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Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Will Leitch: TBS’ postseason coverage is improved but still flawed

I like the part where Ernie “The Cat-nap” Johnson thinks he’s “digging into numbers” by comparing players ages.

TBS is still new to this, and each year has been a little better than the last. (Losing Chip Caray helped.) But it’s as if TBS has watched the other, more experienced broadcasts and taken the exact wrong things from them. Like the old-boy-network baseball Luddite-dom of Joe Morgan? Meet Bob Brenly! Like Kevin Millar’s and John Kruk’s interpretation of “analysis” as back-slapping, locker-room towel-snapping, when-in-doubt-just-start-laughing? Hi, David Wells! Like the dulcet, comforting tones of Vin Scully but tired of all that annoying knowledge of the sport he’s broadcasting? Come on down, Dick Stockton!

... It at times felt like the baseball broadcast version of the Bleacher Report, the search-engine-optimization-manipulating content-farming Website that Turner Sports bought earlier this year and was openly shilling throughout the games this weekend. All that was missing was an inning shown to us via slideshow.

At this point I feel obliged to point out that at no point on Sunday did TBS do anything even a quarter as dumb as what Bleacher Report does about 5,000 times a day. I’d feel bad even mentioning the two in the same sentence if TBS didn’t insist on doing it themselves.

... This would be no big deal if this were just any old series. There are plenty of local broadcasters who don’t know what they’re doing, either. And besides, complaining about the broadcasters, whether they’re good or bad, is part of the fun of being a sports fan. But these aren’t any old series: This is the playoffs. TBS is showing baseball at its best with baseball broadcasting at decidedly less than that.

When I could see it anyway. When discussing the shadows at Busch Stadium late in the Cardinals-Nationals game on Sunday, Brenly said, “Visibility is such a huge part of the game.” You’re telling me, pal.

Repoz Posted: October 09, 2012 at 06:10 AM | 55 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. davekemp Posted: October 09, 2012 at 07:43 AM (#4260192)
Cal Ripken is competent and insightful. Smoltz says some cliche things but seems genuinely better with Cal in the booth. The play by play is stilted but I find myself thankful it isn't Chip or Joe.

Matt Vasgersian's PBP of the A's on MLBN was quite good.

Ultimately the regular radio teams for SF and TV guys for Detroit and Oakland would be even better. Buy we have had so much worse that I'm not too critical of TBS
   2. davekemp Posted: October 09, 2012 at 07:44 AM (#4260193)
Of course the SF TV team is also outstanding.
   3. bunyon Posted: October 09, 2012 at 07:57 AM (#4260202)
I didn't RTentireFA but TBS is better than FOX. Most local broadcasts are better than TBS. Basically, it reads as if Leitch and I disagree 100% about what makes a good broadcast.
   4. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: October 09, 2012 at 08:05 AM (#4260206)
Smoltz is a lot better with Ripken. The back-and-forth of pitcher's vs hitter's POV might be a little too obvious for some, but it more or less works. And despite being a pitcher, Smoltz will acknowledge when the plate umpire is doing a pitcher favors, which puts him way ahead of the 90% of announcers who pretend that a pitch was borderline when the pitch-trax shows it six inches off the plate.
   5. Crosseyed and Painless Posted: October 09, 2012 at 08:28 AM (#4260219)
I don't really notice the announcers. I have noticed they insist on showing 125 different camera shots between every pitch, which irritates me.
   6. jmurph Posted: October 09, 2012 at 08:28 AM (#4260220)
It at times felt like the baseball broadcast version of the Bleacher Report, the search-engine-optimization-manipulating content-farming Website that Turner Sports bought earlier this year and was openly shilling throughout the games this weekend. All that was missing was an inning shown to us via slideshow.


Does he expect us to forget he's responsible for Deadspin?
   7. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: October 09, 2012 at 08:38 AM (#4260226)
I don't particularly care for Johnson but no one at TBS that I've heard is as actively bad as Joe Buck or Joe Morgan. So far there has been no one who made me say "oh I can't listen to this anymore" other than the fixation on the shadows in St. Louis.
   8. salajander Posted: October 09, 2012 at 09:00 AM (#4260244)
Cal Ripken is competent and insightful.

