Dropping the ball

Variety editorial

To the editor:

With your editorial “Life of the Parties” (Aug. 3) Daily Variety officially became the 1 millionth publication to bemoan the “dismal TV ratings” for the Democratic National Convention. And with typical media hubris, you assume that boring conventions and apathetic viewers are to blame.

You point out Americans prefer Yankees-Red Sox to Bush-Kerry. Perhaps that’s because when the networks cover a baseball game, they truly cover the game.

Can you imagine if, instead, the networks broadcast baseball the way they did the DNC? Instead of broadcasting the entirety of the game, along with the pre-show and the post-show, they might show only an hour of the game. A network might spend half that hour using the game as a silent backdrop for talking-head panels about how dull baseball is and how unimportant and stage-managed the game is. Perhaps 15 minutes of the remaining half-hour could be devoted to endlessly rerunning tape of one player telling another to “shove it” before the game.

Every time a Yankee got a hit, four Boston sportswriters could spin how it wasn’t really a hit after all. Or, as they did with Al Sharpton, they could cut away in the middle of a batter hitting a home run to tell us why he’s a horrible batter who doesn’t belong in the game. Or, as they did with Barack Obama, they could simply not show the at-bat at all, then tell us the next night how he did. The network could force both teams to swing at every pitch, to speed the game up so it won’t interfere with a rerun they have to burn off.

And then, after the game, instead of insight and analysis, they could focus on whether the scoreboard fireworks went off on time.

But the networks consider baseball too important to cover it in such a slapdash and halfhearted way. Is it any wonder viewers pick up on this and respond in kind?

Michael Markowitz

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