Modern media hasn’t killed the All-Star game. Or anything in sports. Stop. Full stop, even.
Dick Jerardi, the venerable Daily News scribe who has surely forgotten more about Philly sports than any of us have ever known, penned a column that can only be seen as anti-technology. Or pro “the way things were,” as it were. And it has to do with seeing stars less, which makes no sense at all.
[I]t was never about the outcome for me. It was just about seeing Mays lead off, get on and start running, Aaron’s incredible swing and Clemente’s unparalleled arm. You just wanted to see what you had only imagined.
And that, unfortunately, is the problem with the modern All-Star Game. There is nothing left to the imagination. If you live in an American League city, you are not going to be surprised by Kris Bryant’s swing. You have seen it on MLB, ESPN and Fox, watched on your smartphone or laptop.
Not being surprised by Kris Bryant’s swing, or Danny Salazar’s arm or Big Papi’s smile or Noah Syndergaard’s hair is a good thing if it means we have access to all of those things every day.
The logic of this sentiment is inherently faulty, if you care at all about baseball. Seeing stars on the same field one day per season is not, and never will be, better than seeing every star on every field every day. And — this is important to remember — you still get to see the stars on the same field, too! All the stars.
Really, though, Jerardi’s column was less about seeing Kris Bryant’s beautiful swing and more about the days passing people of a certain generation by. And that’s understandable. Hell, even for those of us who still feel like hep cats on the world wide web (www) with our electronic mail (email) and Uniform Resource Locators (URLs), the world has gotten fast — too fast — with all these Pokemon floating around Snapchatting our Bumbles, or whatever. After all, life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop to look around once in awhile, the All-Star game might be over.
In addition to the absence of the unknown, it might also be our 24/7 world in which there is little time for reflection because the next event is rushing toward us even as the most recent event is being analyzed to death.
There’s a lot to analyze there. First, the romanticism of the unknown that pertains to, say, the difference between seductive photos and pornography doesn’t apply — sorry, shouldn’t apply — to access to more baseball. Jerardi is right about our 24/7 world with little time for reflection. Hell, this reaction to his reaction is posting five hours or so later; that’s almost three full news cycles in the age of the insta-informed Twitterati.
The notion of things being analyzed to death is a concern too. If you pardon the tiny violin music for a moment, it’s harder than ever to be a sports media personality because everyone thinks they are a sports media personality today. Back in “the day,” a writer was given a beat and got credentialed to travel the country covering the local nine, writing each night for the next day’s paper. Now, the pundits are giving their reactions in real time. Talking about a big event that happened in the third inning of a game seems almost passé by the time the ninth gets closed out. Waiting to write your story until after you’ve gotten quotes gives you little chance of standing out in the instant reaction environment new media has created.
By the time a reporter can get a full story written, edited, imaged, properly SEOd, published, tweeted, and Facebooked, the world has, by and large, moved on.
So, really, Jerardi’s gripe has nothing to do with baseball and everything to do with the world moving too fast for those of us who still wish the news was delivered by a kid on a bike twice a day.
“There was a time when the joy was in the journey,” Jerardi continued. “That time, sadly, has passed. Now, it’s all about the destination.”
And yet it’s not. The entire process is the journey. Media, in its ever-evolving state, is still about the journey. At the risk of “well, actually”-ing one of the best writers in this city’s sports history, the problem with media today is that it’s rarely about the destination anymore.
Just last week I overheard a conversation in the Billy Penn newsroom lamenting the fact that in four years the presidential election is going to be “so boring” compared to this one. Everything about media today is about what’s next, what’s new, what’s hot. That’s all journey.
And that’s fine. Perhaps not for Major League Baseball, but for the rest of us, this should be fine. Via TV Line:
Fox’s coverage of this year’s Major League Baseball All-Star Game, which once upon a time used to draw well north of 35 million (!) total viewers, this Tuesday averaged 7.9 million viewers and a 2.0 demo rating from 8 to 11 pm, down 22 and 29 percent from 2015’s prelim numbers and on pace for new all-time lows.
Sure, one might look at those numbers and see doom and gloom. Or one could see the audience catching wise to the fact that even though “it counts” the All-Star Game is a self-congratulatory exhibition game. If people chose to watch something else — America’s Got Talent and Celebrity Family Feud were the big network counterprogramming on Tuesday — that’s okay, because the local ratings for baseball are fantastic in most markets. Television revenue for the game is through the roof.
Baseball is just fine, and the reason is because millions of people can watch Kris Bryant’s swing on their televisions, or their tablets or their phones or their watches anytime they want.
Go back in time and tell the previous generation they could see every at-bat Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Roberto Clemente ever had. Tell me what real baseball fan would pass that up for the midsummer classic to mean something again.