The MLB Network’s “Baseball IQ”: A Swing and a Miss
To say I have resentments over Major League Baseball’s long-standing tradition of being completely out of touch with its fans is like saying I’m not worried about the future of the Republican party: IT’S EXTREMELY UNDERSTATED!!!
After all, we the FANS are what make professional baseball work. WE are the ones who pay $30 for a nosebleed, who dish out $8.50 for a crappy beer. WE are the ones who have to see therapists when our favorite superstars go wherever the money takes them and WE are the ones who, despite what happens in the offseason, can’t wait to get back to the ballpark and throw our hard earned money around. So when we get dissed by the governing hands of the sport we love so much, IT HURTS.
The NBA set up its own network in 1999. The NFL perfected the craft in 2003. And the NHL (yes, that’s the one where they play hockey) started its own network in 2007.
It wasn’t until 2009 — a good TEN YEARS after the NBA set the precedent — that MLB finally gave the fans the opportunity to experience baseballgasms 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. I can hardly remember life before MLBN, and I don’t want to.
But there has been something missing in its programming. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the lineup of shows they’ve been rolling out. Brian Kenny’s new Clubhouse Confidential is fantastic. Prime 9 is a classic. And nothing beats MLB Tonight. Yet the very nature of baseball fandom — getting lost in the numbers playground and tooling around for hours — seems to open itself up to a… TRIVIA SHOW!
Enter Matt Vasgersian and Baseball IQ, which premiered on the Network last night. Vasgersian’s cool. Baseball trivia is cool. How can this possibly not be a kick @$$ show?
Quite easily actually. Rather than having real fans as contestants — y’know, the type of Joe Plumber uberdork (me?) who will argue and bet stats in a bar ’til the beast looks beautiful — they instead use MLB employees:
“It will be a 32-person bracket with one participant representing MLB.com, each of the 30 clubs and the National Baseball Hall of Fame — featuring everyone from front-office personnel to equipment managers to scoreboard operators and museum curators.”
Um… (channel Eddie Murphy Delirious voice) dat’s not iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.
MLB employees?!?!?!? Would you watch Jeopardy if the contestants were limited to the authors of the Encyclopedia Britannica?!?!?!
Okay, so the “prize” money is donated to charity. Whoop-dee-doo. If I wanted to watch a charity event I’d go to a golf course. Or a walk-a-thon.
The MLB Network had a great opportunity to connect with its fans — the very people who keep the Network going — by allowing everyday folks who live/eat/breathe baseball but don’t get paid for it to shine.
Instead, they produced the equivalent of an Alfonso Soriano swing at a ball in the dirt, low and away.
Don’t hate me. ‘Cuz you know I’m right.