Taking one last look at the 2009 baseball season, I felt compelled to go looking for my bell bottom pants. It seemed like we were back in the ’70s. I know this is the Information Age, but it felt more like the Dark Ages. You know, the days before cable TV exploded, and Al Gore invented the Internet.
As a kid, I was lucky enough to grow up in an area where we could get both Mets and Yankees games — so I could watch both American and National League players. Still, when someone like Vida Blue or Randy Jones won a Cy Young Award, it would be more likely than not that I hadn’t seen them pitch more than once or twice. Did I even know what Mike Marshall looked like? Or when these guys pitched in the postseason, would that be the first time I’d really get a chance to see what made them so special?
Well, now we’ve got ESPN, the wonderful world of the wide web, satellite dishes and unfettered access to video on demand. And still, somehow, I don’t think I saw NL Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum pitch this year. I’m sure there were glimpses of highlights while I exercised at the gym or drifted in and out of consciousness at work, but a 15-game winner in San Francisco didn’t land on my radar very much. Even if I had made him appointment viewing, I don’t know how often he would have been easily available. He only pitched in this time zone five times.
And then there was the AL’s Zack Greinke. His only start against the Red Sox came on Sept. 22. He recorded the 15th of his 16 wins with a two-hitter that covered six innings. Yeah, it was nice. But some kid in Kansas City also failed to hit my radar.
The point is, despite all this available information, a lot of baseball fans aren’t seeing enough of some of the game’s best players, which makes it no different than it was a long, long time ago. And when you think about it, things really aren’t that different in the other big-time sports.
In baseball, you can’t really avoid seeing Albert Pujols or Ryan Howard on a near-nightly basis. They hit the homers and drive in the big runs that highlight reels are made of. But what about Ichiro or Chase Utley? When Kendry Morales showed up in the Angels’ postseason lineup, did you know he had 34 home runs? This Adrian Gonzalez guy Red Sox fans covet; how many times have you actually seen him play? Or Hanley Ramirez?
Some of these guys are today’s future Hall of Famers. And despite having so much access and opportunity, I’m missing their primes, relegated to condensed highlights and top plays. My bad. Maybe next year will be different.
– Bob Halloran is a sports anchor, reporter and author. Metro does not endorse the opinions of the author, or any opinions expressed on its pages. Opposing viewpoints are welcome. Send 400-word submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.