Off The Bat, Episodes 16 and 17: Designated For Assignment

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17KimbrelMug.pngLast time, Off the Bat was whatever. This time, a dramatic July move shakes up the MTV2 scheduling market.

In these modern, multi-screen times, sports fans as a species are, for reasons that I find quite intriguing and mysterious, more likely to have our interest piqued by news of a trade or free agency signing than we are by an actual game. In the same way, it is astonishing, non-episodic news that currently dominates above the fold in Off the Bat-land.

Since its inception in April -- which, holy shit, Off the Bat is most of the way through the season -- Off the Bat has been reliably broadcast at 11pm on Tuesday nights. You know, after the ball games have ended and before every member of the target demographic has wandered off to Express Themselves via a FourthmealTM at Taco Bell. But now, starting with these episodes, Off the Bat is being broadcast at 11am on Sunday mornings.

That’s right, Sunday mornings -- that distant corner of TV-time so thoroughly dominated by so many suspendered pundits delivering long-form news and thick interviews on foreign policy to the grandparents/antitheses Off the Bat’s demographic. It is almost too easy to imagine the living-room arguments across the heartland between the shows’ respective Metamucil and Monster Energy constituencies. “Why, dear, my program is on. Please do change it back.” “Shut up, mee-maw, I have to look at Melanie and I need to do it now!”

As the one person not on payroll who follows this show the closest -- The Ken Rosenthal of Off the BatTM, if you will -- my sources told me nothing about this transaction being in the works before it was announced. Also I don’t see how this makes any sense. I imagine that this scheduling change was the product of many a contentious meeting amongst rigorously coiffed MTV execs, slugging back their lattes in contempt during simmering pauses.

MLB and MTV still want you to watch Off the Bat. MTV2’s terrible two-headed dog still stares back at you from the backstops of games on national TV, which is quite expensive real estate indeed. But they also apparently don’t want you to watch Off the Bat, because they have also hidden it away in one of the most inconvenient time slots possible.

The only possible explanation is, as is the case with so many of baseball’s actual onerous contracts, that Off the Bat signed a fully guaranteed deal, and so all that can be done is to put this aged slugger on the bench. After all, a new season of Mac Miller and the Most Dope Family is rolling out, and that’s a talent that needs a spot in the starting lineup. For a show that’s the television programming equivalent of B.J. Upton, this could mean an uptick in low-leverage pinch-running and defensive replacement duty.

16

I guess, somewhere during All-Star Festivities in Minneapolis, there was a patch of red carpet unrolled for baseball’s stars to grace. And wherever there is a patch of red carpet with slightly uncomfortable athletes on it, Melanie Iglesias is there.

While on the red carpet, Iglesias caught up again with Giancarlo Stanton (is Giancarlo a TOTAL CRUSH or has he been FRIEND-ZONED?!). As we can see from the Telestrator-style illustration below, Iglesias is busy examining Stanton’s Louisville Slugger while Stanton takes a long look back at the mound.

16StantonMelanie.png

Also, Chris Distefano very intentionally breathes on reporting wunderkind (and superb Twitter follow) Chris Cotillo. Guess which Chris is a senior in high school:

16Cotillo.png

17

This time Chris (Distefano) eats a homemade breakfast in the house of Craig Kimbrel, who is introduced as a “pitcher in the big leagues.” Introducing Kimbrel in this way is basically like introducing Lionel Messi as a “ball-kicky man.”  

Kimbrel is -- as we’ve seen from so many ballplayers on the show -- quietly hilarious.

Exhibiting a mistaken belief that being extremely rude as a guest in somebody else’s home is a recipe for a comedy bonanza, Chris acts extremely rude as a guest in somebody else’s home. Upon being served a plate of eggs, bacon, biscuits and gravy, Chris opines that the gravy “looks like oatmeal” to him. Apparently, in addition to having never seen a baseball game, Chris has also never eaten breakfast.

This is all set-up for… well, let’s call it The Grammar Incident. Now, in previous installments recounting Off the Bat I have hypothetically wondered to you, reader, how certain obtuse moments made it through the editors and producers and onto the air. I confess to having exaggerated some of these for effect. But for real this time. How the hell was this allowed onto the air?

Chris: You do some charity work, right. What’s your...foundation?

Craig: Yeah, me and my wife, we work with --

Chris: It’s “my wife and I.”

Craig: Well, I’m in the South.

Chris: “Me and my wife” is legal in the South? You can say it that way?

Craig: I guess, yeah.

Chris: Your English teachers don’t care? [Grating feminine voice:] Oh, honey.

Craig: 17Kimbrel.png

Much as Ryan Howard will earn $25,000,000 in the year 2016 regardless of whether he’s hitting .177 or not, Off the Bat remains on the air.

Did you miss Off the Bat on TV because you were watching a Fareed Zakaria roundtable discussion on the precedent established by militaristic intervention in Libya that was on CNN during the same time slot? You can watch highlights of these episodes here and here.  

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