Really? I find Ripken mumbles and is hard to follow. I don't like him in the booth at all.
   9. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: October 09, 2012 at 09:20 AM (#4260256)
Ripken does mumble, he's either a low talker or his mic is potted to low, as I could barely hear him relative to Smoltz last night. It wasn't Ron Zook level of mumbling, but he's not smooth at all.
   10. JJ1986 Posted: October 09, 2012 at 09:25 AM (#4260259)
So far there has been no one who made me say "oh I can't listen to this anymore"


I think Buck Martinez is that bad.
   11. DL from MN Posted: October 09, 2012 at 09:51 AM (#4260281)
insist on showing 125 different camera shots between every pitch


You and I have the same pet peeve. Do people really go to baseball games to watch the manager spit and look at people in the crowd? Silly me, I go to watch the players and I like to see what pitch is coming next. There are ways they could improve it - show the 3B coach giving signs when the batter steps out, show the outfield and infield positioning. Just stop showing random people in the crowd, please.
   12. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 09, 2012 at 10:01 AM (#4260288)

Of course the SF TV team is also outstanding.


I don't have TBS, so I've been listening to the radio teams on MLBTV and I agree, the Giants guys are very good. My only complaint is the booth is a bit crowded. Dave Fleming is pretty good, but seems extraneous with Kuiper and Krukow already there. Is that just because its post-season?
   13. bunyon Posted: October 09, 2012 at 10:10 AM (#4260296)


insist on showing 125 different camera shots between every pitch



You and I have the same pet peeve. Do people really go to baseball games to watch the manager spit and look at people in the crowd? Silly me, I go to watch the players and I like to see what pitch is coming next. There are ways they could improve it - show the 3B coach giving signs when the batter steps out, show the outfield and infield positioning. Just stop showing random people in the crowd, please.
12. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted:


Sure. TBS could certainly be BETTER. But they pick this behavior up from FOX. Doesn't excuse it but it isn't unique to TBS.
   14. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: October 09, 2012 at 10:13 AM (#4260298)
I've got no complaints about Cal and Smoltz, both of whom have given us plenty of situational insights from the the three major perspectives (hitter, fielder, and pitcher) of the game. It's going to be quite a dropoff when FOX takes over in the NLCS and the World Series.

And despite being a pitcher, Smoltz will acknowledge when the plate umpire is doing a pitcher favors, which puts him way ahead of the 90% of announcers who pretend that a pitch was borderline when the pitch-trax shows it six inches off the plate.

This, too. As usual, the home plate umpiring has been borderline dreadful. The three ugliest words in baseball: Personalized strike zone.
   15. zack Posted: October 09, 2012 at 10:20 AM (#4260310)
I think the TBS coverage has been great, good enough that I noticed I didn't like the MLBN coverage nearly as much.

Darling is one of the best color guys working today. Smoltz knows his stuff and can relate it to the audience well. Ripken was surpirsingly informative and has a good calm demeanor that works off Smoltz and Ernie Johnson (I say surprisingly because I've never heard Cal in the booth and I expected him to be an amateur, has he worked games before?). I also like that they show the pitch/fx all the time and not just randomly, and keep the previous pitches up.

They may not be the best, but they are definitely the best national teams I have seen in years since ESPN is no better than FOX, and they're probably in the 75th percentile of local teams. Yeah, there are definitely some teams like the Giants where it's a real step down, but consider having to watch the O's with Sterling and Waldman.
   16. zack Posted: October 09, 2012 at 10:22 AM (#4260315)
I will say that Craig Sager is awful and every time they show him I wonder for a second if they're showing a clip from a 1970's baseball broadcast.
   17. Moloka'i Three-Finger Brown (Declino DeShields) Posted: October 09, 2012 at 10:32 AM (#4260327)
I hate to comment on a person's looks, but Dick Stockton now resembles a horrifyingly evil version of Yoda.
   18. Magnum RA Posted: October 09, 2012 at 10:33 AM (#4260328)
They went out of their way to make excuses for the Yankees. Teixeira boots an easy ground ball and "there's a bad hop the average fan doesn't see." Tex makes a play on a slow ground ball that bounces over the bag and it is the greatest thing on Earth. Cal was trying to hard to sound unbiased and ended up gushing all over the Yankees.
   19. DL from MN Posted: October 09, 2012 at 10:40 AM (#4260337)
Ripken has forgotten more about baseball than I will ever know. It's great having him in the booth. I wish I would watch every game sitting next to someone that knowledgeable.

