About a year ago at this time I (like many of you, I'm sure) was anxiously awaiting the debut of the MLB Network.
It was something I thought was way overdue (well behind the NFL Network), but I was also afraid that it would fall far short of my high expectations.
We're a year into the station, though, and it's holding up well...so well, in fact, that I'm about to tell you why the MLB Network is head and shoulders beyond the NFL Network.
Let me start by telling you this - I probably don't watch either station enough. But when I do decide to turn them on, the chances are way higher that I'm finding something I'll watch on MLB rather than NFL.
The NFL Network is in a rut - it shows the same thing over and over again. Either previewing the weekend matchups, or doing the nightly update (MLB Network does both as well), or replaying the games from the previous weekend.
The NFL Network is now the one falling short of my expectations. Remember before the NFL Network had exclusive rights to all things NFL Films, when ESPN2 would show old NFL Films highlights all day long? From 2-4pm (or something like that) you could see any and all bloopers or "Best of", or anything from the NFL Films archive. I haven't seen any of that on the NFL Network - I feel like they are way underutilizing their NFL Films library.
I caught Sound FX on Wednesday afternoon, which followed miked players through their NFL Sunday - that's good stuff. That's what the NFL Network should be showing all day every day.
MLB Network is the opposite. This week alone I've seen bits of the 1970 World Series, the 1979 World Series, the 2002 World Series, and other shows highlighting different aspects of baseball (the 1961 season, a profile of Harvey Haddix). Studio 42, which I'm realizing I don't watch nearly enough of, is a gold mine for good stuff.
It may be that I'm making this evaluation at a bad time - maybe in the NFL offseason the NFL Network gives me the archival footage I want (though I feel it's mostly just Super Bowl highlights). In training camp the NFL Network shows tons of promise, and that's where it really earns its salt...but it's not enough.
I gave a wishlist last year for what I wanted the MLB Network to be - and it has come pretty close to meeting each one of those wishes. Even during the season. And during the season they have the best nightly show updating you on action around the league - so good that I'm debating whether I need the MLB Package next year because I can watch MLB Network all night long.
The only problem I have with the MLB Network is that I'm not watching it enough. And that's my problem, not theirs.
*Wow. Not really relevant to anything, but when I was looking for the link to the MLB Network entry I wrote last year, I went through my December writing from a year ago. Hate to toot my own horn, but that was some good stuff. If you have a few minutes you might want to re-read it (or look it over for the first time). I probably shouldn't enjoy my own writing that much, but I did. Call it a Christmas gift from me to you. Two to really stick in your stockings - the live blog from the Seattle game and the December 15th entry. (And I realize now I have to go through my top 10 200 Miles From The Citi stories for 2009.)