I’m not even 30 years old yet and yet I feel like a very old OLD lady. You know the kind – how things were SOOOO much better in the old days back when people never had sex or sinned in any way and folks in even south Texas used to walk 10 miles to school and back, uphill and in the snow. And they LIKED it.
Or something like that.
The first postseason I really remember was the NLCS between the Mets and Astros in 1986. Somehow I hadn’t remembered that games had started in the afternoon, even though they must have, or I wouldn’t have seen most of them as I would have been sent to bed. And am I remembering it wrong that even 10 years ago, the supposed to be national announcers didn’t have a storyline, or even take sides? Am I remembering rightly that the games used to have a quick pace, that the TV broadcasters didn’t interrupt the action by showing various faux celebrities in the stands, that they didn’t miss the first pitch or even first out of the inning? And that there was no Dane Jerk Cook pretending he’s this kewl 20 year old when he’s almost 40 and looks it too, pimping the postseason while trying like heck to not talk about the Denver Nuggets or New Mexico whatsizzes that for some reason are allowed into the playoffs with the blessed RedSox.
The Astros weren’t in the NLCS in 1987 – it was the Cards and the Giants. I remembered without even having to look it up, and in fact, I remember EVERY single NLCS clearly without having to look them up – well, not the scores or even all the pitchers, but I sure do remember the excitement of watching them all, even though they didn’t involve my own team.
Somehow, I’m not sure exactly when, perhaps during the long run of the Braves in the playoffs, the people who produce and direct the playoffs decided that they must be boring and decided to therefore drag them out and interject all kinds of boring irrelevancies. And somehow, they managed to make the games start later and later and last longer and longer. I remember reading Maury Brown, who runs the site Biz of Baseball, reporting that the networks claim that the late 8:25 – 8:40 EST starts generate the best ratings, and that (apparently) children are staying up to watch. So I guess that the extra extra long games and interminable commercials generate the best ratings too.
And I am not exactly sure WHY MLB/Fox decided to pimp some of the ballplayers – perhaps they didn’t understand that an NBA star such as Michael Jordan or Shaq on a 5 man team can win games virtually all by himself. Perhaps they thought they could increase ratings if people decided to watch one particular ballplayer instead of a baseball GAME. But for a good 10 years, since the first appearance of Derek Jeter, they surely have. The networks are virtually at a loss as to how to promote a postseason series in the absence of a glamour team or star, such as this year’s NL playoffs.
As Maury says,
“The difficulty is that MLB and professional sports as a whole is a star-driven entertainment industry,” he said. “The Diamondbacks and Rockies are not laced with stars, and therefore, even in the West, interest has been lukewarm at best, with Denver and Phoenix the possible exceptions.”
And the difficulty with that approach is that when the networks act as if the playoffs are something boring, play them at a ridiculous hour at night, elongate them with idiotic interruptions, they unfortunately are viewed as boring and even more unfortunately, BECOME boring. The networks also do their darndest to try to shelve/ignore games which do not involve their 4 favorites – the Yankees, Red Sox, Mets and Cubs (see the NLCS 2004 – the best playoff games nobody ever saw because of the dratted youknowwhos).
I’ve been both bored and disappointed by the too long games and the long loooonnnnggg waits in between games and the too long intervals between the ending of one series and the beginning of the next. I can’t believe that I am admitting that I am recording the games so that I can fast forward through them the next day with the sound muted. My blood pressure can’t deal with Fox’ open rooting for the Sox and disdain for the Other League’s whatstheirnames.
Were the games more exciting before the Braves/Yankees years when there really WAS parity? When there were so many fewer games on TV? When there was so much less information available? I guess they were for me, but I know quite well that I am in the vast minority of viewers, who prefer to root for the big money team, the frontrunner, the rich Yankees/Red Sox right along with the supposed to be neutral announcers. (One of the things I liked best about the 2005 series was watching McCarver and Buck trying to find stats on Jeff Bagworthy and Greg Bijou during the few seconds they managed not to mention ex-Yankees Pettitte and Clemens, now exactly WHY on earth would ANYONE ever leave the Perfect Team?)
Maybe I’m not too old – I can thank modern technology for allowing me to turn off the sound, fast forward and watch the game simultaneously on gameday so I can chart pitches. And I can watch games from the Good Old Days on ESPN classic every now and then when they bother to show actual sports instead of crummy movies or whatever.
As for any thoughts about this particular series, well, all I can say is Willy Taveras left men on second an third with 2 outs in the 5th in a 1 run game – grounded out to short, as usual. Some things never change – he’s useless with men on base. I’ll never understand why so many Astros fans think that getting rid of him was the one of the worst mistakes ever made by any baseball team in the history of baseball. Good grief – you’d think he was the reincarnation of Willie Mays…
By the way
anyone who watched any of the Astros minor league teams live and would like to comment on any of the players, please email me with your opinions. I will publish your opinions, if you like, with or without your name. Thanks.