By Arnie Leshin
What’s happening in baseball as it resumes following the Major League All-Star Game at midseason?
Well, you might want to note that the All-Star Game set a record low television rating. Forget about the empty seats at Cleveland’s Progressive Park, they were either paid for or giveaways. But where were the TV viewers?
Perhaps in Albuquerque or Santa Fe, you can place the blame on Nexstar, which is based in Texas, but which owns, operates, programs or provides sales and other services to 174 full-power television stations of United States networks, which includes Fox and KRQE on Direct TV-AT&T channels in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
So it you couldn’t get the Women’s Soccer World Cup played in France and won by the USA, you had the Spanish-only channel to watch, but not listed to unless you overcame the language barrier.
Tuesday night’s All-Star Game suffered the same fate, but it was also possible that viewers forgot what they didn’t get for the World Cup — Fox New Mexico and CBS KRQE — and after becoming upset to be shut out again, turned on the radio, and there it was, and all that was needed were your ears, but it wasn’t fun after you wait an entire year before this classic gets on the tubes.
If you don’t know by now, this blackout went into effect July 4th, and viewers were fortunate that the Independence Day fireworks and shows from around the country were able to be seen on other channels.
Meanwhile, Nexstar has said it offered an agreement with Direct TV-AT&T to keep the channels on its services for a rate comparable to that offered to other large distributors, and that Direct TV-AT&T misled the broadcasting conglomerates as the deadline for negotiations passed.
Nexstar added that Direct TV-AT&T did not accept its offer for an extension that would have allowed viewers in the affected markets to watch their favorite network shows, special events, local news, sports of course, and other programming. When a new agreement can be reached, it said, than the extension will be drawn up.
Right, until then the viewers who pay for these channels on Direct TV-AT&T as part of their package, are out of luck. Sure, they can switch to other services, as in Comcast and Dish, but would no doubt rather remain with the services they originally signed up for.
. . . That’s that for that. But before the All-Star Game took the field, there was, let’s say, a strikeout for the designated hitter.
Given that the DH was intended to increase batted balls rather than add strikeouts by American League pitchers when they batted, the DH is now a place in the order from which to strike out while swinging hard.
Twins 7, Rangers 4 in 8 ½ innings Saturday, three days before the All-Star Game. Twenty three strikeouts, five from the DH spot. Rays 2, Yankees 1 in 8 ½ innings Sunday, 27 against nine hurlers, and the DH fanned six times, Tampa Bay’s Nate Lowe four times, and its Gary Sanchez twice.
Further, to address the record number of home runs being hit without addressing the record number of strikeouts, is to miss half the story. As hitting homers has become easier, swinging for them has become the primary goal.
And if the balls are as “fixed” as they seem, such marketing genius has conspicuously reduced the game to home runs or strikeouts. Worse, if the balls are manufactured for maximum home runs, to fix that, causing a sudden drop in homers, would be a tacit admission by MLB that it covertly contaminated and comprised that product, thus MLB could be stuck with its own thoughtless devices.
Yes, Commissioner of Baseball, Rob Manfred, has said recently that baseballs have been checked and none appeared doctored up. So, he gave it the okay sign and still left us shrugging our shoulders and still thinking of what’s up.
. . . Here are some more baseball goodies that aren’t so good.
How about the Saturday Red Sox-Tigers scheduled to start at 4:10 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, which ended after midnight. The 9-inning game ran a ridiculous three hours and 51 minutes — not including a preposterous 4:07 rain delay. Wonder if the players and even some fans had fun diving around on the tarpaulin?
Then there’s the Mets, who no longer play Saturday afternoon home games in the afternoon, while big TV market Sunday games are played at night, and teams have holidays off while uncle Rob, the commish, declares kids to be MLB’s top target priority.
Waiting for the once-a-year classic highlights that had a big blast with the long balls at the Home Run Derby and switched to hardly any while the spotlight went to the pitchers the next night, well the All-Star Game laid it on thick, with kids escorting players from the dugouts. Quite a con.
And about Bryce Harper having everything his own way. For $330 million, why not he figures. So on Sunday against the Mets, he lifted a high fly over the third base line. After Todd Frazier caught it inches foul, the SNY-aired video showed that Harper had never left the plate. He just stood and watched, as if, despite regularly costing his teams by not even bothering to trot towards first, he couldn’t care less.
“That’s just inexcusable,” said Hall of Famer Keith Hernandez from the Mets’ SNY booth where he is a commentator.
But Harper has an excuse. He doesn’t care. And he’s not alone. Hardly. And It is defiant to mangers who keep kicking baseball’s can down the road to a needless run. Needless? Well, that’s not so when the batter has a chance to still reach base on a passed ball, a wild pitch, a misplayed ball, etc.
Besides, with all the money they make, there’s nothing wrong with running it out. It is our National Pastime you know, so why not show some hustle for management, teammates, and fans that pay their way to see it.
“Slow down, you’re going too fast,” a big hit for Simon and Garfunkel, is not meant for baseball.