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 Post subject: You've Got to Be Joking Dept.
PostPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2005 6:58 pm 
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Location: New Jersey
John Jackson of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote:
Sure, you'd rather be among the 40,000-plus lucky souls inside U.S. Cellular Field for Game 1 of the World Series on Saturday night -- the first Fall Classic game played in Chicago in 46 years -- but try and look at the bright side.

It's warm in your living room, you can get a six-pack of beer for less than what it costs for one beer at the ballpark, and there's no line for the bathroom. Oh, and you can see all the action up close thanks to the first-class baseball broadcast that Fox Sports produces.

The Homer Simpson network has been broadcasting the national pastime for roughly a decade and, following a shaky start, now does baseball as well (if not better) than any other network.


It's possible I've read something in a newspaper I disagreed with more than this. But offhand, I can't think of it.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2005 5:07 am 
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Seconded. I hate it when Fox has a game I want to watch.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2005 5:52 am 
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Two words: Tim McCarver.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2005 8:01 am 
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Location: 60'6" from home plate
And they've given us the joy of Dirt Cam.

When someone mentions baseball on Fox, the first word that comes to mind is "overproduced."


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2005 9:23 am 
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Two words that overcome all that for me: Joe Buck.

Two more words: Best ever.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2005 9:36 am 
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Joe Buck is a competent play-by-play announcer. But there's nothing special about him. He is not his father, nor is he as good as other active announcers such as, for example, ESPN's Jon Miller, and he's certainly not enough to make up for Tim McCarver.

Admittedly, as someone who follows most regular-season games by radio, I have high standards for play-by-play that any television announcer would be strained to meet.

But I will acknowledge that Buck is the one thing about Fox's broadcast that isn't actually bad.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2005 12:13 pm 
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I like the Dirt Cam, when used sparingly.

I like Joe Buck, when heard sparingly. (I too prefer Jon Miller in particular.)

As for Tim McCarver: The title of his book tells it all:
"TIM McCARVER'S BASEBALL FOR BRAIN SURGEONS AND OTHER FANS
Understanding and Interpreting the Game So You Can Watch It Like a Pro"
(I won't link to it because it nearly made my head explode. You've been warned.)

McCarver has an amazing knowledge of strategy. Believe it or not, he's actually holding back during games. Unfortunately, he gets so caught up in words and thoughts during broadcasts that he beats the obvious to death and gets the basic action in front of him wrong.
He likes to hear himself talk way too much, in my opinion.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2005 2:29 pm 
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Don't get me started.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2005 2:46 pm 
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I actually agree with Wayne that McCarver is a very smart man. I read his book years ago and learned some things that have stayed with me.

His smarts just don't translate well to the spoken word, to put it mildly.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 24, 2005 4:50 pm 
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Location: Champaign, Ill.
Maybe it's because they've been doing the playoffs now for almost a decade, or maybe it's because I "grew up" during those years, but I actually don't mind Fox's broadcasts. I also followed many Cardinals games on the radio, where, before he retired, I had the pleasure of listening to Jack Buck, and so was introduced to Joe Buck before most of the rest of the country. It has been said that Joe never wanted to be compared to his dad, for obvious reasons. Stories about him early on in his career said he hated the questions about following in his dad's footsteps. On the other hand, since I listen to the Cardinals on KMOX, I have already dealt with inept broadcasting at its finest in the form of Mike Shannon. That man could be calling a noon game at Wrigley and be drunk by 10 a.m.

As for Tim McCarver, he is a smart man, but, well, words don't translate well for him in live broadcast situations. I thought throwing Lou Pinella in the mix for the ALCS was hilarious; the first time I heard him, I thought they had Larry Flynt in as a guest. But McCarver's a former Cardinal, so I can't knock on him too bad. I will say this though -- I heard the funniest exchange ever during last night's broadcast of Game 2 of the World Series.

Podsednik comes to the plate, looks at a couple of inside fastballs.

BUCK: "A question has been brought up, and many are asking themselves if Phil Garner should have put Lidge on the mound in Game 6 of the NLCS, if only to get the bad taste out of his mouth from Game 5."

McCARVER: "That taste isn't even there."

Crack.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 2:36 pm 
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Location: Boston, MA
ndugan1 wrote:
I thought throwing Lou Pinella in the mix for the ALCS was hilarious; the first time I heard him, I thought they had Larry Flynt in as a guest.

