(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Stopping by Dodger Stadium this morning on some business, we couldn’t help but imagine what it would be like to have a World Series game staged there right about now. The sun was out, it was a pleasant 70-plus degrees. No rain. No sleet. No gloom of the pending nightfall.
No Fox forcast needed by Jillian Whatshername. No Selig slush surfacing anytime soon.
Just a bunch of crew members dressing up the field and rearranging the outfield walls in preparation for a “All The Way” Mae Mordabito — aka Madonna — who’ll be hitting to all fields during her concert on Nov. 6.
In sharp contract, all the way around, to the handwringing going on in Philadelphia right now, where the commissioner is trying to twist the rules of what makes a regulation game into a mini-series, and all the sports-talk show hosts this morning calling a “worst-case scenario” and a “complete nightmare.”
Some are even blaming Fox for the whole quagmire.
It’s an easy target, one taken frequently in mediaville a time or two.
In a column today called “Tainted by Television,” Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Phil Sheridan (linked here) writes that the embarassing situation that took place during Monday’s attempt to play Game 5 should make Major League Baseball “ashamed for allowing its most important game of the year to deteriorate into an embarrassing mess because of slavish obedience to its pimp, the Fox Television Network. … The first problem here is TV’s insistence on scheduling these games for 8:30 p.m. or even later. There are plenty of lovely autumn afternoons – and yesterday was one of them – that give way to cold and blustery evenings. When baseball, like other sports, sold its soul to the networks and their craven need for prime-time sports programming, it created a situation where young fans couldn’t stay up to watch the most important games of the year.
“If the fans and players were the priorities, last night’s game would have been stopped much sooner. They aren’t. Television is, and television won’t allow its prime-time program to be moved to 5 p.m.”
Kinda harsh, eh? But there’s a basis, in part, to that argument.
If ratings are plummeting for Fox’s World Series coverage — it’s on track to bottom out even the worst rated series in TV history, already recording the lowest-rated game in series history with that horrible Game 3 that started past 10 p.m. EDT and ended at about 1:45 a.m. EDT — what’s the problem with having games during the daytime. When people are awake. They’ll find ways to watch. They do it all the time during the NCAA basketball tournament.
St. Petersburg Times columnist Gary Shelton (linked here) comes up with another TV angle to the Game 5 mess:
“Let’s admit it. For a while, the only explanation for why the World Series was being played was Selig must be a fan of ‘House,’” a reference to the drama series that Fox airs on Tuesday nights. Meaning, if Game 5 was delayed on Monday, it would have been pushed to tonight.
And if anyone checked a weather report, they’d see there’s no way a game could be played in Philly today because of the weather, hence the message on the stadium marquee above.
That’s just a plain, ol’ silly hillbilly argument, but one a lot throw out there because they like to think they know how TV operates. The fact is, a baseball game — a World Series game — would outrate any drama, sit-com or whatever Fox put on that night. They’d love to have a World Series game on any and every night — and may get their wish as this thing drags on.
Turns out, “House” still airs tonight. On Fox. Check it out. It’s not like you have a Lakers’ season-opener that’ll divert your attention anyway.
Blowhard Bill Conlin then adds in the Philadelphia Daily News (linked here), in a column where he first quotes Forrest Gump: Fox is “paranoid over the prospect of being forced to play a Friday night makeup game.”
Actually, Fox is paranoid that it doesn’t go past five games. If it can stretch Game 5 into November, that won’t be so bad.
If you want a Fox comment on the record, the closest we may get is from Ken Rosenthal, the insider we featured last week, writing today at FoxSports.com (linked here), who says that writes that: “Major League Baseball needs a reminder and maybe even a kick to the head. … Why start one World Series game at 10:06 p.m. ET (on Saturday) and allow another to continue in a downpour (on Monday)? … Selig … blew it by failing to postpone Game 3 and by allowing Game 5 to disintegrate into a muddy mess. It’s the World Series, for crying out loud. Start acting like it.”
During the Fox broadcast, analyst Tim McCarver, noting that Carlos Pena’s RBI single in the top of the sixth tied the game at 1-1: “By scoring that run, it kind of takes (MLB) off the hook.”
Because now the game came be suspended, according to the rules, and not declared an official game with Philadelphia winning it, according to the rules that Selig was about to change on the fly.
MLB didn’t get off the hook, of course. But apparently neither did Fox.