I have a piece up today at In Media Res, a site which “is dedicated to experimenting with collaborative, multi-modal forms of online scholarship.” These are very short (400 word) pieces which “curate” a clip or set of images. This week’s theme is sports and media and my piece is titled “Selling Strasburg: Baseball, Broadcast Flow and the Commodity Audience.”
The clip is a montage put together by Major League Baseball after Strasburg’s debut– a rapid fire series of each of his 14 strikeouts. The original can be found here. However, MLB’s format is not convenient for easy embedding. Luckily (or so I thought) there was a version available on YouTube so last week I set up my clip and my curator’s note from there. As it turns out between then and now, MLB took down that YouTube clip for copyright enfringement. There is another, shorter, version which is up temporarily and hopefully one of the IMR tech gurus can figure out how to embed the MLB clip. I Mention this because it actually fits quite nicely with some of the themes I’m working with in my post, themes about how MLB constructs its audience and thus how MLB constructs itself and its own image. Though I know very little about copyright law or media studies approaches to copyright issues, MLB’s approach (which recently also included a cease and desist order for two t-shirts at thefightins.com) seems rather strict. This all seems to be further evidence that MLB is very interested in policing their image (and their intellectual property) and is resentful of interactive fan efforts to shape the image of the league, its teams and its players. And I would add, not only does MLB police its property on YouTube, it also makes its property very difficult to share by not being embed-able.
In other, related MLB/Strasburg news, Deadspin posted this yesterday– a new “Beyond Baseball” ad featuring Strasburg and comparing him to historic flamethrowers (Strasburg however is “Beyond Heat”). I’ve written about the Ryan Howard ad here (and elsewhere). There’s undoubtedly something to be said about this one as well. Though I’m not entirely certain what that something is, I think it is linked to the ideas I explore in my In Media Res post and also linked to the historic whiteness of great pitchers. This is a subject I won’t explore now, but which has been on mind this season. Though it’s been awhile since I’ve read it, the place to start in this thinking is Nick Trujillo’s article “Hegemonic Masculinity on the Mound: Media Representations of Nolan Ryan and American Sports Culture.”
And while I’m aggregating Strasburg links… I would be remiss if I did not mention the strasboner.