Slowly but surely there is live action returning to the tube. Unfortunately, games are being played, at least for the foreseeable future, without fans in the stands. On the bright side, fairly soon we will have NHL and NBA action and NFL camps will open (they will not play any pre-season games, however). The COVID calendar will have all the major American sports colliding after a dearth of sports programming since March. College sports are in dire mode as many colleges and conferences have cancelled their seasons already.
We got a chance to see some “Summer Camp” major league baseball action. Despite all of the MLB hysterics about player salaries, which are ongoing, they were the first to “return.” Players are being well cared for; they are continually being tested and are well protected. So far, the testing has revealed limited positive results.
Sure, it’s a different world and things may never be the same again. That is the sad part. But having sports back and being able to watch players compete and watch the games that we love is a good thing…fans or no fans.
As far as watching the product, well, it is weird. Not the sport per se, but the games being held in massive stadiums sans any fans. Teams are playing with piped in crowd noise from MLB The Show, the video game, where the actual cheers are taken from the actual stadiums that they are playing in, if you follow. This was mandated by the league. (Remember, ABM=always be marketing).
I had several observations about this as I was watched the Mets vs. Yankees games: First, New York fans are just not this nice. Yes, they let out loud cheers of joy when their team hits mammoth home runs, scores or performs well. But when the Mets (my team) were committing four errors, that crowd at Citi Field was much more polite than I ever remember them being (I know my television got an earful). So, if they want it to sound real, make it real. Hire a “superfan” to manage the sounds that emanate through the stadium, not just the positive cheering—that is borderline propaganda! I am not calling for vulgar and abusive language. Maybe some moans and groans might work? An occasional Bronx cheer?
We are getting broadcasts that are done essentially by remote. The people who are calling the games, referred to as “the talent“ are doing them from either home or studios outside of the stadium and so it makes for a different feel, but again in the name of health and safety all things are valid.
The Cardboard Cutouts
The Mets and some other teams (Yanks did not have this for exhibition games) are using fan cutouts (actual people in cardboard form) in the seats behind home plate. In the game at Citi Field where the Yanks were visitors, Yankee pitcher Michael King said that he was taken aback a bit with the wood cutouts staring out at him. He described them as “creepy.” I am sure he meant no offense to those who sent their picture to be used for such purposes. Seriously, though, everyone posed smiling and happy. Again, this is not reality. Nobody looking at their phone? No one working on a $10 hot dog and $15 beer…? C’mon, this is New York! Maybe I have watched a few too many Twilight Zones, but I think I saw those cutouts doing the wave. As noted, the Yankees did not use cutouts, but if I know their marketing team they are probably trying to get each seat that is visible on camera sponsored. You think I am kidding?
The regular season starts on Thursday 7/23 and for years we have heard teams that get off to a slow start say something to the effect of, “it is a 162-game season…it is a marathon, not a sprint.” Guess what? It is a 60-game season and a sprint it is!
Not going out on a limb here, but I am considering doing a two-team parlay that has the Dodgers and Yankees in it every night for the 60-game run. Both teams are loaded. It would be an upset if neither of them were in the World Series. By the way, where do I send my pic to get in the stands for the World Series?
DT out & Godspeeed.