Monday, May 16, 2022

No comedies for CBS

Not a good year for Linda Lavin.  

CBS on Friday picked up none of their comedy projects and axed three others (B POSITIVE, UNITED STATES OF ALL, and that horrible bowling thing).  Significant is that two of the comedies were from Chuck Lorre.  I watched an episode of one of the Chuck Lorre canceled shows (I won’t say which one since I have friends on both) but it was not good.  I think even the laugh machine had trouble getting it up for some of the jokes. 

But it’s not like all sitcoms fail.  YOUNG SHELDON and GHOSTS are doing fine at CBS.  ABBOTT ELEMENTARY is an audience and critics’ darling.  THE CONNORS is hanging in there. Even CALL ME KAT on Fox is getting okay numbers.   ABC renewed three sitcoms in addition to ABBOTT ELEMENTARY. 

But the genre that for decades was a cash cow thanks to first-run syndication now no longer has that promised land to shoot for.  New platforms and new economic models have all but erased that mega payday for any show producing 100 episodes are more.  

And yet, if one should hit — FRIENDS has made way more money for Warner Brothers than the entire Batman franchise.  And it continues to.  Hit comedies still can demand decent back ends.  Netflix losing THE OFFICE was a big deal for them.  It’s rarer now, but a big hit sitcom can still be a monster asset.  

What I don’t know is this:  Were the CBS comedy pilots and presentation just not that good?  Would CBS have picked one or two up if they were?  Or are they just sour on comedy?   Networks made fewer pilots and presentations (i.e. pilots on the cheap) this year than ever before.  You stand a much better chance of finding the next FRIENDS if you make 20 pilots instead of 4.”  

NBC picked up two, but talk about conservative — a reboot of NIGHT COURT and the 15th sitcom attempt by George Lopez.  If you’re looking to mount the next breakout comedy, don’t reboot a 40 year old show or retread some journeyman sitcom star.

Fortunately for writers, there are other outlets besides the (former) Big Four.  Again, all it will take to reverse the trend is ONE.  One truly funny sitcom that strikes a chord.

Television programming is a pendulum; always has been.  So comedies will come back.  They were declared dead in the early ‘80s and then CHEERS and COSBY came along.   Find the next “FRIENDS’ and suddenly comedy is back.

So that’s your assignment for the week — create the next mega hit like FRIENDS.  Papers due on Friday.   The state of network comedy depends on it.  But no pressure.  

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Weekend Post

Time to plug my book again since summer is coming as well as Father's Day.  It's THE ME GENERATION... BY ME (GROWING UP IN THE '60s). You can find the Kindle version here.  Here is an excerpt.  Think of how much fun you'll have on the beach reading this. 

1964, Woodland Hills

Must viewing: THE LLOYD THAXTON SHOW. Each afternoon from 5-6 Lloyd Thaxton hosted a live dance party show on the cheapest cheesiest independent station in LA – KCOP. If his budget was more than $4.95 a show I’d be shocked.

His set consisted of four panels (probably cardboard) with musical notes drawn on them. Kids from local high schools were invited to dance on a soundstage the size of an elevator. This was appointment television for every teenager in Los Angeles.

What made the show special was Lloyd Thaxton. Most shows like this were hosted by disc jockeys. They were content to just introduce the records and step aside while the kids did the Twist, Jerk, Fly, Popeye, Monkey, Frug, Mash Potato, Locomotion, and whatever other inane dance was the rage that minute. Lloyd was the first to realize “this was TELEVISION”, you had to do something VISUAL. So he would find ways to comically present the songs. This elf-looking redhead would lip sync, mime playing instruments, use finger puppets, don wigs, do duets with rubber masks, cut out the lips on an album cover and substitute his own – anything to make the songs fun. In many ways, Lloyd Thaxton was a local version of Ernie Kovacs, finding innovative new ways to use the new medium. Music videos these days are all ambitious elaborate productions. Back then we were quite content to watch a guy sing into his hand.

I always wanted to be on his show but of course didn’t qualify because I was still in Junior High. The indignities continue! However, I did get to appear on NINTH STREET WEST.

With the success of THE LLOYD THAXTON SHOW every local channel had their own dance party show. Over the next few years there would be SHEBANG on Channel 5 with Casey Kasem, SHIVAREE on Channel 7 with KFWB D.J. Gene Weed, and NINTH STREET WEST on Channel 9 hosted by KFWB D.J. Sam Riddle. Stations hired the D.J.’s with the best and most teeth.