Craig Sager makes me laugh.
   20. bunyon Posted: October 09, 2012 at 10:41 AM (#4260339)
I hate to comment on a person's looks, but Dick Stockton now resembles a horrifyingly evil version of Yoda.

He looks better during the regular year.
   21. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: October 09, 2012 at 10:45 AM (#4260349)
They may not be the best, but they are definitely the best national teams I have seen in years since ESPN is no better than FOX, and they're probably in the 75th percentile of local teams. Yeah, there are definitely some teams like the Giants where it's a real step down, but consider having to watch the O's with Sterling and Waldman.

That'd definitely be quite a comedown, but Sterling and Waldman are radio announcers only.

---------------------------------------------------

I will say that Craig Sager is awful and every time they show him I wonder for a second if they're showing a clip from a 1970's baseball broadcast.

He's not on the air enough to be that much of a distraction, but his appearance reminds me of a group of mid-1960's used car salesmen in Durham, North Carolina who used to sport Beatles wigs and Madras jackets in order to look "mod". That hairpiece of his almost makes Donald Trump's look inconspicuous by comparison.

---------------------------------------------------

They went out of their way to make excuses for the Yankees. Teixeira boots an easy ground ball and "there's a bad hop the average fan doesn't see."

The average fan doesn't see it for the same reason the average ballplayer doesn't field it cleanly: It happens in a blink, and the ball's diversion is just enough to make it miss the glove but not enough to be obvious from the stands. That's exactly the kind of play that a ballplayer can pick out but many other announcers would miss.
   22. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: October 09, 2012 at 10:47 AM (#4260353)
I've been watching it on mute and listening to an iTunes U series on the Civil War & Reconstruction by Yale prof David Blight. Makes the whole thing much more tolerable.
   23. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 09, 2012 at 10:49 AM (#4260359)

Ripken has forgotten more about baseball than I will ever know


Oh, so baseball is his vocation now?

#kevinbutler
   24. Moses Taylor, Moses Taylor Posted: October 09, 2012 at 10:53 AM (#4260364)
Like the old-boy-network baseball Luddite-dom of Joe Morgan? Meet Bob Brenly!

I can't speak for how Brenly's done on TBS, but this is still a terrible insult. Brenly, IMO, has become one of the better color guys around. Maybe a lot of that is due to Len Kasper, but the Brenly Cubs fans gets is very open to new ideas and ways of thinking, he usually provides valuable commentary and critique (which had to be hard with this year's team), and has gotten really comfortable behind the mic. I always dread the offseason when his name is linked to open manager positions because I'd hate to see the Cubs lose him. His reputation as a poor manager preceded him, but he's been completely different as an announcer.
   25. JE (Jason) Posted: October 09, 2012 at 10:53 AM (#4260366)
I think Buck Martinez is that bad.

Was it Buck who said that Dombrowski convinced Ilitch to open up his wallet to sign Fielder when the accepted view is that Boras bypassed the GM and contacted the owner directly?
   26. jack the seal clubber (on the sidelines of life) Posted: October 09, 2012 at 10:53 AM (#4260367)
The three ugliest words in baseball: Personalized strike zone.


