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December 19, 2012

Punk Hits

A Modest Proposal for the MLB Network

by Ian Miller

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On Saturday night, I had the distinct pleasure of watching Knuckleball! If you haven’t yet seen it, I strongly suggest you change that. It’s available on DVD, VOD, and on demand, so you really have no excuse not to watch it.

The film focuses primarily on Tim Wakefield and R.A. Dickey, who, at the time the film was made (2011), were the only active knuckleballers in the major leagues. And as interesting as their stories were, I found their interactions with and the interviews of their fellow members of the knuckleball fraternity even more compelling. One scene showed a knuckleballers summit, wherein Dickey and Wakefield met up with Charlie Hough and Phil Niekro to discuss their strange craft. Another showed a struggling Dickey seeking guidance from Hough. There are brief interview segments with Jim Bouton and Wilbur Wood. I found these utterly fascinating, and they left me hungry for more.

Then I realized there is a network entirely devoted to baseball. The MLB Network shows baseball and baseball-related programming 24 hours a day. Have a look at today’s schedule. Right now, on a random Sunday, they’re showing six consecutive episodes of “The Best of MLB Tonight,” four straight “Prime 9”s, and a couple of “The Best of Intentional Talk” which, I assume, is some high-concept performance-art piece. Why doesn’t MLB Network give Jim Bouton a show? Or Charlie Hough? These guys are articulate, knowledgeable, funny, charismatic, and I would much, much rather see them on my TV than Kevin Millar’s frosted tips and Affliction shirts.

Which of course got me thinking about all kinds of other great programming the MLB Network could offer. Here are just the first 20 things that popped into my head.

Mashin’ Taters with Thome. Set up a TV kitchen adjacent to Studio 42. In the first half of the show, Ol’ Jimmer shares culinary tips; in the second, he shows you how to mash taters.

Jock Eye for the Regular Guy. Each week, four pro ballplayers transform a regular civilian guy into a ballplayer! Ervin Santana shows you how to cultivate the perfect chinstrap beard. John Lackey provides tips on eating and drinking like a big-leaguer. Ryan Braun decks out our lucky contestant head to toe in gear from his Affliction line. Jonathan Papelbon share his design tips because oh my god have you seen these pictures of Jonathan Papelbon’s Boston penthouse, they are amazing.   

Knife Show with Jeremy Affeldt. Given Affeldt’s past knife-related mishaps, it’s only a matter of time before he has another and we end up with a viral video along these lines.


Ratings gold, people!

The Hour of Power with Mauer and Bauer. A weekly Christian worship program broadcast live from the Crystal Cathedral. I don’t even care if these guys are religious or not —the synergy is too strong. Guest hosts could include Matt Lauer and Kevin Towers.

The Real World New York. Find out what happens when baseball players stop being polite—and start getting real. A-Rod, Jeter, Mark Teixeira, David Wright, Travis d’Arnaud, and Jon Niese share a loft in SoHo in 1992. Expect lots of cattiness, mock turtlenecks, and centaur paintings.

Keeping Up with the Kershaws. I don’t know about you, but these guys look pretty fun.

Keep America Strong! with Luke Scott. Makes The O’Reilly Factor and Hannity look like rejects from Air America. Broadcast live from a deer blind.

Flip This Franchise. We follow the misadventures of Jeffrey Loria as he buys and sort-of sells various baseball teams. Watch with amazement/horror as he fleeces entire metropolitan areas and lines his pockets in the process.

Fringe. Is your favorite prospect on the bubble? Join Jason Parks and the BP prospect team as they discuss those peripheral players known as “fringe guys.” Where prospect dreams go to die.

Making the Band with Barry Zito and Bronson Arroyo. Barry and Bronson coach up-and-coming baseball players/entertainers. Losers have to perform live with Train.

Lost. Not to be confused with ABC’s iconic supernatural drama; it’s just the 2013 Astros.    

According to Jim Leyland. Just Jim Leyland holding forth for 22 minutes. I don’t know about you, but I would watch the hell out of this.

MLB Yard Crashers. Each week a different stadium’s grounds crew takes a contestant’s yard from mild to wild!

Bizarre Foods with Kyle Zimmer. The Kansas City prospect ventures outside the mall mainstream and visits non-casual-dining restaurants across the country. In the first season he learns about veganism (“Hold up, they don’t eat any meat? Not even bacon? EVER??”) and tries his first-ever non-P.F. Chang’s Chinese food. His catchphrase is poised to sweep the country: “We ain’t at Chipotle anymore!”

Amish Mafia. Not a baseball program; just the regular show that’s on the Discovery Channel. Because I think it’s funny.

