This past Saturday I'm sitting in my living room watching TV. There are 2 things on. Game 5 of the Buffalo Sabres / Ottawa Senators playoff series which started at 2:15pm on NBC. And the 2nd game of the Mets / Yankees series at Shea Stadium which started at 3:50pm on Fox.
A few things about me before I angry up the blood a bit more. First, Hockey is my favorite sport, followed closely by baseball. Second, I am a (NY) Rangers and Mets fan. Third, given an opportunity to watch playoff hockey not involving the Rangers and a Mets / Yankees game, I will be unable to choose which I want to watch.
So, now, let's jump back to last Saturday. Unsurprisingly, come 4 o'clock, I'm torn. I decided that since the hockey game was further along, it would get more attention, so I watched mostly hockey, jumping for commercials over to the Mets / Yankees game. And now the fun starts. Buffalo ties up the score with 45 seconds left, and the game is going to OT. I hit the channel+ button and begin watching the Mets/Yankees. The inning came to an end and I flipped back to watch the intermission recap and analysis of the hockey game only to see pre-race coverage for the Preakness. WTF? Excuse me, I was watching that...
Apparently what I (and presumably many others as well) missed, was that NBC said "We're going to be moving our coverage over to Versus." So, I sat there, dumbfounded as to where the hockey went. It would not occur to me that they would simply turn off the coverage on one channel and two minutes later pick up the coverage on another channel. And, oh yes, there was a two-minute delay. But, I didn't know any of that, so I went to my computer and pulled up the box score so that at least I would know the final score. And I sat there and watched baseball. Happily, might I add, because I do love a good Mets / Yankees game.
A few commercial breaks later I'm starting to flip out there. There is overtime playoff hockey afoot, but I didn't know where it was. On a whim, I decided to turn to Versus. Maybe, I thought, they would put the game here. And sure enough, there it was. Daniel Alfredsson had his arms in the air, his teammates were mobbing him, the Ottawa Senators were going to the Stanley Cup finals, and I had not seen the goal or the overtime. And that's fucked.
But there's more to it. For, you see, the Playoff game ended at 5:14pm, and the main event at the Preakness wasn't scheduled to start until 6:09pm. So, instead of running playoff hockey overtime for 14 minutes of their Preakness coverage, they started their Preakness coverage early (at the end of the 3rd period) with barely an announcement as to where the game went. There was no reason for that. There was no reason to deprive people of watching the game. There are plenty of people around the country who don't get VS, but most of them get NBC. What were they supposed to do if they wanted to watch hockey instead of horse racing? You can't do that. It's total nonsense and unfathomable. In the spring of 1994, that wouldn't have happened. But 13 years later, the NHL is such a weak draw that things like that do happen, and that doesn't just make me angry, it makes me sad. It makes me sad to see that one of the most beautiful displays of athleticism and team work is so downtrodden now that it is broadcast on a network that no one had heard of before it picked up hockey. And, many people still have not heard of it even now that it does have hockey. I've already ranted about this, though, so I'm not going to again, but it's a fucking disgrace.
And there's still more. NBC broadcasts in HD and that HD channel is available to most viewers with HD capable cable boxes or satellites. Versus also broadcasts in HD, but I have yet to meet someone who has VS HD as a channel available to them. So, if I had figured out quickly enough where the game was, I wouldn't have been able to watch it in HD anymore. A small complaint, maybe, but hockey is a sport that is meant to be seen in HD. It looks so much better, it's mind-blowing.
The Mets beat the Yankees 10-7 that game. David Wright hit 2-run home runs in his first 2 at-bats before getting intentionally walked his next 3 times to the plate. That wasn't so bad.