Friday, July 8, 2011

HBO, MLB WANT You to Care About 3,000 Again

While show prepping for the best edition of "The Exchange" yet, my editor asked me for a Yankees piece for the paper. Seemingly, everything has been said about the topic, but not necessarily for the purview to the New York Beacon's audience (we are a weekly, after all). Fortunately, when HBO sent its press release regarding production on a show that followed Derek Jeter towards the 3,000 hits mark, I didn't lack a topic; though certainly for internet-savvy baseball addicts, the reaction to this upcoming special may have been said elsewhere with no word count limit. It is published in this week's Beacon, but for you out-of-towners, here you go.

Building Up Jeter, 3,000 a Task Beyond Yankee Universe for MLB, HBO
By Jason Clinkscales

Earlier this week, HBO announced that it would follow Derek Jeter’s quest towards the magical 3,000 hits mark. Magical because in baseball, no matter the controversies that still pull the sport down, it’s a testament to a player’s consistency, health and diligence to the craft.

Only 27 other players in the history of baseball have ever crossed this plane and amazingly, Jeter – the Yankees’ franchise leader in hits – will be the first to have done so for the Bronx Bombers (former Yank Wade Boggs did so with Tampa Bay). He’ll pass other legends in the game such as Roberto Clemente and Lou Brock before the end of the month and might approach Rickey Henderson, Rod Carew and the underrated Craig Biggio before season’s end.

Unfortunately, because of the Yankees’ dominance in the sport’s narrative – even when they are not involved with the game you may be watching – Jeter’s eventual milestone doesn’t have the panache outside of New York that it would have before baseball had to defend itself from performance-enhancers and the worst financial system in sports. What it does have, however, is good timing as this season has lacked a defining moment thus far.

HBO has a history of telling amazing stories that you may have not expected; from making Floyd Mayweather Jr. boxing’s greatest villain on its acclaimed 24/7 platform to a humored reflection on the infamous Broad Street Bullies of the 1970s (NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers). Yet, those were unearthing personalities seeking an opportunity to shine or casting a larger spotlight where one previously dimmed years ago. With the in-production “Derek Jeter 3K”, this is different because there may not be a new look into an iconic player.

What can be said that hasn’t been said before about the most revered Yankee since Mickey Mantle? The local adulation may be a bit much for some, but considering that Major League Baseball is desperate for anything to take attention away from the financial struggles with the Mets & LA Dodgers, this would be a chance to recapture the national narrative. HBO helped make the New York Jets the most talked-about team in America in 2010 and made you briefly care about hockey before the 2011 Winter Classic, but they are now charged with reviving a seemingly faded brand.

Jeter’s a man that can actually get Boston Red Sox fans watching his inevitable climb to 3,000 out of sheer respect. He’ll have baseball fans throughout the NYC metro area stand and applaud, whether fans of the Yankees, Mets or other. Yet, it’ll be up to HBO to make this moment matter beyond the constellations in the Yankee Universe. They may gloss over the same reverence as many media have over the years, but with its unique brand of storytelling, the premium cable channel has a chance to refresh the story a bit as Jeter inches closer to 3,000.

Say What?!?!: So, it's been nearly three weeks since the last post, but you can blame the new fulltime job. However, as you may have picked up on quickly, the show don't stop! Catch up to the archives of The Exchange, including Tuesday's excellent special episode with Michael Tillery of SLAM Magazine & The Starting Five along with Paulsen of Sports Media Watch.

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