Cooking a Goddamn Steak with Nolan Ryan. Exactly what it sounds like.

At the Movies with Elbert and Roberts. Yes, that was as close as I could come to Ebert and Roeper; sue me. You’d prefer Sisk and Elbert, maybe?

Scott Elbert and Tatman Roberts share their opinions of newly released films. I’m picturing less like classic Siskel and Ebert and more like Sneakin’ in the Movies from “Hollywood Shuffle.” (Audio of that clip is both hilarious and profane; view at your own risk.)

Gray’s Anatomy. Ever wondered what made Minnesota’s Jeff Gray tick? We cut him open and find out!

The League. This reality show chronicles Brandon League’s fantasy football exploits. Also stars his son, Chalupa Batman League, and his brother, Taco League, noted practitioner of naginatajutsu.

The LoMo Show. The video version of LoMo’s twitter feed. LoMo carries around a camera and points and laughs at people. Makes “Jackass” look like “Downton Abbey.”

Literally Anything That Doesn’t Have Kevin Millar in It. I seriously think I’d rather watch “The Bad Girls Club” than Intentional Talk. Even though these women are the absolute dregs of society, I’m pretty sure none of them ever say “GOT HEEEEEEEEEEEEEM!”

Ian Miller is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Ian's other articles. You can contact Ian by clicking here

Related Content:  MLB Network

48 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

Jack Thomas

It would not take much effort to upgrade MLB Network's programming. I get amused how they refer to the ex-baseball players as "analysts". Howard Reynolds admittedly does not even believe in stats.

Dec 19, 2012 03:21 AM
rating: 3
 
jj0501

Harold yesterday proposed the Mariners trade Felix to the Dodgers for Gordon, Harang, Capuano, Ethier, and a "couple of prospects" because they need to "make something happen".
I agree, the high percentage of reruns is hard to bear, there are currently only (4) hours of fresh content a day during the week, and that includes Intentional Talk.

Dec 19, 2012 06:44 AM
rating: 2
 
timber

I agree, the offseason content is horrible, and they show the same thing every year. I mean, I enjoyed Ken Burns' "Baseball," but how often does one need to watch it?

Dec 19, 2012 08:04 AM
rating: 1
 
mrflak

Got some great laughs from this segment, but seriously, you should pitch the 'Yard Crashers' idea...brilliant stuff.

Dec 19, 2012 03:40 AM
rating: 6
 
amazin_mess

Loved the Nolan Ryan show!

Dec 19, 2012 04:09 AM
rating: 0
 
BurrRutledge


American Idle. Designers compete to create the best mother's-basement fan-caves for baseball stat geeks who have never actually been to a game.

Dec 19, 2012 04:57 AM
rating: 4
 
jalee121

So much win.

Dec 19, 2012 07:38 AM
rating: 0
 
Greg Ioannou

In behind all the goofy fun, there's a really good idea here. Why aren't they showing baseball-themed movies? Why can't we get winter ball there? Why isn't it better integrated with mlb.tv? (For that matter, how long will the insanity of people not being able to get the local team's games on mlb.tv continue?)

Dec 19, 2012 06:28 AM
rating: 14
 
BP staff member Paul Sporer
BP staff

They're going to be showing baseball movies weekly starting January 14th.

Dec 19, 2012 11:05 AM
 
BP staff member Ian Miller
BP staff

They should do MLBT3000, where they shoot Millar into space with some robots and have them make fun of the movies.

At least that way Millar will have been shot into space.

Dec 19, 2012 11:08 AM
 
Manprin
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

I am sorry, was this supposed to be humorous? Jim Caple has unfunny sports-writing cornered.

You could have actually presented some analysis of the shows the MLB Network does broadcast and link it to the concept that a failing TV network that is the flagship for an entire sport is a bad idea.

Dec 19, 2012 06:32 AM
rating: -26
 
BP staff member Ian Miller
BP staff

Yes, it was actually supposed to be funny! I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it.

Dec 19, 2012 06:37 AM
 
gweedoh565

I'm pretty sure Kevin Millar yelling “GOT HEEEEEEEEEEEEEM!” is about the greatest extent of "analysis of the shows MLB Network does broadcast" that is possible.

Loved it, Ian! LOL'd at Keep America Strong! and Flip this Franchise, among quite a few others.

Dec 19, 2012 07:36 AM
rating: 4
 
Matthew Avery

I agree, I come to BP for analysis of shitty MLB Network programming, not good-natured mockery and jokes. Instead of wasting your time with this, why not come up with a stat or a system that we can use to compare shitty sports programming on cable channels? Call it MILLAR:

Mildly
Illogical
Lame
Late-Night
Asports Show
Rating

(Okay, maybe my acronymn can use some work). Point is, more numbers, less amusing content. GET WITH IT BP.

