I was tooling around the TV dial last night, killing time between the end of the Redskins-Seahawks game and Downtown Abbey (’cause that’s how I roll), and hit on a discussion on the MLB Network about statistics. I believe the show was Clubhouse Confidential and the guests were former manager Larry Bowa and stats guru Bill James. This is one of those programs they will probably run four times a day for a week or so. Zev Chafets, author of Cooperstown Confidential: Heroes, Rogues, and the Inside Story of the Baseball Hall of Fame was also on hand to discuss the “character issue” and James and host Brian Kenny wrapped things up with a sort of free association of nominees’ names and whether the “father of sabermetrics” thought they were worthy of inclusion.
Another, more timely show will consider the upcoming vote for the Hall of Fame, which will be announced on Jan. 9. This got me to thinking about the non-stop sports cycle that’s de rigeur these days. As much as you and love love the game, is it really necessary to have what’s become the microanalysis to which we’ve been exposed? It’s almost as if someone said “Let’s have a 24/7 baseball network.”
“What will we put on it in the off-season,” somebody at the meeting asked?
“We’ll worry about that later.”
So what we have, in effect are the same shows running four times a day. I don’t know what they copyright laws/expenses might be, but I would love to see some sort of Baseball Theater. And not just the same four or five movies they play over and over (Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, The Natural, Major League, etc.), but some of the ones that you hardly ever see, such as the TV version of Bang the Drum Slowly as well as TV shows like Bay City Blues and Ball Four and episodes of other series that featured real baseball players like Willie Mays on The Donna Reed Show or Wes Parker and Jim Lefebvre on Gilligan’s Island.
Come on, MLB Network, do something daring.
Of course, I’d love to see a regular feature on baseball books. There are plenty of book-talk programs, why not one for that? It wouldn’t be that expensive to produce, promote the game, and help the authors as well. If anyone has a contact that might field suggestions at the MLB Network, please drop me an email.