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Baseball on Five: From Parliament to a Podcast?

by Matt Smith

We are three Sundays and Wednesdays into the new season and British baseball fans are still struggling to come to terms with the lack of Sunday Night baseball on Five, or any other free-to-air channel for that matter. 

The situation has even been recognised in Parliament.  An Early Day Motion was submitted and backed by two MPs (well done to Mr John Leech and Dr Ian Gibson for showing their support) welcoming “the rise in popularity of baseball in the United Kingdom”, acknowledging “the contribution that televised baseball has made in increasing the popularity of the sport”, expressing concern for the probable negative impact on this caused by Five’s decision and calling on them “or another free-to-view channel to show Major League Baseball on television”.

The Early Day Motion was highlighted on Jonny Gould’s own baseball blog and shows that the fight to bring baseball back to our TV screens will continue for as long as it takes.  In the meantime, I’m backing the calls for a Jonny and Josh podcast. 

Like many fans, it was Five’s brilliant coverage that got me hooked on baseball.  In time, my obsession grew and two ballgames a week was nowhere near enough, so I became a subscriber to MLB.tv.

However, access to all of those games didn’t stop me tuning in to Baseball on Five (or more commonly setting the video and watching it later).  The game itself was almost of secondary importance to the banter provided by Jonny, Josh, Erik and the crew and also the many viewers who e-mailed in.  Coupled with the analysis from Josh and many other well-loved features, it became more than just a sports show: it was an institution.

While it wouldn’t be quite the same without a game going on alongside, the irreverent, fun, informative and enjoyable side to the show could still be brought to us via a regular audio podcast. 

The team spent years building up a loyal audience and a podcast would be a good way to keep them together, something that would also help the overall aim of getting baseball back on our TV screens.  Listeners could submit e-mails about the major topics of the week, along with more general questions about the game (queries about rules or baseball lingo etc), that would allow us to be a part of the podcast in the same way we were part of the TV show (Jonny read out an e-mail of mine during the 2007 World Series and I was ridiculously happy about it!).

Additional regular features could be created from there. One of which has got to be a trivia section for Josh (maybe listeners could ‘Challenge Josh’ instead of Erik providing the questions?) and there needs to be a fantasy baseball segment for Jonny, serving as a great way to continue promoting the FantasyBaseballUK competition as well.

Baseball on Five also played a valuable public service role by promoting British baseball events.  This could take a more prominent position in a podcast, including contributions from British team representatives.

Is it feasible? Producing an audio podcast does not have to be complex or costly; quite the opposite in fact.  Like anything, it can be as elaborate or as basic as you wish to make it.  A straightforward podcast on a simple website would be great, but the possibilities are endless if the support (technical and in spirit) is there.  That was demonstrated by Herts Baseball Club last September when they produced a successful live internet broadcast as part of their annual postseason Kyle Hunlock Series.  Personally, I think including a few audio clips from MLB games and/or press conferences would really help in putting segments of the podcast into context.

Of course, whether any of this happens or not relies solely on Jonny, Josh and whoever else would need to be actively involved.  If the idea simply doesn’t appeal to them, then that’s fair enough.  It’s easy for me to sit here and write up a few ideas.  Making them a reality would require other people to give up their spare time, possibly spare time they just don’t have.

But there’s nothing wrong with being a dreamer every now and then.  If the logistics make it impossible then so be it.  All I know is that it would be beneficial for baseball in Britain and us fans would enjoy it immensely.  Add in the likelihood that Jonny and Josh would greatly enjoy making it as well and you have more than enough reasons to put the idea forward.

How about it?  Would a Jonny and Josh podcast appeal to you and, if so, do you have any ideas for possible features that could be a part of the show?

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Gary Spate April 25, 2009 - 12:21 am

Like all British fans I was dismayed with five’s decision to drop baseball. Jonny and Josh are an institution to us “baseball nuts” and I’d love to see/hear them carry on with some sort of coverage/banter about the great game.

Damn you FIVE!

Stephen Metcalfe April 28, 2009 - 6:23 pm

Why could any rational TV exec. ditch the best thing on telly, for aussie soap’s and CSI? I shall never touch the awesome banality of this station again.

Lefty May 2, 2009 - 1:52 am

In a way I cannot buy into the economic factors for the programme.

Until the post-season baseball is on a max of 2 nights a week – I really wonder how much S&V charge per show in order for 5 to really justify dropping it … also heard rumors somewhere that MLB wasn’t charging for the rights …….

Is live US sport the only programming victim of the credit crunch?

BaseballGB » Blog Archive » JC v. the Gouldfish - Josh and Jonny reunited on the web June 3, 2009 - 7:01 am

[…] Gould and Josh Cheywnd still may not be on our TV screens, or broadcasting via a podcast as I had put forward as a suggestion previously, but they have been reunited on the web in written form.  Josh has been writing a blog […]


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