Dec 19, 2012 07:38 AM
rating: 4
 
Lespaul1

Plus one thousand Matthew

Dec 20, 2012 19:28 PM
rating: 0
 
jdeich

I propose replacing "Intentional Talk" with a 3-hour show where Kevin Millar is placed in a suit covered in layers of squeaky toys, and contestants are allotted time to whomp on him with wifflebats. The winner of the competition is given five extra minutes with the bat.

The audio of this show will be preferable to "Intentional Talk" so long as Millar is muzzled.

This show would leverage the popularity of Honkbag (http://www.honkbag.com).

Dec 19, 2012 07:42 AM
rating: 9
 
jalee121

The West Wing: Behind the scenes of the Angels

The Wire: A drunk cop and a detective try and bust PED users all while tapping the phone lines of MLB GM's!

Treme: Go behind the scenes of a dying culture in baseball! RBI's, clutch, and batting average try to stay relevant in a changing culture

Ok, Ian's were better, but whatever.

Dec 19, 2012 07:43 AM
rating: 4
 
Vicmill1

Genius! I would gladly pay Direct-TV much more if they would carry your MLB lineup. I know that you are carrying Jonathan Swift's train, but I really wanta see this stuff live and for real.

I believe that what makes your humorous takes on the sport and its denizens is that you really really love this game and its whackadoos. Wow!

Dec 19, 2012 08:13 AM
rating: 0
 
NotMrTibbs

Sweet Jesus this was good.

Dec 19, 2012 08:27 AM
rating: 3
 
Raoulquinn

Why aren't they showing winter league games? That would be much preferable to repeats of their ongoing analyst babble. Keep the Spanish language announcers instead of broadcasting the games in English. Even if you don't understand Spanish, the announcers in the winter leagues are much more entertaining.

Dec 19, 2012 09:11 AM
rating: 11
 
jdeich

Somewhere in Central America, people are watching MLB during their summer off-season, then posting on Spanish-language web sites: "Even if you don't understand English, this 'Kevin Millar' burro is very irritating."

Dec 19, 2012 09:55 AM
rating: 12
 
rileybreck

Outstanding work, Mr. Miller.

Dec 19, 2012 09:17 AM
rating: 3
 
BP staff member Jason Parks
BP staff

This tickled me. Loved it.

Dec 19, 2012 09:55 AM
 
dee150586

Awesome piece. I love Clubhouse Confidential, but everything else on mlb network is close to unwatchable. This amazing lineup of shows would seriously change that! Kudos Ian, great work.

Dec 19, 2012 10:01 AM
rating: 2
 
jfranco77

C'mon Ian, we all know the #1 show they need is a TV version of Up and In. With MLB's budget maybe they can lure KG away from the Astros.

Dec 19, 2012 10:17 AM
rating: 1
 
blocher

Agreed that "Got Heeem" is the worst utterance from a would-be sportscaster not named Stewart Scott.

Worst part is these would-be analysts don't do their homework. With the dozens of hours spent on the Gonzalez-Beckett et. al. trade, no one ever mentioned that Boston got anything but Loney. No mention that Allen Webster was the prospect that the Dodgers were unwilling to part with to get Ryan Dempster, nor that Rubby de la Rosa, prior to blowing out his elbow had made ten starts and was averaging the fastest average fast-ball speed in the leauge (Strasburg still nursing his own TJ surgery). Now the two are never even mentioned among Boston's possible pitching staff. Unbelievable.

Dec 19, 2012 10:56 AM
rating: 3
 
BP staff member Ian Miller
BP staff

I feel like you're not giving "BACBACKBACKBACKBACK!" its due respect.

Dec 19, 2012 11:03 AM
 
jdeich

Honorable mention to "WHOOOOOOOP!" for a narrowly missed tackle, if we may include non-baseball annoying terms.

Dec 19, 2012 12:06 PM
rating: 6
 
Chrisfiander

Jeeze, if we are going there trying to listen to a dodgers or white sox game.

Here's an idea for a good show in the offseason.

Bonehead announcer comments (working title) - take all of the dumbest comments heard from announcers furring the regular season. And if you want multiple episodes go by each year in review.

Examples
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=8RLHBK9BMs4
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Lrrx5CgdZaA#/watch?v=Lrrx5CgdZaA
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KTsCW7Wa3lo

It writes itself guys!

Jan 08, 2013 15:29 PM
rating: 0
 
PSUFan

This might make paying for MLB Network worth it.

I'd watch Luke Scott's show every night, like a true American.

