May 18, 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
I agree on ESPN’s repackaging of all things sports into the latest way to increase ADD and irritation in children and adults alike. But I realized something—a few years ago, I ventured into mlb.tv which, yes, puts many of the games on my less-than-42-inch-flatscreen TV. BUT what it allowed me to do was to have the game on while my partner watched a show she wanted to or a movie or we could even sit upstairs and read or play cards and I could just glance over at it. I don’t think I EVER had the sound on. Last year, I bought the Extra Innings package and hated it because it commandeered the television AND I had to often times listen to the announcers. So this year, I’m back to mlb.tv where I can always choose what feed I get and therefore, I find myself watching a lot of Orioles, A’s, and Dodgers games just because I like their voices when/if I decide to listen and they allow me to hear the crowd and the hits and the basic stuff that baseball fans adore.
The point is: The aesthetics for me with baseball are visual and patient and relaxed. ESPN is attempting to “speed up” or “enhance” the game and it just doesn’t need it. Football needs it. Baseball is what it is and for many people, it will always be sort of a background thing. But it’s also often on—so don’t talk over the natural sounds.
By the way, I live in Twins country (Dick Bremer/Circle Me Bert on TV and Jon Gordon on the radio) and am a Cubs fan (Len Casper/Bob Brenly and Pat Hughes on the radio….and no, I’m not actually a fan of Ron Santo’s commentary) and I have no problem with any of them as announcers.
Posted 06/23 at 09:28 AM
Craig, it is too bad you don’t get to hear one of the announcers for your favorite team, Jon Sciambi, who is very good. He even does a decent job reining in Joe Simpson when he goes off on a tangent. I believe Sciambi also does the national ESPN radio broadcast on Saturdays, but I haven’t heard him there.
You should not, however, regret missing Chip Caray on Peachtree TV.
Posted 06/23 at 09:46 AM
Cooper Nielson said...
Amen, Craig! I tuned in the ESPN broadcast during the Pujols at-bat, then tuned-out after the Ryan Ludwick home run that happened during Phillips’(?) rant about how “I’m not scared of Ryan Ludwick.” My schadenfreude sensors were firing then, let me tell you.
I agree with you, the thing that bugs me SO MUCH about Phillips (I haven’t paid much attention to Suckcliffe) is that he just talks on and on about his own agenda, and almost never talks about the game in front of him. First of all, why does a color guy have an “agenda”; second, how in the world does this add to our enjoyment of the game? Even if I agreed with him (which I don’t think I ever have), I’d feel it was detracting from the game.
He is absolutely horrible and I seriously avoid ESPN’s coverage just because of him. (Thank God for the MLB Network.)
Posted 06/23 at 10:11 AM
Craig, you lost me at “Joe Morgan is fine.”
I, too, think Sutcliffe is useless. I think Phillips, when he started this gig, did a good job of lending a unique perspective. How many other color guys were actual GMs? None. But he has regressed.
With that said, I guess I should rephrase my question to ask if you people like any other color guys. What makes a good color guy? What should they do? Can we formulate an ideal color guy by taking chunks of people we like? What would an objective job description for color guy look like?
Posted 06/23 at 10:11 AM
ecp- I too watched Texas/LSU in the CWS- fantastic game. However, I really found myself wishing Mike Patrick would just shut his trap for a few seconds. That guy bulldozed through everything with some comment or another. Orel & Ventura were fine; Patrick not so much. He should stick to the NFL where for some reason the blather isn’t as offensive.
Texas/LSU game #2 tonight!
Posted 06/23 at 10:23 AM
Wooden U. Lykteneau said...
ESPN, for all of your faults, you remain the premier venue of broadcast sports.
Craig - All due respect, but the evidence does not support this delusion. ESPN has put style over substance for nearly 20 years now, starting with Dick Vitale, the used-car salesmen who allegedly was once a respected college coach
Once he became the face of ESPN’s signature product in the 1990s, college basketball, the slide started and it became a requirement to develop a catch phrase, a la Chris “No Talent” Berman.
Sure, Berman came before Vitale, but you could stomach his puns when he was mostly an anchor. Vitale, on the other hand, is like the verbal equivalent of one-handed typing. Once his unabashed self-serving cheerleading went from tolerated to celebrated, the locusts began to roost.
Baseball Tonight used to be something worth watching, when it was a half-hour and ran through the highlights without talking heads blathering about what they would have done in that situation. It was like MTV in 1985, when they actually showed… wait for it… music videos.
Posted 06/23 at 10:32 AM
I agree with Kelly. I have MLB.tv, and my dad, a Cardinals fan, would rather watch the Braves game on there then watch ESPN. Sciambi does a really good job. Joe Simpson is, well, an old ex-player who contributes a bit, but sometimes, you have no idea what he’s talking about. Get it quick. Hanson pitches against the Yankees tonight.
