Sorry, We're Closed

Monday, October 16, 2006

We Deserve Better!

Okay, baseball fans, I've bottled this up long enough.

I'm tired of listening to the moronic patter from the bottom of the barrel during the post-season.

The people who run Major League Baseball constantly let other people make their decisions. Opening day? Sure, ESPN, feel free to destroy a 100-year-old tradition and put a game on Sunday night, the day before the regular opener. Sure, FOX, want to put two LCS games on at the same time? Whatever you say. Hey, we're just baseball; it's not like we own the product or anything. Pass me the lube!

And does anyone in MLB's New York offices even care that dopey, stumbling goofballs are responsible for representing the game on television during the post-season?

During the division series, we got Chris Berman, who sounds as if he last paid attention to a baseball game in 1977, on ESPN. Sometimes we get Gary Thorne, who never saw a player's salary that he wasn't jealous of. And let's just pretend, shall we, that we've never had to sit through Rick Sutcliffe.

And then there's FOX. During the just-completed ALCS, we were again treated to #2 play-by-play man Thom Brennaman, he of the constantly modulated, hyper-dramatic delivery and the almost stunning ability to reverse-predict events (pay attention sometime; he'll knowingly predict one thing only to have the opposite occur).

Brennaman has already embarrassed himself this year with his antics, both in insulting a legally blind fan during the Mets/Dodgers NLDS and, over the weekend, with his tired anti-Moneyball shtick.

And this maroon is Fox' choice to announce the American League Championship Series? We've sat through all your damn ads for "'Til Death," so how do we not deserve better than Thom Brennaman?

Until just recently, Brennaman had been paired with Steve "Psycho" Lyons, a ticking time bomb who went off once too many times this post-season.

After his guffawing go-along with the Brennaman let's-make-fun-of-the-blind-guy at Shea Stadium, Lyons was on thin ice anyway, and his cloddish buffoonery concerning Lou Piniella's Latino blood on Saturday at Comerica Park sealed the deal; Fox fired him that day.

My question is not why Lyons was fired. It's why FOX would have expected this guy to be any different than he's always been.

It's only up from here, to the #1 team of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver!

Let's dicsuss the "color man" first. McCarver is glib, occasionally witty, and had an excellent playing career. But he seems to be less incisive every season as he gets further away from the booth; it's been several years since he was on any club's broadcast team.

His jokes are increasingly wince-worthy, and the guest analysts in the booth for the LCS--currently, Luis Gonzalez--regularly outshine McCarver concerning knoweldge of current players.

McCarver has been, for years, partnered for many years with Joe Buck. Jack's son, a Cardinals TV broadcaster, has been the top dog at FOX for several years; he's inoffensive, well-spoken, and handsome.

But that ain't enough!

Shouldn't baseball's prime showcases--the All-Star Game, the Division Series, League Championship Series, and the World Series--demand THE BEST BASEBALL ANNOUNCERS IN THE WORLD?

Is there anyone in their right mind--even a Cardinals fan--who could righteously swear, on a stack of Gideons, that Joe Buck is the best baseball announcer in the world?

We deserve Vin Scully. Or Ernie Harwell. Or Harry Kalas. Or Dave Niehaus. Okay, so you need to go "younger" and "hipper"? Get Bob Costas, or Josh Lewin, or Scott Graham, Dave Flemming, or even Dan Shulman. Someone preferably who doesn't, like Joe Buck, have the NFL on his mind and Holiday Inn commercials on the brain.

And while you're at it, fellas, get us a color man or two who can really add something to the broadcasts. Bert Blyleven, Mike Hegan, Ken Singleton, Ray Fosse, and Larry Dierker, among others, are playing golf right now. Like I wish Thom and Tim were.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A Symbol of Something

Chicago (AP) - The White Sox will start weeknight home games at 7:11 p.m. as part of a sponsorship deal with the 7-Eleven convenience store chain.

