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Saturday, March 01, 2014

Leitch: Reynolds and Verducci bring new voices to FOX MLB broadcasts

The Reynolds Effect…a dimensionless quantity? We shall see.

Reynolds and Verducci seem chosen specifically to erase all lingering McCarverism. First off, each of them are 20 years younger than McCarver; Reynolds is 53, Verducci 47. They at least carry the aura of youth—they’re youthish—which will come in handy in making people forget McCarver. They’re also both very likable guys who are new enough in the business that they’ve shown they’re willing to adjust and change depending on what’s asked of them. McCarver (and Packer) couldn’t have changed if you’d given them a brain transplant; they were resolutely themselves, no matter what circumstances were in front of them. Reynolds and Verducci are a couple of guys who can take direction.

Neither is on the forefront of anything. Reynolds is rather far behind the times when it comes to advanced baseball analysis and the resources that front offices in the game value; Watching him “debate” Brian Kenny about pitcher wins last year was embarrassing to anyone who has even passing familiarity with how baseball analytics have evolved in the last 30 years.

And Verducci, for a professional sportswriter, is strangely behind the times when it comes to advanced analysis, not just clinging to his resoundingly disproven Verducci Effect, but even lamenting the Joey Votto-ization of baseball. (You sense sometimes that Verducci is trying to show players and network TV types that, don’t worry, he’s not one of those writers.)

But then again: Expecting a booth of Kenny, Keith Law and Joe Sheehan, as much as I might enjoy that, was never realistic. (And would almost certainly make every one of my baseball-loving uncles’ heads explode.) One shouldn’t underestimate the likability thing, particularly when it comes to Reynolds. Whatever your thoughts about Reynolds as an analyst—and his breakdown of why the infield fly rule call in the 2012 wild-card game was actually the correct one is pretty much perfect baseball television —it is basically impossible not to like Harold Reynolds. Not to bring up past unpleasantries, but Reynolds is a walking hug. Even when I don’t agree with what he’s saying, even when I don’t understand what he’s saying, I find myself helpless: You can’t get mad at Harold Reynolds.

Repoz Posted: March 01, 2014 at 02:57 PM | 18 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: media, sabermetrics

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   1. Dan Posted: March 01, 2014 at 04:31 PM (#4664580)
/vomit
   2. Dan Posted: March 01, 2014 at 04:34 PM (#4664583)
Reynolds is 53, Verducci 47. They at least carry the aura of youth—they’re youthish—which will come in handy in making people forget McCarver.


A 53 year old and a 47 year old are a youth movement?


They’re also both very likable guys who are new enough in the business that they’ve shown they’re willing to adjust and change depending on what’s asked of them. McCarver (and Packer) couldn’t have changed if you’d given them a brain transplant; they were resolutely themselves, no matter what circumstances were in front of them. Reynolds and Verducci are a couple of guys who can take direction.


Could any of this possibly be LESS true? Reynolds is one of the least likable people on TV talking about baseball and Verducci has all of the personality of a cardboard cutout. And Reynolds is only about half a step this side of Joe Morgan in terms of willingness to adjust or change.

Not to bring up past unpleasantries, but Reynolds is a walking hug.


Yeah, as long as you're an attractive female intern, Reynolds is a walking hug.
   3. Graham & the 15-win "ARod Vortex of suck" Posted: March 01, 2014 at 04:36 PM (#4664587)
I've noticed that most of the backlash on Twitter has been directed at Reynolds. Personally, I prefer Reynolds to Verducci. Reynolds seems like a run-of-the-mill ex-player with some added ESPN flair. He says stupid thing, and he says them loudly and obnoxiously. That's easy enough to tune out. Verducci, on the other hand, couches his bad analysis in ways that make it seem insightful upon first glance. He uses just enough advanced lines of thinking with just evidence to support his tired narrative, but he is always sure to stop short of looking at relevant evidence when it will hinder his point. Verducci wraps all of this up in a package of smugness and moral superiority. I find him very annoying.
   4. JJ1986 Posted: March 01, 2014 at 04:54 PM (#4664597)
From what I remember, Verducci is terrible. He cares much more about arguing "philosophical issues" than in discussing the specific plays going on in the game. Every sacrifice bunt is an excuse to talk about Sabermetrics. Every Miguel Cabrera at bat is an excuse to talk about what makes an MVP. Every Yankees game is an excuse to talk about Alex Rodriguez for 3 hours.
   5. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: March 01, 2014 at 05:00 PM (#4664605)
they’re youthish


But do they have truthiness?

Anyway, Buck is still doing the play-by-play, so FOX broadcasts will still suck.
   6. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: March 01, 2014 at 05:55 PM (#4664631)
I'm with Graham in #3. I think Harold will be OK but Verducci is painful. He's going to frame everything against the PED backdrop and Graham is 100% right about him being a "package of smugness and moral superiority."