Laughed out loud at this, Niko. Perfect. (Though note one of the true litmus tests for sports copy editors: "Piniella.")

Maybe it would be instructive to hear how people acquired their high standards for televised-baseball announcing. I tend to have low expectations -- here in Boston we have ex-2B Jerry Remy, who perpetually sounds like he can't wait for the season to end so he can get his aching knees back to Florida -- and thus I'm often pleasantly surprised at the quality of the network product.

And I can understand why some find Tim McCarver overbearing, but on WWOR during the 1980's he did a tremendous job making the chaotic New York Mets seem interesting and even like decent human beings -- all while sitting day after day next to Ralph Kiner, the Human Malapropism. This is not a small feat.

Some of this surely explains why I don't wrinkle my nose at the Fox telecast. And while I love Jon Miller too, there seems to be some nefarious experiment going on where he gets saddled with the absolute worst broadcast partners alive -- Joe Morgan, Rick Sutcliffe, recently Mike Piazza. If Mike Shannon's as bad as Niko says, then I expect to see him paired with Miller on ESPN before too long.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 3:07 pm 
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Just as Joe Buck is the one thing I admit I like about Fox's broadcasts, Joe Morgan is the one thing I admit I don't like about ESPN's broadcasts.

Morgan has a true gift for stating the obvious with conviction, while somehow avoiding having opinions on any question that is remotely difficult. I find him marginally more tolerable than McCarver, however, because he doesn't have the latter's habit of predicting things exactly wrong.

Actually, I'm hard pressed to name a current color commentator that I like, on any TV network. As far as radio goes, Suzyn Waldman of the Yankees Radio Network does a pretty good job (and on a purely aesthetic level, I think it works well having a woman's voice in counterpoint to allow the ear to easily distinguish the commentary from John Sterling's play-by-play).

Any nominees for Baseball Television Color Commentator Who Isn't Awful? Kind of a small set, as McCarver and Morgan are the only ones with a regular national audience. Hard to believe either network can't do much, much better.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 3:28 pm 
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Matthew's query is an excellent one, and after a little pondering I'm already stumped.

Who's Vin Scully's partner these days? --Or is that person automatically disqualified on the grounds that sitting next to Scully would make anyone sound like a Hall of Fame-caliber announcer?

So I'm interested to see some serious nominations for excellence in color commentary. Perhaps McCarver will end up looking not half bad after all.

On the other end of the spectrum: During the Yanks-Angels series, almost at the very moment Adam Kennedy (Angels 2B) was nabbing a Giambi smash in short right field, didn't I hear Piazza say something like, "I'm a traditionalist -- I don't see why you have to move the fielders around so much"?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2005 5:37 pm 
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Vinny doesn't have a partner, as far as I know. He does the first three innings of Dodger games on radio (simulcast, I believe), then gives way to Charlie Steiner and Rick Monday on radio. I don't know if he continues on teevee or whether he has a partner if he does continue.

But PunkOnce, your question confuses me. Are you saying Scully is so good he makes those working with him sound better, or that anyone sounds good compared to him?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2005 1:27 pm 
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Matthew Grieco wrote:
Actually, I'm hard pressed to name a current color commentator that I like, on any TV network. As far as radio goes, Suzyn Waldman of the Yankees Radio Network does a pretty good job (and on a purely aesthetic level, I think it works well having a woman's voice in counterpoint to allow the ear to easily distinguish the commentary from John Sterling's play-by-play).

Any nominees for Baseball Television Color Commentator Who Isn't Awful? Kind of a small set, as McCarver and Morgan are the only ones with a regular national audience. Hard to believe either network can't do much, much better.


First of all, John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman are execrable. They are by far the worst baseball-broadcasting duo in the 30 years or so that I have been a sentient baseball fan (I'm 38). Sterling is insufferably pompous and is often conducting a talk show from Mars rather than announcing a baseball game, expostulating on subjects that have nothing even remotely to do with baseball ("Down low, 2-0") while treating the game being played before him as a mere annoyance. He never lets the fan forget that he thinks the game is all about him, coming up with ridiculously contrived home run calls ("The Giambino!" "Bam-Tino!" "Alexander the Great conquers again!") that condescend to the baseball knowledge of the audience (comparing Jason Giambi to Babe Ruth is patently absurd) and aggrandize himself.

