December 13, 2013
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Tuesday, June 23, 2009
And That HappenedBraves 2, Cubs 0: Javier Vazquez somehow managed to allow no runs despite giving up nine hits and two walks in six and two-thirds. Behold! In these Cubs we have found a team more feeble when it matters most than the Braves!
Rockies 11, Angels 1: Aaron Cook now has the most wins in Rockies' franchise history at 59, which is pretty neat, actually. Colorado has now won 17 of 18.
Athletics 5, Giants 1: I thought Jonathan Sanchez was supposed to be, like, good. He's 2-9, has lost four in a row and has an ERA of five and a half. Meanwhile, Trevor Cahill hasn't allowed more than three runs in an outing in over a month.
Mets 6, Cardinals 4: I know it's great sport to make fun of announcers, and it's even more fun to try to out-funny one another when we do it. But when I say this, please understand that there is no snark intended. There is no joke to follow. I do not offer this as a means of piling on. Really, I am being very, very serious, and I hope this is taken seriously by someone in a position to do something about it: Rick Sutcliffe and Steve Phillips -- who were together on the same ESPN broadcast team for some reason -- are truly wretched and should not be allowed in a broadcast booth.
I am among the biggest baseball fans on the planet. I have devoted thousands of hours over the past few years writing about it and thousands more over the course of my life watching it. I am among those who will watch baseball under almost any circumstances. Scandal. National emergency. Family emergency. You name it, and I'm still wondering when the game starts. Yet after only an inning or two of listening to these men do their best to distract me from the game with their pointless, showy commentary, I changed the channel. I watched a nine year-old "Family Guy" rerun because I could not bear to listen to these disgraces argue about how they'd pitch to Albert Pujols in such a way as to actually interfere in an Albert Pujols at bat. I could not bear to listen to them talk about the legacy of Donald Fehr with an incoherence that was surprising, even for them. I could not stand the cascading cliches, the super-hyped, super-throaty wannabe radio announcer voices, and the seeming unwillingness to let a moment pass without their voices drowning out the sounds of the ballpark and even, on occasion, the play-by-play itself. And before you say "well, I guess we won't pair them up again," know that they do it on their own respective broadcasts too. If these men were next to you at the ballpark or sitting on the next bar stool over going on like they do, you'd yell at them to shut up, and if they didn't, you'd ask them to be shown the door.
ESPN, for all of your faults, you remain the premier venue of broadcast sports. How, then, you allow Major League Baseball, one of your most valuable properties, to be massacred so thoroughly by the likes of Sutcliffe and Phillips I will never know. You are actively driving fans away, ESPN. You are turning off an entire generation to a product that should, by all rights, be bulletproof. Having Sutcliffe and Phillips broadcasting baseball is the equivalent of giving away water in the desert via infomercial. Why bother? People are begging for your product, yet you seem to almost revel in assaulting them in order to get it. The only possible explanation is sadism.
I know many people who work for ESPN. Every single one of them is bright, amiable, and above all else, passionate about sports. How, then, you allow guys like Sutcliffe and Phillips to sully their efforts with their terrible, terrible work is beyond me.
ESPN: dare to give your sport, your viewers, and your employees the respect they deserve. Remove Sutcliffe and Phillips from the booth. Replace them with someone who understands that the game, and not their own mindless prattle, is the product people tune in to see and hear.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 5:35am
Adrian K said...
Don’t, since the demise of the glorious Channel 5 baseball coverage ( come back JG and JC ) I have had to put up with day old ESPN highlights on Setanta at midnight.
Posted 06/23 at 06:18 AM
Sorry to pick nits—but it was Mets 6 Cards 4…
Posted 06/23 at 06:27 AM
Craig Calcaterra said...
Rory—that’s hardly a nit! Thanks. I was so caught up in my rant that I completely confounded the score.
Posted 06/23 at 06:29 AM
Adrian, you need to get the mlb.tv package. It’s worth the £15 a month, and you get to pick the audio feed you want, if not always the video one.
Craig, how many reasons now for the extra innings package? Will Shyster Wife cave at 1000?
Posted 06/23 at 06:30 AM
Craig Calcaterra said...
I don’t know; she likes Family Guy more than baseball, so this rant may actually have been counterproductive for me.
I think her rule still holds, however: I can get it if and when writing about baseball becomes my full time job and thus disappearing down the baseball rabbit hole every evening is at least arguably justified. I can’t say I blame her for taking such a position.
Posted 06/23 at 06:31 AM
Considering it’s only 30 something games from ‘10-‘11 and ‘12-13, I’m sure they’ll have some combination of Tommie Smith and/or Derek Rae doing the games. As long as it’s not Harkes and JP Dellacamera, I’m excited. Granted I’m sure they’ll still be showing the games at 2:30 when everyone and the world is still at work, grr
Posted 06/23 at 07:23 AM
Andy H. said...
I have MLB network, and watched Sandy Koufax shut out the Twins in Game 7 of the ‘65 World Series.
Posted 06/23 at 07:25 AM
Jason @ IIATMS said...
The MLB Network has become my go-to, as well. And yes, I sat with my son and watched an inning of the ‘65 World Series, too. “Jake, lookit! It’s Sandy Koufax versus Tony Oliva. Watch for the curve. Watch for the curve!”
I still check in on BBTN on ESPN but I’ve gotten sick with it. They are trying to be like every other news organization with people standing in front of monitors, awkwardly, instead of at a desk. So you have a 6’6” Winfield next to a 5’10” round Kruk or an even smaller Karl Ravich. Like bring your kid to work day, only worse.
Love the rant.
Posted 06/23 at 08:18 AM
Here, Here Craig! I haven’t watched an ESPN baseball broadcast since the fateful day when Steve Phillips explained to me why Carlos Beltran was the worst baseball player/human being in history.
