News From Terre Haute, Indiana

November 5, 2008

Amey Takes Aim: Play games in middle of night, watch World Series ratings drop

In reading Sports Illustrated last week, I was amused by the implication that World Series television viewership was down because of steroid testing.

People would rather watch a slowpitch softball game featuring two teams full of bloated druggies, the magazine’s argument seemed to be. Two teams who ran, bunted, hustled and got good pitching — who played real baseball, in other words — would be ignored.

Even throwing out the argument that’s the most logical one for baseball people — the fact that this kind of baseball is a lot more entertaining — there are a couple of other points that can be made.

1. Who cares if television ratings are down? If the programs that get high ratings are an indication, those ratings don’t exactly measure excellence.

(I can’t help but be reminded of an Elvin Bishop rant on an old live album of his. Apparently the concert being taped was witnessed by a less-than-full house.

“I don’t care,” the once-famous blues-rocker said. “You don’t need a lot of people to have a good time. The squares are the ones who stayed home. You don’t need a whole lot of people to have a good time. Best time I ever had there wasn’t but two of us.”)

2. The reason the ratings were down was because every game was played IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT!

Starting a baseball telecast at 8 p.m., when you know there are going to be five minutes of commercials between every half inning, is stupid. Starting a baseball telecast at 8 p.m. and then wasting more than a half hour after that with pre-game conversations between Joe Smug and Tim McCardinal is stupider yet.

When most of the action in the biggest games of the season takes place after the bedtimes of just about every kid with responsible parents, something’s wrong. When the games end after the bedtimes of just about everybody else, something’s wrong. And when the games end after the deadlines for every morning newspaper east of the Mississippi River, the people who went to bed at a reasonable hour are constantly two days behind. (No, ESPN, highlights don’t count.)

What little I saw of Rays vs. Phillies was pretty good (and would have been even better if the Rays had started the sixth inning of the suspended game with David Price or one of their starters on the mound, IMHO). And if the telecasts had started at 7 p.m. with the first pitch no later than 7:05, a lot of people would have loved it.

I guess our only hope is that the ratings were low enough that the idiots in charge come to their senses — probably a faint hope indeed.

• • •

• Two golfers — I’m probably not adding anything new to the Gene Verostko tributes, but I’d be ashamed of myself for not chiming in.

He was already a legend when I started working at The Terre Haute Star, and probably had the perfect temperament for a golfer — or for anyone else, for that matter. I never saw him flustered on the course; I never saw him hit a bad shot either, but even if he had I feel confident he would have approached the next one calmly.

I had the privilege of interviewing Gene quite a few years ago, when the paper was doing a series about the athletic programs at the high schools that no longer exist. His description of his Gerstmeyer days almost brought me to tears, and you can be sure he wasn’t talking about himself.

I had a smile on my face at work Monday night, however, when I was recording the hole-in-one at Forest Park by 85-year-old Dave Mundell.

I figure, by the age, that it had to be the Dave Mundell I used to carry furniture with at The Root Store back in the 1980s. He too has a great temperament, and I’m happy to see he’s still enjoying life.

Give me a call if you’ve got a sleeper to carry, Dave. I’ll be happy to pick up the other end.

Andy Amey can be reached after 4 p.m. for comments or news items at (812) 231-4277 or at 1-800-783-8742; by e-mail at; by mail at P.O. Box 149, Terre Haute, IN, 47808; or by fax at (812) 231-4321.