Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Another Playoff Thought

Another Playoff Thought

Just saw that ALCS game 2 along with the NLCS game 1 will be played at the same time tomorrow night.

I wrote the following on October the 8th of 2003.

The teams are different this year (I like to blame Sammy Sosa for that), but I think the general gist of what I said still applies:

Two Games...at the Same Time?!???!?!

Is anybody else bothered by Fox and the Used Car Salesman Commissioner of Baseball holding both the Championship Series Games at the same time?

I guess it all comes down to the bottom line. Prime time baseball = More Money.

Money's tainted just about everything that's good in baseball. And contracts and contract disputes are part of it. That's the spiral that's made it cost $18 for a crappy seat at Turner Field. On top of that, the television contract, which keeps me from seeing a lot of Cubs games on WGN, especially on Saturdays, blows. Even the little things like that abhorrent green screen hanging on the brick of Wrigley just so Fox can get a little bit of money from Subway. It won't be long, I think, before we have advertising on the bases, projected onto the field digitally, and even sewn onto the players' uniforms.

Money's not bad. Don't get me wrong. I don't mind at all baseball being used to make money. It's a business. That's what it's for. But it seems that all too often, money is being used to direct baseball, instead of the other way around.

Want of money isn't good if it's alienating fans. Which is what I think will happen. I want to watch both games. But I have to choose. And if I'm out in the boonies, like my parents, who are too far out for cable and would have to cut down a lane of trees to put up a dish, I don't even get to choose. I have to watch whatever's on channel 61. (I think it's the Cubs, but I'm going to go murderously insane if it's not)

Maybe I want to have my cake and eat it too, but there was a time when you could set the day aside to watch both games. I know that the casual fan won't want to see both games, and they're the ones whose dollars MLB is going for.

But how many classes did I skip come playoff time? How many times did I request my days off on playoff days? How many times did I plan my week around it?

It may make me a dork, but I just think I'm a serious baseball fan.

And I think if you start alienating folks like me: big, serious baseball fans (and there are more of us than baseball gives us credit for, I think), then you're wearing away your foundation. And once the foundation of your serious fans starts to go, then goes the rest of the house of casual fans.

I'm probably being a little melodramatic. I know that I'm in the minority, probably. But I feel that in this week, which is the second biggest week of all the year, should be the time when baseball strives to showcase its wares in the best and biggest and most widely accessible forum.

This is the time when baseball fans shouldn't have to choose.

Especially when your one series is a continuation of the biggest rivalry in baseball, and the other series contains probably two of the least likely teams to even have gotten this far....and it's possibly leading up to the biggest storybook series Baseball could ask for, in the Sox and Cubs.

But we have to choose between the two, instead of seeing what kind of magic could transpire in both.

And Bud Selig and Fox are making us choose.

I don't blame Fox. Fox isn't a baseball fan. Fox is an entity that seeks only programming which will make it the most money. It's doing what it's supposed to do.

Bud should have taken the reins in this little process. Should have made the NLCS play Game 2 at 4, and the ALCS begin their series at 8.

But he's an owner. And he works under the misguided notion that the biggest bottom line is what's best. Bud has a hard time thinking fourth-dimensionally. And I'm not talking about how many fans are you losing by not showing one game or the other.

I'm talking about how many fans are you going to keep from gaining? What kid is a little peeved by not getting to see Derek Jeter? Or Sammy Sosa? Or Nomar or Pedro or Dontrelle Willis? Again...melodrama....but is there a kid who won't come back because he just stops caring?

And don't get me started on starting games at 8:30 so they don't finish until midnight. It's hard enough for my folks to stay up that late here on the East Coast.

But your target demographic, as the makers and players of baseball? Should be kids. And your biggest number of kids won't make it every night to midnight, nor would most parents (even in this day and age) let them stay up that late.

Baseball should worry about these types of things, because fewer and fewer kids are playing baseball, let alone watching baseball. That's a bit important for your future playing pool, but since your players of the future are coming more and more from overseas, that's not a concern.

But your fans. Where are they going to come from? I'm not confident anymore they're going to come from these young kids who can't stay up for the whole game. Start the games earlier, for the kids.

But I digress.

Doubling up on the games? That's bad business. No matter how attractive the bottom line.

The sooner we're rid of Bud Selig, the better, in my book.


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