Our last post before the New Year kind of became a de facto Open Thread about the January 1 debut of MLB Network, but after having an opportunity to watch its programming for four days (unless your cable provider isn't cooperating, as seems to be the case with densogirl and Zappatista), maybe some of you have some thoughts on what you've seen so far.
Here's my strongest initial thought after watching three-plus editions of "Hot Stove," their off-season studio show: If you're going to discuss transactions that teams have or haven't made - for instance, why Manny Ramirez hasn't signed with anyone yet - three ex-players aren't going to give you a full insight into the situation.
Harold Reynolds, Al Leiter, and Barry Larkin all said, "Hey, I'd want that guy as a teammate. I'd tell my GM to sign Manny." Okay, sure. As a player, you want your team to be better. But what might a general manager think about signing someone like Manny? How would he weigh his production versus his clubhouse reputation? What is he looking at, in regards to a contract? How would he try to sell this to his team's owner?
I don't know if a former general manager would be of much use for the "MLB Tonight" studio show once the season begins (except at the trade deadline), but not having the perspective of a front office executive or field manager leaves something lacking in this coverage. (Then again, I don't know how much Steve Phillips really adds to ESPN's "Baseball Tonight.")
Something else: I'm not as annoyed by in-studio field demonstrations as my buddy Mike McClary, but do you really get a feel for what it's like to play a ball off the wall or into the corner in the studio? I've never really understood how much this adds to analysis of a given sport. The demonstration of Jackie Robinson stealing home in the 1955 World Series had its interesting moments, though.
But that's enough from me. What do you think of what you've seen from MLB Network so far? What do you hope to see in the weeks to come? Or are you still having problems getting the channel and want to voice your outrage?