It might be a little early in the season for this rant, but we'll launch into it nevertheless.
Last night, as we settled down for our evening slumber, we flipped on the tube and headed up to the 400's on our digital dial to see if we could catch some baseball highlights. What we encountered was the following: Hockeycentral, Hockeycentral, blacked out hockey game, blacked out hockey game, Sportscentre and WWE Raw.
(Oh, and in case you were needing to find out which half of the NHL teams are going to the playoffs, you could always check in the 24-hour hockey channel, the NHL Network. But we'll come back to that point in a moment.)
Left with little other choice, we sat through a good twenty minutes of Sportscentre, or roughly just short of the amount of time that it would take for our head to explode as a result of watching TSN's signature clipdown.
Look, we get it. Canadians love hockey, and they just can't possibly get enough of it. That's fine. We can live with that. But what kills us is the way that the sports channels in Canada deal with baseball. You're lucky if you get more than a handful of games in the run of a show, and most of them are cut into 45 second packs that remove everything except for a scoring play, a strikeout and an error and give you little or no sense of what actually happened in the game.
Frankly, a meaningless scripted punch-up between two palookas who toil on the fourth lines of NHL teams gets more screen time than most ball games. And of course, we always get the full analysis of said fight from the Hedger-o-Matic Fight Highlight Script Generator:
"The two heavyweights square off...Palooka gets in a couple of solid rights before Jabroni gets back into it...We'll give the decision to Palooka, and that scrap inspires his team..."
And of course, you have to throw from this nonsense over to the panel of a half dozen hockey analysts and "insiders", who fill the air with so much blah-blah-blah, ultimately signifying nothing.
So fine. If TSN and Sportsnet and the Score and everyone else feels this is the only way that they can continue to sell putrid beer and pickup trucks to the throngs of latent homosexual hockey fans, then so be it. But how about an option for those of us who want to see some in-depth coverage of baseball? How about something for those of us who want to see what's going on around the Majors, along with some real honest to goodness analysis?
Of course, there is the promise that some time in the future, we might possibly get the MLB Network, or Rogers' Canadian version, the already licensed Baseball Channel. But given the current state of Canada's media industry and the dried up advertising resources, the chances of Rogers moving forward on a launch for their service seems remote, and unfortunately, the MLB Network won't get carried here until Rogers gives up on their license. That could literally take years.
And not that we want to be that guy who rails against the CRTC for denying us the pleasures of ESPN, but seriously, what we wouldn't give to sit down and watch Baseball Tonight. To our American readers, who are probably sick to death of listening to John Kruk's inanities on the World Wide Leader, you have no idea how much we envy you. Yours is truly a land of plenty.
Sadly, we have to come to grips with the fact that we'll have to wait until the Stanley Cup playoffs conclude sometime in mid-June before we get anything resembling actual baseball coverage in Canada. Groan.
A few quick thoughts on last night's game come-from-behind barnburner
-It's interesting to watch Scott Rolen dig in with his subtly tweaked batting stance. He looks a bit more upright in the box, and seems to be getting to the ball as quickly as ever, as evidenced by his eighth inning blast last night. Now if only we could dissuade him from the Coldplay entrance music.
-We keep waiting for Aaron Hill to show signs of...well, something less than good. Thankfully, he has looked great in the field (notwithstanding last night's botched tag play), and he's hitting the ball as hard as he did in his 47-double 2007 campaign.
-When B.J. Ryan struck out Marcus Thames in the ninth last night, Jerry Howarth made the call that he threw a "country fastball" by the Tigers' DH. We're not exactly sure what a country fastball is, but we like the sound of it. And if for the Beej, a country fastball is one that comes close to 90 MPH, then all the better.