“Sometimes you just want to say to the suits running America’s pastime, ‘Have you no shame? Is there nothing you won’t sell?’ asks Stephen King (above) in the latest Entertainment Weekly. “‘No disgrace you will not visit on this wonderful game in order to turn a buck?”” Sounds like someone didn’t appreciate the Brewers’ Eric Gagne “Firestarter” promotion.
When I was a kid (the sort of line that invariably indicates your correspondent is growing old and curmudgeonly), children could still watch baseball on TV. I saw Don Larsen’s perfect World Series game after school and danced for joy around our apartment even though Larsen was a hated Yankee. In the years that followed, more and more teams began to play more and more night games. The reasoning was simple: Lots of working guys couldn’t go to day games. What the reasoning ignored was the ever greater emphasis on televised baseball. Yet those early TV pioneers were pikers compared with those selling the game today, with whole cable networks like YES and NESN pretty much devoted to the idea that baseball is just another prime-time TV series.
But at least regular-season games are telecast at regular hours ” most start at seven or seven-thirty. You can even take a kid to a 7 p.m. game on a weeknight, although he or she is apt to fall asleep in the car on the way home.
But thanks to the unholy alliance of Fox and MLB, most ”event” TV baseball might as well come with an Adults Only tag. And the fans in the stadium? They’re likely to find themselves shivering in their seats until midnight or later, due not only to late starting times but also to extra-long inning breaks, stretched so the network can sell more beer and deodorant. The spectators are in effect reduced to cheering extras, with this added kick in the butt: They pay for the privilege instead of getting paid. Oy, such a deal for the network. And the kids who buy the posters, T-shirts, and trading cards get warmed-over TiVo in the morning. Too bad, of course, but Fox has to sell lawn tractors and the latest big-bang Guy Flick. Sorry, kids, but when money talks, you guys have to take a walk.
Surely the Bangor, ME resident and author of “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon” is aware there’s an entire swath of the United States that would be brutally inconvenienced if postseason games began at 6 or 7pm eastern standard time?