April 1, 2023

Hello Radioland – It’s me, TV!!!

August 14, 2009 by · 6 Comments 

I sat in the stands at Comerica Park last Saturday with a very dear friend watching our beloved Tigers get trounced by the Evil Empire (also known as the Twinkies of Minnesota).  After a pounding rain all day and the promise of stifling hot weather to come, we enjoyed sitting in the park and chatting before the game, catching up on the things we had missed since seeing each other a few days earlier.  We chatted about life, our college days, her beautiful new daughter (who is a future short stop if her Aunt Shelly any say in the process), the wonderful breeze blowing out of right field, my scorecard – then out of the blue she lays this bomb on me. 

“I don’t understand how people watch baseball on TV.  I would so much rather listen to it on the radio, or be here at the park.  Watching baseball on TV is like watching paint dry.  It’s so boring.” 

I almost dropped my score card and my Pepsi… for a moment; I found it hard to breathe.

I love baseball in just about any form that I can get it.  I like it on internet, I like it on the replay shows, I like it on the radio but I love watching it on TV.  I will even tune in and watch the replay at midnight when I miss the first couple innings but already know the outcome of the game (thank you local cable provider for that new feature!).  I’m one of those diehards who watch the Venezuelan and Dominican winter league games in the off season.   My TV has preset favorites for MLB Network, Fox Sports and ESPN (1, 2, Classics and Deportes).  I can get a game at any time of the day or night if I try hard enough. And I find that solace on TV.

I’ll be honest; I always thought that listening to baseball on the radio was something that old people did.  I remember my grandfather listening to Tigers baseball on a little grey radio with a huge silver antenna in the kitchen when we came to visit.  He didn’t say much but when the Tigers were up, Grandpa would look up from his solitaire game and say things like “it aint over yet” or “wow, he actually caught that?”  In a way, it was his way of letting us know that just because he didn’t say much, he was listening not just to the game, but Grandpa was listening to everything going on around him. 

My mother and I have had this conversation more than once.  She lives where I grew up – up in the boonies and farm country of northern Michigan.  Up there, you don’t get every Tigers game (let alone midnight replay) on TV without a sports package.  Occasionally they play on national TV and that is when you watch your Tigers play on TV in the North Country.  My mother listens to nearly every game on the radio, and that is the way she prefers to get her baseball.  This is the way I grew up – with Ernie Harwell filling me in on what was going on down at Michigan and Trumbull in Tiger Stadium.  This was pretty much all I knew growing up.  Ignorance was bliss…

Now that I have grown up and migrated towards the Motor City (where every game is televised), I love watching my Tigers on TV.  I love to watch my boys hit bombs.  I like to see the swings and misses.  I like to see the strikeouts and stolen bases.  At times, it feels like you are watching your family members on TV.  Our boys of summer become our summer family and that 7:05 game time is a mini reunion almost every night.  Watching my boys on TV is my way of connecting with them and letting them know that I am there for them, win or lose.

Apparently I am alone in this feeling.

Baseball on the radio was always something I resorted to when I didn’t have a TV accessible to me or the game was not on TV.  It was just another way to get my daily fix.  I like baseball on the radio, but at times I find it hard to listen to the game without doing something.  Then my attention is drawn elsewhere and not on the game.  I lose track of the batting order, I forget counts, and last at bats become a blur. I can’t help but think about the sink of dirty dishes I should be doing or the laundry that still needs to be folded.  Baseball on the radio is highly unproductive for me.

But to sit there in the ball park and hear one of my peers, whose opinion I highly respect and admire, tell me that baseball on TV was “boring” completely threw me for a loop.  Here was living proof that my previously conceived notions of radio baseball were completely false.  Obviously my opinions were not felt by my peers.  Was I wrong all along?  Was I alone in this boat?  How could she think that?  Was she not a human of the technological age? For at least three days I thought she was completely crazy and out of her mind.  The girl has obviously lost her marbles and the lack of sleep was going to her head – she was delusional and didn’t know what she was saying.  It was the only justification in my mind.  

After having a week to think it over and let it rack my brain to the point of throbbing pain, I came to the conclusion that there really is no answer to the question of whether TV or radio is better for baseball.  My dear friend was not wrong or crazy – she was simply opinionated and I was ignorant.  The fact that we have both options that suit our needs really is the beauty of the sport.  As a fan we can choose to pick whichever media we prefer.  We have the option of reliving our past on crackly AM or get our fix on hi-def plasma big screens.  It all boils down to the fact that as fans we connect with the game in our own way.  The individuality of how we do it is completely up to us.  As long as you follow along and root for your boys, it doesn’t matter how you do it. 

To get even with my dear friend for making my brain hurt for a week, her young daughter is getting a Louisville Slugger for her first Christmas so we can start training next spring when she is actually walking.  A little gesture of love from Aunt Shelly – and a way to return the headache my dear friend gave me for a week.  I win.


PS – Tigers lost 11-0… we stayed till the end of the game… That’s dedication, and I had to finish filling out my scorecard…


6 Responses to “Hello Radioland – It’s me, TV!!!”
  1. Cheryl says:

    I really enjoyed this piece…you are a gifted writer, Shelly:)

  2. shellys mom says:

    There is nothing more suspenseful then those 10 seconds when the radio annoucer says its a hard hit ball back, back, up, up………..HOME RUN or he is racing towards home-the throw from centerfielder….SAFE!!!! just isn’t the same on TV.Then again it could be the radio annoucer are so much better than on TV sometimes you wish they would just be quiet!

  3. Careful Shelly, us old folks are touchy, sometimes downright grouchy. So stay away from that radio dial.

  4. Mike Lynch says:

    I’ll take my baseball any way I can get it and though I enjoy watching the Red Sox on TV more than listening to them on the radio, I love being able to go into my back yard with a good book or magazine, a drink and a cigar and listen to the Sox on MLB.com. I just throw open a window and point my computer speaker towards the yard and I’m good to go.

    My father used to listen to the Mariners on the radio all the time and I have wonderful memories of that. We used to listen to them together in the car, and I remember being in my living room with my father on April 29, 1986 and listening to Roger Clemens strike out 20 Mariners. I later watched the replay on TV, but I heard the original on the radio and it was amazing to listen to.

    Either way is fine with me.

  5. I was un-serious, but someone here recently wrote about the poor quality of commentary on television baseball. I think it was the wonderful piece about Vin Scully and while I believe Scully is excellent TV, I think he learned his trade on radio and brings that to bear as a television personality. I think those people who start out with radio make better commentators on television. Jon Miller is another example. I believe Jon Miller did radio as well. But Shelly doesn’t need radio, she’s got game right where she is.


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  1. […] Over at Seamheads, Shelly Riley brings up a topic dear to my heart. She wonders what the big deal with baseball on the radio is: […]

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