July 12, 2005

When technology revives a retro pleasure.

XM Radio and baseball:
Since XM announced last October that it would be carrying baseball games, it has gained nearly two million subscribers over all and expects to add another million by the end of this season, in part because a transient population is constantly looking for a connection to its roots....

"What you have here is cutting-edge technology that brings in the past," Bob Costas, the broadcaster and an XM customer, said. "With clearer reception, it's exactly what I did when I was 11 and 12, taking the keys to my dad's car, sitting in the driveway and trying to pick up games in different parts of the country through all the crackle."...

Baseball has always been regarded as the sport best suited to radio, given all of its long pauses and blank spaces. While football and basketball announcers could hyperventilate chronicling the incessant action, baseball broadcasters sprinkle quirky stories with signature home run calls. For transplanted fans, hearing a game is not unlike telephoning home.

"Because of the length of the season, the pace of the games and the soap-opera quality of baseball, listeners get to know announcers very well and become very close to them," Gary Cohen, the radio voice of the Mets, said. "But what I like best about XM is that you can also listen to other broadcasters. You can get a point of comparison."...

"In the past, I guess we'd throw in a CD or a movie at night," said Natalie Turner, an Orioles fan in Charleston, S.C., who is married to an Indians fan. "Now we listen to baseball. Part of the appeal is that baseball is so great on radio. I think it's because there's just one player in the spotlight at a time. You can picture the game without seeing it."
It's nice when advances in technology bring back old things -- like the way the email and blogging brought back the written word as the everyday means of communication.

6 comments:

Brian J. said...

If you count 1, 2, U, C, 4, 8, LOL, IMHO, and so on as written words.

amba said...

That last is a lovely and true observation, Brian notwithstanding.

Most bloggers don't write like teenagers text-messaging with their thumbs. To the extent that we do use abbreviations like IMHO, they're convenient marginal notes, the equivalent of body language like a quizzical look or a shrug.

ploopusgirl said...

Oh really, Amba? Seems to me most emails are full of 'netspeak.' Also seems to me that most of Althouse's readers comment using 'netspeak.' It hardly seems a problem limited to teenagers. Nice.

Pancho said...

A very nice post. I find my young step son listening to our local Texas League team on the radio as he goes to sleep. This is very gratifying to me. It gives him a chance to conjure up his own mental images of the game, unlike most of his activities that are highly structured and presented with no room for the imagination.

Mark Kaplan said...

The internet also takes baseball fans back in another way. Before there was television or transistor radios crowds would gather at places where the progress of a baseball game would be displayed in viewable analog fashion: one or two lights under the word "strike" and the word "out;" one, two or three lights under the word "ball;" a diagram of a diamond with lights showing any baserunners; some method of showing the score and the inning. This is basically the same methodology provided by MLB's "Gameday" where fans sitting in their offices away from radios and televisions can "watch" the progress of their favorite games. It is surprisingly dramatic to see the "ball in play" indication (a blue light) and then to wait to see whether it is an out or a hit.

Tmrtex said...

When the pleasure of my constant company during the summertime became too much for my parents to stand, I would be loaned for several weeks to my grandparents out in the Missouri farm country. After mowing grass, tending the garden, AM and PM fishing trips, and dinner, my grandparents and I would sit in the screened-in porch (cleverly designed to keep bugs in with you). We would listen to the St. Louis Cardinals night after night, with Grandfather the Preacher commenting in german accents on each player, Grandmother snapping peas, amd me; well, I'm not sure what I was doing. But, I sure do remember those nights as having a sweetness I have never found elsewhere. "Retro pleasures"! Why that was only forty years or so ago.