A Salute to the Subway Series
ALSO: MLB NETWORK'S CLUBHOUSE EDITION FALLS FLAT ON ITS FACE
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Did you know…
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Mets pitcher Chris Bassitt was 10 years old when the team lost the 1999 National League Championship Series to the Braves . . .
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Of the 75 living members of the Hall of Fame, 48 incumbents plus the three living newcomers (Jim Kaat, Tony Oliva, and David Ortiz) attended Induction ceremonies last weekend . . .
No Hall of Famer has ever lived to 100, though Bobby Doerr came close at 99 years and 220 days old.
The Subway Series Still Works
By Ray Kuhn
Whether or not you care is inconsequential to me. Your thoughts on the Subway Series do not, and should not, impact my thinking or enjoyment of the games. As far as I am concerned, all I care about here is my enjoyment of what happens when the New York Mets face off against the New York Yankees.
Sure, that is selfish. But to a point, isn’t that what being a fan is? The games, and everything Major League Baseball has to offer, is out there for all to digest, consume, and enjoy in any manner you wish. What you do with it is entirely your choice.
I will say that the media, at least in the past, has taken a decidedly New York and/or big-market stance, but the dynamics are a lot different from the first time the Mets and Yankees faced off in the regular season all the way back in 1997. As far as where we are today compared to then, it might have been 1937.
Inter-league play was brand new; the internet was just starting to find its legs, beepers were more of a thing than cell phones (let alone smart phones), and MLB Network was still more than a decade away.
To say that the way we follow baseball has changed over the past 25 years would be a tremendous understatement, and it is also telling that the Mets and Yankees are facing each other on an otherwise non-descript Tuesday and Wednesday night in July.
No longer are baseball fans forced to care about what is clearly a New York concern. The fact that this has been going on for so long also helps here, but the technology- filled world that we live in has blurred the lines between big and small markets from a media standpoint.
In a sense, that market has now become saturated, and it is a good thing. It is infinitely easier to enjoy baseball and being a fan requires a lot less effort than it used to.
You can follow any team(s) or player(s) you wish and consume as much or as little of the sport as you want.
No longer is it a novelty to watch a game outside of your local market or to follow news that is not generated in the confines of your hometown. Perhaps most importantly, we are no longer beholden to ESPN and what they deem worthy of covering or promoting.
Under that same point, over the past 10 or so years, the argument could very well be made that the Subway Series itself has been diluted and does not mean nearly as much as it used to.
But was it ever supposed to mean anything out of the confines of the New York area?
Instead, we can now take it as what it is, and that is simply a matchup of two very good teams that could potentially meet in the World Series.
Back in 1997 when Dave Milicki emerged victorious in the first Subway Series game ever, that meant something. The Mike Piazza/Roger Clemens feud was quite heated, and there have been other memorable moments as well between the two teams. I am not here to go through them all, but the over-arching theme here is that the games are more interesting, competitive, and drama filled when both teams are good.
And this season, thanks in part to Steve Cohen and the changes he has put into place, that is certainly the case. The two games that we just enjoyed earlier in the week could very easily be construed as a potential World Series preview. That simply changed the Subway Series into being two of the top five teams in the league facing each other as a good measure what can be expected when the leaves begin to fall.
Most fans now understand that these games mean the same as games against the Astros and the Braves, but it also does not mean they are any less exciting. While the majority of fans now have the ability to compartmentalize these games and their meaning, the fact that the Mets and Yankees (along with their followers) do share the same surroundings provide an added emphasis.
As someone whose rooting interests lie with the Mets, I feel great after the past two games. Most of those feelings do come from the fact that Yankees are also a great team, but I also do not that the other small piece of my joy should be minimized as it comes from beating a geographic rival.
The angle that these games mean as much as games against the Nationals or Tigers in 2022 does not fly as far as I am concerned with both teams can already make their playoff reservations for October. And when one, or both, teams are struggling, I am not above enjoying some manufactured excitement.
After all, isn’t our sports fandom all derivative from the simplest of the barroom or schoolyard arguments?
Ray Kuhn can be found writing on Fantasy Alarm and podcasting at Friends With Fantasy Benefits after previously covering the Houston Astros as part of the FanSided network at Climbing Tal’s Hill. Reach him at @ray_kuhn_28 or firstname.lastname@example.org as he is always interested in talking or writing about our great game.
MLB Network Made More Errors Than Phillies Behind Awful Quartet
By Dan Schlossberg
The “Clubhouse Edition” of MLB Network’s Braves-Phillies game Monday night was so bad that I had to mute large chunks of it.
CC Sabathia may be a future Hall of Fame inductee but he’ll never win anything for his broadcasting. His hearty, often-unwarranted loud laughter throughout the broadcast ruined the audio, apparently embarrassing the other three members of the broadcast crew.
If MLB Network was out to create cringe-worthy television, it succeeded handsomely.
The four of them were watching the game on a large screen from a studio most likely located in the Secaucus, NJ headquarters of MLB Network. Was it too expensive to send them down the turnpike to Citizens Bank Park instead?
Videos of all four — plus occasional guests ranging from Tom Glavine to Ryan Howard — were plastered vertically on the left side of the screen, taking away from the game itself.
But the worst part, beyond the barroom behavior, was the utter failure of any of the announcers to report on the game they were allegedly watching.
MLB Network would have been far wiser to pick up the TV feed from either the Braves or the Phillies and allow their viewing audience to enjoy that.
As a fan, writer, and baseball historian who generally disdains the concept of trying to make broadcasters out of ballplayers, I was so appalled by this presentation that I thought of complaining to its sponsors.
The usually-thoughtful Mike Lowell was okay but the quality of the broadcast and broadcasters sunk from there. Cliff Floyd wasn’t quite as bad as Sabathia but neither he nor anyone else could overcome the loud and constant laughter from the former Yankees pitcher.
It is sad that MLB Network, with so much potential at its disposal, squanders its opportunities to expand its audience — and especially the young fans who are the potential ticket buyers of tomorrow.
At least Brian Kenny and Dan Plesac, who work games from the ballpark, try to cover the contest to which they’re assigned.
Please, MLB Network, don’t do anything so awful ever again.
Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ broadcast Syracuse University baseball with Len Berman and actually “did an inning” with Houston’s Milo Hamilton during a spring training exhibition game. E.mail him at email@example.com.
“The quality of the card is the key. Four sharp corners, the gloss and the color jumps off the card.”
— Derek Grady, executive VP of sports for Heritage Auctions about a 1952 Mickey Mantle that could go for a record $10 million Aug. 27
Chris (Mad Dog) Russo, 62, and Yankees broadcaster Suzyn Waldman, 75, will be inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame Nov. 2 in Chicago . . .
Hall of Famers Johnny Bench and Orlando Cepeda both enjoyed three-homer games on the same date, July 26 . . .
The Tampa Bay Rays will have to manage without regulars Kevin Kiermaier (left hip) and Mike Zunino (thoracic outlet syndrome surgery) the rest of this season . . .
The top run producers in the majors so far are Pete Alonso and Aaron Judge, separated by a single RBI when the Subway Series started Tuesday . . .
Judge homered just once in the first 13 games this season . . .
Although he managed the Yankees previously, Mets pilot Buck Showalter just experienced the Subway Series for the first time . . .
The annual Mayor’s Trophy series between the two New York teams ran from 1969-83 but the Mets won the first meeting of the clubs, 4-3, on March 22, 1962 under Casey Stengel.
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