A Dream About A New Cardinal Television Network
Baseball fans have watched in abject horror as teams on the West Coast, drowning in lucrative new television deals, have lavished outrageous contracts on the best free agents money can buy. Teams like the Angels and the Dodgers have spent money faster than Imelda Marcos at a Shoe Carnival. Their insane, unrestricted spending makes the Yankees suddenly look like the Mariners.
You can bet that Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt and his financial partners are watching this financial tsunami on the West Coast with great interest. The lousy, hilariously-inappropriate deal the team has with Fox Sports Midwest (the Cardinals only receive around $20 million a year from it!) ends in 2017, and the Cardinals will likely want a much bigger piece of the pie. Given the success of the franchise and its wide, KMOX-driven dominance over the Midwest, the Cardinals are looking at billions of dollars in additional revenue.
But my dream of this future deal has little to do with the Cardinals suddenly paying alcoholics and aging, broken players $25M a season into infinity. In fact, I hope they DON’T start that kind of financial irresponsibility.
No, my dream involves a CARDINAL TELEVISION NETWORK.
Imagine a day several years from now when a cable television subscriber could pay a monthly fee to have a 24-hour station devoted to the best of Cardinal Nation. It would be the place where fans could watch every broadcast of every Cardinal game, as well as repeats for late-comers. The station could feature rebroadcasts of great past games (I personally want to see the Cards/Cubs game at Wrigley on June 23, 1984 again). It could feature in-depth nightly sports news with a Cardinal (or St. Louis, or Missouri) angle. Mornings could feature instructional or fun shows for young Cardinal fans. Off nights and the off-season would be easily filled with biographies of Cardinal greats. Just imagine how many miniseries the station could show in postseason appearances alone!
Using the successful cable station pioneered by the Yankees as a model, let’s walk through a potential schedule for one day on the Cardinal Nation TV Station:
7:00 am – Fredbird’s Playhouse – Fredbird, his wife Rally Squirrel, and their little son Tedbird live in a wacky corner of Busch Stadium filled with puppets and songs. Learn about numbers, letters, and words using baseball as a backdrop!
8:00 am – Cardinal Kids – Learn lessons about baseball and life from some of the greatest Cardinal players in history!
9:00 am – Cardinal Encore – See a replay of the previous night’s game for those overnight workers in Cardinal Nation!
12:30 pm – Cardinal Wrap-Up – Coverage of the postgame from the previous evening and discussion.
1:00 pm - Cardinal Magazine – A preview of the upcoming game and other Cardinal discussion.
2:00 pm – Cardinal Legends – A Biography-styled show that looks at the life and career of beloved players who have worn Cardinal red.
3:00 pm – Cardinal Classics – A replay of a famous game from over 100 years of Cardinal history. Pre-television games could be recreated Ken Burns style via radio broadcasts.
5:30 pm – In The Cage – A pre-pre-game warm-up featuring the players as they prepare for battle that night!
6:00 pm – Pregame Show
7:00 pm – Game
10:30 pm – Game Recap
11:00 pm – Game Encore – A replay of the game that night.
1:30 am – Real Housewives of Cardinal Nation – Watch as five housewives of Cardinal players past and present scream obscenities at each other, gossip, and make lousy fashion choices. This is (mostly) a joke, obviously.
2:30 am – Beyond The Bleachers – A look at the lives of the vendors, security guards, ticket vendors, and other people who make every game at Busch Stadium special.
4:00 am – Cardinal game rebroadcast
I would pay money for this.
Creating a brand-new television channel would be an ambitious undertaking for this franchise. Considering that DeWitt hasn’t managed to build BallPark Village in the swamp next to Busch Stadium in six years, I sincerely doubt he is ready to tackle such a monumental project.
But I wish it would happen. The Cardinals are baseball royalty. They own the Midwest. It’s time for Cardinal Nation to be represented by a unique and powerful station devoted to Midwestern values and a shared love of this wonderful sport.