This Week In Baseball... "Technology"
Last night I watched the Red Sox-Yankees game on NESN. I could have watched it on ESPN or listened to it on my SiriusXM radio. If it wasn't blacked out I could have watched it on my MLB online package or maybe just listened to one of the three to four local radio stations. If I had other stuff to do I could have watched a replay on NESN this morning or seen quick highlights as the lead on SportCenter. At 9:00 last night my DVR automatically switched the channel because their was an overlap in recording. You see, we DVR everything three to four minutes past the hour (thanks Lost!) in case it goes over. Last night another show was starting on another channel not allowing me to watch the game for about four minutes. Not to worry though, I was able to watch a live Gamecast doing play by play online so I didn't miss anything.
During the game Dennis Eckersley commented on the fact that Jonathan Papelbon used to be a starter. That reminded me that after his first year closing he came to spring training prepping to be a starter but I couldn't remember when that was. I checked baseball-reference.com and found my answer. It was after the 2006 season for those who are curious. I also wondered about the discrepancy between the Red Sox and Yankees team salaries this year since it seems like the Yankees spent a lot of money this winter. I went online to USA Today, Yankees $201,449,189, Red Sox $121,745,999, big, but not as big as I thought. I was able to find an update on Jerry Remys health, the lifetime stats of Ramiro Pena, the guy that I had never heard of until he pinch ran for ARod, why AJ Burnett has never appeared in the postseason (I didn't realize that he was injured for the Marlins World Series run), and listened to Susan Waldmans crazy Roger Clemens is in George Steinbrenners box rant. Any information that I need is at my fingertips, I even found out that David Carradine could have been murdered by a secret ninja society.
I could not survive without instant information, fantasy sports, and the ability to watch any team, any game, at any time but I kind of miss the time when it was much simpler. I am 35 so the '80s were the time that baseball and sports became a passion for me. I didn't have cable TV so I was only able to watch the Red Sox on Sunday afternoons and the occasional Tuesday nights. On Saturdays there was a national game when I could watch other teams, I remember hoping and praying that I could see Dwight Gooden, Ozzie Smith, or Fred Lynn. I listened to every other game on my clock radio playing Strat-o-matic baseball until my mom made me go to bed where I then listened until I fell asleep. I still remember listening to Roger Clemens first 20 strikeout game with the radio sound low resting on my ear so my parents didn't know that I was still awake. When it was finished I wanted to tell somebody but couldn't, now I could simply text a friend, IM my brother, or leave a tweet. West Coast games were the worst, I would fight to stay awake so I could listen to the first inning but that wasn't the worst part. The part that killed me was if I couldn't get up in time to watch the five minute scoreboard on the national news I didn't know who won. The paper wouldn't have the score until the next day and the standings were always screwed up because it didn't include last nights game. Until I could watch the 6:00 evening news I was dependent on the other kids at school to feed me the game information.
On Sundays I would beg to get the Boston Sunday Globe so I could read Peter Gammons weekly baseball column. It was a whole page! After reading that I would open the paper to the statistics page (there was one page that had the complete stats for every player) and lay it out on the floor. I would go line by line reading the stats for every player and circling each Red Sox player. I would always know how many spots Jim Rice moved up in home run race each week and Wade Boggs progression to the top of the batting average leaders. I could name every World Series winner, MVP, Cy Young, Batting Champ, and more going back 25 years. I would buy a pack of baseball cards and I would study the back of the cards for hours soaking in the information like a sponge. I would get excited when I would learn something like George Foster hit 52 home runs in 1977. 52? Really? Nobody hits 50 home runs. Now, I probably couldn't name all of the World Series winners of this decade and I have no idea who is leading either league in batting average or home runs. Is it because there is no need to memorize it anymore since the information is so readily available? I should know all this, I watch every Red Sox game, I watch every national televised game, I play in two fantasy leagues, and I listen to sports talk radio in my office all day.
I love new technology and I love having any information available at any time but sometimes I feel like I was a better fan before I had all of that. When I studied baseball cards and read Sports Illustrated cover to cover or saved every years Street & Smith Baseball Preview it was somehow better. When I would learn who the Red Sox prospects were from the yearbook rather than following them from the day they were drafted it was somehow better. When I used to cut out the box scores to put them in a scrapbook and learn the batting stances of the entire team it was somehow better.
I will always have a passion for baseball but now I don't have to work at it. I truly think that working at it made me a better fan.
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