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Baseball going whacky?
Rules changes from out of left field
Good morning, all! I hope you had a terrific weekend!
March has arrived and with it spring training baseball season. You may note that some clubs will be playing seven or even five-inning exhibition games. Apparently, because of Covid, MLB has permitted clubs to play shortened games through at least Mar. 13.
MLB is also contemplating rules changes for the game’s future. As I explain in my latest Sportscaster Dan podcast, among the changes would include a manager being able to bat his best hitters in the ninth inning, regardless of where the batting order falls in that inning. A manager would also be able to invoke the “Golden At-Bat” rule once in a game, permitting him to bat his best hitter once in a strategic situation, even if he is not due to come to the plate.
To my knowledge, they have not legalized marijuana use in baseball, but somebody must be smoking something if they permit this cockamamie stuff to proceed. Meanwhile, look for the minor leagues to experiment with these rules, as they serve as the incubator for any changes at the big league level.
Toronto Blue Jays ditch radio broadcast team
The paradigm shift continues, as the Toronto Blue Jays become the latest pro sports franchise to give radio short shrift. The club announced last week it has ditched its radio broadcast team and will instead simulcast its television broadcast over the radio airwaves. The move has generated an uproar.
The Blue Jays are blaming the pandemic for the cost-cutting maneuver, particularly since it is not known if the club will play any of its home games in Canada. They will launch the regular season, playing home games at their spring training base in Dunedin, FL. Last year, you may recall, they staged home games at their AAA affiliate in Buffalo. As it is, the television broadcast team will provide commentary from a studio in Canada. The club won’t say whether the change is for only this season or future seasons as well.
The move is not unprecedented. Some NHL and NBA clubs had gone to simulcasts to save money, prior to the pandemic. In fact, the venerable broadcaster Chuck Kaiton lost his gig as “Voice of the Carolina Hurricanes” two seasons back under such a change. He talked about it in an interview we did in the summer of 2019.
My hunch is one of two things will happen from this development. More clubs will see the cost saving measures and adopt the simulcast policy or the commissioner’s office will step in and order clubs to have separate broadcast teams for radio. The medium maybe losing its luster, but the romance between baseball and radio endures for most true fans.
TNF on Amazon Prime?
Will the NFL’s Thursday Night package be going to Amazon Prime? Several websites reported on Friday that the NFL had reached a rights deal with NBC, FOX, CBS, ESPN and ABC. The deal, which for some networks would mean doubling of rights’ fees - be prepared for a yet another hike in your cable-TV bill - has been denied by the NFL. But all accounts seem to indicate over-the-air networks no longer want the league’s Thursday night package, leaving the door wide open for Amazon to snag the rights. (Expect your prime membership to increase.) A deal could be announced this week.
Stern and Namath
I came across this video on You Tube from two years back; Howard Stern interviewing Joe Namath. About five years ago, I seem to recall that the Jets quarterback great was suffering from cognitive issues. He then, however, made a remarkable comeback, serving as the spokesperson in television ads for several products. Namath talks about this with Stern. Enjoy!
Hopefully, you will have a tremendous week and, as always, thank you for your support!