have a roundtable discussion show. The possibilities are endless. Simulcast the MLB morning show on XM and show that from 6-9 am. Heck, rebroadcast it later in the day.  Show movies like the Bad News Bears, Pride of the Yankees. Wouldn’t this be a great network for the Baseball Bunch?

Bottom line: Airing baseball games all season long on Fox is long overdue.  Baseball fans benefit from more games on free television. 

Don’t get me wrong; ESPN’s coverage of baseball has been fantastic. They show games a couple nights a week. Baseball Tonight is on every day during the season and has made This Week In Baseball almost obsolete.  It’s a great source of info. There are also the local and regional sports networks that air the games almost daily. Some of these networks are Fox Sports Net others have Comcast Sports Net. The emergence of these networks has soften the below regarding the lack of baseball coverage on local TV.  Free television’s lack of coverage would not have been so dramatic if we had the television options of today. It doesn’t make their lack of coverage right; however, the improvements in cable and direct satellite broadcasting helped soften free TV’s lack of coverage greatly. Innovations such as MLB.TV, which I have heard good things about, and MLB Extra Innings have provided fans with great view options.

Still, I am a bit of a traditionalist at heart.  Cable, Satellite and Internet notwithstanding, I like seeing the game on regular (free, local) television once in a while. We see the NFL and NASCAR on regular television. We should see it with baseball a lot more than we do!

Tomorrow: I’ll be taking notes from one of Friday’s games and letting loose with comments. Live Blog sounds too hard!

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