Masochists’ Sports Network?

Here in the suburbs of Washington DC, we have a regional sports network on cable TV. It is called MASN or the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network. Their “catch-line” this summer has been “One network – two teams”. Sounds good and catchy – - until you realize that the two teams have been the Baltimore Orioles and the Washington Nationals. The Nats have the worst record in MLB and the Orioles have the second worst record in the AL. Their combined record is 109-179. MASN ought to stand for the Masochists’ Sports Network.

I guess I would need to consult the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders for proof-positive here, but I have a suspicion that being a fan of either the Orioles or the Nats is a sufficient indicator of “masochism” to make a firm diagnosis of that condition. Even in the absence of any other self-inflicted painful behaviors…

MLB has released the 2010 schedule. Opening Day will be April 5th for most teams but there will be an inaugural game on Sunday night, April 4th. Since ESPN can pretty much pick and choose the game it wants to slide back to Sunday night and since the Yankees/Red Sox open against each other, anyone care to guess what the opening baseball game on ESPN will be for 2010?

Just an aside here and I hope that I am not going to offend Boston Red Sox fans too badly, but I really am rooting for the Texas Rangers to be the wild card team in the playoffs this year. A little variety in the AL playoff participants this year would not do violence to the fabric of baseball…

Despite the fact that some folks think amassing 200 hits in a single season is an over-rated statistic, it is a level of accomplishment that evades a large majority of MLB players. Ichiro Suzuki just reached that hit level for the ninth consecutive season. No one in baseball history has ever done that; his achievement breaks the record set by Wee Willie Keeler in the years leading up to 1901. Only Pete Rose ever had 200 hits in more than 9 seasons in a career (Rose did it 10 times) but they were spread out over 16 years. What is equally amazing is that Ichiro once got 200 hits in the Japan League where the season is only 130 games long. That works out to just a smidge over three hits every two games.

When Derek Jeter surpassed Lou Gehrig’s record for most hits by a Yankee, this got a lot of coverage. Derek Jeter is a great player; so was Lou Gehrig. Having said that, this was a team record not a baseball record. If/when someone breaks the all-time record for most hits as a Cleveland Indian, do you think that accomplishment will garner similar coverage? Somehow, I doubt it…

I have not been an ardent supporter of the “save” statistic in baseball for a long time. The entire concept of a “hold” is really stupid to me. Nevertheless, there is another pitching statistic that is kept today that is even worse; that would be the “Quality Start”. In order for a pitcher to record a “Quality Start” he has to finish six complete innings and surrender three or fewer earned runs. Imagine for a moment going up to Bob Gibson after he came out of a game in the top of the seventh inning having given up three runs and congratulating him on a “quality start”. His reaction would not have been a pretty one. Same goes I would suspect for (in alphabetical order): Steve Carleton, Bob Feller, Whitey Ford, “Catfish” Hunter, Sandy Koufax, Juan Marichal, Jim Palmer, Robin Roberts, Tom Seaver, Warren Spahn etc…

The NFL will try to generate some fan/attendance interest in the Pro Bowl this year by playing the game in Miami (where the Super Bowl game will be played) on the Sunday of the “dark week” in the playoff schedule. Yes, that means that players on the two Super Bowl teams will not be able to play but that really does not matter because at least a third of the players who are selected to play in that game find reasons not to play. Even with the lure of a free trip to Honolulu to play the game in Hawaii, loads of players found reasons to stay home.

The thinking seems to be that fans might come to Miami to see the Pro Bowl on January 31 and then stay in town to catch the Super Bowl the next Sunday – in person if they can score tix or at some super trendy club party in the area. Tickets for the Pro Bowl game can be had for as little as $38 at one reseller. (Seats up to $754 are also available for people with far more money than brains.) The “rub” here is that a fan would then have to spring for accommodations and incidental expenses for a full week in Miami during Super Bowl week where bargains might be difficult to come by.

Frankly, I do not see hordes of folks going to spend the week in Miami to see the Pro Bowl and the Super Bowl because of cost factors and because tix to the Super Bowl game are mainly in the hands of “corporate partners” and “friends of the NFL”. And I surely do not see hordes of people flying down to Miami just to catch the Pro Bowl game; the stands in Honolulu were always at least 50% empty and Honolulu is at least as nice a place to go in the winter as Miami. So, maybe the NFL thinks it can get a near-capacity crowd for the game from the fan base in Miami itself? As René Descartes said before he disappeared in a puff of steam:

“I think not!”

Finally, here are two items from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald regarding events that led up to the start of the NFL season:

“Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson were battling this preseason for the right to take snaps behind an uncertain line and lead an offense that totaled 31 points in the 0-6 run that ended last year — an offense now minus suspended receiver Donte’ Stallworth. Did we mention the Browns’ defense is lousy, too?”

“Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones agreed to join the CFL’s Winnipeg team, which then rescinded the offer after he appeared shirtless on Ustream ranting about wanting NFL money and accidentally referring to the CFL as the ‘UFL.’ It qualified as a good week overall for Pacman, relative to being arrested again.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…

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Comments

  • Rob  On September 17, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    I’ve noticed that no one has commented on anything for a while, so I’ll throw in two:

    I haven’t paid attention to the Orioles since Cal retired, and

    I would actually consider a trip to Miami to see both of those games… but only because I can stay with relatives down there.

  • The Sports Curmudgeon  On September 17, 2009 at 10:28 pm

    Rob:

    Part of the greatness of Cal Ripken Jr. was that he kept the Orioles relevant all by himself far longer than the team merited relevance.

    If I had Super Bowl tix in hand AND if I could sponge a room off friends or family for a week, I would then CONSIDER springing for a decent seat at the Pro Bowl – - only to check the box and say that I have actually been to one of those things. But to go to Miami and spring for a hotel room for a week in anticipation of perhaps scoring tix to the Super Bowl for less than a grand apiece, that is just not going to happen in this lifetime – - or the next one either.

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