One common complaint I’ve heard from Baltimore Orioles fans this spring training is that MASN is only covering six games. In one sense, I do think that one could view that as a legitimate gripe, given that NESN and YES carry almost all of the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees’ games respectively. Furthermore, MASN doesn’t offer anywhere near as much of it’s own programming as those two networks, so all they would truly be preempting would be imported ESPN programming for the most part. However let me offer two potential defenses of MASN, one of which will come across as fairly basic, and the other is a bit more in depth:
- The majority of all Grapefruit League games occur during the day. As an example, the Orioles return to action at 1:30 PM this afternoon against the Boston Red Sox. Granted in some cases there are night games, however most of the games are afternoon matinees. Most people are at work during the time that most of the games are airing live. Furthermore, even if MASN decided to air (or re-air) the games later in the evening people would already have presumably heard what happened given that everyone has a computer or radio nowadays.
- I’ll expound on this a bit more below (given that this is the main thesis of the article anyways), but…can we over-saturate ourselves before the season even starts?
Let me preface this by saying that I enjoy NFL Preseason. Most people do not, and I understand the reasons why. In no way would I ever submit that it’s anywhere close to the product that fans get during the regular season. (And let’s be frank…week four is nothing more than a glorified scrimmage.) However I like preseason because it’s better than practice. Some people enjoy attending training camps, which is in effect the NFL’s version of spring training. However at least in baseball spring training consists of actual games. I’d much rather watch a game than a practice, and at least preseason games are in a stadium under lights, against another team, with refs, etc.
Where am I going with this, and how did I get so far off of MASN televising spring training games? One of the reasons that the call for shortening preseason has gotten so strong in recent years is because all of the games are now on television. Season ticket holders for NFL teams are now required to purchase the preseason tickets (whereas in the past they had the option of turning them down), which means that most of the games are sold out and thus on television. The NFL Network televises each and every preseason game at some point (live or on delay). Before there was so much media attention on preseason games (and before people were required to buy the tickets), people would pay attention at whatever level they wished. Now that football games in general are productions, it’s almost shoved down people’s throats. TV has a lot to do with that.
Keep in mind that for me personally, I don’t see an issue. I enjoy a football game just as I enjoy a baseball game – exhibition or otherwise. However to get back to my point, I believe that if every game were easily accessible to fans via television just as the regular season games are, we’d at some stage reach an overload point. I suppose that this isn’t a true parallel given that the Orioles’ season ticket holders aren’t required to buy tickets to the games in Sarasota, however I do feel that this is an interesting theory. I suppose it’s also worth mentioning that fans truly seem to enjoy spring training games, and I think part of that is because it’s in Florida and thus a vacation. Football fans seem to go to preseaon games almost begrudgingly, and in some cases I’ve heard people taking angry stances towards the entire institution of NFL preseason. The question is whether or not that’s because they truly don’t like it, or because they feel it’s shoved down their throats by so much media attention.
For the record, I wouldn’t be opposed to MASN covering more games during spring training. However keep in mind that WBAL-AM is carrying 16 games this year, and given that most of them are afternoon contests that makes them easy to follow from the office. But by putting only six games on TV that also wets the appetites of the fans just enough before opening day. Speaking of which, once that comes around this entire complaint will be invalid…until next year that is!