Christmas is traditionally a time of joy, followed by the dawning of a New Year full of hope.Â Sadly for British baseball fans, hope and joy will feel a long way off today with the news that Five are reportedly dropping all coverage of U.S. Sport.Â
The news first broke on the NFLUK.com forum, apparently coming directly from NFL (and sometimes MLB) presenter Mike Carlson.
“Five have decided to drop their late-night American sports studio shows. This means that the last three regular season games with be our last ones. The NHL has already been cancelled, NBA will finish their season, and MLB will not resume next season.
It is a cost-cutting measure, so if a way were to be found to pay the costs of studio production, these shows could return, but that’s a long-shot at present.
I’ll be doing the Super Bowl for the BBC, of course.
You could voice your disappointment to Dawn Airey and Robert Charles at Channel Five. They were supportive of the shows in principle, but couldnt justify the expense during a retrenching”.
Picked up by the MLBUK Supporters Forum, the news has gained credence from the reliable poster Scottish Yankee who claims to have had it confirmed by a source at Five.
No official confirmation has been announced by Five as yet, although this may come in the NFL game being broadcast tonight.Â If it does, it will truly be a sad day for fans of all U.S. sports in this country.
While I have occasionally watched the NFL and NHL coverage over the years, it is the baseball coverage that I have been a regular viewer of since 1998.Â Quite simply, I would not be a baseball fan today were it not for Five.Â The team have consistently put together brilliant shows that allow newcomers and established fans to enjoy the game in equal measure: a trick far from easy to pull off.
Jonny Gould’s enthusiasm is as infectious as it is entertaining and while some may groan at his regular mentions of his fantasy team, his passion for the game always shines through.Â He asks the questions that would spring to mind to a relative newcomer and his appreciation of the e-mails sent in by the viewers has helped to foster a baseball community in Britain.
Of course Jonny has been very ably assisted by several co-hosts over the years, not least the current presenter Josh Chetwynd.Â Josh’s analysis has greatly increased many a fan’s understanding of the intricacies of the game, something that has been invaluable to those of us who have never really played it.Â As revealed in the enlightening interview published here at BaseballGB earlier in the week, Josh has also dedicated a considerable amount of his time and energy into furthering the baseball cause in Great Britain, far beyond his work covering MLB on Five.Â
You cannot help but feel incredibly sorry for the whole team on Five who have possibly seen their years of hard work come to an end through no fault of their own.Â Were these decisions based purely on the quality of the shows in question, there would be no doubt that MLB on Five and the other U.S. sports shows would continue.Â Sadly, many other factors will also play a part in the decision and it appears as though they have spelled the end to what has become a beloved institution to baseball devotees in Britain.
If so, it will have significant ramifications for baseball in this country.Â Some posters on the NFLUK forum have latched on to the wording of Mike’s message which states that the “studio shows” have been dropped, leading to the possibility that Five may show the game footage without any British links.Â Although better than nothing, such an approach would greatly reduce the enjoyment of the shows and their ability to turn inquisitive Brits into diehard baseball fans.
A more in-depth look at the future of TV coverage of baseball in Britain will be published here tomorrow.Â However, it’s clear that any scenario which doesn’t include the current Five teamÂ will leave a big hole in the coverage of the sport in this country.