Posted 06/23 at 11:04 AM
I also meant to add that with mlb.tv and a flatscreen, i bought one of those LCD projector cords so if it’s a big game I really want to watch, I just hook the laptop to the TV and voila. But that may be just the definition of “baseball addict” so forget I said anything.
Posted 06/23 at 11:35 AM
Phillips is awful, terrible GM made terrible announcer. I love baseball and am generaly somewhat knowledgeable about most of the well know SABR metrics but I do not expect the announcers to try to teach or really talk about more advance measurements on the air. I also do not expect them to belittle and degrade that which they are too dumb or ignorant, I really don’t know where Joe Morgan falls on this, to understand. At the very least why OBP > AVG is a simple discussion, the fact that a walk is better then an out really is a easy argument why ESPN commentators for the most part seem to thing that OBP is evil is beyond me.
I loved FJM, I loved reading the Joe Chats and seeing Ken Tremendous destroy Joe and his backwards thinking all the time. That said Joe Morgan and Jon Miller are far superior to any booth that has Steve Phillips or Rick Suckcliffe (Stolen but still funny) in it. Morgan could be better and I think the casual fan misses out on some of potential to learn when he is in the booth at the very least his experiance playing gives his commentary about a play or why something happened on the field some persepctive and insight someone who hasn’t played the game doesn’t have. I think if Jon Miller is willing to keep Joe in check, which he does do from time to time, that really is an okay team for the casual fan.
I live in San Diego and I have to put up with Mark Grant for all the Padre broadcasts, not only is he a massive homer, but I doubt he has half the brain power of Homer Simpson. Ever since Matt Vasgersian moved on the broadcasts have become almost unwatchable, which is a shame. I really think that most of the people put in the booths simply try too hard. Just talk about the game, if I am watching a local broadcast I expect homerism, but I don’t expect idiocy. If I watch a national broadcast I really just want them to talk about the game. National story lines have nothing to do with a Rockies-Astros tilt if none of the players at the stadium are involved in said story line. That is what the game breaks are for, let Ravech talk about it from the studio for 30-60 seconds and then get back to the guys in the booth and let them talk about the game.
Baseball is not a fast sport, but enough happens on every pitch and play that announcers that have knowledge about how the game is played can really pass that on in a clean intelligent succient manner without pushing their own fame or aggenda.
Posted 06/23 at 11:37 AM
Last time I checked Pete Van Wieren was still retired. Joe Morgan has an announcing job and Pete Van Wieren doesn’t. How can this be? Morgan, who always develops a theme early in the broadcast, say the need to manufacture runs or be consistent, and then drones on and on with that theme throughout the evening unless the home viewer takes the easy way out and kicks in his TV screen, that Joe Morgan has a job. Why? Because he’s a Hall of Fame jock and the producers at ESPN don’t believe the game of baseball is interesting without layering it with Q factors and senile ex-jocks like Joe Morgan. Do you suppose the ratings for baseball broadcasts would decline if the Joe Morons and Rick Suckcliffes and Tim McQuackers were replaced by quiet competence? What if we could clone Vin Scully? Would ratings decline? ESPN and Fox must believe they would.
MLB provides a smorgasbord of local announcers, most of them lacking that high irritation quotient Joe Moron provides in abundance. However, MLB gives way too much air time to another moron, the dependably pimp-suited Harold Reynolds, who periodically forces Sean Casey to strip off his jacket, pick up a bat, stroll to the other side of the set and blather about nothing in particular while standing around in shirts and ties. I have no idea where this bizarro program idea originated, but I’ll bet you an even nickel it was hatched in a meeting.
Posted 06/23 at 11:39 AM
I do the same thing. But can you get it to take up the entire screen? Mine takes up most of it, but I can never get it to take up the entire TV screen. I hit Fn+F8 (which switches the monitors). Any suggestions?
Posted 06/23 at 11:56 AM
APBA Guy said...
Too bad you all didn’t get Jon Miller hosting Ray Fosse along with Mike Krukow like we did here in NorCal. To this day the thing I blame Angelos for the most is his running Jon Miller back to San Francisco. Thanks!
The beauty in the telecast was not just the pairing of ex pitcher and catcher, but the subtlety of the barbs between the color guys for the A’s (Fosse) and the Giants (Krukow). The telecast was on a Giants station so the two guys dressed as McGwire and Canseco holding a replica of the World Series trophy were ignored-until the A’s escorted them down to the Diamond Level where the center field camera had to show them.
The reminder that the A’s have 4 WS titles to the Giants zero prompted some really amusing back and forth, including Krukow’s reference to the ‘74 A’s (Fosse’s team) shoes as “albino kangaroo”. That’s going way back. Miller explained that Finley (Charlie, A’s owner) actually made that claim at the time, and not in jest.
Player discussions were superb. Catfish Hunter’s control (he also hit .350 one year, and was .256 lifetime) as compared to Cain and Lincecum. Why Pablo Sandoval can sustain a .300 BA, with full slo-mo breakdown of his swings against various pitches.
Just great stuff.
