The lost (baseball) generation

King Kaufman, sports guy for Salon.com, wrote a post-column about the slow murder of sports by television. For years, networks — and more recently cable TV — have insisted on starting games later and later. And let’s be clear here, the broadcast industry calls the shots, not the other way around.

The All-Star Game, which went on the air on FOX at 8 p.m. Eastern time, didn’t actually begin, according to Kaufman, until 8:43, even though the first pitch was “scheduled” for 8:20.

“Man, it must stink to be a baseball-loving kid in the Eastern and Central time zones,” he wrote in his July 12 column. “When I started caring about baseball my bedtime was 8:30. As late as middle school I was supposed to be in bed by 10. If I’d grown up on the East Coast instead of the West and Fox had existed and had the baseball contract back then, I’d have never seen beyond the fourth inning of a big game.” (See the rest of his column here).

That’s one part of the equation. The other is the tradition of the network to use the opportunity to plug its shows ad nasuem. Oh, look, there’s Tooth E. Actor, star of host network’s upcoming prime time flop, in the stands, munching on a hot dog. And there’s T.A. Starlet (who wouldn’t know a baseball from a boomerang if her personal assistant hadn’t spent 12 hours briefing her on it), desperately trying to resurrect her career, with host network’s gratingly annoying eye candy reporter with no sports background whatsoever. Now let’s look at that grand slam home run on instant replay, because we missed it due to the interview/plug.

And it’s not just baseball that’s guilty. Look at the recent NBA playoffs. And hockey. No, wait forget about hockey. The NFL does it right for the most part, keeping their important games in the daytime (except, of course, for the Super Bowl).

I caught the final inning of the game, in which the AL came from behind with two runs for the 3-2 victory. What amazed me was the stillness of the crowd. You would think it was an August game in the stadium of a last-place team.

TV and sports pundits constantly grouse about losing future fans, but, like the weather, no one does anything about it. Until some sports bigwig with some cajones starts putting his foot down, they shouldn’t cry over the fact that their losing the next generation.

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