Weekend Rant: Empty Base Syndrome and an Imaginary Saturday Conversation with Bud Selig
And to paraphrase that famous American, 'Otter' Stratton, “We fucked up. We trusted MLB.”
Getting upset about the total fucking of out-of-town fans perpetrated by the MLB may be futile, but at least it keeps me from asking really torturous questions like "Aaron Heilman, why god why?” or “How can a team that can only muster runs in a bases-loaded situation with no outs against Kyle Lohse by getting hit by a pitch conceivably get anywhere meaningful in the playoffs?” Or “Why does it seem that Rickey is running this team not Willie, when Jose Reyes gets thrown out trying to steal third in the 6th inning when he was already in scoring position with two outs and David *&!# Wright at the plate?”
For American sports fans, passive acceptance is often a way of life. The dictates of loyalty and tradition preclude the benefits of flexibility, and the rest of the scam is supported by subtle rules. Don’t bring in outside food to the ballpark, otherwise prices can’t be fixed at 300% of normal prices, a practice that would be quickly undercut by the workings of the actual market that more obtuse capitalists believe protects them from harm. Some fans confuse the hallowed traditionalism inherent in baseball culture with quietism. They don’t like to hear criticism of anything perhaps because it makes them start the process of reflecting on their situation, which is probably why they enjoy the escapism of being a sports fan in the first place. Others cuddle with their copies of Ayn Rand and lecture us about capitalism while secretly hoping that the system doesn’t fuck them over too and they can point to their luck as proof of their beliefs. Hey the ballpark is a rough place now, filled with drunken and sober idiots throwing things, but at least we don’t riot like European soccer fans right? To each his or her own.
But as a society, we already let pro sports get away with a lot. Go ahead, build your new stadium with public largess even when studies show it brings few of the economic benefits to the area promised. Go ahead, bullshit us with reduced seating in the name of “intimacy” when you build that new ballpark. Who needs to be able to afford to bring their family to the park anyway? Corporate suits need to relax after a long hard day being corporate suits, don’t they?
But even blockheads who have no problem with this line of reasoning have to be startled by the Saturday broadcast policy MLB is asking us to accept. Even if you acknowledge MLB’s right to charge extra for improved access to their product, you have to wonder how they can justify not delivering the access after you pay a premium for it? Of course this is a company that would, if not for government intervention (!), would have sold off the viewing rights of a public institution for short term gains and less viewership! But I can’t help imagining a conversation with Bud Selig although it wouldn’t end well…
Me: “Why can’t I watch the game on MLB’s so-called Extra Innings Package? I paid for it.”
Selig: “Well Fux Network owns the rights to those Saturday games, whether or not they choose to televise them to the fans.”
Me: “How did they get those rights?”
Selig” “Well they paid us for it. Plus, otherwise Joe Buck calls me at home, and I can’t have that”
Me: “But didn’t I pay you for these games when I dropped all that cash on the Extra Innings package that you didn’t want me to have in the first place?”
Selig: “Yes, but seeing as how out-of-town fans have a harder time coordinating their protests and will probably just blame the nearest scapegoat—their cable operator—we figure the uproar will be easy to contain. We are counting on weak minded passive fans. That way we can sell the same product twice without actually delivering it. Sure we could work out a deal with Fux, but why bother spending the energy? See how that works out for us?
Me: “Why can’t Extra Innings carry the Fux broadcasts as part of their negotiated deal, or when there is no Fux broadcast, carry the game from SNY or wherever? Isn’t the game ultimately property of MLB? Why would you write a contract preventing fans from seeing the games they paid for?”
Selig: “Perhaps I wasn’t clear during the preseason controversy over selling exclusive rights to Directv-- I don’t give a flying monkey shit about the baseball fan. Did I stutter?”
Me: (strangles Selig with ugly yellow All-Star jersey)
Labels: Bite Me Bud