I sent in requests to all of them but only NINTH STREET WEST bit. Talk about a great date. Taking a girl to a TV show and dinner at nearby Carolina Pine’s coffee shop in Hollywood. Thanks again for driving, mom!

I asked my friend Marcia. You always want to be seen on TV with someone hotter than you, but not so hot that it screams “pity date”. Marcia was very cute yet believable as my escort.

The show originated from the Channel 9 studios on Melrose Ave. The soundstage was nothing more than a one-car garage (for a Kia maybe). About forty of us were jammed into this tiny space. It’s hard to rock out with reckless abandon when at any moment you could get an elbow in your eye.

There were three guests scheduled to lip sync their songs. It was impossible to do them live. One amplifier and ten dancers would be pinned against the wall. The guests were the Beau Brummels (a group out of San Francisco), a very young Marvin Gaye, and British imports Peter & Gordon.

Kids were so crazed over the Beatles that they started buying records from any group that came out of England. It’s the same principle where girls who can’t sleep with rock stars wind up in bed with their roadies. First it was the Dave Clark 5, and then the floodgates opened. Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas (who sang one of the creepiest songs EVER – “Little Children”. The story of a guy threatening little children because they caught him diddling their sister. Ugh!), Gerry & the Pacemakers, Herman’s Hermits, the inane Freddy & the Dreamers (whose entire act was to wear suits that didn’t fit and do jumping jacks), and Peter & Gordon. The harder edged Rolling Stones, Animals, Who, and Lulu would come a bit later.

During a commercial break they set up for Marvin Gaye’s number. Surprisingly, he seemed incredibly nervous. His hands were practically shaking. Hardly the super cool image we’d come to expect. I assured him he was great and had nothing to worry about. It must have meant a lot coming from a white kid in his bar mitzvah suit. He gave me a quick smile, the red light went on and he did his song. Afterwards when he was off camera he thanked me. Not necessary but a lovely gesture.

The next day in school Marcia was quite the celebrity. Everyone had seen her on NINTH STREET WEST. Maybe two or three had seen me. I wanted to say, “Hey, screw you, people. I’m the one who saved Marvin Gaye’s career!”

 

Friday, May 13, 2022

Friday (the 13th) Questions

Try not to walk under any black cats or let ladders cross in front of you.  It’s Friday the 13th complete with FQ’s.

Brian Phillips gets us going.

Do you prefer writing a script that is straight humor or one that is humorous but has dramatic moments?

It sort of depends on my mood.  Scripts with dramatic moments tend to be more grounded and there is less emphasis on the comedy.  

Other times I just want to write something strictly comedic and make it as funny as it can be from start to finish.

Guess which one is harder to write.  The balls-out comedy by a mile.  

From Manny:

Do you think cellphones hurt modern day comedies? I know there are ways around this (poor service, dead batteries, etc), but often their prevalence seems to stifle a lot of comedic potential. It’s hard to imagine Cheers or Frasier, for instance, being as funny if everyone was constantly looking at their screens. Plus a lot of plots would’ve been rendered moot.

Absolutely.  So many comic misunderstandings come from characters not having access to what the situation really is.   But with cellphones anybody can be contacted (or warned or set straight) at any time and place.  

On the other hand, sometimes that can work in your favor.  Let’s say you need a character to share some information with another.  It’s vital to the story that that character learns the info.  But what if the person transmitting it has no idea where he is?   Or if he’s in a public place like Fenway Park?  Technology to the rescue.  

One thing for sure:  At CHEERS they would start calling Cliff out on his bullshit since they could look anything up.

slgc asks:

This has been an exciting season of Jeopardy, with an unusual number of high win streaks.

Why do you think that so many contestants have won so many consecutive games? Have they deciphered the code to winning?


No, I think it’s sheer luck.  Remember, there was also a pretty long stretch where nobody won more than twice.  Whatever year you put Matt Amoddio and Amy Schneider on JEOPARDY that’s a year you’re going to have a super champion.  I may be making this up, but didn’t one of them say they were rejected a time or two for JEOPARDY?  So it’s not like the producers knew going in that these were superstars.  

But I do think they've deciphered the code to wagering.  These super champions know how to wager better and how to build up their totals so the game is a runaway by Final Jeopardy.  I think the reason Mattea Roach had so many close games was because she was way too conservative in her wagers.  And your chances of losing increase considerably when you’re not a guaranteed winner, and there you have another incisive Levine’s Law.  

And finally, from Kyle Burress:

What moments, if any, in television have made you cry or at least made an impact on you?

