Baseball draft enters a brave new (televised) world
It might never reach the hype level of the NFL draft or the NBA draft, but baseball's draft is about to take a long-overdue step in that direction, writes John Helyar.
The NFL draft has become one of football's red-letter days, conducted before throngs of cheering, jeering fans in Radio City Music Hall and televised to millions of draftniks. The NBA draft is so huge that even its preliminary event -- the Ping-Pong ball lottery -- is must-see TV for hoops junkies.The Major League Baseball draft, by contrast, has been a telephone conference call. Until now. On Thursday, baseball's draft for the first time will be televised (ESPN2, 2-6 p.m. ET). The venue has been switched from MLB headquarters in New York to Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida. There, commissioner Bud Selig will announce first-round choices, conveyed to him by former players representing each of the 30 teams. A studio audience will be there to react, and a few projected top picks will be introduced. Take that, Mel Kiper! This reflects changed times and changed thinking, according to Jimmie Lee Solomon, MLB's executive vice president of baseball operations. "Football and basketball have made their drafts into events; and in years past, it was thought baseball's wouldn't carry the same cachet," Solomon said. "Our players weren't as well known and they wouldn't contribute in the major leagues for several years."
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