In fact, I have consciously tried to avoid ESPN in general since baseball is my favorite sport and they actively try to ruin my enjoyment of it. They have mostly lost a viewer in me and I hope that their continued mistreatment of the national pastime costs them more ratings.
Posted 06/23 at 08:40 AM
Maybe it’s just me but I can’t stand to watch any of the baseball TV shows anymore. I don’t need to hear more mindless prattle about how some team wanted it more, or how people caring about stats is ruining the game. It seems like every time I turn on the TV to watch BBTN or whatever the MLB Network equivalent is my senses are under assault. Even when they bother to talk about something like PECOTA, they give you 3 ex-players talking about how stats don’t mean anything. It’s a waste. There are maybe 5 major league teams that have good broadcasters, and that number may actually be four (I am Red Sox fan so I can’t actually talk bad about our broadcasters). The guy I watch baseball with the most and I have a policy. Always watch the game at a bar with no sound. We get good beer and food and we get to keep a few more IQ points. This has worked for us very well and suggest it to others (it helps to be single and without kids for this work).
Posted 06/23 at 08:42 AM
Craig Calcaterra said...
I don’t even mind that stuff—at least not too much—on the studio shows. At least those are supposed to be venues for talking about games. The booth, however, should not be turned into a talk show. It strikes me that every ESPN-broadcast game comes prepackaged with “storylines” for discussion by the announcers, often with only a tangential relationship to the game.
How about this: discuss the game on the field. If the game on the field inspires another topic, great, but let the damn game lead, OK?
Posted 06/23 at 08:45 AM
Certainly a channel-changing pair in Sutcliffe and Phillips, but can I get some of that not-love for McCarver too? Yeah, yeah, he wasn’t yapping it up last night, but jeez-o-peet. Somebody put him outta my misery, already. Set him adrift on a boat with Sutcliffe and Phillips.
Have a good Tuesday everybody.
Posted 06/23 at 08:46 AM
Sutcliffe and Phillips in the same booth? Did that make four people trying to get their words in edgewise?
Posted 06/23 at 08:50 AM
Are there any good announcers out there?
Posted 06/23 at 08:52 AM
Craig: We can both agree that the standard ESPN baseball hosts are not something that “hardcore”/knowledgeable fans find appealing, but in your own words, ”I am among those who will watch baseball under almost any circumstances.” Because of your (our) passion for the game, the attrition risk of your respective fan segment is quite low.
I believe ESPN is more of a marketing company than a sports news company. They make money by catering to the casual fan who is just learning, for example, why OBP > AVG. ESPN has a responsibility to their investors to create a product that generates more ad revenue, which is accomplished by hooking the casual fan with overly clichéd catch phrases, stories about who ARod is dating, and highlighting how Manny sells used grills on ebay.
And finally to my question…If you were to switch your perspective to that of a casual fan, is the Phillips/Sutcliffe combo entertaining? Perhaps the casual fan will get bored without partially relevant asides. Perhaps they don’t have the desire to learn that Russell Oles (really cool middle name) Branyan’s hot first half is mostly a result of a .363 BaBIP. While I believe that my barking dogs can be a comforting change of pace from Phillips/Sutcliffe, I also have the self-awareness to understand that my perspective is unlike that vast majority of those across the country also tuning in to my favorite sport.
Posted 06/23 at 08:53 AM
Josh in DC said...
The absolute REFUSAL of many announcers to talk about the game in front of them is an insult to all fans of the game. Sutcliffe can turn ANY discussion into a treatise on Derek Jeter. Chip Carey (at least on TBS) can’t let go of Manny Ramirez during Red Sox games. (Little known fact: The Sox won two World Series with him.)
And the INCESSANT belittling of statistical analysis is like listening to a 16th Century dentist tell me that leaches are good for me.
Posted 06/23 at 08:57 AM
Craig Calcaterra said...
Leo: Many. I’d say most of the play-by-play guys I hear, be it on ESPN, local and RSN networks and radio broadcasts do a pretty good job. They convey the info, they have pleasant enough voices, and they usually don’t get in the way.
There are even many color commentators who do OK. This may be shocking, but I think Joe Morgan is fine. Not because he necessarily brings anything to the party—he’s demonstrably wrong about so many things—but at least he doesn’t actively distract fromt he game. His voice is relatively low key, and while his points aren’t necessarily germane all of the time, he keeps them succinct. The key is that, unlike Phillips and Sutcliffe, Morgan knows he’s not the show.
That said, I think we could eliminate most color commentary from baseball broadcasts and be just fine.
John_Michael: I see what you’re saying, and I’ll think about it some more, but I have a hard time seeing even casual fans finding these guys entertaining.
Posted 06/23 at 08:59 AM
I can not stand Steve Phillips doing color on a game, especially when doing Mets games. Because he invariably goes off on a tangent about Beltran or David Wright. I was disappointed when ESPN let Steve Stone go and he went back to doing local games on WGN, this time for the White Sox. He is one of my favorite low key announcers. The one guy ESPN has that I really enjoy is Orel Hersheiser. I usually learn something about pitching during one of his broadcasts. I’m extremely critical of broadcasters since I grew up in WV, listening to the great Jack Fleming on the radio.
Posted 06/23 at 09:12 AM
I couldn’t abide Phillips and Sucliffe last night either, but for me, rather than switching to Family Guy, I wandered over to ESPN2 and watched the College World Series game. Sure, it’s metal bats, but it was a great game. And hey, the announcers were all right.
Posted 06/23 at 09:17 AM
I still cannot grasp why no one is willing to have a solo booth. Not anyone can be Scully, but why not replicate his format?
Posted 06/23 at 09:28 AM