Too many to count.  I get choked up easily.  And as a writer I love to make others choke up.  

The end of THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW, Lady Sybil dying on DOWNTON ABBEY, Adele’s performance a few years ago at the Grammys, Tony Bennett’s recent special on CBS, Vin Scully singing “Wind Beneath My Wings” to the Dodger Stadium crowd on his final home broadcast, the last moment in CHEERS, Whitney Houston’s National Anthem at the Super Bowl, the child ventriloquist on SOME COUNTRY'S GOT TALENT,  Rachel watching the prom home video on FRIENDS, Mrs. Landingham’s death on WEST WING, and I’m sure a hundred more I just can’t think of right now.

The only time I choked up from something David Isaacs and I wrote was the last scene in Goodbye Radar on MASH.  The teddy bear on the bunk killed me even though we came up with it.  

What’s your Friday (the 13th) Question? 

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

EP274: The Best of Your Worst


After Ken’s picks last week for the worst songs of all-time, the listeners now weigh in with theirs… along with a few egregious samples. Is your least favorite tune on the list?

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The difference between amateurs and professionals

Bob Mankoff was the cartoon editor of the New Yorker for many years.  I recently watched on YouTube a lecture he gave at an art school.  He made one point that really stood out to me.  I had never thought of it this way, but upon reflection I think he’s right.

He talked about the difference between an amateur and a professional.

I’m paraphrasing but he said, “An amateur thinks everything he does is great.  A professional always feels he can do better.”  

In a nutshell that says it.  There’s a reason Neil Simon, despite all his success, rewrote his plays like crazy.  There’s a reason stand ups will record and analyze every set to fine tune it.  I can give examples in any creative field.  

But when you think everything you do is fantastic there’s no room for growth, no room to learn.  

Another quote:  This one from Kurt Vonnegut.  He once said something to this effect:  When you get a group of writers together usually they’ll all squawk about how hard it is to write.  And there will be one writer who says it’s easy, he loves it, piece of cake.  Vonnegut says invariably that will be the worst writer in the group.  

Be tough on yourself.   That’s how you get better, that’s how you become a professional. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Misc. Takes

 

In no order of irrelevance…

There’s a terrific article on the lack of qualified show runners on vice.com.  A number of you have asked my thoughts.  I will devote my entire podcast to this subject, dropping the middle of next week.  Stay tuned.  

Back from New York where the traffic is even worse.  Enough people are concerned about taking public transportation in the pandemic that more cars than ever are clogging the streets, tunnels, and expressways.  Meanwhile, I braved it and took the E train at 2:30 in the afternoon and it was practically empty.  

Usually I record shows and watch them while fast forwarding through the commercials.  Last week, in New York, I had to watch BETTER CALL SAUL live.  My God!  How does anybody put up with these commercials?  There was one break that had to be close to ten minutes.  By the time they returned to the show I had forgotten what the story was about.  And once you get to the last twenty minutes it seems there is more commercial time than program time.   I don’t understand why an advertiser would pay to be the ninth commercial in a spot break.  No one is watching.  Especially now.  I got out my computer.  I’m sure there were viewers who knew they had enough time to mow the lawn or test drive a car before they had to get back.  It’s insane.

If you’re anywhere near Englewood, New Jersey tonight come see a reading of my new play WHAT IS ‘MURDER’?  It’s a fun comedy/mystery with a terrific cast.  Here’s where you go for info.

Apple +’s coverage of Major League Baseball is just awful.  They’ve opted for gimmicks instead of solid coverage.  One of their analysts, Katie Nolan, just stopped talking after the fifth inning of her first game.  Why?  She made the mistake of reading tweets and freaked out.  She was afraid she was going to get fired after just one game.   The truth is, there are probably two hundred baseball analysts who know more and have more experience but don’t have the job.  

Compare that to NBC/Peacock’s Sunday morning Major League game of the week.  They went out and hired the best young sportscaster in the business today — Jason Benetti, and each week will team him with the TV analyst from each competing team.  Sunday’s inaugural broadcast came off smooth as silk.  Benetti, Steve Stone, and Kevin Youkilis sounded like it was their 200th broadcast together, not their first.  But it’s what you’d expect from a national telecast.  Nolan said she hopes to learn new things each week.  Hey, this is a global broadcast, not on the job training.  That’s what the minors are for.  

The Tony nominations were announced yesterday.  Is this the first you’re hearing about it?  Usually if you’re a Hollywood star slumming on Broadway you can always get at least a nomination.  Not this year.  Snubbed were Daniel Craig, Debra Messing, Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jane Lynch, Patrick J. Adams (SUITS) along with Beanie Feldstein and everything FUNNY GIRL.  A STRANGE LOOP led the pack with the most noms and will doubtless clean up in the ceremony that will air… I don’t know where this year.  

And here’s the most interesting and telling thing about current Broadway:  Neil Simon’s PLAZA SUITE got terrible reviews — the show is old, musty, out of date, etc.  And yet, it’s packing ‘em in.  The run has been extended.  PEOPLE WANT TO LAUGH.  MR. SATURDAY NIGHT with Billy Crystal is doing well.  It’s supposedly very funny.  PEOPLE WANT TO LAUGH.   Meanwhile, a revival of a very well respected but super heavy play was supposed to run through August 14th.  It closes May 22.  What do people want to do?  LAUGH!

Monday, May 09, 2022

Mattea Roach

Several months ago, 23 year-old Mattea Roach went on JEOPARDY.  And stayed on JEOPARDY to win 23 straight times — a truly remarkable feat.   She pocketed a nifty $560,983 and will compete in the Tournament of Champions where she’ll win more — up to $250,000.  Not a bad nest egg to start a life.  (Please don’t spend it by investing in an indie movie.)   What a glorious run and I’m sure for Mattea it must’ve been difficult to keep her streak a secret in the intervening time between filming and airing.  I also imagine she was really looking forward to her shows hitting the air.  

Did she anticipate the hate?  Probably not.  It’s now the new national sport — go on social media and try to tear down everyone who is successful or having a moment of glory.   By all appearances she seems like a very nice person.  And she’s only a kid (to me 23 is still a kid).  Here’s her statement after losing on Friday night”

(the experience) “feels still like a dream. I really came down here hoping to maybe win one game and so I still can't believe it. It's strange, obviously I didn't come through in the last one, but I still feel so happy and so lucky to have had this experience.”

How can you hate someone like that?  But people do.  She was too chatty or her hands flapped around.  Matt Amoddio and Amy Schneider (two other super champions) also faced the same negative barrage for the same stupid picky reasons.  

I hope that this experience and subsequent fame was a positive experience for Mattea and that the hate was not a blow to her self esteem.  She went on a game show to win some money to pay off her student loans.  She had no idea I’m sure that she would be thrust into becoming a national celebrity and every major newspaper in the country would treat her streak as actual news.   Man, I don’t know how I would’ve handled it when I was 23.  But I guarantee Mattea Roach handled it better.  She is a champion indeed. 

Saturday, May 07, 2022

Weekend Post

 

How important are moms?   I might not have a career were it not for mine. 

David Isaacs and I were writing spec scripts at night, trying to break in, going nowhere.  We had written a spec pilot that was an amateurish mess that would have cost more to produce than AVATAR.  We then wrote a spec MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW and RHODA.  Our ersatz agent submitted both scripts and received two rejection letters (actually three -- the RHODA was submitted to two different producers on the show).   We were going nowhere fast.

And then one day my mom went to play a round of golf and got assigned to a foursome that included a gentleman named Gordon Mitchell.  She asked what he did, and when he said he was the Story Editor of a new show that just premiered called THE JEFFERSONS, she said, "Oh, my son is a great writer."  I'm sure he cringed, but he was a mensch and said he'd read something we'd written. 

So I got in touch, sent him our spec MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW.  He liked it, invited us in to pitch stories.   They bought one and that was the start of our career. 

But we never would have had an in to THE JEFFERSONS had it not been for Mom. 

So thanks, Mom.  For everything.   I miss you everyday.  Thanks also to Debby, the mother of my children, to Annie & Kim, the mothers of my grandchildren.  And to all YOU mothers -- we salute you on this most deserved (although commercially manufactured) holiday.

Friday, May 06, 2022

Friday Questions

I’m flying across the country so it might take some time to post your comments today.  But I will get to them in 3,000 miles.  Here are this week’s Friday Questions.

Andy Laitman is up first.

Have you ever met or worked with Mel Brooks? The Producers, Blazing Saddles & Young Frankenstein are 3 of the funniest movies ever made. There are occasionally rumors of a History Of The World (Part Deux), but I doubt he could write-produce-direct-star in another movie at his age.

I’ve met him; never worked with him.  When I was on MASH in the late ‘70s at 20th Century Fox he was there too.  He was good friends with one of our staff writers, Ronny Graham and often would come up to the office and hang out with us at the end of the day.  

