Sorry, We're Closed

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

You Cannot Be (World) Serious

The Boston Red Sox pounded the stuffing out of the Colorado Rockies 13-1 on Wednesday night at Fenway Park to take a one-game to none lead in the 2007 World Series.

The game wasn't close from the get-go, as the Bosox scored three in the bottom of the first off Colorado's Jeff Francis, and Red Sox righty Josh Beckett handcuffed his opponents over seven solid innings.

Given that the Rockies gave up the ghost about 12 minutes in, the suspense in the game came from wondering what moronic thing FOX announcers Joe Buck and Tim McCarver would say next.

In the first inning, when the Red Sox were scoring their first three runs, Joe and Tim stated that everything Francis was throwing was "up"--even as a freeze-frame showed J.D. Drew hitting a pitch at his knees. In fact, the Red Sox' big hits in the first came on pitches low in the strike zone. They just happen to hit those pitches well. I'm not sure what game these guys were watching.

During the last of the third, Boston's Julio Lugo bunted for a hit. McCarver used this opportunity to teach all of us some of the 3,000-year-old wisdom about baseball he apparently inherited with his first jockstrap, noting that it’s a good play to bunt with two out if you have speed, but if you’re slow, bunting for a hit with two out is a bad play.


Did he mean that slow guys shouldn't bunt for hits? If I were in a charitable mood, I might give Tim the benefit of the doubt on this one, since it's something any four-year-old might agree with. But since he was talking expressly about bunting with two out, I have a sinking feeling he meant that even if you get a hit, it's a bad play.

See, I've always thought the point of baseball was to get men on base. In addition to improving your chances to, er, score runs, it makes the opposing pitcher throw more pitches. Why worry about how fast your baserunners are? A slow baserunner is better than no baserunner, isn’t it? I swear, McCarver’s unquestioned, uncritical blather is so ossified it might as well have been written by Hammurabi.

During the top of the fourth, FOX treated us to a brilliant interview with Red Sox manager Terry Francona. We viewers missed most of Todd Helton's double to left because FOX felt a pathological need to remind us that Terry Francona was talking to us from the dugout, answering some dumb question about how he and Dustin Pedroia play cribbage. How many times have we already heard that stupid story this post-season? Who plays cribbage?

Shortly afterward Buck chose to lionize Todd Helton. It wasn't one of Joe's good nights; he claimed that 1) Helton was “just as good” on the road as in Coors Field in his prime (which is false and easily disprovable) and that 2) Helton is “just as good” now as he was back then. THis is also both false and disprovable. Helton doesn’t need you to obfuscate for him, Joe. He’s a terrific hitter.

In the top of the sixth, McCarver, obviously saving up to try and match Joe's level of analysis, commented that you can tell the Rockies pitchers have been affected by the eight-game layoff after the NLCS because of their long counts and falling behind hitters, but that you can’t state that Rockies hitters are affected by the layoff because Beckett is throwing such a good game.

This is the traditional baseball mentality—that hitting is incidental, that pitching defines everything. Isn’t it just as likely that the Red Sox hitters are just better than the Rockies’ pitchers, and that the Rockies’ hitters aren’t taking a good approach against Beckett? The FOX boys have been constantly reminding us how Boston outscored Cleveland 30-5 in the last three ALCS games; doesn't this mean that their offense is just good, regardless of Colorado's pitching staff?

I could go on, but thinking about how mediocre and paper-thin the level of analysis we're getting is making me seriously consider turning the sound down for Game Two and listening to Jon Miller and Joe Morgan on ESPN Radio. And it takes a lot to lead me down that path.

I've written about this before, but we deserve better broadcasts--and broadcasters--for the World Series, dammit.


Anonymous jamesfinngarner said...

I only saw part of the game, and I saw more product placements than anything short of the T'giving day parade. Where's all that money going?

I guess it's like an inverted pyramid, with most radio announcers knowing more than any TV announcer, and for the world serious, the lowest of the low.

7:31 AM, October 25, 2007

Blogger Bob Purse said...

And let's not forget that money has allowed the series to start with one week left in October. Three days between the season and the playoffs? A day off between games played in the same town? Three days between the last possible game of the playoffs and the first game of the World Series?


10:14 AM, October 25, 2007

Anonymous Duck said...

This is precisely why I have a DVR. In addition to being able to skip through the three-plus minutes of commercials every half inning, I can skip through all the moronic comments between pitches if things get too bad.

11:18 AM, October 26, 2007

Anonymous Dan E said...

Joe Morgan (whom I generally loathe as much as McCarver) had a similar beef last night on the radio about bunting with two out — though in this case, his rationale was something to the effect of, "If the guy at the plate can hit a double, I think you should let him swing away." Which at least makes some kind of sense.

I also loved the on-field ESPN reporter who asked Mike Lowell, "How great is it to hit in front of
David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez?" To which Lowell SHOULD have answered, "I wouldn't know, ya dumb fuck — why don't you ask Pedroia or Youkilis?"

1:01 PM, October 26, 2007

Blogger Bob Purse said...

The obvious solution is to make it mandatory that the CUBS have to be in the series every year. Then we can listen to Pat Hughes and Ron Santo for every game. Best team I've ever heard.

1:39 PM, October 26, 2007

Anonymous annie d. said...

One saving grace is that there have been 17 World Series games played in the last 4 years (I think), so that's 11 less than we could be listening to Buck and McCarver (much to Fox's chagrin, I'm sure). And McCarver was really ok back in the 80's covering the Mets. I wonder what happened. Do they have to "dumb down" the coverage when it's for a mass audience?

1:11 AM, October 29, 2007

Anonymous Jonathan said...

If Morgan could just dial-down his ego a couple of notches I'd find them a good broadcast team. I tried listening to them while watching game 3 but they weren't in sync. WMVP/ESPN-1000 doesn't deserve the world series though, because of all the years they pre-empted the games for PRE-SEASON Bulls games.

9:07 AM, October 29, 2007

Blogger Stuart Shea said...

Thanks, everyone, for wonderful comments and observations. Unfortunately some people, especially those in the MSM, tend to be not-very-critical thinkers, which is why Buck and McWasted are viewed as competent.

I think Anne's comment is right on. Local broadcasts tend to be much more informative, and broadcasters can stretch out much more. McCarver was much better on the old WWOR telecasts, which we used to get on cable in Chicago back in the day.

During the crappy FOX coverage, which never--literally NEVER--deigns to show the field unless a ball is hit in play (they'd much rather show endless closeups of fans), the announcers are hamstrung by what their pre-determined "story" for the game will be. It's insulting to viewers, but what the hell. We're just the people who love the game, right?

9:19 PM, October 29, 2007

Blogger YourFriendFrank said...

Stu, how could you ever get tired of McCarver's "if one team scores more runs, they tend to win" analysis? Imagine a broadcast directed by Arne Harris. I haven't watched many games on WGN lately since leaving town. Does the camera work still rock? People might actually watch the World Series if it weren't all fan shots and Francona interviews. BTW, weren't those Francona interviews taped between innings? Think about it for a minute - pretaped interviews run in favor of guys actually hitting at the plate. Sheesh.

7:38 AM, October 30, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What happened to Mark Grace? He seems like such an idiot. Go back to baseball. I'm glad the Red Sox won fast so we didn't have to listen to those reporters for longer than we had too.

1:15 PM, October 31, 2007


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