Friday, January 2, 2009

MLB Network, where have you been all my life?

Happy New Year!  And what a happy new year it beautiful wife is now living here with me in the Pacific Northwest, we're waiting to hear where we'll be moving soon. For the first time in a while, my Green Bay Packers can look forward to a decent pick in the NFL draft, the Vikings just lost their playoff game (at the Dome, no less)  and January 1st saw the dawning of a new age...the inaugural broadcast of the MLB Network.  

Let's get something straight right away - I don't care much for Bob Costas. He forever changed sports broadcasting when he referred to Michael Jordan as "MJ".  Yes, prior to that point in time, sports stars had their share of nicknames ("The Fridge", "Doctor J") but they weren't referred to by said nickname for the duration of the televised contest. Enter Bob Costas and the infamous "MJ".  Did he have his personal number? Were they golf foursome partners at some posh Chicago area CC?  Maybe Costas played Godfather to one of MJ's kids...who knows.  At any rate, From that point on, not only did we become personal with these athletes, but we only referred to them by their first name. #24 for the Los Angeles Lakers (formerly #8) is now known as "Kobe". His former  7 foot 1 inch partner-in-crime has no last name - it's just "Shaq".  Even today's 24-year old NBA phenom has seemed to drop his last's simply "Lebron".

But I digress.  So MLB Network already has strike 1 against it, they employed Bob Costas. To add insult to injury, they also decided that one network's (ESPN) garbage is another network's treasure...personified in this case by one Harold Reynolds.  I know the guy was great, he had speed, defense, and a consistent bat, but what a horrible's like listening to Joe Buck talk for an entire football game. Yes, that's right, football game. He did today's Vikings/Eagles game and referred to one of the FOOTBALL players as a "clutch hitter". Okay.

Thankfully the pain stopped there.  I was thereafter filled with six hours of baseball lover's ecstasy.  First up was the broadcast of Don Larsen's perfect game, from Game 5 of the 1956 World Series...say it ain't so! And not only was it the broadcast, but to introduce it and provide a huge amount of priceless background and commentary on that momentous occasion was the pitching battery that day - Don Larsen and Yogi Berra! Pitcher and Catcher are now 79 and 83 years old, respectively, but remember the day as if it were yesterday. Yogi was finishing Bob Costas' sentences before he could get the worlds out - names, dates, ball and strike counts, everything. It was amazing. They both smiled when recalling that day, as the way they told the story made you feel as if you were with them that day. Going out to the bar the night before with Larsen, because there was "nothing else to do".  Did you know that neither of them spoke a word to eachother the entire game?   I do now!

Listening to Yogi Berra speak is priceless. The world will forever be in debt to that man, not only for his amazing skills as a catcher (most say the greatest to ever play the game, namely, those not living in the Cincinnatti area during the 1970's), but his command of the English language. His ability to paint the world in terminology that we can all understand and appreciate is second-to-none. Have you seen that Aflac commercial? Hilarious!  I decided to do a little bit of digging, and uncovered some more of what they call "Yogiisms".  Here are my favorites...

"The future ain't what it used to be."

"We made too many wrong mistakes."

"It's like deja vu all over again."

Once, Yogi was taking a trip to Cooperstown, NY with Phil Rizzuto to attend a baseball dinner. "I think we're lost" commented Rizzuto. "Yeah, but we're making great time" replied Yogi.

The baseball stadium at Montclair State University (New Jersey) is named after Yogi Berra. A friend of mine used to do a show for the campus radio station, and from time to time I'd be invited along to guest dj for a bit. Parking on that campus is at a premium as it caters to many commuter students, and I'd find myself hiking from the back lot, overlooking the baseball field. I one saw Yogi Berra at the shopping mall in Nyack, NY. He is shorter in person, his ears are bigger, but he certianly was unmistakeable. 

So what else does MLB Network have to offer? Well, how about shows like what FSN gave us over the summer last year on Sunday night's, "Baseball's Golden Age", in which they give you a glimpse into historic games, players, or events. The one I watched was about Roberto Clemente, and it was narrated by "Shoeless Joe" himself, Ray Liotta. Wow.

Thanks to Bud Selig and the greed of Major League Baseball, they decided to partner with many major cable networks, so you should be able to find MLB Network on your TV already without having to upgrade your subscription. I recommend giving it a shot.  It's January, and we still have a few more weeks until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training. 

1 comment:

Motherscratcher said...

Good to hear from you again Dubbs.