I don’t have to tell you it was fantastic and he was hilarious.  I often pinch myself at my good fortune.  

As for whether he could write/produce/direct at his age.  Never underestimate him.  He could still do all that and write songs too.  He’s a wonder.

Brian Phillips asks:

What child actors have you worked with that have given consistently good performances?

The Sweeten kids on EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND.  All three of them.  Madylin and the twins, Sullivan and Sawyer.  

And Tylen Jacob Williams on INSTANT MOM.  This kid has AMAZING comic timing, better than 90% of adult actors. 

Mark wonders:

I think you've mentioned in the past you've worked in writer's rooms that has a non-writing typist.

Since that person isn't getting writing credit, or in the writing union, if they make a joke that's worth using can you use it?


Yes.  And in some cases showrunners take unfair advantage of that.  If they permit the writers’ assistant to pitch (many shows don’t) and use some of their material they really should give them a script assignment at some point in the season as a reward.  

A number of showrunners I know do do that and are real mensches, but a few don’t.  And they’re usually shocked when the writers’ assistant quits to work somewhere else.  

And finally, from JS:

I had to babysit a bunch of kids (don't even ask) - we ended up watching "Clifford the Big Red Dog". It wasn't bad - they were into it. What kid's movie do you think hold's up?

I don’t think it’s a matter of “holding up,” it’s just that kids outgrow movies and move on.  Last year my granddaughter, Becca was totally into FROZEN.  Now it’s ENCANTO.  Hopefully in a year it’ll be VOLUNTEERS.  

But I would say most of the great Disney animated movies hold up.  LION KING and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST will be around for a hundred years.  Same with the TOY STORY franchise and the original MARY POPPINS.  I personally can’t stand the original MARY POPPINS but I’m not 5.

What’s your Friday Question?  

Wednesday, May 04, 2022

EP273: Listing the worst songs of all-time


Ken offers his picks for some of the worst songs of all-time. You’re welcome to share some of yours. It’s good cringing fun! More podcasts at WAVE: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/artist/wave-podcast-network/1437831426

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Setting the Way-Back Machine for 2012


Here's my monthly look back at Friday Questions from ten years ago.  Lots of good questions and answers are buried in these musty archives.  Once a month I like to dredge some up. 

Long Paul starts us off:

What is the stupidest thing you’ve ever said on the air?

Wow. There’s such a long list it’s hard to narrow it down. I once interviewed the commissioner of baseball, Bud Selig and asked him about MLB’s pet charity, Stand up FOR cancer. (Should be Stand up TO cancer).

When I was broadcasting for Baltimore I interviewed Angel phenom, Wally Joyner. He was the poster boy for clean living. I wanted to end the interview by wishing him much success and instead I said, “Thanks for the visit, Wally, and I wish you much sex.”

And of course, my botched home run call. Again – Baltimore. I had just entered the big leagues and figured I needed a signature home run call. So I came up with “Ladies and gentleman, Elvis has left the building!” This worked fine for about two weeks until I jumped the gun and my call was, “Ladies and gentleman, Elvis is… off the top of the wall!”

That’s the last time I’ve had a signature home run call. And by the way, you don’t need one.

Alan Duke has a question about my post where the top 5 all-time shows were named.

Other than you and David, is there anyone else associated with 2 or more of the top 5? Probably not. You are in a very special group. Congrats Ken.

Thanks. It’s something I’m very proud of. We’re in a select group but not exclusive. Glen & Les Charles wrote an episode of MASH so they qualify. Tom Reeder also wrote for both shows. Same with Larry Balmagia and David Pollock & Elias Davis. Bob Schiller & Bob Weiskopf wrote for both I LOVE LUCY and ALL IN THE FAMILY.

And of course several actors qualify as well. George Wendt and Shelley Long both did guest stints on MASH. And I’m sure there are character actors who did LUCY and FAMILY. Or CHEERS and SEINFELD. It would take me forever to cross-check but I wouldn’t be shocked if there was an old-time actor who did I LOVE LUCY, ALL IN THE FAMILY, and MASH. You guys, of course, are welcome to track that down and get back to me.

Steve B. asks:

When getting script notes from execs, are there any specific types of notes that you know are always just meaningless BS?

Yes. “Could you make him/her more likeable?” Networks invariably don’t want to even remotely offend anyone. But as Larry Gelbart once said about comedy writing, “If you haven’t offended someone then you haven’t done your job.”

Rhonda Crutcher wonders:

Hey, Ken! I have a question that occurred to me yesterday while watching the wonderful campaign ad for Michigan supreme court that featured most of the cast of the West Wing.

