Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Baseball coming back, even if it's not quite in the same form as we’d like

The Caribbean Series stoked the fire in my belly for baseball, and the fact that workouts are taking place now is keeping the flame a smoulderin’ to the point where I can say I can’t wait for April to come about.

I can't wait to see the scoreboard again live, even if its fireworks and lights display isn't anywhere near as intimidating as the old ballpark's scoreboard was. Photograph by Gregory Tejeda

Forget “March Madness.” I want to get out to the ballpark this season to see live baseball being played professionally.

AND I’M NOT up to waiting ‘til July or August (the latter of which is when the New York Yankees will make their annual visit to Chicago). A part of me wants to sit in the chill of April and see a ballgame. People who live in the south or west don’t know what their unnatural weather cycles are depriving them of.

All of this has me scouring any information source I can find for any tidbits of information about what 2013 and beyond will be like.

Which is how I happened on Monday to stumble on a pair of stories that make me realize just how much times change, even if certain elements remain in some form.
Coasters may be completely obsolete next year

Take the Chicago Cubs, who in the minds of so many Chicagoans are aligned with WGN, both television and radio, to the point that whenever a Chicago White Sox game airs on Channel 9, I know of some people who rant and rage that the Sox should go find their own station and stay off the Cubs’ station.

SO HOW ARE those people going to react come next season, IF it turns out that the Chicago Tribune got it right on Monday when they reported there’s a chance that the Cubs will not renew a contract that goes back to 1948. You’ll probably have to have some form of pay television in order to see the Cubs bumble their way through another season.

I wouldn’t pay good money for it, but I know many people who would.

The Tribune report indicates that Cubs ownership is being vague and refusing to say much of anything, other than hints about how they’d like to have their own station to broadcast their games and market their product and bleed dry for as much money as they could get.

Heck, when Tribune Co. owned the Cubs, they turned them into the big programming source that they made so much money off of – no matter how bad the ball club played.

NOW WE’RE LIKELY to get a Chicago Cubs’ channel, similar to the Yankees and their YES Network that gives people all the baseball-related programming they could ever dream of.

So no more bothering with Channel 9, which may well revert back to what it once was – a place where you could watch all those “Andy Griffith Show” reruns – except that in the modern era of television programming, there are many channels broadcasting Don Knotts’ “Barney Fife” character carrying his lone bullet.

Not that this is the only change. It seems some fans don’t have a clue that being at a ballgame can be a risky adventure.

For the Times of Northwest Indiana newspaper reported Monday about an Indiana Court of Appeals ruling in favor of the Gary Southshore Railcats (the ball club owned by the family of one-time Republican politico Al Salvi) – who were being sued by a fan who on Opening Day in 2009 was hit in the face by a foul ball that went into the stands.

MOST FANS I have ever known are aware of that tiny print on the ticket that says you should be wary of foul balls – which are rarely softly arching pop ups that you can catch barehanded.

While I sympathize with the fan who had several bones in her face fractured and also suffered some vision loss, I’m not surprised to learn that the Hoosier court rejected the lawsuit, saying that baseball fans ought to know enough about the game to protect themselves.

Although it has me wondering if the day will come eventually when some ballclub is going to feel compelled to extend the backstop screen from just behind home plate to all the way around the foul lines.

I was once in a minor league ballpark in Peoria (not their current stadium, but the old one) where there was such a screen, and it gave me the sense that the fans were somehow being caged in away from the playing field.

CERTAINLY NOT THE ideal for someone who has shelled out good money (and significant amounts, if it is a major league ballgame) for the live experience.

Perhaps the people who want such an environment are the ones who ought to stay home and watch the ballgames on television. Although they’d probably wind up filing a lawsuit claiming they can’t find the new Cubs’ television channel amongst the hundreds of channels that already are out there.


No comments: