In the top of the third inning of Alec Mills’ eventual no-hitter against the Brewers Sunday in Milwaukee, Eric Sogard was the leadoff hitter.
Only you might not have known that, because coming out of the commercial break, instead of going back to Len and JD calling the game Marquee Sports Network viewers saw this [VIDEO].
Sunday was also the Chicago Bears’ NFL opener against the Detroit Lions in Detroit. So Marquee viewers were “treated” to this feature — which ran well over a minute — about some of the history of the Bears at Wrigley Field, complete with Taylor McGregor standing on the first-base line at an empty Wrigley holding a down marker that supposedly was used during Bears games at the Friendly Confines.
This is what happened during Sogard’s at-bat:
In the video above, you can briefly see live action in time to show the first called strike (about six seconds’ worth of video). Then the network barely makes it back in time to show the foul bunt, four seconds’ worth of video (on one of Mills’ patented slow curveballs!), and finally, Len Kasper did note that Sogard had been called out on strikes.
I’ve got a number of things to say about what you see in the video above but first I want to note that I don’t blame Len, JD or Taylor for things like this. They’re likely only doing what they’ve been asked or told to do by producers. I met Taylor McGregor during Spring Training. McGregor’s work is generally fun and interesting and she was kind enough to join Sara Sanchez and Andi Cruz Vanecek on the BCB podcast back in March. Further, with no access to players or coaches during the pandemic, McGregor’s role as “field reporter” has had to morph into something a bit different. The grounds crew feature she did during Wednesday’s game, for example, was cool and fun and the producers didn’t interrupt game coverage while showing what Taylor did as a grounds crew member for a day.
Where I do place the blame for this is on Marquee’s production executives, who think they have to put features like this during games to catch the “casual fan.” That might be true for national broadcasts, whether regular-season or postseason, because in those cases there are a lot of people who aren’t fans of the teams on a network broadcast that the network still wants to capture as viewers. I still don’t really care personally for these types of features even during national baseball broadcasts, but I understand the concept.
But Marquee, as a network carrying only Cubs games, should understand that it doesn’t have to reel in the casual Cubs fan to entice him or her to watch Cubs games. Whether casual or passionate, the Cubs fan is going to want to watch the game during its (approximate) three-hour block. Marquee, now being the only channel carrying the games, should broadcast the plays going on in actual games during innings, not use up almost 90 seconds with features like this that are not only unrelated to the game at hand, but aren’t even about baseball.
Now, for the casual fan who doesn’t know a lot of Cubs or Wrigley history, this particular feature is actually interesting. But it belongs on a pregame show, not during the game. Or get these features sponsored and run them instead of commercial breaks during the game. I implore the Marquee producers to eliminate broadcasting stuff like this during play.
Beyond all that — and obviously no one knew Alec Mills would throw a no-hitter at the time — one of Mills’ five strikeouts during his no-hitter now can barely be seen, yet another reason to focus on the game at hand during the broadcast. You never know when real baseball history is going to be made right in front of you, and in my view that’s a lot better than seeing canned NFL history while a baseball game is in progress.