More here.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Last Man Standing

Jim Hendry is still in the saddle as the Cubs' GM.

Why in the world should he, the architect of the miserable failures that have been the 2005-06 Cubs, remain in his post while Manager Dusty Baker's contract was not renewed and club President Andy MacPhail was forced to resign?

Simple. Hendry still has two years to go on his contract.

The Cubs owed Baker nothing following the end of the season; his contract simply lapsed. Therefore the decision to let him go was simple. Handshake, walk off the pier, end of story. Bye-bye.

MacPhail, who recently told local writer George Castle that he never worked with a contract--instead simply receiving an annual seven-figure salary in a classic "gentleman's agreement"--was similarly told that his services would no longer be required following a brief transition period. Bye-bye.

Hendry, however, received a two-year extension from MacPhail this past summer. Perhaps this was MacPhail's version of the Lovely Parting Gift presented to losing game-show contestants. Whatever it was, it snapped shut the Tribune Company's ever-tightening corporate fists. Unless forced by street demonstrations, scandal, boycotts, or firebombs (and I am NOT suggesting the latter), the Tribune would rather go out of business--or endorse a Democratic presidential candidate--than fire a highly paid employee with two years left on his or her contract.

So Hendry remains on his post, despite a record suggesting something just short of managerial incompetence. His greatest moments--trades acquiring good players from financially strapped franchises--don't make up for a lack of organizational philosophy. Due to MacPhail's fiscally conservative approach, other clubs have more and better scouts and more and better front-office resources. And due to Hendry's own lack of experience in professional baseball, other clubs have more and better brains running baseball operations.

As long as the Cubs lack an approach toward winning ballgames any deeper than "if we all play well, we'll win," they're doomed. Hendry's inability to grasp how teams win or lose continues to bite him, and while some of his scouts are extremely qualified, others have made very poor decisions--and Hendry hasn't effectively sorted out the good advice from the bad.

Meanwhile, MacPhail takes his conservative, low-key, quietly ineffectual 1950s-style approach back to Lake Forest, and Baker interviews for baseball's French Foreign Legion, the Washington Nationals. Both men may enjoy themselves far more in 2007 than they did in 2006.

Just watch to see how much hotter the GM's chair gets for Hendry this year. Hard to fight a battle when you're naked, out of ammo, and don't have a strategy.

Monday, October 02, 2006

"New" Beatles Album On Its Way

Just received this today from The Beatles' official web site.


Monday 2nd October

Apple Corps Ltd/EMI Music proudly announces the release of LOVE, the new CD from The Beatles, due November 2006.

After being asked by the remaining Beatles, Ringo and Paul along with Yoko Ono Lennon and Olivia Harrison, to make experimental mixes from the original master tapes for a collaboration with Cirque du Soleil, Sir George Martin, The Beatles legendary producer, and his son Giles Martin have been working with the entire archive of Beatles recordings to create LOVE.

The result is an unprecedented approach to the music. Using the master tapes at EMI's Abbey Road Studios, Sir George and Giles have created a unique soundscape. The release of this album, which is also featured in the Cirque Du Soleil/Beatles collaborative production of the same name at the Mirage in Las Vegas, has been much anticipated.

"This music was designed for the LOVE show in Las Vegas but in doing so we've created a new Beatles album" said Sir George. "The Beatles always looked for other ways of expressing themselves and this is another step forward for them."

Giles continues, "We took all the Beatles' catalogue from tape, the original four tracks, eight tracks and two tracks and used this palette of sounds and music to create a sound bed. What people will be hearing on the album is a new experience, a way of re-living the whole Beatles musical lifespan in a very condensed period".

The album will be released worldwide in November 2006. Additional information, including a track listing will be available shortly.

I just had a terrible thought.
What if, in order to be more current, content of the music was changed?
Perhaps, in an attempt to be hip, the "Billy Shears" intro to "With a Little Help From My Friends" will be changed to "BRIT....NEY...SPEARS!"