Posted 06/23 at 12:27 PM
In the past ten years ESPN has been putting a greater emphasis on the Entertainment component of their name and less on the Sport component and has followed MTV lead by leaving the programming that got them popular in the first place (e.g. reality programming rules over music videos). I seldomly watch ESPN for sports news as I pop into ESPNews to get news and highlights and then head to MLB tv for baseball commentary, Versus for hockey and the Golf Channel.
Seldomly do I watch ESPN for anything more than game coverage and often with the volume down as I write or read for my work/dissertation. I agree with all the commentary re: Sutcliffe, Phillips and Morgan (Orel H is my exception as well) and would love for Sean McDonough call any game I listen to. The plus side is that as one who is overextended with things to do I appreciate that ESPN has made it easier for me to focus on other tasks as I avoid the irritation of listening to the games they broadcast.
Posted 06/23 at 12:44 PM
As a Cubs fan, I listen to Len Kasper and Bob Brenly, and they work well together and I love both their work, especially Len’s. I’m grateful to have Joe Carter and Chip Caray gone, but I do miss Steve Stone, and I’m still mad at the Cubs for causing a rift with him.
ESPN really is for the casual fan, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give them intelligent, insightful announcers instead of showboats. Their ridiculous announcing is unacceptable, and so is the nonsense Joe Morgan and Jon Miller spout out. Miller’s someone who hasn’t been noted yet that irritated the bejesus out of me.
Forgiving Phillips and Sutcliffe for being commentators on a more marketing-based, amateur network is like forgiving an idiot professor at a mismanaged school district. Mismanaged or not, it would be the district’s fault to hire idiots to teach education to those demanding it.
Posted 06/23 at 12:57 PM
I couldn’t agree more Craig. There’s absolutely too much talking during baseball games that it truly is distracting. I never understood why ESPN thought Sunday Night Baseball needed a third broadcaster, especially Phillips.
Nothing is more annoying than listening to conversations about whether or not Manny should be allowed to rehab while he’s suspended while watching an amazing play in the background. Vin Scully is really the gold standard. He usually completes his thoughts before the pitcher steps on the rubber, and rarely talks over actual game action. Basically he talks as if he’s a batter or a base runner.
Posted 06/23 at 01:17 PM
Steve A said...
I don’t mind announcers that focus on the game in front of them. Yes, there are bad announcers, but if they’re talking about the game they’re announcing, then at least I can push them to the back of my head. I can turn them into voiceover guys more than information givers, if that makes sense. However, the ESPN craptastic duo of Sut and Phillips is unlistenable. Their meandering commentary on everything BUT the game takes so much away from trying to watch it.
My other beef with ESPN baseball coverage is their overreliance on the Yankees, Mets, and Red Sox for their Monday and Wednesday night baseball schedule. Because those broadcasts are not exclusive broadcasts, there are no limitations to the amount of times a team can be shown on them. Thus, expect for that Indians/Brewers game last week (only game happening during East Coast primetime), the Yankees, Mets, or Red Sox have been on every Monday (there might have been another one without them, but I don’t remember). Wednesday’s not as bad, but I’m watching the Tigers then.
Posted 06/23 at 01:28 PM
Craig, let me paint a nightmare scenario for you:
Phillips, Sutcliffe, Morgan and Chris Berman.
The only thing saving us from that is likely that ESPN tried it in a simulated game, and kept blowing out the sound mixer.
But take heart: Tim McCarver won’t live forever, and I would say Sutcliffe and Phillips are competing for that job right now, so at least one will be offloaded to Fox where I’m used to watching with the sound down anyway.
Posted 06/23 at 04:42 PM
“The beauty in the telecast was not just the pairing of ex pitcher and catcher, but the subtlety of the barbs between the color guys for the A’s (Fosse) and the Giants (Krukow).”
SUBTLE INTERPLAY BETWEEN COLOR COMMENTATORS?! I don’t believe it.
APBA Guy is lying to us, everyone.
Posted 06/23 at 05:18 PM
Good Lord, did anyone see BBTN a few days ago when Kruk and Kurkjian were arguing about what was harder, golf or baseball?? It was absolutely atrocious, contrived crap that even those two couldn’t hide their contempt for having to do it.
I also agree that Orel is probably the best they have. Sut doesn’t bother me as much just because he’s kind of like the drunk uncle going on and on. There is some strange comfort to it.
Posted 06/24 at 01:15 PM
ms. met said...
i agree completely. I am a woman. I love the mets. I love ron, keith and gary on SNY. they increase my enjoyment of watching the game with my husband. I learn from them, and laugh with them, and i don’t mind watching 4/5 games a week with them. on the other hand, I cannot watch ESPN games. I always want to watch family guy instead. the commentary is boring and incoherent. they never talk about what’s going on in the game… and they definitely alienate both the hard core fan (my husband) and the regular fan (me). i couldn’t agree with this post more, and value sny to an even greater degree after every sunday night game! thanks.
Posted 06/28 at 10:52 PM