Suzyn Waldman, while meaning well, comes off as obsequious and insipid, laughing at whatever comes out of Sterling's mouth, even when it's not remotely funny. Her voice is grating and shrill, and her Boston accent is so thick as to be impenetrable at times. (This criticism has nothing to do with the Boston-New York rivalry, trust me.) And the sad thing is that she offers far more cogent baseball observations than John ever does, but John almost never responds to them. She'll say something that will beg for comment from John, and it will be met by silence.

Add these deficiencies to the incessant selling on the broadcasts, and you have an unlistenable station. Every single word John and Suzyn say is sponsored, and the listener cannot escape the live spots. "First-inning pitch speed, brought to you by..." "That was the 15th out of the game, brought to you by..." "At the plate is Hideki Matsui, and if your plate is at [Japanese restaurant name]..." "Seventh-inning pitch speed, brought to you by..." God, almighty, it's beyond the limits of human tolerance. That's why I bought XM radio this year. At least 81 times a year I can listen to a broadcast that isn't cluttered with ads and that features genuine interaction between the announcers and baseball talk instead of promotions.

Now, if you want to know who the best color man in baseball is (possibly aside from Vin Scully), it's easy: Jim Kaat, who works on the YES Network. Yankee fans are so lucky to have his honest, incisive, reassuringly paternalistic voice doing the Yanks' games for however many games a year he works. He's unafraid to criticize the Yankees, unlike the other announcers (all, including Kaat, are Yankees employees); he brings clever, funny, relevant anecdotes from his playing past to game situations; and he's laid back and lets the game tell the story for the most part. He also works very well with Ken Singleton, the former Orioles great, and the viewer gets an excellent balance of the pitcher's perspective on a certain situation and the hitter's perspective.

As for the Yanks' best radio team since '76: aside from Bill White and whoever was working alongside him (Frank Messer, Phil Rizzuto, Bobby Murcer), I'd have to say Tommy Hutton and Hank Greenwald, from 1987 to 1988. They were here all too short a time. They were both very knowledgeable (Hutton was a fringe major league player), friendly, extremely low key and funny.

Greenwald had gone into retirement, but I found to my great delight this summer while watching an A's game on my cable system's out-of-market package that he did some games this year for Fox Sports Net Bay Area. I heard the play-by-play man's voice that night and thought, Boy, he sounds familiar. Sounds like Hank Greenwald! A quick trip to Fox Sports Net's website revealed it was indeed he.

I'm not sure what happened to Hutton.

I still have on audiotape Bill White and Jack Buck calling the 1987 World Series on radio, for CBS, I believe. That was an excellent team too.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2005 3:35 pm 
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I heard Greenwald for years on Giants broadcasts. One of the best ever, IMO. Great sense of humor, excellent comic timing for a broadcaster. Helped a lot in 11-2 games.

His book sucked, though.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2005 3:59 pm 
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Oeditpus Rex wrote:
I heard Greenwald for years on Giants broadcasts. One of the best ever, IMO. Great sense of humor, excellent comic timing for a broadcaster. Helped a lot in 11-2 games.

His book sucked, though.


Oh, totally agree on the first point, Oed, but I disagree on the second. I liked his book. I thought it was as folksy as his broadcasts.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2005 11:33 am 
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Oeditpus Rex wrote:
But PunkOnce, your question confuses me. Are you saying Scully is so good he makes those working with him sound better, or that anyone sounds good compared to him?

Many pardons -- years of copy editing at work have left me leaning dangerously toward the obscure on my own time.

Here I meant only the former -- that Mr. Scully's announcing talent is so absurdly potent that he occasionally seems to polish the skills of even mediocre broadcast partners to a near Hall-of-Fame shine. His network broadcasts in the 1980s still represent the ideal of what I think a baseball announcer should sound like -- and have left me with a hard-to-explain appreciation for Joe Garagiola as well.

I assume that on this (well, on the Scully part anyway) I'm with the vast majority -- though I'm also contrarian enough to wonder if anyone has an alternate, Christopher-Hitchens-bashes-Mother-Teresa-type take on Mr. Scully? (Have at it if you will, Oed.)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2005 3:53 pm 
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PunkOnce wrote:
though I'm also contrarian enough to wonder if anyone has an alternate, Christopher-Hitchens-bashes-Mother-Teresa-type take on Mr. Scully? (Have at it if you will, Oed.)

Nope. Not me. I've listened to Vinny since I was old enough to find KFI on a radio dial. Nobody's close to him. Nobody ever will be.


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