But obviously they are going to need more, and I have an idea that I'm willing to share for the low, low price of absolutely free: A baseball travel show that after approximately seven seconds of thought, I will tentatively title "Road Trip."
The premise: a half hour travel show in which our intrepid host is plopped down in a Major League city for a weekend. The centerpiece of each show, obviously, is to go to a game or three, giving viewers the taste of the Los Angeles Dodgers experience or the Kansas City Royals experience, or whatever. He -- along with a local contact/friend/guide perhaps -- will visit the best places to hang out before and after the games. He'll find the best real world (i.e. non-VIP) seats and talk about the stadium and stuff. Overall, he'll do his best to convey the history, flavor, and general milieu of a given team, its park, its fans, and its city.
If this sounds somewhat familiar to some of you cable geeks, it's because what I'm basically picturing is Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" show, but for baseball.
In my mind the key to that show's success -- and what makes it different from any other travel show -- is that there is a distinct editorial voice at the center. Unlike your usual vapid hostbot, Bourdain has strong opinions about the places he's going before he goes there and spends each show trying to figure out the extent to which those opinions are valid, stupid, or something in between. He'll eschew the cliche landmarks and experiences hyped by the local visitor's bureau and attempt to get the feel of a place on the street level and through the eyes of the locals.
I think such a thing could be done with baseball. I'm reminded of a weekend I spent in southern California last year, in which I went to Dodger Stadium with a college roommate and Petco with my brother over the course of a weekend. Neither of my game experiences followed the cliched storylines that spring to mind when you think about those places. For example, in Los Angeles, we got to Dodger Stadium early and stayed late. Surprisingly enough, so did many others. In the almost universal effort to paint L.A. as apathy central, their stories are never told. Throw in some trips to off the beaten path Dodger fan hangouts, provide a brief lesson about the largely and shamefully unknown history of Chavez Ravine, and splash in some prologue and epilogue about where Los Angeles fits in the baseball universe, and you have yourself a show. Multiply that by 30 teams and you have a couple of seasons. Sprinkle in some episodes about Cooperstown, some select minor league city experiences, and one-offs like baseball card shows and the SABR convention and you have at least another season's worth. If the thing does well you can justify a trip to Japan and other places.
Other random thoughts:
Critical to this show's success would be that it not come off as some paid advertisement. Sure, if MLB is airing the thing the production would have to observe some prudent limits -- for example, you couldn't get away with visiting an Orioles bar where Peter Angelos is hung in effigy -- but you would want to make sure that you conveyed an accurate portrait of both the joys and frustrations each team's city and supporters experience by virtue of their fandom. I hate the word "edgy," but it needs to err on that side of things;
I think you get the idea. Hopefully someone at MLB TV has had the same idea and is working on something like that.
Bourdain's shows are always improved by a local guest or fixer that either actually provides local insight, or at the very least serves as a foil or comic relief. If I were producing the show, I'd have my host hook up with particularly knowledgeable local fans. Maybe even a blogger. Visiting Seattle? Meet up with Zumsteg and Cameron and let them guide the viewers through. San Diego? How about Geoff Young? I'm sure guys like that could show the host a side of Mariners and Padre fandom that you simply don't get in the normal course of things. This was mentioned before, but your host would have to be a guy with a strong point of view. You can't have some warmed over local news personality doing it. It would have to be someone who could explain the history, nature, and fanbase of Team X in City Y in knowledgeable and colorful terms while simultaneously serving as a pair of eyes the viewing audience could identify with. Ultimately, you'd want the viewer to wish he was on the trip with the host, hanging out with him, and going to the places he's going.
If not, well, I'm generally free between 2009 and 2012, and I'm taking calls.