Last week, Dan Caeser of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that a proposal by Fox Sports Midwest to experiment with the practice of interviewing players during Major League Baseball games had been kiboshed before getting past the discussion stage.
Not surprising, when you consider that the world of professional baseball is typically less enthusiastic regarding newfangled ideas, zany or not. But as MLB continues to lose market share to the National Football League, you have to wonder if they're only hurting themselves by refusing to embrace technology in order to make game broadcasts more appealing to larger audiences.
In this case, they had a chance to make the players more accessible while adding a new element to a slow game.
Why'd it fail? FSM executive producer Kevin Landy told Caeser that "a lot of cooperation" would be required in order to make something like this work, and that's understandable. Not all managers would be thrilled with the idea of having their players distracted by a conversation with Joe Buck while sitting in the dugout.
From an optics standpoint, such a practice might also be considered cheesy.
Still, I think the positives outweigh the negatives, which is probably why it sounds like FSM will keep pushing in future years. National Hockey League broadcasts have been enhanced by in-game interviews, and NASCAR broadcasts benefit greatly from having driver audio during races.
It might not be classic or old school and it might feel like you're selling out a little, but that might be worth it if even a few more fans keep watching a more entertaining broadcast.
The question, I guess, is whether the broadcast would actually be more entertaining. Do more people watch NHL hockey now than before because they've adopted a similar feature? Are we just asking for more clichés? It's possible, but I also think the idea of a play-by-play man having the ability to ask a batter about the pitches he faced in his previous at-bat is an intriguing one.
“It’s not frustrating, I think baseball guards its product very well and they do a good job of that,’’ Buck said, per Caeser. “I think when you start asking for things outside the box, it becomes multi-layered trying to get stuff approved. So because of that I think there were a lot of layers to get through and eventually it just kind of got lost. I’m not closing the door on it entirely. It’s something I think could benefit all parties involved, and we’ll see if maybe we can attack more it in the offseason this next year and maybe gear up for a couple dates next year.’’