I remember a couple of years ago when I switched cable companies the excitement I had in learning that the MLB Network was an option for me. I didn’t hesitate to upgrade to a higher level of channels just to get it on my tv. I couldn’t wait to view this greatness and to use it as background noise when I was doing other things around the house. Having Spring Training coverage, real MLB players giving their opinions and interviewing the likes of Tommy Lasorda, Charlie Manuel and Jim Leyland was something I could not wait for.
Flash forward 2 ½ to 3 years to now, and I barely watch it anymore, save for the games that come on, and Clubhouse Confidential. The programming, in my opinion, is stale and the opinions are without a lot of substance. For example look at the show on the network right now, “Top 100 Players.” The rankings are out of whack, to say the least. Gallardo over Darvish? Another is “The Face of MLB” that the league has decided to put out there. Nobody cares about a popularity contest. Fans want results, stats and concise programming that delves deeper than Harold Reynolds polishing Derek Jeter’s shoes every time he’s on tv. I do like most of the hosts like Vasgersian, Severino, Brian Kenny, etc. But the analysts are a different story.
- A show that recaps the previous day’s action, looks at that day’s games and dives into any position battles or stories of long shot players who are making a name for themselves.
- Bring in beat writers and/or announcers from around each division and discuss the goings on in each. Break this into two, one-hour shows. One National League, and one American League. For example Susan Slusser could examine the American League West, Troy Renck the National League West, etc.
- Keep Clubhouse Confidential as is. Just expand it out to get deeper into players and contracts. This show could go so much deeper than it does. A stat of the day would be a nice nugget for CC, where they could explain one advanced stat, how it’s calculated and what it means.
- Partner with Baseball Prospectus to have a look into farm systems.. This show could delve into top players from around the minors, guys to keep an eye on or teams that are loaded with talent. I’d listen to all the BP guys all day everyday.
- A show that looks into that day’s action, much like they do now, with reporters in each stadium. They could do more with this, like trends and batter vs. pitcher stats to look at.
- A talk show of some sort. Something that actually addresses the issues of the moment, not how many spring training at bats Derek Jeter needs.
- More original programming. Shows like Costas does interviewing greats, or more things like the special on the life of Darryl Kile have been really good shows.
- Intentional Talk. “Got Heem and Got Teeem” are just bad examples of schtik. Chris Rose is a tv guy, not a baseball guy. And Millar….well. “bye”
- Reynolds, Williams, Ripken, Eric Byrnes and Jon Hart. They either need to go, or think about their response prior to opening their mouths. Nobody is interested in the “hunch” that Bill Ripken has on JJ Hardy on a random Tuesday in August. Also, don’t have Plesac and Leiter on the same show as they are almost the same.
- Lists. Top 100 Players, Top 10 Managers, etc. Keep Prime 9, but off season only programming.
- Game Shows and Reality Shows. Leave that to the broadcast networks. There is no need for that here.
Here’s how I would do it. Like I said, I’m not a television guy, so I have no knowledge of the inner workings of tv or how ratings work, but I know what I’d watch vs. what I won’t. Right now, for me, MLB Network is almost unwatchable. As they say in Prime 9, “Here’s my list, what’s yours?”