Tonight while channel flipping I happened to catch the last two outs of a game between Boston and Minnesota on ESPN. The first thing that caught my eye was a strike zone graphic. My first thought? “That shit is lame.”
I kept waiting for it to go away. It didn’t.
Don’t get me wrong. I have no problem with the thing on an instant replay, especially on an interesting pitch, situation, or questionable call from the ump.
But to leave that thing on all the time? It’s grotesque.
ESPN calls it the “K-Zone.” If a pitch “should” have been called a strike, regardless of what the umpire called, the box will briefly turn yellow.
Personally I think ESPN is missing a bit opportunity here. Why not fill that space with a Nike logo or a few Viagra pills? More advertising, baby!
As a matter of fact, why not convert the whole grassy area of the ball park into a giant logo. PETCO Park? The athletes could literally be playing on PETCO field!
Speaking of the athletes, there is way too much unused space on their uniforms for more advertising. Perhaps FOX News could adapt their “crawl” to display there. You could be entertained by baseball, learn about important products and be educated in the myriad of ways that Obama sucks – all at the same time!
Talk about multitasking!
Of course, every three seconds or so a blimp should fly across the screen to remind you that it is time to “grab some Buds.”
A few more ideas:
- Display the position over player’s heads at all time. P for pitcher, C for catcher, 1B for the first baseman, etc. Remember: Fans are idiots.
- On fly balls have a little robot run across the screen and display the odds the fielder will drop the ball.
- Display Lady Gaga videos on the mound during the game, because, oh hell! Where else would she be?
Come on, MLB! Think outside the bun! That reminds me. All the bases should be tacos and home plate should be a chalupa.
I love the idea that players should have their position listed on screen at all times as well as the calculating robot. Fox has had that robot jogging in place and posing awkwardly during the NFL season for years, and maybe now they can upgrade to a robot that actually contributes to the mind numbing and largely useless amount of information fans are inundated with every game.
ESPN using the K zone during live at bats is a relatively new phenomenon that I first noticed during a Cubs and Cardinals game. Like you, I kept waiting for it to go away–I might have even screamed something like “get that damn thing off my TV” Fortunately ESPN was sensitive to my need to be introduced slowly to another form of distracting stimuli by only having the box pop up in real time when Albert Pujols came to bat, with Orel Hershiser and Bobby Valentine talking about how the down and away slider got Pujols out on his front foot, thereby throwing off his balance and causing him to hit a weak ground ball.
This appeared to be the approach Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster was taking with every hitter, a conclusion I came to after seeing the replay of Pujols’ swing 3 more times while ESPN’s 2 headed redundancy monster, Valenshiser, recited a variation of what they’d said earlier.
Have you noticed that Hershiser only seems to feel confident giving pitching related analysis? I keep waiting for Dan Shulman to say “Orel I think you got your nickname ‘bulldog’ because you never drop a point and you and Valentine end up going after it like two dogs fighting over a piece of rotten meat! THE K ZONE IS THE STAR OF OUR SENSORY OVERLOAD PRESENTATION, NOT YOU!”
“What–we’re live on the air? Sorry about that outburst, folks. Bobby, why don’t you regale the audience with another story about managing in Japan while I compose myself?”
Steven, my friend, as always your visits are like a little ray of sunshine in my life.
“Get that damn thing off my TV.”
You and I are, I think, kindred spirits, at least in some ways. No doubt you are way cooler than me, but I’ll take what I can get.
ESPN 8 – The Ocho! Bringing you more forms of distracting stimuli!
ESPN staff meeting: “Our focus groups tell us that people can still notice the baseball players while the game is in progress. Come on, people! Think! Gimme some ideas that are outside of the bun!”
Steven, your rock.
Thanks. When I saw the name of this post with the screen capture of ESPN’s K zone I knew where you were going with it and, being a big baseball fan, I felt like I had to chime in. I had no idea my “comment” would turn into an over 300 word evisceration of ESPN’s Sunday night broadcast booth and K zone, it just came out that way. About halfway through writing it I felt bad and told myself it might come off sounding like I was trying to upstage what you wrote–which wasn’t necessary because what you’d written was solid–but I decided to write until I figured out how it ended. Over the years I’ve gotten better about always having to say something funny when the opportunity presents itself, but this was one case where I couldn’t help it LOL
I’ve worked at a minor league stadium for 9 seasons now in a seasonal capacity, and that place has been able to survive and thrive for years thanks to between inning distractions they refer to as “entertainment, so it’s all a matter of perspective.
Great marketing ideas! In a really “advanced” high-tech society, viewers ought to be able to choose which option we’d like to see. From the full info display to the “bare” as we would see it back in baseball’s infancy. The bare version would cost more because we wouldn’t be seeing commercials. For the full option, the television IT techs could change the logos on the field and on the players’ uniforms according to the viewers’ interests. For example, pet owners would see PETCO field on their screens, while car enthusiasts would see CHEVY VOLT field. A car enthusiast with a pet would see PETCO right field and CHEVY VOLT left field. Center field would be available for a third interest.
In June I went to an MLB game for the first time in years. It was like a circus with a lot going on, as if the game itself wouldn’t hold our interest.
I watched a cricket game once in which a friend’s son was playing. Actually, I only saw part of the game, because they can last for days with time off for “tea.” Not even an encyclopedia display could have enlightened me as to what was going on!
I’ve been to many MLB games. All in the same stadium. I won’t say who my team is, but here’s a hint: They have an unparalleled commitment to not winning. No championships. But they turn a profit. Oh yeah, sports is a business. I almost forgot. A losing season where you make money is considered a win, at least by the owners.
I’ve pretty much lost all interest in baseball, so really my opinion about the K-Zone should be pretty irrelevant.
Your ideas are good. I have another one. We’ll call it “The MLB Extreme Experience.” It’s a yearly package you can buy that guarantee games on your TV will never have more than fifty percent of ads on the screen at any one time. (Product pitches by announcers not included.) The cost? $4,999 a year.
“Hey! Let’s watch the game at Bob’s house. He has MLB Extreme. I’ll grab some Buds.”
haha! I love this! Hold on let me stop laughing..ok done.
You are funny my friend. Tacos for plates, chulupa for home base and the positions over their head. I love it. 🙂
It pleases me that I helped make you laugh. Actually, though, shouldn’t home plate be a Big Mac, or perhaps a Little Caesar’s pizza? Every time a run comes home the ump can yell, “Pizza! Pizza!”
I only listen to baseball on the radio. However, I do agree with you on the advertising…the pitcher’s butt looks like a lot of wasted space to me. 🙂
Perfect! Perhaps an IBS product ad can go there!
Hate hate hate it. When I first saw it I thought, “This is the most boring replay ever” — and then realized with my horror that it was live. Like you, I don’t mind it on replays, but live? Dreadful.
It’s like Pandora’s Box, methinks. They have the technology. Now that they’ve tasted it, they will never go back, and watching baseball on TV will never be the same.
Part of the appeal is deciding on my own that the umpire is wrong. I don’t need ESPN for that.
PS, does that seem like a low strike zone?
It very well could be a low strike zone. I don’t care how accurate those things are, I only view them as an approximation. It’s a 2D graphic overlaid on a 3D space. It is unofficial at best.
Steven, I assure you I like long comments. It is not upstaging at all, at least in my opinion. I just dribble on the screen. You actually write. How can that be wrong?
I believe every stadium has their own traditions. One of my goals was to attend a baseball game in every stadium within a single season. But then I remember I don’t really give that much of a darn about MLB any more.