Who owns the rights to characters, like those on the West Wing, which are completely creations of one particular writer (in this case Aaron Sorkin)? I was wondering because Sorkin apparently didn't write that campaign ad, yet characters he created are in it. Would he have to have signed off on them being used? For that matter, Sorkin left the show after 4 seasons and other writers took over. Did he have to give the rights to use those characters over to the show? Does he ever have the rights to use them again?

Usually, the studio owns the copyright on characters. But it depends on the creator and what kind of deal he was able to negotiate.

As for the actors, the studio may own the “character” but not the likeness. Remember that case a number of years ago where several “Cheers” bars began appearing in airports? Paramount sanctioned them, but life-size figures of Norm & Cliff were featured sitting on bar stools. George Wendt and John Ratzenberger sued and won to get those ornaments removed. I’m not a lawyer (nor do I play one on TV) so I don’t know what the line is between when a studio can show photos of the actor in character and when they’re required to get their permission and pay them. Maybe that’s what held up production of those AfterMASH action figures.

What’s your question? Please leave it in the comments section. Thanks.

Tuesday, May 03, 2022

And now... a rebuttal

Never let it be said I don't post opposing views.  Someone who just listed himself as a fan, "Rickey Branch," offers this rebuttal to yesterday's post asking what I would do if I were the commissioner of baseball and had complete latitude to do anything.  He addresses my suggestions point by point.  Perhaps one way to read this is as a satire on trolls. 

I would be a hard-ass commissioner probably hated by both owners and players.  But so be it.  

First, I would institute a pitch clock immediately.  It’s working in the minors and shaving an average of 25 minutes off of game times.  14 seconds with bases empty, 18 with a man on base.  Not in the box ready to hit?  It’s a strike.  Not delivering a pitch on time?  It’s a ball.  It'll take a couple of weeks for everyone to get used to then the game will hum right along.

Baseball is a timeless game, you millenial.  Nobody ever told Gabby Hartnett when to get in the box.  Blue Moon Odom pitched when he wanted to pitch.  If you don't like it, drive around your neighborhood and collect Pokemon in your Tesla.

I’d eliminate walk-up music.  That’s horseshit.  Get up there and hit.  

While we're at it, let's just go ahead and ban players from talking.  And the crowd has to root with only hand gestures.  And instead of selling scorecards at the front gate, for a dollar-fifty we'll give you a guide to the Dewey Decimal System.  Enjoy the library.

Eliminate the shift.  Since hitters are too obsessed with hitting home runs that they still try to hit into the shift, I’d eliminate it.  The better solution is for hitters to hit the ball where the fielders aren’t but they’re too stupid or too in love with hitting home runs to do that.  So I'd eliminate it.  (Next year it is supposed to be eliminated.)

When you play Uno, do you take out all the Draw Fours because they make the game too hard?  Pretty clear you've flipped over a Risk board or six in your life.

Reinstate a balanced schedule (which they are also doing next year).   I’m sick of seeing 19 fucking Yankee-Red Sox games.  It’s also not fair currently that some teams draw weaker divisions for interleague play.  

So there is someone who's been clamoring for a yearly Marlins-Orioles series.  Can't wait to see what they name the trophy.  The Air and Water Goblet?  Asking for more of these games is like that time when UConn coach Bob Diaco tried to start a rivalry with Central Florida in college football.  He got fired in 2016 and he's still one of the sport's most hilarious punchlines.

Eliminate ridiculous 11:30 in the morning games for the sake of a TV deal.  And if a game is on a streaming service only like Apple +, they have to be made available to the featured teams home markets via over-the-air free channels so that local fans who don’t pay for subscription services can watch the games.  This is what they do in the NFL.   Games on Amazon will be available in the home markets of the competing teams.   The idea is to increase the fan base not reduce it to those who have disposable money.

These games will be glorious television productions.  There is nothing more splendid than breakfast and baseball.

In the All-Star Game, teams will go back to wearing their own uniforms.  And the game will be before the home run hitting contest.  By the time the game airs now nobody cares.

Some of us REAL fans have a closetful of All-Star jerseys.  They are neatly pressed and hang right next to my Turn Ahead the Clock collection.  The Mercury Mets are the future of our game. 

There will be fewer playoff games, not more.  When too many teams can make the playoffs the regular season becomes meaningless — ala the NBA.   And by the time you get to the World Series fans are burned out on playoff games.  

