Where to begin? Where to begin? In today’s Toronto Sun, columnist Steve Simmons goes off on Major League Baseball and its supposedly ridiculous policy of not showing replays of close calls in the stadium immediately after they occur.
This is just another example of staid old baseball being behind the times. Instead of giving the fans what they want and what is readily available, they instead deny the paying customer information.
Yep. This is coming from someone who works in the newspaper industry.
Despite Simmons’ straw man suggestions, “staid old baseball” isn’t behind the times. In fact, earlier this year, it was the digital arm of the league that rejected a billion dollars in offers from private equity firms.
Launched in 2000, MLB.com was funded by the clubs in an agreement that had them each investing $1 million a year over four years. The cost was targeted at $120 million. To the joy of the owners and MLB, the site started generating excess revenue in only the second year of its existence, allowing them to invest only $70-$75 million before beginning to see a return on their investment.
Major League Baseball’s Adavanced Media, which controls properties like MLB.com and MLB.tv, is earning owners more than $500 million in revenue on an annual basis. It was way ahead of other leagues in exercising control over its highlights online and embedding journalists with the clubs to create its own mini media conglomerate.
Baseball isn’t in any trouble with the younger generation. It’s speaking their language and making money even as other leagues were suffering from the economic downturn, something that Simmons and his own industry might relate to.
If the Toronto Sun writer attended a baseball game at Rogers Centre, and the most offensive part of the in game presentation wasn’t the soul crushing atmosphere created by the Addams Family theme song, forced clapping and songs that haven’t even been popular ironically in twenty years, I’d assume that he had the idea to write this article long before he actually sat in section 127 on Tuesday night.
For all of his proselytizing, Simmons does come close to grazing an actual good point. He mentions John Farrell coming out of the dugout to argue one of the close calls, and compares it to what MLB is trying to stop by not showing controversial replays in its stadiums.
For the record, managers are allowed to show up umpires and incite the crowd.
Paragraphs later, Simmons brings up the inevitable hockey comparison.
Even in the overly sensitive National Hockey League, there is some leeway for the paying customer. Footage from disputed goals that are reviewed by off-ice officials may be replayed in the arena, with the stipulation being it can only be shown once — prior to the call being official and once after the call is official.
Therein lies the stuff of an actual interesting article: why baseball continues to refuse to allow the implementation of more video replay for disputed calls. The argument against video replay has always been that it ruins the flow of the game or would take up too much time. But what MLB has consistently refused to acknowledge is that managers disrupt the flow and add minutes onto the game by being allowed to argue umpire decisions seemingly at will.
And The Rest
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What a little cry baby. What are you, like four years old? Grow up.
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Ozzie Guillen has something to say: