Geoff Flynn.com


Old Games Are Better Than No Games
March 30, 2020

This sheltering in place thing is getting a little dicey. It's one thing that I'm either too tired or too lazy to go anywhere in the first place, but now I don't have any choice, and if I do decide to go out, wherever I was going to go isn't open anyway. At least I have sports to fall back on. Well, kinda.

No one thought of this. Sure, when ESPN launched, people said it was doomed to fail, and if it did, so what? We only got about 30 channels then if we were lucky, and some new version of the Home Shopping Network probably would have sucked up that channel space, and we'd have more opportunities to watch Suzanne Somers sell junk jewelry. Nothing wrong with that. But since ESPN was a hit, we soon got ESPN2, ESPN News, ESPN Classic, CBS Sports Network, NBC Sports Network, FS1, FS2, NBA-TV, the NHL Network, The NFL Network, the MLB Network, Pac-12, Big 10, ACC, SEC, Golf Channel, Tennis Channel, and the Tiddly Winks Channel. Okay, you caught me. I made the last one up.

I guarantee you that no one thought for a second that these networks would all be deprived of their live programming. It took them a few days, but with all sports stopped, and everyone (theoretically) staying at home, they needed to put something on the air. Showing the all-time greatest games in the sport the channel covers is a natural. You do have to wonder why MLB showed the Kirk Gibson game of the 1988 World Series edited down to two hours, though. They have all the time in the world.

While the CBS Sports Network has been showing back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back NCAA Tournament basketball games of days gone by, and some pretty good ones I may add, MLB decided to use Saturday to focus on the New York Mets. In particular, the 1986 New York Mets, and in more particular (if that makes sense), games five and six of the National League Championship Series against the Houston Astros. Both of those games went extra innings, and neither was edited, which made it nice. I didn't watch the 16-inning decisive game six because I was worn out after watching the 12 innings of game five. It was a nice pitcher's duel between Nolan Ryan and Dwight Gooden.

Ryan was 39 at the time, and the announcers were saying he might be on a pitch limit because of an elbow injury. He went nine innings and threw 130 pitches. They were saying he might need the “same surgery Tommy John had” twelve years earlier, and that his career could be over. Ryan didn't have the surgery, pitched seven more seasons, and retired at age 46. Gooden went ten innings, but had to settle for a no-decision. Jesse Orosco got the win in relief, his third of the series, a post-season record for a reliever.

MLB Network promoted (kind of) Sunday as a Dodger marathon, but it was just a bunch of specials about Kirk Gibson's home run, surrounding a two-hour edited down version of Game One of the 1988 World Series. The edits were even between pitches, which really sped up the game, but you lost the flavor of it. All of Oakland's runs came on a grand slam by Jose Canseco in the second inning, so you could cut many of the half-innings when the A's were at bat, and they did.

For an oldster like me (or at least a middle-agedster), the best part wasn't so much the games, but the broadcasts themselves. Keith Jackson and Tim McCarver (his analysis was pretty obvious back then, too) did the Astros-Mets game, Dick Enberg was doing the basketball game on CBSSN, and Vin Scully and Joe Garagiola had the Gibson game.

On some of the other channels, the so-called classics were games from just a couple of years ago. If you give me a 40-year old game, some great announcers, and show the broadcast in full with no edits, this shelter in place thing could be pretty good. Gotta figure out a way to add food vendors, though.


Football: ESPN has re-rolled out Monday Night Football, showing the Rams 54-51 win over the Chiefs tonight... If the NFL Draft goes on as scheduled in a few weeks, and there really isn't any reason why it shouldn't, the National Football League would be the only pro league in the world not affected at all by the coronavirus pandemic. That is, if everything is back to normal by August. College football would get by unscathed, too. The draft won't be a multi-day event in front of large crowds like it's been in recent years. They only need to do it the old-fashioned way, by conference call, and then announce the picks on TV. Football: ESPN has re-rolled out Monday Night Football, showing the Rams 54-51 win over the Chiefs tonight... If the NFL Draft goes on as scheduled in a few weeks, and there really isn't any reason why it shouldn't, the National Football League would be the only pro league in the world not affected at all by the coronavirus pandemic. That is, if everything is back to normal by August. College football would get by unscathed, too. The draft won't be a multi-day event in front of large crowds like it's been in recent years. They only need to do it the old-fashioned way, by conference call, and then announce the picks on TV.

Futbol: Major League Soccer is insisting that they can still play a full 34-game schedule when they resume, whenever that is, even if they play in empty arenas. If the schedule picks up in June, the championship game would be sometime around Christmas, but only a month or so after the MLS Cup would normally be played. Why not? No one really seems to know when soccer season begins and ends anyway, do they?

Cuts at KNCO: Because most businesses are closed during the shelter-in-place order, there is no need for them to advertise, which means no revenue for Nevada County's radio station where I work. This past week, all part-timers were let go. Management is describing the move as temporary, but it is a severe hit. The FM now is all-satellite, with no local DJs and a couple of local news drop-ins in the morning. The news department has lost a part-time reporter, although we're told that person can be a vacation fill-in. The local newspaper, the Union, has announced it is cutting publication to five days a week. There already is no Sunday edition, and today was their last Monday paper until further notice., if ever.





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