I Watched Marquee Sports Network All Day and This Happened

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I honestly came up with this idea back in the salad days of February; we were all so young and innocent then. If you recall the simpler times of this year’s second month, it was when the Chicago Cubs launched Marquee Sports Network, the new venture they own jointly own with Sinclair Broadcasting.

Since day one, it’s been a lightning rod for criticism. Opinion about it almost always polarizes and before a global pandemic engulfed us all, we had the luxury to get angry about how Marquee Network wasn’t available in many homes in the Cubs’ market. Now we’re wondering if we’ll even have a baseball season?

#Perspective

Long before the Shelter-in-Place order was mandated, I wondered how MSN can fill an entire day of programming, especially in the off-season. Now with baseball suspended, and thus the longest off-season in history, how do they fill these hours?

Well, today, because reasons and because #QuarantineLife I had it on all day. With everyone else stuck at home, and an over-reliance on the TV, here’s basically what you’ll get if you decide to torture yourself like I did, for some bizarre reason.

#Journalism

chicago cubs

2016 NLDS game 1 victory over the San Francisco Giants

This is kind of a staple for networks such as these, and you really can’t have that strong of feelings either way on it. Yes, this was an exciting game and a huge win for Cubs fans in a magical season. And when they aired the Phillies 23, Cubs 22 game from May of 1979 that was pretty cool too.

Of course MLB Network aired it too, or should I say the abridged version. You can see the whole game in its entirety on YouTube if you want

Cubs 162

Bill Kurtis and his dulcet tones are always pleasant and reassuring. The actual content of this show though…just an infomercial for the Cubs. It’s basically their state controlled television, which is what you knew you were going to get when you clicked on this channel. Overall, kind of dull, boring, yawn! Let’s move on.

Follow the Money

Love the title, but this is a show about nothing but speculation. It is betting centric programming after all. And since we have no sports, we also have no spreads, over/unders or money lines. What we do have here is a bunch of white dudes with no clue what they’re talking about, but trying to convince us that they’re experts on the given subject they’re soapboxing on.

My favorite moment came when one of them said Kirk Herbstreit, and others should stay in their lanes, and let the experts talk. “Just be positive and let the experts talk” is basically what he said; without a hint of irony or self-awareness.

My gawd this show was shitty! But aren’t all sports debate shows? I mean you know how the sports network business model works- live game broadcasts get phenomenal ratings, nothing else does, but they must fill time with something.

herbstreit-nebraska-cornhuskers

If you get enough people to consistently be acerbic or controversial enough, you might get some kind of decent level of ratings with your pointless screaming match, faux debate show. And by the way, if you’re that triggered by what Herbie said- we most likely won’t have football in 2020, it’s time to get a clue.

  1. we’re going to go from “stay at least 6 feet away from everybody at all times” to 70,000 in people in one space by August? Or in the case of the White Sox, 13,000 people in the same spot.
  2. He doesn’t know anything more than the rest of us, but he was invited/paid to go on some show and say something, so he did. Deal with it.

Cubs 360

Okay, now we went from the kiddie high chairs to the adult’s roundtable. This is a more wonky show for hard core seamheads, sabermetricians and other assorted baseball geeks.

2017-chicago-cubs-1985

It’s more dry, sure, but definitely more substantive.

That’s what Lou Piniella and Mark Grace look like today?

Cubs Countdown

Seeing an item on this show reminded me just how much I would love to watch games one and two of the 1984 NLCS. I joke that listicles are to journalism what Taco Bell is to food, but on tv it kind of works, sometimes. The obvious pandering to clickbait can work in this medium.

The Best thing I saw all day 

When they showed the times that Bill Murray was in the booth, alongside Steve Stone or Harry Caray in the 1980s, now that was good television. Especially his ripping apart the Montreal Expos starting lineup on that day.

“Herm Willingham? We’re supposed to be afraid of a guy with that name?” “Vance Law, he’s overrated.”

After this, Marquee Sports Network just started to cycle through everything again, so by this point my work here was done.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation.

You can follow Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com on Twitter here and his cat on Instagram at this link

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Comments

  1. Man Oh Man Did You Ever Nail It. Please Give Me The Original Cubs TV Station. Plus NBC Sports Chicago and ABC 7 Chicago. And also about New Cubs Ownership To Clean Up This Historic MESS.

  2. We will never again Hear The Go Cubs Go Song at Wrigley Field. Because Hey it Mentions WGN The Original Home of Our CUBS BROADCAST. . Shame on Cubs Ownership.

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