During my recent vacation travels, I did something I hadn’t taken a lot of time to do recently: listen to some baseball podcasts. I went over to iTunes. I did searches to find podcasts of interest. I also employed my ever reliable Twitter account to note other podcasts that are out there. Being a Texas Rangers fan, I naturally gravitated to finding Rangers-themed podcasts, but I also took the time to download a few touching upon Major League baseball in general. Over the course of flights to and from Austin, Texas and Greenville, South Carolina, I got to sample all that I downloaded. Some I listened to entire episodes, others I sampled enough to know whether the subject matter was right for my interests or not.
Having a radio background over the course of my life, I was interested to discover how technology has allowed all of us to create our own radio programs without benefit of big studios and broadcast towers and what folks without broadcast backgrounds are able to do with that freedom. The results were iffy at best. I’m not going to name names because most podcasts exist as a labor of love for those involved. They aren’t making money for those who record them. On the other hand, podcasts (and blogs for that matter) wouldn’t exist if the people posting them didn’t want them to have listeners.
With that in mind, I would like to offer a few pointers for those of you currently posting podcasts and those of you thinking of doing one in the future. I’m not trying to dog on anyone. I want you to know how you can make your podcasts better.
This is the biggest one of all. I listened to one podcast whose total running time was an hour and twenty minutes. Think of your listeners. Better yet, think of yourself as a listener. No matter how much you love the subject, when you consider everything out there to read, watch and listen to, would YOU have 80 minutes to spare to add another feature to your plate? Do you even watch a full hour of SportsCenter? Even if you did, would you want to listen to a podcast in which the people involved say something like “Now we’re going to do this, and the reason we want to do this is…” and proceed to waste two minutes explaining their reason. Don’t tell us the reason, JUST DO IT! From everything I listened to, I think a good podcast can be done in 15 minutes. Much longer than that and you’re going to lose listeners, not just for the rest of that podcast but possibly from ever returning to it.
HAVE A PLAN
One of the reasons podcasts tend to drag is the lack of a plan. This is especially true of podcasts involving multiple hosts. I listened to one podcast employing two hosts. Each host had their topic of the day to discuss. The problem was they didn’t discuss their topics with each other before they started recording. They sprung it on each other. Instead of a lot of give and take, what they got was a lot of “Gee, I have to think about this for a while…” followed either by silence or a lot of uhs, ers and stammers as they eventually spit out what they thought. This is not gripping audio, folks, especially when dragged out for 30 minutes or more. The second topic was mercifully shorter, but resulted mostly in a response of “I really don’t like this topic at all.” Figure out what you want to talk about, let your co-host(s) know what it is and decide how much time you want to devote to the subject. Then, when you reach the time limit, stop and move on. Better to leave us wanting more than turning you off because much less was warranted.
HAVE A PERSONALITY
If you’re doing a solo podcast, this is so much more important than if you do one with others. If your podcast has no personality, you will have no audience. I don’t care if you know your subject or your team backwards and forwards and can name every player’s WAR off the top of your head daily, if you deliver it in a monotone, have no sense of humor or nothing different to offer than what anyone else has, you won’t get listeners coming back for more. Well, maybe your friends will listen but after a while, they’ll either want to stop listening or stop being your friend. Besides your subject, what is unique about you? If it’s not you, how can you present your subject in a way that’s different from what anyone else is doing out there? I’m a Texas Rangers fan, but if your podcast is just going to discuss Yu Darvish being on the DL and how you feel about it, you’ve already lost me. I can go to any number of sources online and find out what others think about that. Heck, some of you probably say the same thing about my blog. I get it. It’s not an easy thing to do. But your podcast has to have a personality, something that sets it apart from the others.
NO INSIDE JOKES
When you and your friends get together, you develop a language all your own. You laugh at things that happened to you as a group, things occur that remind you of something else. Do us all a favor. DON’T SHARE IT WITH US! We don’t get it. We never will. We’ll wonder what kind of idiots you are. The only exception to this rule is if the inside jokes arise from things that happened in earlier shows. As you start drawing regular listeners, those listeners will remember previous shows and thus are in on the joke. If it happens outside the recording booth, we don’t need to know about it. EXAMPLE: You and your co-hosts go to the Rangers game. Telling the story about the guy in front of you who screwed up catching the foul ball is OK. Going on to talk about how he reminded you of that time at senior prom when Lester Pinhead spilled the punch on his date, you all laughed and then your dates got all mad at you for laughing at poor Lester? We don’t care. We don’t know Lester Pinhead, his date or your dates and now you’ve gotten off the topic of baseball, which is the reason we’re listening in the first place.
