The Tao's call to arms this morning touched on similar ground to something I briefly mentioned (in a self promoting way, of course) on the weekend: the baseball audience in Canada is underserved. Hockey gets so much more coverage and so on and so forth. The discussion that followed is informed and intelligent, with numerous excellent points and suggestions about how baseball coverage can be improved.
Sadly, it never really will.
The Tao's original point regarding baseball highlights being buried during TSN's 11PM Sportscentre is accurate but unlikely to change. In a perfect world, with "journalistic balance" it would be much more attainable. Sadly, Sportscentre is 50% news and 50% brand awareness platform and cross-promotion opportunity. TSN and Sportscentre tell the hockey story first because they have a heavily vested interest in the success of hockey on their networks.
This isn't new, Sportsnet's baseball coverage is more extensive than other Canadian networks, but if Rogers sold the Jays would it continue? Baseball fans don't show up in the numbers (at the ballpark or on TV) that hockey fans do, which is why you'll never see one network walk away from hockey without anyone running to pick it up.
ESPN is famous for this (good discussion on the topic during a couple recent L'Homme du Sport podcasts) most notably the significant uptick in NASCAR coverage right around the time the four-letter increased the amount of NASCAR races on the airspace. The Score covered college basketball far more extensively this season, culminating in the network broadcasting the tournament this March.
We're all at the mercy of the dreaded branders and marketers once again. TSN officially ceased to be a journalistic entity the day the LEAD STORY on Sportscentre was TSN's acquisition of the Hockey Night in Canada theme. Sportsnet will assign more resources to baseball so long as they stand to benefit from our association of Sportsnet and baseball.
The real question remains: is this such a bad thing? We love to hold baseball writers and sports entities hands to the fire with cries of balance and integrity, but at the end of the day they're just games. We love them all the same, but as Joe Posnanski wrote in as many words recently, shouldn't we reserve our ire and desire for transparency for the business section? For the news or editorial sections? Sporting conflicts of interest are harmless compared to the fleecing of a generation. (Sorry, a little too much Shock Doctrine this week.)
In the end, sports fans and lazy slobs alike have it pretty fucking good. I will likely watch more baseball this year than my father watched in the decades that preceded and followed the Blue Jays arrival in Toronto. It's not a bad life, even if we know how much better it could be.