Four games on MASN this spring? That’s an error.

February 16, 2010 | Drew Forrester

News of the spring training TV schedule actually leaked out late last week, when the Orioles web-site indicated a grand total of four (4) games would be aired on MASN from Sarasota this March.

A day later – just as I was about to blog about it, ironically – the TV schedule was taken down from the team web-site.

Today, it became official.

The Orioles play 32 games in spring training.  Four of them – yes, FOUR – will be aired by MASN.

I don’t understand that line of thinking.

For the record, I tried to contact both Todd Webster (MASN PR) and Jim Cuddihy (MASN VP) today and neither got back to me.  I would have gladly given either or both of them the opportunity to explain the reasoning – and maybe it’s legitimate – behind only airing four games.

It should be noted that MASN is airing four (4) spring training games of the Nationals in addition to the four O’s games they’re televising.  That doesn’t much matter to me, per-se, but there might be some crossover market that exists in Baltimore and, therefore, a baseball game-is-a-baseball-game-is-a-baseball-game.

But since I live in Baltimore and I’m an Orioles fan, I want to see the O’s play.  More than four times.

Here’s the strange part of it all: If you’re EVER going to sink your dollars into television production costs, wouldn’t the spring of 2010 be the time to do it from both the Orioles and MASN’s standpoint?

Hope springs eternal.

Why not air as many as possible?  I don’t know the “right” number.  Obviously some of the games are away from Sarasota and I don’t necessarily think lugging equipment up and down the state of Florida is a wise idea.  But the home games?  You can’t air 10-12 of the home games?  Really?

For comparison sake:

  • Yankees are airing 13 (including 3 on ESPN) on the YES network
  • Red Sox are airing 9 on NESN
  • Phillies are airing 10 on three different Philadelphia based stations
  • Mets are airing 10 on SNY
  • Braves are airing 8 on three different Atlanta-region stations

MASN’s airing four O’s games.

It just doesn’t make sense to me.

I’m not really beating them up over it.  On a 1-to-10 “anger scale” this is a “5”.  Not spending money on Adam LaRoche is something to get angry over…not this.  In fact, they might even have some logic behind the decision to do four games.  But when you don’t want to tell the fans about the decisions you make, you leave people wondering “why?”.

There’s the key issue in this whole “announcement” today.  There’s no quote from anyone.  There isn’t any follow-up or a return e-mail from anyone at MASN saying, “Sure, Drew, here’s what we were (are) thinking.”

And STOP! if you are about to write a comment that says, “Why would they tell you anything at WNST?”

They didn’t even post an explanation or a quote on their own web-site.  Nothing.  They just sent out a press release and, I assume, hoped the media would just do what they usually do and just recite it word for word without questioning their decision making process.

If the Ravens announce in May they’re NOT going to televise any of the four pre-season games next August, you can bet your purple-rump they’d offer an explanation – perhaps detailed – on why they’re eliminating pre-season games.

Just be honest with the fans and tell them what’s going on.  That’s not too much to ask.  And, like I wrote above, there might very well be solid reasoning behind only airing 4 of 32 games.  I’d like to hear their reasoning.  As someone who pays for MASN every month, I think I’m entitled to it.

Here’s the other kicker.  And this is where the Orioles, themselves, are losing out:  There’s a very real excitement in the air about O’s spring training.  Young pitchers, the first full year for Wieters and Reimold, the prospect of maybe seeing Brandon Snyder and, of course, the two off-season free-agent signings playing new positions…Tejada and Atkins.  Those are reasons to follow and/or watch EVERY spring training game, frankly.

Four games just doesn’t cut it.

The fans deserve more.

They certainly WANT more.

And here’s the sticking point that no one wants to talk about in the media, mainly because 80% of the media in town are loosely associated with either the O’s or MASN itself.  It’s like the white elephant in the room.  I guess Drew will bring it up again and be the a**hole who never stops criticizing the team.

What are we paying for each month on our cable bill?  Baseball, right?  Let’s cut to the chase.  The network was started to serve as a devotee to the O’s (and the Nats).  They don’t REALLY cover the Ravens.  Or UMBC.  Or Towson.  Or the Terps.  Or Morgan State.

It’s a baseball network.  That’s what we all pay for — the right to watch baseball.

What else could be so important in March that MASN – owned, basically, by the Orioles organization – can’t show more than four games?  What, exactly, will I be watching on MASN in March?  College hoops? Sure.  I’ll watch it.  What about the other 24 days of the month?  Most college basketball action aired on MASN is done the first weekend in March.

How funny is this:  I – along with a lot of you, probably – would really like to watch some spring training baseball this March.  It would be WORTH watching in fact, when Bergesen makes his first start or Patton gets to throw at a real major league hitter or Atkins gets that first ground ball drilled down the line at first. What if Brandon Snyder pulls a Reimold from 2009 and hits the cover off the ball in spring training?

I’d really like to watch it unfold this spring.

They own their very own TV network.

Hell, they basically own Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota as well.

Are they afraid of the production quality?  The games might not look great on TV because of the ballpark’s antiquated nature and lack of up-to-date broadcast facilities?

Who cares…

It’s spring training.  The games don’t matter anyway.  Just put them on and let us sit back and watch baseball.

Four games doesn’t cut it.

Not by a longshot.

Especially when you’re paying for it anyway.

Show the games.

Promote the team.

Let us learn about the players.

Doesn’t that make sense?

Evidently not.