Reynolds had his little back and forths with Brian Kenny but I think the fact that he was willing to engage him is a positive.
   7. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: March 01, 2014 at 06:09 PM (#4664639)
Every Miguel Cabrera at bat is an excuse to talk about what makes an MVP. Every Yankees game is an excuse to talk about Alex Rodriguez for 3 hours.
I don't pretend to really know this--and I'd be curious to see what TVErik's thoughts are--but I'm guessing that to a large extent these things are determined ahead of the game. I'm sure Verducci has a voice in setting the agenda for what will be discussed during the game (he is "the talent" after all) but I doubt he's there shouting to discuss A-Rod and the MVP debate while everyone else in the room rolls their eyes
   8. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: March 01, 2014 at 06:42 PM (#4664650)
Verducci is only 47? I'm not that much younger than that and had him pegged as someone at least 5 years older than me. It seems like he's been at SI since I was in high school, but I may have added Ron Fimrite's career to his.
   9. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: March 01, 2014 at 10:36 PM (#4664733)
Verducci is only 47? I'm not that much younger than that and had him pegged as someone at least 5 years older than me.
There seems to be some dispute on the issue. Wikipedia, bizarrely, lists his age as 52 but his DOB as December 1960. I suspect he must be older than 47. According to his SI bio, he got his BA in 1982, and started writing for Newsday in '83. That would make 1960 a plausible DOB, otherwise he's graduating from college at 15 and starting to write for Newsday at 16.
   10. Select Storage Device Posted: March 01, 2014 at 11:49 PM (#4664745)
I like Verducci as the resident nerd in the booth, but this is bland as hell.

Edit: Actually, I just like the idea of a resident nerd in the booth. This is really pretty shite.
   11. vortex of dissipation Posted: March 02, 2014 at 02:59 AM (#4664766)
Reynolds is 53...They at least carry the aura of youth—they’re youthish-


Being eligible to join AARP is a sign of youth?
   12. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: March 02, 2014 at 10:45 AM (#4664790)
Not to bring up past unpleasantries, but Reynolds is a walking hug.


What's the snappy 21st century word for giving out a compliment while reminding everyone of prior bad behavior? It's kind of a Humblebrag, but not really.

RB is 100% correct in #7; I have nothing to add. Despite the "unscripted" feel for a professional baseball broadcast (particularly an infrequent GotW one), topics are almost always hashed out ahead of time.

One of the ways to tell at home is if there's graphics which support what the analysts say. It takes time to build those, and most of them are done before the game starts (obviously there are exceptions - if a game turns on an obscure rule, the rule book is taken out and typed into the graphics during the game - likely during the next commercial break). So if you see "MVP votes over the last twenty years" or something, you can bet dollars to donuts that this topic was introduced and discussed well before first pitch.



   13. Moeball Posted: March 02, 2014 at 07:53 PM (#4665030)
Buck, Reynolds, Verducci (sigh).

I guess that's why I just follow the games online and get PBP updates. I don't have to listen to anyone saying stupid stuff that way.

Does anyone remember how Verducci's HOF ballot went?
   14. JE (Jason) Posted: March 02, 2014 at 08:10 PM (#4665046)
Not to bring up past unpleasantries, but Reynolds is a walking hug.

Was McCarver really that unhuggable?
   15. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: March 02, 2014 at 08:12 PM (#4665049)
Sounds like Brian Sabean is running FOX now.
   16. vivaelpujols Posted: March 03, 2014 at 06:39 AM (#4665211)
Reynold's seems creepy as ####, even beyond the intern thing (which I don't really know anything about). Whenever there's an attractive female cohost on MLB Network, it seems like he's always trying to awkwardly hit on her. Beyond that he seems like a generally nice guy trying to keep things genial. I recall him acting very pleasantly towards Calcaterra when they were discussing the 30 sexiest managers or whatever.

I don't know anything about Verducci.
   17. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: March 03, 2014 at 06:59 AM (#4665212)
Does anyone remember how Verducci's HOF ballot went?

I couldn't find Verducci's 2014 ballot online; maybe he discussed it on the Baseball Network or something. He did have this to say about the 2014 results, though:

"[Writers] are accountable for their votes, which I think is a good thing."

"The players who took amphetamines will talk about it. That's the difference."
   18. Lassus Posted: March 03, 2014 at 10:32 AM (#4665235)
Beyond that he seems like a generally nice guy trying to keep things genial. I recall him acting very pleasantly towards Calcaterra when they were discussing the 30 sexiest managers or whatever.

Reynolds dialed in on the umpire monitor phone to prank the replay staff in the first two weeks it was active, in 2008.

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