If you have a podcast or are thinking of starting one, I hope these bits of constructive criticism have helped. If you have a baseball podcast and want an honest critique (privately) let me know and I’ll be glad to give you an opinion. Lastly, if there are some baseball podcasts you REALLY like, let me know and I’ll give them a try. I know there are more out there than I’ve discovered, but iTunes’ search feature isn’t exactly consistent in their results.
I heard the news today, oh boy…
ESPN’s Outside The Lines reported Major League Baseball will attempt to suspend as many as 20 players for PED use linked to the probe of Biogenesis in Florida. The clinic’s founder has agreed with MLB to basically out his clients and baseball will try to hand out suspensions accordingly.
The Texas Rangers are affected because Nelson Cruz‘ name was in the first series of newspaper articles as a Biogenesis client. For his part, Cruz said through a representative before Spring Training even began that he didn’t do anything wrong. If that turns out as a false statement, that in itself is cause for suspension under the latest collective bargaining agreement.
The two biggest names in the probe are Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez. Cruz heads the B list, along with the likes of Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon. The OTL reports mention possible suspensions of as any as 100 games. That figure is mentioned only for A-Rod and Braun.
The report brings up many questions. There is no mention as to when any suspensions will come down. It only says MLB will “attempt” to suspend as many as 20 players. In other words, there will be all kinds of repercussions from this. The MLB Players Association will almost certainly mount a significant defense based on no concrete proof of use. This would likely involve the courts, which means it could drag on for a while. Even if the MLBPA fails, each player would then have the right to appeal.
I’m not going to be surprised if Cruz gets suspended but I also won’t be surprised if he isn’t. Speculation is already rampant among the fans on what Texas will do if Cruz is out of the line-up for 50 games. Would they ask Jurickson Profar to learn how to play right field on the fly? Would Mike Olt be a possibility? Or how about AAA center fielder Engel Beltre, a great defender but not a powerful bat?
I have other questions, but they go beyond Nelson Cruz. Would Cabrera and Colon be suspended again? They got 50 games last season, apparently for using the stuff Biogenesis was providing. Would a second suspension be like double jeopardy? Here’s another one. We know Nelson Cruz worked out in Florida during the off-season going into the 2012 season. The inference is he became a Biogenesis client at that time. We also know a number of names haven’t been named in the Biogenesis probe. When Cruz did those off-season workouts, he worked out with teammate at the time Mike Napoli. Could Naps, now a member of the Red Sox, possibly be involved with this? I’m not accusing him and I hope the answer is no, but the question certainly has to be asked and looked into. According to reports, Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez was also a Biogenesis client, but wouldn’t face suspension because he obtained only legal products from the firm. On that basis alone, would every player named thus have a reasonable doubt defense for their activities with the firm?
Despite these reports, don’t expect any suspension decisions to come down soon. I doubt we’ll see anything happen until at least the All-Star break. Some players will then choose to fight to the end, others will accept their punishment right away. Cynical as it may be, I would expect the ones who choose to fight will mostly be players whose teams AREN’T involved in a pennant race. Clubs who are in a race would likely quietly urge their affected players to get it over with so as not to distract the team in its quest.Thus, if Cruz is suspended, he probably won’t fight it.
- Report: MLB preparing suspensions for Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun, others for Biogenesis link (tracking.si.com)
- OTL: MLB might suspend A-Rod, Braun, 18 others (espn.go.com)
- Nelson Cruz, facing suspension, says he hasn’t spoken to MLB investigators (sportsblogs.star-telegram.com)
My favorite vacation spot usually has a beach associated with it, yet today, I would rather be spending time in the desert of Arizona.
These are the smells I usually love the most: bacon, crab, lobster, coffee and steak on the grill. Today, though, I feel like making a trip to Academy just to smell a new baseball glove and the oil to loosen up the leather.
