When Eli Whiteside hit fifth in the lineup for a single game, I made sure to write several thousand words about it. In the comments, people reacted as if Bruce Bochy had dusted their grandma’s house with napalm. This was, again, when a backup catcher hit higher in the order than he should have. So I understand making big deals about meaningless things – it’s kind of my modus operandi. Meaningless is all we do. It’s a blog about baseball, not a blog reminding you to take your insulin.
With that in mind, I just don’t get the dissent about the Showtime reality show. My first and only reaction: Gee, that sounds neat. After spending five seconds thinking about it, I resumed worrying about important things, like who would be the eighth- and ninth-starters in the event every other pitcher on the staff has jury duty.
But then came the outrage. People were calling KNBR all day, incensed that the Giants would willingly invite such a distraction into their clubhouse. Lowell Cohn raised some concerns in a column for the Press-Democrat. There were a ton of people who didn’t like this idea, and a lot of them felt rather strongly, as if this distraction were the equivalent of Barry Bonds returning to the team and dating Terrell Owens at the same time. Didn’t think of it like that.
I had always imagined that players had cameras in their face at all times anyways – between CSN Bay Area and MLB Productions, there wasn’t a lot of alone time in the clubhouse that would be disturbed by a Showtime camera. Maybe I’m naïve. I would also think that Showtime is going to have an on-the-record/off-the-record kind of agreement with the players regarding events outside of the clubhouse. I’d doubt you’ll see an episode with Aubrey Huff returning from Studio 54 as documentarians film him doing rails off of Debbie Harry’s backside in a stretch limo.
Some of the folks objecting make a good point, though. All shows, reality or otherwise, are only successful when there’s a compelling conflict. This is as true for Shakespeare as it is for Real Housewives of Selling New York and Going through Other People’s Garages to Buy Their Crap as They Hoard Animals. The show will be about conflict, ergo it’s going to be a distraction.
Again, maybe I’m naïve, but I think there’s enough conflict in baseball without having to appeal to the baser side of human nature. When a switch-hitting quasi-outfielder misplays several balls in left, causing the Giants to lose a tough game, that’s conflict. When a player is released or optioned to the minors, that’s conflict. When there’s a losing streak, and Bochy stops addressing the team in a slow, lulling monotone – moving to a slightly quicker lulling monotone – that’s conflict. I think there’s a way to make a compelling show by following a baseball team for a season without resorting to scandal and controversy. And seeing as MLB Productions is going to be heavily involved, you can bet that the focus will be more on the sport than something juicy, like a player cheating on his wife or getting strange packages from Bolivian pharmaceutical companies.
Actually, it’s Showtime. It’s probably just going to be a bunch of soft-core pornography. But that sort of conflict is usually be resolved by clubhouse attendants and groundskeepers who get a glass of water between innings. And how!
Comment starter: Big deal or not? I’m still mainlining championship tar, so I’m good for a while either way.