Too much of a good thing?

January 7, 2013 · 5 comments

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.




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  • Paul

    I love Clubhouse Confidential (particularly when folks like James and Chafetz appear), but I agree with the suggestions you make. A baseball books show would be a terrific addition, and surely they could run a weekly or even nightly baseball movie (with some baseball cartoons, like Bugs Bunny and the Gashouse Gorillas, to kick things off!).

  • Joe

    I was a fan of Bay City Blues in its short run and would welcome a chance to see it again; I think your notions about programming for the off-season is a great idea — and there are some wonderful older baseball films, like the original Angels in the Outfield and Damn Yankess and all of those biopics about ballplayers from the 40s and 50s . . .

  • Ron_Kaplan

    Agreed, Joe. I have never seen the U.S. Steel Hour production of “Bang the Drum Slowly” ( and would love to have someone bring it around. Also “The Mighty Casey,” an episode of the original “Twilight Zone.”

  • I loved it when they would show classic games. I recorded many of them and us them when I work out. Now they just repeat the same shows for hours on end.

  • Ron_Kaplan

    Well, it’s certainly cheaper to rerun material than to offer more of a variety. I pitched (pardon the phrase) a program to the MLB Network yesterday. We’ll see where it goes, if anywhere.

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