On a daily basis, my favorite wood is the one from which my front door is made, welcoming me home after a hard day at work. Yet today, it is ash and weighs a mere 34 ounces.
As is my custom, I came home today after spending eight hours at a clean, comfortable office. Yet what I really wanted to do today was rub some red dirt on my hands.
Tonight I’ll throw a blue rubber ball and my dog will fetch it and chew on it for awhile. But tonight I’d rather the ball be horsehide with red stitches on it.
Tonight the president gives his State of the Union message, but I’d rather hear Ron Washington talk tonight than Barack Obama. And instead of being in front of the TV, I’d much rather be sitting a few feet behind the first base dugout, enjoying the cool desert air and smelling the newly mowed grass.
Does all of this make me weird?
If it does, then so be it. I am weird. And I am a fan. And Spring Training is here. And all is right with the world.
Anyone who has listened to the radio, watched television or read a newspaper during an election year knows they’ll see or hear it at least once: the political ad that shows what an uncaring, mean so and so my opponent is because he or she supported or didn’t support this cause during this vote. Needless to say, if one takes some time to take a look at things more in context, they’ll find that maybe that mean uncaring so and so supported or didn’t support that cause because in doing so, they could also be voting for raising the debt ceiling by $5 trillion dollars or voting to downsize the military by three million soldiers.
Sometimes you have to train yourself to look at things in context. It’s easy to take things at face value but sometimes you have to dig a little deeper to find what the story is.
This happens in baseball all the time. For players and management it happens when a contract goes to arbitration. Management says, “Yeah, he hit.320 for the year, but he only hit a buck-50 with runners on third and less than two outs. He’s a bum I tell ya!” Player’s agent counters with, “That buck-50 doesn’t count as much as the .400 OBP he had in the same situation because of all the intentional walks they gave him!” And on and on it goes.
Here’s a particular load of goods we baseball fans have been subjected to for years: Major League baseball is in decline. It’s only the third most popular professional sport. We buy into it completely, having discussions on sports talk radio about how to save baseball, how to get our kids playing baseball again, etc.
Today I read the headline I was expecting to read sooner or later. It called this year’s World Series between the Tigers and Giants the least-watched World Series and later referred to its “record-low rating.” These headlines have pervaded the conversation for years now.
Yes, the headline is accurate. This year’s World Series averaged a little under 13 million viewers per night. That’s the smallest audience since the folks at Nielsen started their People Meter service in 1987.
Let’s take this in context, though. Even with a record low rating, it turns out that four of the nation’s top twenty shows for the past week were either World Series games or the World Series pre-game show. Four of the top twenty shows. That’s pretty good.
What many in the media assume is because the ratings have sunk, the interest in baseball is down as well. Again this is not true.
If interest in baseball was so bad, why are record moneys being paid for the local rights to games? The Rangers start on a new $1 billion contract with Fox Sports Southwest in 2014. The Angels recently signed a huge extension with Fox Sports West.
Look at the stadiums. The year I graduated from college, 1978, a team that drew over 2 million fans was a big deal. Of the 26 teams in MLB that year, the LA Dodgers drew over 3 million fans. Another 5 teams drew over 2 million. Six teams didn’t even manage to get a million fans through the turnstiles on the season.
In 2012, every team in baseball drew at least 1.5 million fans. 23 out of 30 teams drew over 2 million fans. Nine teams drew over 3 million. Does that sound like diminishing interest to you?
The NFL’s Super Bowl gets monster ratings every year because it’s a one game do or die. It will always outrank the World Series, the NBA Finals and the Stanley Cup Finals for this reason alone. A one and done will beat a best of seven every time.
I can think of one other good reason for lower TV ratings for the World Series. Unlike the NFL, which has truly become national in the way every team is presented, baseball is very much a local market sport throughout the regular season. Just about every team has a TV contract that let the home fans view just about every game of the season. The “national” games on Fox aren’t really national. They show different games in different regions of the country. Unlike the NFL, baseball fans want to see “their” team. Once their team is out of contention, they often stop watching. I’ll even admit to not seeing more than three innings total of this year’s World Series myself.
Maybe ratings are in decline. But the Series is still one of television’s most-watched shows every year when it’s on. And the TV ratings do NOT correlate with a diminishing interest in the game. It just ain’t so.