Tue 12 Jun
Let’s stick with television a bit longer. As a New York Yankees fan, I watch a fair number of televised games on George Steinbrenner’s otherwise unimpressive YES Network. Part of watching those games means grinning and bearing my way through the commentary of regular team broadcast voice Michael Kay, whose gift for inaccurate, specious and scowl-inducing narration deserves a designation of its own among the many, many things that annoy me. Like nails on a chalkboard.
So I’ve been wondering if there’s a good reason why we can’t have alternative game commentary via the Interweb? Why shouldn’t Major League Baseball — or any professional sports league — let anyone who wants to provide a commentary track for any given game — using the same basic digital audio tools that hundreds of people are using to create podcasts already — do so easily?
Just as no single news source can reasonably be proposed to satisfy everyone, it seems silly to say that the Yankees’ preferred sportscaster (even in combination with any of the rotating roster of his co-broadcasters) should satisfy everyone tuning in. I tend to prefer sabremetrics-rich commentary, which Kay routinely distorts or mischaracterizes or ignores, so why can’t I hear a sportscaster whose expertise reflects my interests instead? Surely, there’s some undiscovered sportscasting talent out there in the wilds, armed with a USB microphone and a copy of Garage Band, who would do a better job keeping me from tearing my hair out as plays are called during games.
There are technical details to be sorted out, for sure, such as the feasibility of making such broadcasts available in real time, as the games play out. Those are details that can be sorted out relatively easily, I suspect; the more challenging problem is that there’s no desire among consumers for it, and so no impetus to overcome those technical hurdles. Honestly, few of us realize that, in a free market, it’s perfectly reasonable for us to demand a choice in who is narrating our sporting events for us. Instead, most of us listen to whom we’re told to listen to. And root accordingly.