Opening Night – Let’s Review

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There was baseball on my television at precisely 3 p.m. PCT here in California. No glitches with my cable company. No power outages caused by 49 million other homes watching at the same time. No problems whatsoever. The MLB Network appeared just as promised, and I settled in happily for the next, oh, six hours.
Here, in no particular order, are my first impressions.
1) Bud Selig’s welcome address.
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Bud is serious, even grim, which is appropriate when you’re dealing with pushy owners and PED-using players. But on this occasion, which was not the same as testifying before Congress, I wish he’d smiled a little, acted like we were about to have fun. Instead, his welcome was about as warm as this guy’s would have been.
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2) The sets.
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Very snazzy. Lots of eye-popping stuff to look at in beautiful high-def. Good job.
3) Reynolds-Leiter-Larkin.
I’ve read the comments from people who weren’t enamored of this trio, but I thought they worked together smoothly, especially considering this was Opening Night, and I look forward to more from them. My one complaint was their wardrobe.

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What’s with the dark suits? Every guy in that studio looked like an undertaker. Lighten up, boys.
4) Jimmy Rollins-Josh Hamilton.
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Loved Rollins’ mischievous response to his teammate, Cole Hamels, calling the Mets “choke artists.” He could have given the usual non-answer. But he stood by his pitcher.
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Quite an admission by Hamilton that he cleaned toilets, did other menial jobs and slept on an air mattress in a room above the ballpark – anything to get back into professional baseball.
5) Larsen’s perfect game.
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Sheer heaven being able to watch this game for the first time and have Larsen and Yogi there to provide interesting asides. I was amazed how fast games moved along in the good old days with no instant replays, no endless meetings on the mound, no stepping in and out of the batter’s box to adjust gloves, helmets, etc. And how could I not love those Gillette commercials – or Bob Costas comparing Sal Maglie’s five o’clock shadow to Richard Nixon’s?
6) Speaking of Costas, he had the line of the night.
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After Larsen admitted that he came off the field after the celebration, not realizing he had pitched a perfect game, Costas said disbelievingly, “So you just thought it was an extra good no-hitter?” LOL.
6) The Mick.
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I grew up worshipping Mantle. To see him hit a homer and make that fantastic running catch in left center made my night.
Bottom line on the debut of the MLB Network? There was plenty to enjoy. Congrats to everyone involved.

14 Comments

I didn’t get to see much of the debut but what I did see was pretty good. I loved the whole analysis of Jackie Robinson’s steal of home during the WS and the tribute to Roberto Clemente. Jimmy Rollins was a riot! He’s got a future in the media.

http://thisfanslife.mlblogs.com

Jane, I agree with you about Bud Selig. He was pretty dull opening something this momentous. And didn’t you want to hear someone say “Ladies & Gentlemen, Boys & Girls” and “Play Ball”? I know I did! But over all it great to have MLB Network finally be here.

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

A solid debut. But will it be enough to kill three months in anticipation of the real thing?

Steve T.
http://soxblog.mlblogs.com

Bern, I liked the analysis of Robinson’s steal of home, but I would have liked it better if we’d heard Yogi’s opinion since he was there. Great tribute to Clemente.

Julia, I guess Bud was trying to convene a sense of “gravitas” about the launch of the network, but it’s not PBS!

Steve, that’s a good question. I think they need more original programming like classic games, interviews with players and roundtables with MLBloggers (had to put that last one in) and fewer highlights, which we already get from ESPN. The challenge is to keep all fans happy, even when their favorite team isn’t featured. So far, so good.

Damn. I mean convey, not convene. I hate when my fingers don’t listen to my brain.

