. . . a strikeout isn't as visually interesting as a murderous safety blitz, especially when it's replayed five times . . . In baseball, a breakdown of a single at-bat often boils down to "first he threw the ball to the left, then he threw the ball to the right." There are certainly interesting points to be made about game strategy, but those kinds of discussions—whether to bunt or pinch-hit, how to deploy a left-handed reliever—tend to be handled best by in-game color commentators, who can take advantage of the game's languorous pace to unspool the various possibilities.I think that's right, and in light of it, that the new six-hour-a-night MLBTV broadcast I mentioned last week had better take extreme care in choosing its approach and on-air personalities. Ex-jocks speaking in generalities about "who wants it more" or how "special" a given team or player is will kill the broadcast, as will endless highlight loops of the same three key plays of every game. Baseball just sort of happens every night. There is a lot of repetition. On one level, that's what makes it so great, but on another, more practical level, it's what makes producing so much content such a challenge. The languid splendor of a summer night doesn't translate well to a cable telecast.
My suggestion: get people who can truly offer original insight on distinct aspects of the game, even if it means no one has heard of them before. Experts on pitchers' mechanics and injuries would be extremely valuable, as would someone very knowledgeable about transactions and the various rules that surround them. Likewise, while they'd do well to avoid turning the show into a shout-fest, Baseball Tonight cameo appearances by Gammons, Stark, and other folks with journalism backgrounds have shown that those kinds of guys do way more to move the larger issues-of-the-day conversations along than do the ex-players who quickly find themselves out of their depth when no longer able to draw from sources beyond their own personal experiences.
Also, given how much advance notice we all have of the schedule, do what the NFL pregame shows do and send a field correspondent out to a series or two each week. Not necessarily to report on the games themselves -- as we've established, only so much happens in a given game -- but to provide context and flavor. Drop a feature or two about the teams or the venue. Do some fun man-on-the-street stuff. You know: have fun.
Maybe none of that will work, but it has to beat squeezing a size 46 ex-ballplayer into a 42 suit and passing him off as an expert.