Posted 06/10/2009 at 03:09 AM
Todayís piece was supposed to be a review of the MLB Draft, with an emphasis on separating what I felt were the winners from the losers. Thanks to what I witnessed as far as the draft coverage on MLB Network is concerned, Iíll have to scratch that plan. Rather than handing out grades to the 30 teams, Iíve got just one and itís for the network. A big ugly ďZĒ for zero.
I am absolutely and completely dumbfounded and disgusted by what I watched last night on MLB Network. In a word, the coverage sucked. I probably canít express in words what a huge letdown this was, but Iíll try. In the interests of full disclosure, Iíll admit that I didnít make it past the 90 minute mark. I just couldnít take it any more at that point and simply gave up.
First off, letís talk about the technical aspects of the broadcast. Talk about cheesy. The set looked like something out of the 1980ís. Bud Seligís stage, from where he would announce each selection, wasnít a stage. It was simply a platform. I canít believe how cheap the whole setup looked. It was clearly being shot from a studio, and I canít believe thatís how MLB wanted it to look to the viewers. There were virtually no graphics for any of the players and precious few highlights. Brutal.
Now for the really bad news. As pathetic as the production values were, they were the highlight of the show. The on-air talent was far worse.
There was no constructive analysis at any point during the 90 minutes I wasted viewing this disaster. Every single draft choice was a good one, every team absolutely nailed it right down the line. Iím serious. There was not even a scintilla of negative commentary among the shills MLB Network decided on using to cover this event. They made every player sound like a future Hall of Fame certainty, and no one questioned the decisions being made by any of the teams. In other words, this quartet of ďexpertsĒ annihilated any credibility on their parts by simply giving a unanimous thumbs up to everyone.
Iím not saying the analysts had to crucify any of the teams for their decisions. But, as an example, when the Pirates OBVIOUSLY decided to go the cheap route with the fourth overall selection, BC catcher Tony Sanchez, there needed to be an exchange of thoughts if not an outright tirade from at least one of the panelists. Instead, there was a very brief reference to the Bucs making this choice to be sure of getting their player at slot price. From there, the talk simply degenerated into what a great pick this was by the Pirates. Really? Look, Sanchez could become the best catcher ever, but that still wouldnít change the fact that he was projected by almost every legit analyst to be a fairly late first rounder, and here he was going fourth overall. Thatís what known as a massive reach, and it had to be discussed. It wasnít, and I knew right then and there that nothing of substance would be delivered by this useless collection of talking heads. Also, I would be remiss if I didnít mention the ďaudienceĒ, which cheered each and every selection on cue. Apparently, the biggest investment MLB Network made in this entire fiasco was the ďapplauseĒ sign.
Major League Baseball and their MLB Network flat out blew this opportunity at every level. They had a real chance to make a statement that they were serious about turning their annual draft day into a big time event, just as the NFL and NBA have brilliantly done. Instead, this was a totally minor league effort right down the line.
Hereís a suggestion for MLB Network. Next year, get the draft out of a studio and into a hotel. Get a real audience instead of a coached group of spectators who clearly werenít actual baseball fans. Donít buy the set at Home Depot and then hire their employees to build it. And, first and foremost, lose the damn shills masquerading as analysts and hire some guys who might be willing to express an actual opinion.
The only silver lining in this black cloud is that it canít be any worse next year.