Hey, Jane …

Yeah, it was a great debut of the MLB Network !!! … The “highlight” of the night was, of course, the re-broadcast of Don Larsen’s Perfect Game in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series [I will share more of my thoughts on my next post on my blog] … I was not impressed with the opening show, though, before Larsen’s Perfect Game !!! … Bud Selig’s welcome address could have been a little more enthusiastic [Bart Giamatti, he is “not”] … And, I think, it will take a little more time to get used to the “lead” announcing team on the MLB Network … But, I will be return to the shows, in the upcoming weeks, and give them a chance to make more of an impression, at least, in my view !!! … The sets [#3 and #42] were “awesome” … These sets should provide much information and baseball action this season … They remind me of the huge “Political” sets the major network and cable channels used during the past Presidential Elections !!! … The Bob Costas interviews with Yogi Berra and Don Larsen were a great addition to watching the Perfect Game; and, Jane, seeing Mickey Mantle hit his homerun, and make that great running catch, were also hightlights for me !!! … Overall, it was a great “Opening Night” for the MLB Network, with much to enjoy, and much to look forward to, especially, the Ken Burns Baseball series on Tuesday nights … So, it was a perfect New Years Day: first watching the “Honeymooners” marathon here in New York; then, Don Larsen’s “Perfect Game” !!! … Happy New Year, Jane !!! … Jimmy [27NYY]

http://baseballtheyankeesandlife.mlblogs.com/

Hi Jane! It was good to hear from you! Happy New Year to you, too! I love the MLB Network! I have a small glitch with Comcast here in the Detroit area, but otherwise it was great to have a channel dedicated to baseball… watching Don Larsen watching the last out out of his perfect game was priceless! Now, I can’t wait til the season starts, then all will be right with the world! By the way, I’m looking forward to reading your book when it comes out. Shouldn’t be too long now, huh?
~Skip
http://skiponsecond.mlblogs.com/

i saw the 9th inning of the 5th game of the 1956 World Series, and i cheered and clapped and hollered as if it were a live game..
with 2 outs Dale Mitchell was the pinch hitter, and on a 1-2 count he checked his swing and the umpire called the third strike and Don Larsen had his perfect game

I was VERY disappointed in only having THREE hours of content prepared. So in the network’s first 12 hours they had run the same programming 4 times. That bothered me… but I feel it will get better, right? That replica field and the step by step analysis of 42 stealing home… now THAT’S what I’m talkin’ about!
–Jeff
http://redstatebluestate.mlblogs.com/

There was a “Honeymooners” marathon on TV in New York, Jimmy? Holy cow. I would have been happy with that. Glad you had a good New Year’s and I’ll go check out your post about the MLB Network.

Hey, Skip. Thanks for stopping by. Bummer about your Comcast glitch, but glad you got to see the perfect game. I can’t imagine someone pitching a perfect game in a world series in this day and age, with set up men and closers at the ready. But you never know. And yeah, my book’s on sale date is February 3rd, talk about a countdown. I’m so nervous!

As I wrote above, perfect games are just so hard to imagine, levelboss. Especially during a world series. Yikes. Maybe CC will throw one for us someday. He goes deep into games, right?

I’m giving them a pass on the reruns, Jeff. It was only their first night. And once the season starts – or even spring training next month – they should have enough going on to do plenty of original programming….I hope.

She-Fan,

I can’t believe you’re backing this elite, liberal mainstream, drive-by, blame-Yankees-first, pro-Redsock media outlet, where they’ll glorify the likes of Pedroa, et al. I personally only trust news from John. When he says thuhhh Yankees win, thuhhh Yankees won. Until they give him a three-hour daily show, in which he can have Suzyn act as counterbalance for the Redsock side of things, I will BOYCOTT this network. They won’t fool me!

el duque

I am backing them, duque. So far they seem fair and balanced. But you made me realize that I made a colossal mistake in my book and it’s too late to change it. I have John going “Theeee Yankees win” instead of “Thuhhh Yankees win.” I hope people don’t think the book is another James Frey hoax because of this.

Now if they’d just add SOME Minor League content to the programming … even a one-hour weekly show highlighting the game’s best prospects or something … then I’d be a really happy (happier) camper!

Lisa
http://gotmilb.mlblogs.com/

Yes, Lisa! And I know just the person to anchor that segment. I think the audience would love a televised version of what you do on the blog – interview prospects and give us the inside scoop on who’s where. Go for it!

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