Sixteen days from now, your television set will finally be able to provide you with the twenty-four hour a day baseball programming you've been craving all your life. The MLB Network is set to debut on most cable and satellite services (unlike that crappy NFL Network) on January 1st with the rarely-viewed footage of Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series, interspersed with commentary by Larsen and his batterymate Yogi Berra.
Even better, the network is broadcasting out of sunny Secaucus, NJ, just a few miles from Iracane Headquarters; if they are really putting up bleachers in the studio, I am going to find a way to sit on them.
With the launch of the MLB Network web presence, we can finally see how the network will fill out the rest of the year's programming, and comment on the choices in a snarky manner, as is our wont:
- Ken Burns' Baseball: Hey, remember when Ken Burns did a documentary about baseball by zooming in and out of old photographs and getting old-timey baseball players to narrate by chattering wistfully with a soundtrack of banjo music in the background? Yeah, I loved it too and now we can watch the series every Tuesday night at 8PM.
- Prime 9: A show that ranks the nine best in a given category, like center fielders or World Series games or steroid scandals. Originally, this was to be a top ten show but Selig demanded an extra four minutes be sold for ad time, so they lopped off the end of the countdown. I might actually watch this despite my hatred for listicles. Oh wait, this entire blog entry is a listicle.
- Baseball's Seasons: The website's description says a lot: "Relive some of baseball's most memorable seasons as MLB Network chronicles the events that made each of them great. Whether it is Cal Ripken's streak bringing the fans back after a canceled season or the Mets and Yankees helping to heal a wounded city, you'll see how some seasons are able to stand apart from the rest." Hopefully, they'll go back further than 1995. My memory isn't that bad yet.
- Cathedrals of the Game: A virtual tour guide of major league stadia across the country, this series was first shown on the all-HD network INHD a few years ago. Host Michelle Beadle spends a day touring the ballpark and tops it off by enjoying a game, except for the Safeco Field episode, because Mariners games are never enjoyable.
- Rising Sons: I'm not sure if this is a series or just a one-off documentary. Either way, it chronicles the influx of baseball players from Japan and investigates the difficulties they endure with the culture change. Hopefully, the second season will follow Rinku and Dinesh around for a couple months. I would absolutely Tivo that and even buy the DVD set for the extras, like the commentary track by JB, sir.
To fill time, the MLB Network will be showing old game broadcasts, playoff series, and home run derbies. If you're a Philly guy and the Eagles miss the playoffs, you're in luck: on the first Sunday of the NFL playoffs, they'll be showing the entire 2008 World Series. So at least you got that going for ya.
(Thanks for the heads up, folks at BBTF Newsblog)