Thursday, June 7, 2007

The MLB Draft on TV

I have to admit that the television coverage of the MLB draft has been more interesting than I expected. I'm enjoying the little highlight packages pumped in around the comments of Steve Phillips, Peter Gammons and Keith Law. But it's not good enough to hold me.

The expected flaws of televising the MLB draft are present. Most people have never really heard of any of these guys. Then, of the people who have heard of these guys, most of them haven't really heard of these guys. There are the five or six well read minor league prospect mavens who may actually have something to add about these guys and then the mainstream writers, blogsphere and people who fancy themselves as mavens regurgitating what they've read from the real mavens.

During the NBA and NFL drafts there's room for a real difference of opinion and fan opinion. Someone might come up with a decent argument for Kevin Durant as the number one pick in the NBA draft. Better yet, there will be real discussion of picks three, four and five based on fans actually knowing about the players involved (except for the Chinese player). Likewise, there was real fan involvement in the discussion of Brady Quinn's fall in the NFL draft. There's none of that with the baseball draft.

If you hear someone refer to David Price as can't miss or worry about Matt Wieters' "signability," they're just regurgitating what they've read or seen from Keith Law or Kevin Goldstein-types. Worse yet, some of these would be knowledgeable fans will be regurgitating blogs, maybe like this one, that are simply regurgitating the Law-Goldstein-types. These fans may not even realize they're playing a virtual game of "telephone," regurgitating a regurgitation of the couple of people who actually know a bit about this.

But worst of all for the MLB draft coverage is that unlike the other two major televised drafts, it has to compete with its own sport. Half of the brilliance of the NFL draft is that it gives a bunch of football-starved, lunatic, NFL fans a day to ease the wait for the NFL network's coverage of Bengals spring minicamp (sans pads). Likewise the NBA draft gives fans a night--a week after the finals--to wind down before we worry about the annual Team USA, non-Olympic Summer Games Crisis.

While Phillips and Gammons keep talking, I'm flipping over to watch Roy Oswalt pitch while I wait for the Red Sox game to start. Curt Schilling is trying to help the Sox avoid being swept in Oakland. When that game ends, John Maine looks to help the Mets avoid being swept by Cole Hamels and the Phillies.

I can read about what Goldstein and Law thought of the draft tomorrow.


Jared Park said...

Update: Right now Schilling has a no-hitter after seven innings.

Is there a bigger disaster for the first televised MLB draft than going up against a no-hitter?

(I understand you need to have Extra Innings or MLBtv to watch this game if you're not local, but if you don't have one of them for financial reasons, you should probably be working instead of watching the draft all afternoon on regular cable.)

Imagine the NFL draft going opposite a Peyton Manning 450-yard, five touchdown performance? Or the NBA draft going up agianst a Lebron explosion?

There are a lot of people (well, we'll see the ratings) watching Bud Selig read the names of a bunch of guys--some who'll be great, some okay and some forgotten trivia answers--instead of a Hall-of-Famer's bid for a no-hitter.

Is that good for the game? Is that good for the negative stereotype of sabermetricians as people who don't actually enjoy watching the game? Is moving the draft to the offseason feasible if it's that important to make the draft a TV event? Would the lack of action late in season hurt the players who are currently drafted and dropped right into Minor League action? I have no idea, but it's something to consider.

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