The Tigers have released their TV schedule for the upcoming season, and let the disbelieving complaints begin.
They’re going to show 112 games, a network record, you guys, so GET PSYCHED. There’s what, 162 games in the major league season? That leaves 50 games to be broadcast only on the radio, or only on MLB.tv, or only to be seen with your own little yellow Tiger eyes with your little stripey Tiger bum parked firmly in a vastly uncomfortable hard plastic ballpark seat for 9 innings.
Now, maybe this only sends me into foaming-at-the-mouth, that-kid’s-got-rabies convulsions because I’m used to Boston, where every game is televised, and on the radio, and has pre- and postgame shows that can add up to longer than the actual game sometimes, and radio shows dissecting that day’s game long into the night, and vast newspaper coverage the next day, not to mention the internet: on the official site (which puts up way more content, especially photo-wise, than the Tigers’ site) and on the online sites of newspapers (which put up way more content, especially photo-wise, than the Detroit papers), and on the blogs (which are, while not necessarily better than the Tigers blogs, undeniably more numerous).
But I tend to think even people used to a less COMPLETELY INSANE media market get upset about the fact that 50 games, 50 bloody frigging Tigers games, are not going to be broadcast on local TV this season. And this is an improvement from past years.
Would people seriously rather watch televised poker than baseball games? I can’t believe they’d get better ratings with poker or cheesy, shoddily-produced FSN cannon fodder shows than they would with live Tigers games, and THAT IS WHAT IS SEEMINGLY ALWAYS ON in lieu of Tigers games.
Let us look at this objectively. Let us see what FSN would gain or lose from just showing us the rest of those games.
Let us take poker. People in big hats and bad sunglasses sitting at a green felt table with little card graphics all over the screen that make it look like I’m playing solitaire on the computer when I’m supposed to be doing work. You are watching people playing a card game on TV.
Maybe it’s just me, but I would rather watch Wil Ledezma get his rear soundly whalloped by a teamful of double-A Royals players than poker on TV. No matter how bad the game was, it would still be a fact that you were watching baseball, an actual sport, where actual things happen, and not poorly-dressed people fingering little pieces of cardboard.
Fishing. I see that they broadcast that, too. I can’t honestly say that I’ve seen much televised fishing, except for ESPN’s broadcast of that shark fishing tournament when it was on at like 3 am and I had massive work-induced insomnia once and was at that point where my mind was saying things like, “cartilage…. big…. teeth… big.” And I know that some people argue that fishing is just as much a sport as baseball, at least pacing-wise. These people are clearly insane and we should make fun of them.
But in any event, I imagine a fishing event on TV would go something like this: “Well we’ve got a nice day here for fishing.” “A-yup.” “Here we go let’s turn on the boat.” “VrrrOOOooom.” “Cast out the lines! Choose bait or something!” “Oh look my pole is dancing about I must have a fish on the end of it.” *reel reel reel* *grab fish by its gasping, suffocating mouth* “Crikey, look at the size of this ICHTHYOLOGICAL MONSTAH.” *weigh the fish* *people cheer* *Charlie Moore verbally abuses the fish and sleeps with its sister*
Whereas even a relatively awful Tigers game would go something like this: “Aaand here’s the pitch… struck him out! Pudge Rodriguez swings at a ball 100,000 feet outside of the strike zone and he is out.” “Mario, I think that ball was so far out of the strike zone it was actually in the strike zone at the Lugnuts’ park in Lansing.” “Pudge is stomping back to the dugout. I don’t think he’s too happy with himself, Rod.” “No, I expect not, Mario. He’ll probably try to comfort himself next inning by going up to the mound when Verlander is struggling to throw anything that’s not a fastball and vigorously groping the young pitcher.” “That’s the Pudge way, Rod. That’s why he’s a Gold Glove All Star veteran.” “Groping pitchers is a really underrated intangible that Pudge brings to the field, Mario.” *Charlie Moore verbally abuses Pudge and sleeps with his sister*
What the heck else does FSN show when they’re not showing Tigers games? Oh yes, those FSN ‘shows’, the most famous (notorious?) of which is the Best Damn Sports Show (Period), a show so awkward that I have actually found myself getting tearily embarrassed for the people on it on occasion. I have seriously never seen such uncomfortable interaction with guests on a nominal sports show before. They manage to sometimes even make Kevin Millar interviews seem canned and nervous, and if you can do that to Kevin Millar, then you’ve pretty much failed at life.
The BDSS(.) has Chris Rose introducing athletes with ridiculous over-the-top blurbs while said athletes gaze around the studio (or, more likely, recline in some remote, video-connected location) with a vast air of discomfort, Rodney Peete chuckling loudly and at vaguely inappropriate times, Ron Dibble pretending he is still in baseball, and whatever random girl with badly highlighted hair they happen to have hanging around the studio that week strutting up onto the set to be sassy and basically just exist as a loud female (or someone they can use to entice Barry Zito into the occasional interview). The only redeeming quality of that cast is John Salley, simply because he at least has the good grace to occasionally seem mildly ashamed of what he’s doing there.
The Tigers have Dmitri Young insulting his teammates’ choices of hair style, Inge and Shelton running over inanimate objects in golf carts together, Magglio Ordonez financing the entire Venezuelan national little league team, Carlos Pena mackin’ on the goth chicks (unsubstantiated yet persistent internet rumor alert!), Jamie Walker smacking shaving cream pies into the faces of rookies, and Jeremy Bonderman saying “um” a lot. They have the TV team of Rod Allen and Mario Impemba speculating about the hottness of Omar Infante.
There may be politicking going on behind the scenes that would explain this reluctance or inability to broadcast every single frigging Tigers game, and I’m sure at least some of it is to encourage attendance at the ballpark (not an issue, as one might imagine, in Boston). But the fact remains that, at least ratings-wise, FSN has precious little to lose by showing Tigers games. If you would rather watch poker, fishing, or some cruddy show rating the top 10 fattest offensive linemen in history than live baseball, you are a Bloody Idiot.
Or, I guess, a NASCAR fan.