First To Win Sixteen Is The Champion

My team is in the playoffs. Now that basketball season is over, (I guess they are in playoffs, but living in Michigan the words “professional,” “basketball,” and “playoffs” appear together nearly as often as winning Mega Millions lottery tickets) maybe TV networks can start broadcasting sports for the rest of us. It’s hockey playoff season now and I have had the chance to watch two games today. I have a vested interest in both of them, but for different reasons.

The Red Wings (the Detroit team) lost and are tied at 1-1 for the series. I have a natural affection for them because they are the Wings! I have been following them as long as I have had a radio and could listen to WJR, the better part of six decades. Followed the Tigers for the same time and for the same reason, too.

Over the years, I have had the (dubious) pleasure of working various shifts and times, thus requiring commute travel throughout the day and night. During hockey season, there were times when my Wings were not playing (or at least not while I was driving) so I would scan the AM dial for other stations to see what was available. I eventually discovered WGN broadcast the Chicago Blackhawk games, KMOX sourced the St Louis Blues, and WBZ was the way to follow the Boston Bruins. Depending on weather conditions (thunderstorms were terrible for AM) and the sunspot cycle (something I only discovered halfway through my radio listening journey), I was able to listen to SOMEONE play hockey all season long. What joy!

One of my greatest disappointments in my military career was the too-late discovery that the Boston team played in Chicago the weekend I came home for Thanksgiving of 1975. I could have turkey just about anytime, but the ‘Hawks and Bruins together?

Today, since sports is such a money generator it is nearly impossible to follow games without paying for premium services. The “networks of NBC” are showing every playoff hockey game this playoff season. EVERY ONE! Except that most of the games are on the premium sports network channels on cable. Over-the-air broadcast in my area has two games today and these are the first ones from this series. Altogether there have been eight games played so far (or will at the end of the third period). They only showed half of the games from my local market and won’t show another until game 4 (maybe… I’m not sure they will even play that one). I can see more soccer from England than hockey from North America, and watch 6 hours of golf and 400+ miles of NASCAR every weekend (could watch in theory, they are broadcast every week). But only 2 hours of hockey on a special occasion (normally they might show a game every other week).

It’s not fair. Someday we will have the opportunity to have a-la-carte TV where we can watch what we want, maybe when we want. I’m not talking about DVR, either. I mean we can ask for television that meets our desires rather than some committee in a network headquarters that believe we need another sit-com aimed at a third-grade intelligence.  Delivered in a reliable format (digital over the air is NOT it… at least analogue signals could be watched at 50% signal strength, snow, hiss, and all; digital TV at 50% is mostly black screen and silence) at a reasonable price (preferably free, since the government supports public broadcasts).

And please don’t get me started about the recent trend to add “retro” TV broadcasts to the lineup. Most of the shows I see on the stations in my market rebroadcast programs that we didn’t watch when they were initially shown in the 60’s and 70’s because they were bad. They are not fine wine and haven’t improved with age. About the only thing that can be said for these shows is to prove to the grand-kids we didn’t have HD colour programs back in the last ice age.

Oh, I nearly forgot. I said I had a vested interest in both games today but failed no explain why the NY Rangers versus the Pittsburgh Penguins game would be “must see TV.” True, neither team falls into my favorites list, but if history is any indication of future events, then there is only about a dozen or so more broadcast games left this season to watch. Then a barren wasteland till September brings the 2015-2016 season start.

Any port in a storm…

Phred

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