Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Hoist on My Own Programming Petard

Sportswriters grudgingly accept night baseball games as a precondition of their employment. They dislike Saturday night baseball games, and positively loath the Sunday night games created by ESPN.

The reasons for the latter two are not hard to guess. Nobody much cares for the three-to-midnight shift in any line of work, and on the weekends, it's really no fun, with the added fillip of early Saturday night deadlines for Sunday editions thrown in. Saturday-Sunday day games evoke memories of childhood trips to the old ballpark. Saturday-Sunday night games evoke the unpleasant truth one is a particularly minute cog in the vast and ever-expanding sports marketing machine.

Because television ratings are higher at night than in the daytime, because the Red Sox are popular and largely own their own cable network, and because ESPN is located in Bristol, Connecticut, I covered my unhappy fair share of weekend night games -- thinking dark thoughts about television broadcasting companies every moment from the sixth inning on the final out, with added extra dark thoughts on the drive home. No harm done. One good thing about misanthropy as a world view. Random events don't get you down too much. You're already down.

Unknown to them, the mass media moguls were planning their revenge for my effrontery. This weekend, the Sox were at home at Fenway against the Cubs. This weekend, my daughter graduated from BU. Many of her relatives were in town for the occasion. A full two days of activities on the BU cement, I mean, campus were on the schedule for each afternoon.

I figured the most convenient thing was going to be parking at, oh, Worcester and taking public transportation from there. Then I checked the MLB Web site. The Sox and Cubs were playing night games both on Saturday and Sunday.

Since of course the games were sellouts, there was only one, or rather two, explanations from my delivery from parking and directions-giving hell. And I owe them a public (if you call this public) expression of gratitude. I must write words guaranteed to turn to ashes in the mouth of any sports fan, let alone any sportswriter, former or previous.

Thank you, Fox Sports. Thank you, ESPN.

God, I feel so soiled.


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