The ideal playoff system is substantially more playoff games.  Starting in the beginning of August, the team with the worst record in the league should begin a series with the 29th-best team.  Then, the winner of that plays the 28th-place team.  Make the entire late summer out of playoffs, just like they should make entire planes out of black box.  I once heard a guy say they could do that.

No more day-night doubleheaders where you’re charged separate admissions.  It’s grueling for the players and greedy on the part of the owners.

Agreed.  And we won't have fans pay for hot dogs.  Or tickets.  And the players will all hitchhike to games.  Money doesn't grow on publicly-funded trees, ya know.

No more phantom runners on second base to start extra innings.

These are real people with real feelings.  Saying they don't exist is heartless.  Jeez.

No more seven-inning doubleheader games ever.  

I hope the nurses are treating you well in post-op after your "Spirit of the Game" lobotomy.  Halfway up the page we need a pitch clock.  Now, you've gone full secular baseball zealot and need 9 innings to be fulfilled.  Do you eat with both sides of your mouth, too?

Incompetent umpires like Angel Hernandez and C.B. Buckner would be fired.

And replaced by who?  Have you seen the strike zones from decades past?  Even the worst MLB umpire right now is better than some of the expando-zones from before.

Starting pitchers have to go 7 innings to get a win, not 5.  You’re paying your ace hundreds of millions?  Let him earn his 20 wins a season, not pitch 5 innings while a parade of flamethrowers take over.  

Nobody will ever win.  Just like if you're elected commissioner.

Unvaccinated players don’t play, and don’t get paid for missing games.  It’s still a personal choice.  You choose to let your teammates down and lose millions of dollars.  Same goes for announcers.

R U CRAZY?  UR UNAMERICAN IF U THINK THAT PPL SHOULD HAVE TO PUT MICROCHIPS IN THEIR BICEPTS TO PLY BASEBALL.  I BET U SIT FOR ARE NATIONAL ANTHUM TWO

One challenge a game, per team.  You lose the challenge, you don’t get to challenge the next game.  

Fire all the umpires and also kneecap replay.  Cool.  Let's just have the players call their own balls and strikes, too.  Anarchist.

No larger bases.  That’s absurd.

So is getting rid of those beautiful All-Star jerseys.

If every team uses the same analytics to hold down the cost of free agents I would take it to court as a form of collusion.

I was wrong.  You're not an anarchist.  You're an anti-intellectualist.  Do you do an annual burning of the Baseball Prospectus?

World Series games start at 7:30 pm in the east during the week and 3:00 pm on the weekends.  Yes, weekend World Series games are in the daytime.  Kids can see the end of games.  They're not over at midnight.  Again, increase the fan base.  Networks will benefit when baseball is more popular again.

Sounds great.  World Series games in the middle of Patriots-Cowboys will draw as well as reruns of The Hogan Family after Valerie Harper left.

All franchises would have to set aside some money to build baseball fields in inner cities or poor communities to encourage young people to play baseball.  It's a travesty that there are not more Aftrican-American baseball players.

This is a great idea, but they'll have no money left when you crater the TV ratings.

All franchises would have to make available an acceptable number of reduced price seats so families can attend ballgames without it costing them a fortune.  This is an investment in the game’s future.

I was wrong again.  You're not against intellectualism.  You're a communist.

I'd increase the number of minor league teams.  More fans around the country will see baseball, and it makes it harder to make the majors.  So the quality of play in the majors will improve.

More Monday games with announced attendance of 852!

If a team charges an outrageous amount for parking, they also have to provide free shuttle service from public transportation.  No exceptions.

Next thing you're going to ask--and don't say you aren't--is that each
team builds its own light rail system to deliver fans right to the door of the ballpark. 


And my long-range plan would be to find a way to change the broadcast rights so a team like the Dodgers can’t command a billion dollars for TV rights while division rival Padres are lucky to get a TV deal at all.  There is parity in the NFL because Green Bay and Cincinnati make as much in TV revenue as the Rams and Giants.

That would directly affect the livelihoods of so many talented, creative, and clever announcers like the great Joe Davis.  How dare you.

And these would just be my first steps.  You could see why I’d be hated.  But I bet the fans would like me.  And isn't it about time they were taken into consideration for once?

In reality, the author of this piece is a great baseball fan and a first class wit.  He asked if he could present opposing views and I happily said sure.   Thank you, "Rickey Branch." 

Monday, May 02, 2022

If I were commissioner...

