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A General Question for Everyone

How do you get your baseball? Or your sports in general?

St Louis Cardinals v San Francisco Giants
Not related to the subject, but Seung-hwan Oh is awesome.
Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Morning, all. How about that comeback win last night? If this team somehow manages to turn around five months of underachieving play and go on a deep playoff run, last night is one of those wins we’ll be talking about for years to come. Like the seat cushion night in 2006 against the Indians (I was at that game, it was awesome), or Scott Spiezio’s triple down the right field line on the last day of that same season to ice a playoff spot, helped out by the Braves defeating the Astros. (I was at that game, too; it was also awesome, and we did the chop. One of the only times in my life I have found it anything but incredibly irritating.)

As great as the comeback by the Bay was, though, I honestly don’t have a whole lot to say about it. Great game, but pretty much all the narrative was right there on display already. Nor, to be frank, do I have a ton to say about the rest of this regular season. The Cardinals need to win some games. Like, a lot of them. I have very little confidence in this team’s ability to win lots of games, and the manager gives me even less confidence. I’m interested in the upcoming offseason, but I don’t want to write too much about next year in the midst of this playoff race. I’ll also be very interested in the playoffs themselves, if the Cardinals manage to make it that far, but there’s a horse that needs to go in front of this cart if we want it to move.

And so rather than write about either of those things, I have a question for all of you that I’m very curious about. I’ll tell you why I’m curious first.

A little while back, maybe the week before last, I was watching something or other on Youtube. No clue what it was; the content itself really isn’t the point anyhow. The point is this: there was an ad before the video began, and said ad featured Skip Bayless. You know, the guy from Stephen A. Smith arguments.

Well, Bayless introduces himself at the beginning of the ad, and then welcomes you to his ‘Skip Ad’. He then points to the little Skip Ad button that pops up at that moment. It’s actually a really well done little moment, and I admit I chuckled the first time the ad popped up. Good on you, whoever shot that advertisement.

Anyhow, Skip Bayless is apparently advertising a new show, in which he argues with Shannon Sharpe. I only know this because there are other ads featuring Bayless and Sharpe together; I actually hit the Skip Ad button before the Skip Ad gets much beyond the Skip Ad moment, in general. But it would appear from these other advertisements that Bayless is now going to be arguing with a different black guy than he used to argue with, and apparently on another network as well. The show is on Fox, whereas Bayless used to ply his trade on ESPN.

I was surprised when I saw this. I hadn’t realised that Bayless wasn’t on ESPN anymore. And then I further realised I don’t recall the last time I actually encountered Bayless on television in any form. And then I further further realised I’m having a hard time remembering the last time I actually watched anything other than a live sporting event on ESPN.

Now let me say that I’m not singling out ESPN here as a sports network I no longer watch. I don’t watch Fox, either. Fox Sports One I think I’ve only ever encountered when the Cardinal game is moved from FSM to FS1, and I have to try and remember what number channel that is. I don’t even watch Fox Sports Midwest aside from Cards games, Blues games, and the pre- and postgame shows for those events.

I’ve also realised I very rarely visit the big sports sites; the actual news news I get from Twitter or the official Cards’ website. The analysis I get mostly from, well, here. I have Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus to tell me the really complicated stuff, and the rest I either come up with on my own or read about from other authors right here.

I do listen to a bunch of baseball podcasts, like Effectively Wild and the various iterations of Fangraphs podcasts Carson Cistulli comes up with. l unsubscribed from the shitshow the Best Podcast in Baseball has turned into, though, and avoid tuning in to much of the sports talk radio available for most hours of the day.

I still have a satellite television subscription, but I did also pick up the Sling package that features FSM this season, and have watched some baseball via that method, just to see if it would be feasible to drop television in general, and only consume what I actually want in terms of live events and then what is available online. I have Amazon Prime, I have Netflix, I have HBO Go, and I have a subscription to the WWE Network, which I basically only use to watch old Saturday Night’s Main Event shows from 1989.

Basically, at this point I’m only keeping satellite in order to watch the odd ESPN baseball game I care about (I couldn’t give a shit less about the NFL these days), and the early rounds of the playoffs, when I would otherwise be forced to venture out into the world to find somewhere to watch TBS. I suppose I would also miss watching basketball, but probably not enough to keep paying a thousand dollars a year (something like that, anyway), for the privilege.

What I’m saying is this: I consider myself a relatively avid sports fan. I watch untold numbers of hours of baseball in a given week, mostly of the Redbird variety but also other games occasionally. I watch lots of hockey when there’s no baseball on. I watch a fair amount of basketball when there’s no hockey on. And I still enjoy college football games. But given all that, it seems rather shocking to me when I actually consider how little mainstream sports coverage I consume. I do enjoy MLB Network sometimes, though there’s quite a lot of crap on that channel as well, between the yelling guy from New York and the twin assholes who do Intentional Talk. Much of their programming, though, I enjoy. But I don’t watch any of the ESPN shows, nor any of those on Fox Sports. My sporting consumption is almost entirely limited to the sports themselves, and I then retreat into what I suppose could be called baseball hipsterdom.

Now, I readily acknowledge my situation may be a somewhat unusual one. After all, I’ve been writing about this sport, and this ballclub in particular, for closing in on a decade now, for this and other outlets. I wrote a daily column on sports for five years. Perhaps at a certain point of having formulated your own thoughts and analysis for so many years, you lose some of the desire to hear a bunch of other sports talk from people whose opinions you don’t really value. But I do wonder if my experience the past handful of years is at all similar to anyone else’s.

So that’s my question for all of you this morning: how do you consume your baseball? Your sports in general? And what kind of analysis and news related to the sporting world do you engage with? Are you an avid SportsCenter watcher? Or do you get all your news online? Do you still read the newspaper, by any chance? Sports, in general, is very much a part of the mainstream these days, and yet it’s not really necessary to consume the ancillary stuff that goes along with the actual sports part of sports.

So tell me what your sporting consumption is like. I’m really curious to know.