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Is Baseball on Television Too Cluttered?

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Bank of America asks, “What is your favorite baseball memory?”

(A better question is, “What is your favorite banking memory?” That’s easy — walking into a B of A in which the teller-window line isn’t 15 deep.)

Favorite baseball memory? Listening to games on a transistor radio.

Because watching games now — and many this postseason have been terrific — is an unceasing babble-filled, graphics-filled, replay-filled, commercial-filled, stress-filled slog-and-a-half.

(On a rare positive note, thank you, Fox, for no “K-Zone” and no “PitchTrax.” Man, that PitchTrax box on TBS — it’s like a Sudoku puzzle on your TV screen!)

All right then, before we get too wound up about TV baseball’s frontal attack on the senses — trust me, Couch Slouch is IN A FOUL MOOD today — let’s first address last week’s State of the Union Bat Flipping Referendum, in which red-and-blue Americans deeply examined the attitudes and mores of a divided Sports Nation.

Me? I’d prefer if the Blue JaysJose Bautista had handed the bat to the batboy while running down the first-base line — attaching a short note of apology to the pitcher for ruining his day — but if he wants to turn that piece of lumber into a flying jamboree act, I fully support him exercising his right to freedom of expression, as long as no humans, umpires or animals were harmed in the making of his magical moment.

Okay, where were we?

Announcers always drive me crazy, particularly the ex-jocks, but I’m not going to name names anymore — these fellas have families and they’re respected pillars of the community, so I don’t see the need to single out individuals at this point.

Which brings us to Pete Rose. Are you kidding me? I’d put him in the Baseball Hall of Fame before I’d put him in a broadcast booth. Charlie Hustle’s on Fox’s pregame studio show; I half-expect him to multitask — you know, express himself with some half-baked half-thought on Josh Donaldson, then autograph a couple of baseballs at $5 a pop.

Anyway, once the games begin, every pitch is bisected and dissected; they parse out every last detail of every four-seam fastball. It’s as if Tim McCarver, to ensure his legacy in retirement, left behind an incurable virus — let’s call is “McCarveringitis” — that infects every baseball telecast.

(A friend of mine recently showed me a tape he had of an “NBC Game of the Week” with Curt Gowdy and Tony Kubek from 40 years ago. What an easy listen — they didn’t say anything they didn’t have to say. The screen was clean. The game breathed. You didn’t feel like you were standing in a telephone booth with someone banging cymbals over your head every 12 seconds.)

Adding to the nonstop talk is the nonstop statistical debris.

Here was TBS’s “Stat Cast” on a running, diving catch by Cardinals center fielder Jason Heyward: “First Step: 0.32 seconds; Max Speed: 17.9 mph; Total Distance: 57 feet; Route Efficiency: 94.5 percent.”

Wow. I don’t know where to start.

Let’s start with his first step — 0.32 seconds. To put that in context, my first step toward the kitchen when I smell Toni’s mac-and-cheese is 0.26 seconds, so I don’t think Heyward’s getting a real good jump there. And “route efficiency”? That concept is only relevant driving on L.A. freeways on a Friday afternoon.

Here was MLB Network’s “Stat Cast” for Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel: “Extension: 6.2 feet; Velocity: 91.0 mph; Perceived Velocity: 90.4 mph.” Analyst John Smoltz offered, “Obviously, the extension is going to affect the perceived velocity.”

I thought the same thing.

But the proverbial final straw for me came, of course, in the form of replay.

I was sitting down with some ice cream to watch the deciding game of the Mets-Dodgers series. The very first batter, Curtis Granderson, grounds out on a close play; the Mets challenge the call, and he is ruled safe. I mean, I haven’t even enjoyed my first scoop of Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk, and there already is a replay delay.

So I turned to a “Seinfeld” rerun — occasionally they have some baseball on there.

To read more visit the Times Union where this story was originally published

Sports TV News

Former Hulu Exec Michael Schneider Hired To Run Bally Sports+

“Schneider previously was VP of brand and content marketing at Hulu, where he had involvement in various marketing efforts for Hulu + Live TV.”

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Sinclair Broadcast Group and Diamond Sports Group have tapped Michael Schneider as the chief operating officer and general manager of Bally Sports+ when it launches this year.

Schneider will oversee the direct-to-consumer platform that will also be the hub for Bally Sports live programming.

Schneider previously was VP of brand and content marketing at Hulu, where he had involvement in various marketing efforts for Hulu + Live TV.

“Throughout his career, Michael has successfully launched and developed DTC streaming and service platforms and created immersive engagement experiences,” said Sinclair COO and president of broadcast Rob Weisbord. “He is a terrific addition to the team as we build out the Bally Sports+ offering, its exclusive content and passionate fan community.”

Even before Hulu, Schneider had a hand in streaming. He was a founding member of the PlayStation Vue launch team.

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Sports TV News

Marquee Sports Network Weighs Streaming Options Outside of Bally Sports+

“Marquee GM Mike McCarthy said to Sports Business Journal there’s no rush, but the network is hopeful they can have something in time for the 2023 season.”

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As Sinclair Broadcast Group prepares to launch Bally Sports+, its direct-to-consumer platform that will be home to Bally Sports live events, the Chicago Cubs are weighing their options for Marquee Sports Network, which the team co-owns with Sinclair.

Despite being under the Sinclair umbrella, Marquee is its own free-standing RSN from the rest of the Bally Sports networks across the country.

Marquee is readily available on a number of cable providers, but the only thing that’s really missing is its own standalone streaming platform for games. Marquee GM Mike McCarthy said to Sports Business Journal there’s no rush, but the network is hopeful they can have something in time for the 2023 season.

“We’re always interested in being on the cutting edge with the ultimate deliverable to our consumer,” McCarthy said. “But there isn’t any contractual clock ticking to make us feel that way. It’s how we’ve approached things from the beginning. Between our two ownership groups, there’s a lot of aggression to get it right. And I think you’ll see something along those lines shortly.”

The TV ratings will always be of top interest for MLB, especially regional ratings. But as the league has worked to embrace more streaming options for games, striking deals with Apple and Peacock for rights this season, it’s all about providing what the fans and viewers want.

“We now have the ability to do so much more, to properly tell the story of a 162-game season,” said Crane Kenney, Chicago Cubs president of business operations. Kenney was instrumental in the launch of Marquee. “We love baseball, we love the game, and we love the opportunity we have to share it with our fans in really deep ways.”

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Sports TV News

Laura Rutledge Celebrates Chemistry Of NFL Live

“It is truly the absolute joy of my life to get their opinions and to sit with them every single day and hear what they have to say.”

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Laura Rutledge is very happy with where NFL Live is as the current lineup gets set to enter its third season together. She told The Big Lead that there is genuine chemistry between herself, Marcus Spears, Mina Kimes, and Dan Orlovsky and that is why she doesn’t feel the need to emulate any of sports television’s many debate shows.

“You don’t want to see people yelling at each other all the time and I’m really proud of the chemistry that we have struck and just letting that breathe on air and having so much fun. It is truly the absolute joy of my life to get their opinions and to sit with them every single day and hear what they have to say.”

The 2022 NFL season will have a very different feel for ESPN. The addition of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman for Monday Night Football adds new expectations to the network.

Rutledge said that the attention on the network means that she and her colleagues have to raise their respective games, but that shouldn’t be hard. There is always material to work with in this league.

“We’ve seen this offseason, we saw the previous offseason, how the NFL news cycle never stops. It’s funny because the news cycle becomes such a big piece of the story, but we’re like, we can’t wait for the games,” she said.

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