Here’s a FQ that became an entire post.

msdemos asks:

If tomorrow Major League Baseball installed Ken Levine as the new "dictator" of the sport, replacing Commissioner Rob Manfred, and you no longer were required to answer in any way to the player's union (I know, I know....but just go with me on this one!), and you could do ANYTHING you wanted in order to help the game reclaim it's once lofty position as "America's Pastime", what might be some of the changes to the game that you would institute IMMEDIATELY to help draw more people into "the tent”?

I would be a hard-ass commissioner probably hated by both owners and players.  But so be it.  

First, I would institute a pitch clock immediately.  It’s working in the minors and shaving an average of 25 minutes off of game times.  14 seconds with bases empty, 18 with a man on base.  Not in the box ready to hit?  It’s a strike.  Not delivering a pitch on time?  It’s a ball.  It'll take a couple of weeks for everyone to get used to then the game will hum right along.

I’d eliminate walk-up music.  That’s horseshit.  Get up there and hit.  

Eliminate the shift.  Since hitters are too obsessed with hitting home runs that they still try to hit into the shift, I’d eliminate it.  The better solution is for hitters to hit the ball where the fielders aren’t but they’re too stupid or too in love with hitting home runs to do that.  So I'd eliminate it.  (Next year it is supposed to be eliminated.) 

Reinstate a balanced schedule (which they are also doing next year).   I’m sick of seeing 19 fucking Yankee-Red Sox games.  It’s also not fair currently that some teams draw weaker divisions for interleague play.  

Eliminate ridiculous 11:30 in the morning games for the sake of a TV deal.  And if a game is on a streaming service only like Apple +, they have to be made available to the featured teams home markets via over-the-air free channels so that local fans who don’t pay for subscription services can watch the games.  This is what they do in the NFL.   Games on Amazon will be available in the home markets of the competing teams.   The idea is to increase the fan base not reduce it to those who have disposable money.

In the All-Star Game, teams will go back to wearing their own uniforms.  And the game will be before the home run hitting contest.  By the time the game airs now nobody cares. 

There will be fewer playoff games, not more.  When too many teams can make the playoffs the regular season becomes meaningless — ala the NBA.   And by the time you get to the World Series fans are burned out on playoff games.  

No more day-night doubleheaders where you’re charged separate admissions.  It’s grueling for the players and greedy on the part of the owners.  

No more phantom runners on second base to start extra innings.

No more seven-inning doubleheader games ever.  

No stupid catcher-pitcher transmitting devices.  Just more equipment to malfunction and cause delays.  And if one team's equipment doesn't work then the other team can't use it either.  You don't want runners at second stealing signs?  Change your signs like they've been doing successfully for 120 years. 

Incompetent umpires like Angel Hernandez and C.B. Buckner would be fired.

Starting pitchers have to go 7 innings to get a win, not 5.  You’re paying your ace hundreds of millions?  Let him earn his 20 wins a season, not pitch 5 innings while a parade of flamethrowers take over.  

Unvaccinated players don’t play, and don’t get paid for missing games.  It’s still a personal choice.  You choose to let your teammates down and lose millions of dollars.  Same goes for announcers.  

One challenge a game, per team.  You lose the challenge, you don’t get to challenge the next game.  

No larger bases.  That’s absurd.  

If every team uses the same analytics to hold down the cost of free agents I would take it to court as a form of collusion.  

World Series games start at 7:30 pm in the east during the week and 3:00 pm on the weekends.  Yes, weekend World Series games are in the daytime.  Kids can see the end of games.  They're not over at midnight.  Again, increase the fan base.  Networks will benefit when baseball is more popular again. 

All franchises would have to set aside some  money to build baseball fields in inner cities or poor communities to encourage young people to play baseball.  It's a travesty that there are not more Aftrican-American baseball players. 

All franchises would have to make available an acceptable number of reduced price seats so families can attend ballgames without it costing them a fortune.  This is an investment in the game’s future. 

I'd increase the number of minor league teams.  More fans around the country will see baseball, and it makes it harder to make the majors.  So the quality of play in the majors will improve. 

If a team charges an outrageous amount for parking, they also have to provide free shuttle service from public transportation.  No exceptions.  

And my long-range plan would be to find a way to change the broadcast rights so a team like the Dodgers can’t command a billion dollars for TV rights while division rival Padres are lucky to get a TV deal at all.  There is parity in the NFL because Green Bay and Cincinnati make as much in TV revenue as the Rams and Giants.  

And these would just be my first steps.  You could see why I’d be hated.  But I bet the fans would like me.  And isn't it about time they were taken into consideration for once?