Inning Seven of Ken Burns’ “Baseball” argues that major socioeconomic changes in the 1950s – particularly the advent of suburbia, “car culture,” and television – caused the demise of local independent amateur, semi-pro, and minor baseball leagues throughout the U.S. Baseball fans, Burns’ narrative suggests, began to forego the communal experience of the urban ballpark in favor of the isolated consumption of major-league baseball telecasts in the living room or den. In this light, the resurgence of such leagues across the country in the past decade or so is fascinating. This 2007 promotional video for the Madison (Wis.) Mallards, a Northwoods League team featuring college ballplayers who typically sign on for a one-summer stint, suggests one way in which inexpensive media production and dissemination technologies are used to interrupt the rapt attention given to the highest level of professional and college sports. The Mallards’ video – as well as live webcasts and information about the team – is cheap to produce, can be viewed for free by anyone with Internet access, and promises an experience implicitly more authentic because of its locally-produced, locally-responsive character. The clip suggests that the Mallards play for “love of the game,” rather than fame and money – which both echoes and repudiates Major League Baseball’s recent “I Love This Game!” campaign. While this promotion mimics the professional conventions of sports video (smooth defensive plays + home run blasts + candid fan-in-the-stand shots backed by a catchy rock tune = viewer-pleasing highlight reel), it also strongly emphasizes the difference: the community feel of the small ballpark, the interaction among franchise representatives and the team’s fans (particularly young children, such as the tyke sliding into home during a between-innings promotion), and even the old-style billboards along the outfield walls and in foul – or is it fowl? – territory, mostly hawking [sorry; I’ll stop with the puns now] local businesses like the Great Dane brewery, Madison Gas & Electric, and The Shoe Box rather than large multinational sponsors characteristic of major league advertising. The other un-professional qualities evident within the video (the song, with its cheesy lyrics and duck calls; the hand-held camera work; that strange guy hopping around the third base line in what looks like a distended inner tube...) also underscore the claims to authenticity implicit within the promo: rather than a slick, corporate-driven endeavor like major league baseball, this is an evidently unselfconscious production motivated less by money than by good feelings. Of course it is motivated by commercial imperatives – but it’s a different set of commercial imperatives, one that appears to be more locally engaged and responsive. Ultimately, this clip seems designed to suggest that the Mallards’ brand of baseball, with its personal touches and quirks, is not the same game played by overpaid steroid-abusing strangers who are distanced from their fans; instead, it’s “Baseball the way it oughta be.” It’s the baseball of Burns’ romantic documentary, a fun and participatory pastime – not a cold, calculating business. And, if you call the number or visit the website advertised at the end of the clip, you too can be one of those “flocking from miles around / to see the Mallards that no one can tame.” Your thoughts?