Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Those Were The Days

When TigerBlog was a kid in the early 1970s, he used to watch the Saturday night lineup on CBS each week. While TB could have it wrong, his memories are of some combination of "All in the Family," "Maude," "M*A*S*H," "The Jeffersons," "The Bob Newhart Show," and lastly "The Carol Burnett Show."

When TigerBlog was a junior in West Philadelphia, the entire 22nd floor of High Rise South would gather in the room of RA Jani Scandura to watch NBC's Thursday night lineup: "The Cosby Show," "Family Ties," "Cheers," "Night Court" and finally "Hill Street Blues," which might be the greatest show in television history not named "The Odd Couple" or "The Sopranos." Of course, being wild West Philadelphia college students, we'd then go out until 4 a.m. every night. Or something like that.

Anyway, getting back to the point, those lineups were television at its finest. The Major League Baseball draft, televised last night, is quite possibly at the exact other end.

TigerBlog only paid tangential attention to the draft, as his interest extended only to see where Princeton's David Hale went. It was hard not to notice, though, how tedious televising the draft was.

It's bad enough that the NFL draft has spawned a whole side profession of Mel Kiper Jrs. and his wannabees, who analyze up and down players who 1) they'd never heard of before, 2) have never actually seen play and 3) have a greater than 50% chance of being busts. It's bad enough to read the next day about which team's draft got an "A" and which got a "D," when the reality is that there will be no way to accurately grade until five years or so later.

The problem is that often in television (news, sports, entertainment, reality; doesn't matter), any bad idea is worth copying and expanding. As such, the NFL draft started it, the NBA draft copied it (though at least the NBA had the common sense to limit it to two rounds and move it along into one semi-concise evening) and now baseball is next.

If anything, the baseball draft makes for worse television, because teams are almost exclusively drafting players nobody has heard of and players who won't reach the major leagues for a few years. It's not as if the a team can fill its need for a first baseman or closer by plugging in its first-round pick.

Baseball has so many problems right now it's hard to count them all. Steroids have made every new star a suspect. Outrageous ticket prices in new ballparks have resulted in empty seats everywhere. The economic model where a team like the Yankees can have one player make more than the entire Pirate roster is a joke.

As TigerBlog likes to say, baseball's lucky that it has a 150 year head start on lacrosse in the national consciousness.

In that vein, it's easy to see why baseball would try to stress the positive aspects of the draft. It's just that it's too contrived, and it makes for awful television.

Instead, TigerBlog would rather go back to CBS of the 1970s or NBC of the 1980s. Maybe MLB Network would have been better of with the Sammy Davis Jr. episode of All in the Family.

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