Last weekend, the Houston Astros and the Oakland A’s engaged in an old-fashioned baseball brawl. As with almost every baseball brawl, there were no significant injuries; in terms of physical damage done, it was less than in a run-of-the-mill pro ‘rassling encounter. Nonetheless, it is noteworthy in the days of COVID-19.
- If MLB’s health and safety protocol were applied, an awful lot of players coaches and staff would be in deep yogurt. There was no social distancing; no one put on a mask in order to confront someone else; people were screaming at one another in close proximity.
As noted in previous rants, the MLB health and safety protocols have no teeth and there is no reason for anyone to worry about violating those protocols. And by the way, the newly mandated “protocol compliance officers” – aka chaperones – were monumentally ineffective here.
There is another issue involved in the backdrop of this brawl. It involves beanballs. The Astros’ players are being “punished” via the unwritten rules of baseball for the sign-stealing scandal. Recall that MLB punished no players because the only way it got the information it needed in the investigation was to guarantee amnesty. Now pitchers are throwing at Astros hitters – – and, Astros’ pitchers are retaliating by throwing at opposing hitters. MLB needs to put a stop to that quickly.
MLB is entertainment. In a season where most of the games will be played in empty stadium venues, the medium of entertainment is radio/TV. I have no credentials as a television producer, but I feel confident in making these pronouncements:
- MLB will not benefit as a TV presentation if one of its players is hit in the head with a 95-mph fastball and dies on the field.
- MLB will be reviled after someone points out that this “headhunting” has gone on unabated and unpunished for weeks or months thereby giving tacit approval to such recklessness.
For the record, that scenario has almost played itself out in baseball history. Ray Chapman was hit by a pitch to the head; he did not die on the field; he made it to a hospital where he died of the injuries caused by the blow to the head late that night. Google is your friend…
Just so there is no misunderstanding here:
- Sign-stealing is cheating, and cheating must be punished lest it become commonplace.
- Tolerating repeated headhunting by pitchers is worse than sign-stealing, and headhunting must be stopped by any means possible.
Having mentioned that MLB is an entertainment property for radio/TV, let me segue into some other stuff about sports media now. Plenty of the MLB games I check out on TV use cardboard cutouts of “fans” sitting in the seats that are often visible on camera. When I first heard the idea, I thought it would be so hokey that it would be off-putting; however, I learned quickly that I do not pay attention to the “fans behind home plate” because there are more interesting things to focus on. So, “cutout fans” were easy to ignore.
Having said that, I do think that a few teams have been creative with some of the cutouts:
- At a game in NYC, one of the “fans” was “Bernie” from the movie Weekend at Bernie’s. [A quick search at IMDB.com will show you why this is a fun spoof.]
- The Phillies put a cutout of Bob Uecker not in the “front row” but in the last row at the top of the stadium in the nosebleed seats.
- Another interesting placement was a cutout of Steve Bartman in a seat in the outfield near the left field line.
I surmise from the following comment that Dwight Perry also thinks its OK to have fun with cardboard cutout fans at MLB games:
“Something else we’re missing out on with no baseball in Toronto this season: Cardboard cutouts of frolicking guests in the Skydome Hotel windows.”
The NY Post had a report recently saying that Deion Sanders will be leaving NFL Network over a “pay squabble”. There might be more at play here. There were reports last winter that Deion Sanders was involved in the search/selection process that brought Mike Norvell from Memphis to Florida State as the football coach to replace Willie Taggert. Many of those reports suggested that Sanders himself wanted to be considered for the job as a prominent Florida State football graduate. If indeed, Deion Sanders wants to try his hand at coaching – perhaps with an eye at replacing Mike Norvell one of these days? – one of the things he will need to do is to put some successful coaching on his résumé and that would be impossible if he were also tied to NFL Network programming. Sanders reportedly has a net worth of $40M; somehow, the idea that he might be leaving NFL Network solely over a “pay squabble” seems tenuous.
There was a report recently that FOX Sports might be interested in a TV rights deal with the XFL now that the league has been purchased by a new consortium headed by The Rock. FOX was part of the media team when XFL 2.0 debuted back in February 2020; COVID-19 put a quick end to that experiment. However, reports say that FOX is trying to reposition itself with a greater focus on live sports events and that could make the “new XFL” – shall we call it XFL 3.0? – a place for FOX to make a deal. Obviously, there are lots of twists and turns in the road that leads from the bankrupt XFL 2.0 to a place where XFL 3.0 is on the field and on your TV set. However, this report says we ought to keep an ear to the ground on this one.
Finally, there was supposed to be an MLB game televised from the “Field of Dreams site” in Iowa. That too fell victim to COVID-19, but the fact that it had been on the schedule provided Dwight Perry this opportunity for comment in the Seattle Times:
“This year’s Cardinals-White Sox game at Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa, has been canceled.
“A bunch of those old ballplayers out in the cornfield apparently didn’t social-distance and tested positive for the Spanish flu.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………