Off The Bat, Episodes Eight and Nine: The Keys To The MTV2 Kingdom

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Last time, Off the Bat provided as little baseball-related content as they could possibly manage. This time, I ponder the continued existence of the show itself by examining the media ecosystem that gave birth to it.

It’s true, some really zany stuff happens in these two episodes of Off the Bat:

- Fat Joe cannot manage to pronounce Yasiel Puig’s name the same way twice, butchering the pronunciation in about a dozen varieties while filming an on-the-street segment with Yasiel Puig.

- Designated flirter Melanie Iglesias and Colorado Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzales flirt with one another while racing remote control cars.

Melanie: So you bought your Ferrari right after your first big contract.

Carlos [grinning]: I think I’m gonna get a new one soon too.

Melanie: A new one?

- Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez is forced to do an impression of a pirate.  

So, yes: same old, same old. Off The Bat, however improbably, has gone on long enough now that there are some real and compelling questions about its continued existence.

Like how about: why do the agents of David Price, or Clayton Kershaw, or Gonzalez, or Puig allow their clients to appear on this show? Have they not seen the subpar ratings, the anemic in-studio audience, the extremely embarrassing nature of the show itself?

Or, say: if they want their clients to gain popular media exposure, why risk being forced to do a riverdance in front of a dozen tweens when you could, like, have the player talk candidly about their season into a handheld camera for five minutes a week and create a seriously compelling (and more widely-viewed, I’m certain) YouTube channel? Why do MLB.com and the official Twitter accounts of various MLB teams promote Off The Bat each week -- have they actually watched the show? Does this mean that Major League Baseball is actively helping to ensure this show’s success? And if so, well, why the heck why? Also why are most of the ads on MTV2’s online video player for laundry detergent and diapers?

The most compelling question of all remains, as it has been since the show’s second episode: How is this all still on the air? It hasn’t refined or improved itself since the first episodes, and it still doesn’t really have a defined audience for its baseball-but-not-baseball thing. I can see the tiny view counts of the show on the MTV2 website each week, so I know this is not conjecture. Also, I thought even really good shows got pulled off the air if they didn’t bring in viewers?

That may be how things work on normal TV stations. But oh boy is MTV2 not your normal TV station. A brief and frightful look at the roster that is competing with Off The Bat for eyeballs helps explain its otherwise inexplicable longevity:

Mac Miller and the Most Dope Family

Representative Episode: Mac and friends travel to Las Vegas to celebrate Mac’s 21st birthday in a two-story penthouse over a two-night bacchanal.

Representative Quote: In the hungover morning between the two blowout nights, Mac makes a phone call home to the folks:

Mac: I’m thinking that I won’t gamble over $200,000.

Dad: You’re kidding me, right?

Mom: No, don’t do any -- you don’t even know how to gamble!

Mac: Mom, every time I step outside without a gun on me, it’s a gamble.

The DUB Magazine Project

Representative Episode: Rapper and RiFF RAFF stylistic antecedent Machine Gun Kelly hosts a look at what other contemporary rappers are driving.

Screen shot 2014-06-04 at 11.38.58 PM.png

Representative Quote: Female rapper Kreayshawn introspects while rolling in her Buick Grand National:

What makes me, like, “Kreayshawn”? I named myself that ’cause like I’m super creative and I do like everything.

Screen shot 2014-06-04 at 11.46.41 PM.png

Guy Code

Representative Episode: A massive panel of D-list celebrities male and female talk about what does and doesn’t violate “Guy Code” when it comes to style, drinking, relationships, everything. Basically: don’t order a fruity cocktail ’cause that’s breaking guy code ya pansy! (Inexplicably, Donnell Rawlings, with both The Wire and Chappelle’s Show on his resume, is a regular contributor.)

Guy Code is at the epicenter of the MTV2 empire, spawning at my count five spin-off series. Some of the spin-offs reunite the whole cast and others feature breakout solo performances: Guy Court, Girl Code, Ain’t That America with Lil Duval, Charlamagne and Friends, and Jobs That Don’t Suck with Andrew Schultz.

In theory you could add a sixth spin-off series to Guy Code: Off the Bat. Our hosts Chris Distefano and Melanie Iglesias both got their MTV2 starts as guy-coders.

Representative Quotes:

Chris, on the subject of hot teachers:

Miss Wazmond. I used to rub my panini [note: he actually says “panini”] under my desk and just get all hot and bothered while she taught me the sweet science of phytoplankton.

Melanie, on the subject of prom:

The best thing about prom is it’s the first night you truly feel like a man or a woman. Like, you’re in a suit, and you’re anticipating having sex, and you’re about to graduate school. You feel old. You feel older.

If you never watch Off The Bat, and you probably shouldn’t, those quotes should give you an idea of what it’s like. It’s those people, trying to pressure Anthony Rizzo into saying “I’m-a Luigi, I’m-a gonna ween.”

***

So realize this: with Chris and Melanie on the Off The Bat co-hosting team, it means that MTV2 executives were in fact so pleased with the duo’s performance on Guy Code that they were given a promotion.

This show is never going away.

Did you miss Off the Bat on TV while binge-watching Guy Code? You can watch highlights of Episodes Eight and Nine here and here.

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