Wednesday, 5 November 2008

The World Series Markes The End of The Baseball Season

You may have noticed that I post to “You Will Never Look at Them in the Same Way Again” at some crazy times during the night; the reason for this is my love of Major League Baseball. It all began when Five TV (in the UK) started live coverage of ESPNs “Sunday Night Baseball” from the United States. That programme begins at 1am (UK time) and indeed the majority of American baseball games begin either at midnight or 1am (7pm or 8pm Eastern Standard Time in the USA).  I would possibly video the show and watch it on Monday evening, but now as I’m able to be flexible with my working hours and for that matter sleep time I’m able to watch live.

I latched on to the Chicago White Sox as my team, I don’t know why, possibly because I didn’t want to go with the popular option of the Yankees, LA Dodgers, Boston Red Sox or even the Chicago Cubs. This is perhaps because I can’t relate to supporters of the big four Premiership football teams in the UK who don’t live within 200 miles of the ground. Why can’t they support their local team? Anyway because I was a fan I looked at all the Sox related sites on the internet and then began to follow games on line via the brilliant graphical representation on Yahoo sports and

This year I discovered the TV coverage on Via the internet I was able to choose from 15 live games every night from the 1st of April through to the end of September, I was in heaven. So while on one PC I have been editing my photographs, building websites and blogging, on the other I was watching the Sox game. Because coverage of the days games across America begins about 8pm UK time and will finish as late as 6am the next morning I was able to watch other teams either before or afterwards. Furthermore, since I don’t live in Chicago (not even in the USA) I wasn’t restricted by the TV blackouts that they enforce for a game in the locality and therefore I was able to watch all 166 White Sox regular season games (in baseball they play every day). Taking advantage of the very favourable exchange rate in April this year it only cost me just £60.  

 People will say and its always the women in my life who have said it that there isn’t a sport that I don’t follow but that isn’t totally true I’ve got no time for horse racing, darts and loads of other sports, many such as tennis and perhaps golf I might watch for a short time if there was nothing else to do. I love football but not wall to wall on TV every night (TV coverage tends to be the Big Four) but I am passionate about playing and watching cricket. 

So what is it about baseball that will captivate me into the small hours of the morning?

I do like the break in the action between an innings although the commercials did drive me mad with their repetition, but this break allowed me to do other things while the game was on, a lot of Brits say this is one aspect of the game they don’t like and would like it to be more flowing.

 The visible pressure on the players and fragile balance between success and letting the whole team down because at certain times, generally towards the end of the game one bad pitch or error could loose the game.

There are so few errors: most of the play is brilliant and slick which means that the players have to do something or indeed be something exceptional to make a difference.

The policy of MLB to strive for an equal level between all teams: This was achieved in 2008 with Tampa Bay who this year are the beaten World Series finalist having gone from the team with worst record in baseball for the last ten years to the best. The governing body put rules in place to help the small teams, for example: they have first choice of the cream of the new young players that are breaking into the game, they either hold onto them and strengthen their squad or cash in and sell them to a larger organisation who have to give them star players and money to compensate, initiatives like this seem to operate throughout the game. While the teams in the big markets do attract the best free agents they have to pay hefty fines when they exceed the payroll ceiling, the success of this levelling is further illustrated when you factor in the New York Yankees (perhaps the richest franchise in sport) they could only finish a disastrous 3rd in their division and couldn’t make the playoffs while the small market Tampa Bay won the division and went all the way to the big one. 

I often wonder how great it would be if the Premier League in this country applied similar rules, it would break down the top four monopoly of Manchester United, Chelsea. Liverpool and Arsenal.  But it aint going to happen. dream on.

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