Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Correct me if I'm wrong, but...

Won't be getting the new Extra Innings package

...baseball is currently getting lambasted over the possibility of making its elite broadcast package more like football's?

Mind you, I don't like the deal much myself. I'd been toying with the idea of getting the Extra Innings package - what can I say, I needed my Harry Kalas fix - but I won't go satellite to do it. That being said, from the uproar you'd think that baseball was A)requiring you to sacrifice your firstborn child in order to get the EI package B)only making it available in black-and-white to people who viewed TV while in the lotus position and C)extracting an oath of eternal fealty to Satan on order to allow you to do so. This is, in short, poppycock. Extra Innings is a luxury package. Roughly 75 million people attended major league baseball games in 2006. Roughly 750K purchased the Extra Innings package. Clearly, this is not something that every fan is clamoring for or availing themselves of.

Second of all, unlike the NFL, there is an alternative. Got a decent net connection? Then you can get any game you want through MLB.com, which, one suspects, is what baseball actually wants you to do. Unlike Gregg Easterbrook, forever pining for his unavailable out-of-market games (memo to Mr. Easterbrook - if you're that desperate for the out of town action, I recommend a sports bar), the hard-core baseball fan can pony up for the same deal online. It's not as good, certainly, but it's watchabe, and at this point my monitor's a better TV than most TVs.

And yet, the furor continues, and at a white-hot pitch. For goodness' sake, it's enough to punch Roger Clemens' latest "I may not actually be retiring but I'll let you know at some point" pronouncement off the front page. The reason, I think, is that we as fans feel as if baseball is more of a communal trust than any of the other sports, that it should be made more accessible because, well, it's ours. We don't want it to be like football, because then it's just like football, with the emphasis on "just". We feel it should be better and different, because, damnit, it's our game as fans, and an expensive luxury package that's available to a lot of cable subscribers who don't use it is still better than an expensive luxury package that's available to fewer satellite TV subscribers.

It's disappointing, yes. But there are other things more worthy of attention this week, like the over/under on the number of guns that will be found in Tank Williams' locker at the Super Bowl.

Besides, there's always the sports bar.
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