Dec 19, 2012 11:20 AM
rating: 3
 
Nathan

These are funny, but they really should do better, especially in the off season. This is a perfect time for someone like Will Carrol to have a fascinating show filled with tips on how young pitchers can stay healthy. It would not just make money, but could conceivably help a lot of kids make it through high-school without blowing out their arms.

Dec 19, 2012 12:20 PM
rating: 1
 
T. Kiefer

I'm actually surprised that the network doesn't have a full-blown instructional show, with or without pro's guest-starring; i.e., a half-hour 'Diamond Demo' show showing kids (and adults) how to hit a slider, or how to steal a base, or throw a knuckleball (could we please have more knuckleballers?).

Dec 20, 2012 07:11 AM
rating: 3
 
mblthd

Let's not forget Rich Dauer.

Dec 19, 2012 12:28 PM
rating: 2
 
bhalpern

Mike Blowers.

Dec 19, 2012 18:44 PM
rating: 0
 
mblthd

I only just recently subscribed to cable. Did MLB Network cover the winter meetings, and if so, was the coverage good?

Also, someone above described the network as "failing." Is that just a reference to "failing" to produce watchable off-season content, or "failing" in that they'll probably shut the whole thing down?

I've liked what little I've seen of MLB Network's in-season programming on TV at friends' houses. Sure, Millar is god-awful (just as he was a god-awful player), but most of the guys are watchable, and it's a thousand times better than "Baseball Tonight".

Dec 19, 2012 12:35 PM
rating: 0
 
Oldwell89

Millar and Reynolds: I don't even know where to begin, so I won't. My jaw is literally open when I listen to them. Stupefying!

Dec 19, 2012 12:37 PM
rating: 1
 
NJTomatoes

I believe Mitch Williams did a great job putting on some pounds and jumping as the emergency relief host on The Knife Show. Will Cashner also be making an appearance?

Dec 19, 2012 13:42 PM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Ian Miller
BP staff

nailed it.

Dec 19, 2012 13:52 PM
 
Karl Hungus

Once the season ends they could show a rotting stump 24/7 and it would be more interesting. An occasional Clubhouse Confidential is worth a half hour, every once in a while hot stove is ahead of everyone else on a story, but the absolute best program they have is the Ken Burns Baseball innings on Tuesday nights. The Nolan Ryan show needs to happen.

Dec 19, 2012 14:09 PM
rating: 2
 
NYYanks826

I would rather watch "Mr. 3000" starring Bernie Mac on an endless loop for 96 hours than even watch Kevin Millar for five minutes...and I'm NOT just saying that because I'm a Yankee fan.

Dec 19, 2012 15:36 PM
rating: 2
 
bsaraceno

The Emerald City: High Times with Tim Lincecum.

Just the dude cruising around Seattle with his Frenchie getting high. I would watch this for real.

Dec 19, 2012 21:16 PM
rating: 5
 
LorenA19

Man, you guys are harsh. Sure, I would prefer to see fewer repeats, but I rather appreciate having MLB Network around, thank you very much.

Dec 19, 2012 21:59 PM
rating: 2
 
dianagram

You forgot "Jay Jaffe's 'stache for Cash" .... a live gameshow hosted by Mr. Jaffe in which each week, contestants must provide compelling arguments for which of 2 major leaguers would look better if they had Mr. Jaffe's 'stache. Facebook voting during the show would determine the winning contestant.

Dec 20, 2012 07:22 AM
rating: 2
 
dianagram

Also, "Breaking BABIP": Unemployed college stats professor living in his mother's basement finds out he has terminal cancer, starts cooking up "crystal methods" . . . new stats that every GM seemingly can't get enough of.

Dec 20, 2012 07:34 AM
rating: 7
 
drmorris

I'm guessing the design credit for Chez Papelbon goes mainly to wife Ashley.

Dec 20, 2012 13:55 PM
rating: 0
 
sandriola

Offseason programming is always going to be weak for any sport-specific network. There's only so much new content available.

I enjoyed the classic games they showed in their first offseason. It seemed like each weekend had a theme. I distinctly remember the 20-strikeout weekend where they showed both of Clemens's games, Johnson's game, and Wood's game.

Dec 20, 2012 19:05 PM
rating: 0
 
jj0501

Winter league results are available, for example, if not actual games. It would also have been nice for a AFL game of the week. I do agree the replay games are always fun, especially when they let them run uncut with commercial
endorsements left in.

Dec 21, 2012 15:24 PM
rating: 1
 
jnossal

I'm not going anywhere near something called "Jock Eye". That's just too gross to imagine.

Jan 14, 2013 12:01 PM
rating: 0
 
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