Go ahead — ask me how I can enjoy baseball all winter long
Are you like me? Are you bored with basketball, hostile to hockey and flat about football? Are you tired of the MLB Network airing non-stop repeats of “Hot Stove”? Do you long for the sound of Dan and Al on the TV, visions of Carp, Waino and Albert dancing on the screen? Maybe you just want baseball, any baseball, to get you through the long months of cold and snow?
Have I got a deal for you!
What if I told you that this would be the last winter you’d have to suffer through, that next winter you’d have a supply of baseball games to watch and enjoy?
“But, Michael,” you point out with exasperation, “why would I want to record games then watch them when I know who wins?” Yes, because you’ve never enjoyed a classic movie knowing how it turns out? I promise you, re-watching baseball games from the previous summer is much more fun than that.
How do I know? My last baseball-free winter was 1984. That winter, I bought a Betamax in anticipation of the upcoming season. And every season since, I’ve been like a squirrel, storing up nuts in the form of recorded ballgames to keep me warm and nourished. These days, I have more than 3,000 baseball games stored on three shelves in my basement Man Cave. Now, that’s some nuts!
“But, Michael,” you continue to ask, “isn’t all this illegal?” Sure, I reply, if you set up a website to sell the games you record. Otherwise, it’s fine to tape things for your own use to watch later. You know, like you do all the time with a DVR.
Okay, now that we have this settled, and that your convinced that you need a supply of nuts, now you need some advice to start building your collection of games to watch over the winter.
Turns out you can’t just go to the store and pick up a Betamax. Or pretty much a VHS machine, either.
“But, Michael,” you point out, “I can just record games on my DVR! Easy!” And you’re right, you can. But how long will it be before you fill it up with Cardinals games, meaning there’s no room for American Idol, or Grey’s Anatomy, or Jersey Shore, or Sunday’s NASCAR race? Ah.
So you need a solution. And I have one: recording games on DVDs. This is what all the cool kids are doing. I mean, you can spend the bucks to download them off iTunes, but often if you try to play them on anything larger than a computer monitor, the action looks blocky and stuttering, and Apple’s proprietary format means you can only play the file on the iTunes software.
But there are a couple of ways you can put a collection of games on DVD.
You can record games directly to DVD with a somewhat inexpensive and easy to use DVD recorder. By hooking that up to your cable or satellite box, you can record to a disc just like a VCR. Set the length of the recording to two hours, and don’t forget to switch discs during a commercial break near the 2:00 mark, and you can have a great, quality recording on two discs.
But if you don’t want to watch Cardinals losses during the winter — and who wants that? — that’s not a perfect solution. You’d be wasting discs on games you don’t want to keep.
There are DVD recorders with built-in hard drives, so you can record a game just as you would to your DVR.There are two great things about this option: you can set a recording and forget about it, just like a VCR, and you can use the hard drive’s editing function to take out all the commercials in about 20 minutes, leaving you with a game you can burn to one or two DVDs. No more “Home of the Loosest Slots!” when you re-watch your games. The bad thing about this option is that it doesn’t come cheap, and they are very hard to find.
Which leaves an option to record a game directly from your cable or satellite box into your computer.
This option works pretty well, especially to build a collection of Cardinals wins, since you can just delete the losses. But you have to get tech-smart on software if you want to burn them to a DVD or take out commercials.
First, you should own a desktop or laptop made in the last couple of years. Older computers simply won’t have the memory to handle what you’re asking it to do. Second, you’ll need to purchase a piece of hardware that will convert the signal from your cable or satellite box into computer video. This one comes highly recommended. Now, if you’re content with recording games into your computer and playing them back, that’s great, but eventually you’ll run into the same problem you would with a DVR — you’ll run out of hard drive space. You can save them on an external hard drive, which helps. And that’ll probably work for a season or so of games.
But let’s say you want to watch a game on your big TV rather than your cramped computer monitor. You’ll need a piece of software that will convert the computer file so you can burn it to disc. This gets a little expensive too. This is probably the most user-friendly software out there. It does a lot, allows you to edit out commercials and burn to disc, and you should be able to learn how to work with it in no time.
Okay, so you’ve got the cash to invest in the hardware and software. Now you have to outline a plan to record a season’s worth of games. First, since we’re Cardinals’ fans here, you should anticipate recording just about every game on your DVR or through your computer. You don’t know if that night’s game will feature a great pitching performance by Waino (or, Nick Punto, or God forbid, Aaron Miles) that you’ll want to keep. If they lose, so what, you can just delete it and not burn it to disc. But you also don’t want to keep every single win. That would be a lot of discs, maybe 85, 90 (oh, let’s make it 105!) or more.
And you also want to have a variety of games. So throw in a few Lincecum starts, a Halladay game here or there, maybe a Blue Jays game, and don’t forget Vin Scully doing Dodgers’ games. I’ve often picked a pitcher and recorded all of his starts in a season. If you record maybe two or three games a week, that should be enough to keep you warm through the winter.
Soon enough, you’ll have a nice problem of how to store all your games. Paper sleeves for your discs are adequate to keep them protected. You can easily label them, too. And any office supply store can sell you a box to store them in. I wouldn’t expect you to go all out like I do, buying jewel cases in bulk and meticulously labeling both the spine and front of the discs — that’s just nuts.
So now you have a few dozen games recorded over the summer to watch during long winter nights. That’s the idea. I leave it up to you to come up with an answer for your head-shaking friends and family who ask: “Why would you watch a game when you already know who wins?”
Because it’s fun, that’s why!