This is what pisses me off more than anything else in baseball. The concept being that it is normal for umpires to have their own version of the strike zone and that they should be able to interpret it as they like, as if they were Michaelangelo working on the Sistine Chapel. The definition of the strike zone is written and if the umpire can't come close to it 90% of the time, they need a new umpire. This "he'll call that pitch six inches outside a strike everytime" stuff is unacceptable.
   27. donlock Posted: October 09, 2012 at 11:05 AM (#4260384)
Three guys in the booth is too many. They take a deep breath and start analyzing with the first pitch. All of them are too wordy and make their points over and over. Felt there was a pro-Yankee slant, a Sabathia and Petitte angle to games, when there were other areas to cover.

Hammels pitched well, was a recent addition to the Os, spent years in Colorado, had a mid-season operation, was wearing a knee brace, and hadn't pitched in a month. Couldn't those be topics to pursue? Chen is a Taiwanese import, had pitched in Japan for 4 years. Was there any film from over there? How did Dan Douquette get him over the competition? How was his adjustment to American baseball and culture.He is a national hero back home with much press coverage.

Instead we got lots of camera views of sweaty Sabathia, the canny veteran and intense Andy Petitte, the veteran gamer.Lots of best hitter in baseball chatter about Cano and how Jeter and Tex never make errors. blah, blah
   28. SoSH U at work Posted: October 09, 2012 at 11:08 AM (#4260388)
This is what pisses me off more than anything else in baseball. The concept being that it is normal for umpires to have their own version of the strike zone and that they should be able to interpret it as they like, as if they were Michaelangelo working on the Sistine Chapel. The definition of the strike zone is written and if the umpire can't come close to it 90% of the time, they need a new umpire. This "he'll call that pitch six inches outside a strike everytime" stuff is unacceptable.


I'd be a lot more receptive to this argument if this strike zone issue hadn't been going on since prety much the game's inception. Hell, when I was a wee lad and Andy was already an old man, it was common knowledge that the two leagues had different strike zones. Players have long said they were OK with this as long as the application of the strike zone was consistent throughout the game.

The only thing that's changed on the strike zone front is the box in the corner of the screen.


   29. My guest will be Jermaine Allensworth Posted: October 09, 2012 at 11:25 AM (#4260410)
I've found Ernie Johnson the weakest part of the Ripken-Smoltz booth, although he's not that hard to listen to. You can tell he's not a baseball guy, but he does a good job of directing the conversation to the people who should be talking about a play/sequence/etc.
   30. zack Posted: October 09, 2012 at 11:25 AM (#4260411)
Ripken has forgotten more about baseball than I will ever know. It's great having him in the booth. I wish I would watch every game sitting next to someone that knowledgeable.


From the way both Cal and Billy Ripken talk, Cal Sr. must have really known his stuff, and learned 'is boys good. Cal's the better analyst, but that may just be because Billy does too much blow with Dan Plesac before every episode of MLB Tonight.
   31. salvomania Posted: October 09, 2012 at 11:41 AM (#4260419)
I find Thom Brennaman to be the most unlistenable broadcaster out there.

I was watching the season-ending Cardinals/Reds series, and I hate the StL TV broadcasters so I always choose the opposing team's broadcast, and my god is he terrible!!!!

It starts with the phony "deep announcer voice" that makes me think of a little kid trying on his dad's too-big shoes.

But the second anything positive happens for the Reds his voice rises up into a crescendo, which would be awful enough if I didn't understand a word of english, but since I do, I get to hear him booming about a catch/base hit/strikeout as if it not only saved Game 7 of the World Series, but all of humanity as well.

I used to think Chip Caray was worse---he actually shares all the exact same negative attributes of Brennaman---but Brennaman tops him due to his sheer lack of restraint.

EDIT: And I know neither of these guys are involved in the current broadcasts, but the impression left on me by the recent exposure to Brennaman is still so vivid...
   32. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: October 09, 2012 at 11:44 AM (#4260421)
I can't speak for how Brenly's done on TBS, but this is still a terrible insult. Brenly, IMO, has become one of the better color guys around. Maybe a lot of that is due to Len Kasper, but the Brenly Cubs fans gets is very open to new ideas and ways of thinking, he usually provides valuable commentary and critique (which had to be hard with this year's team), and has gotten really comfortable behind the mic. I always dread the offseason when his name is linked to open manager positions because I'd hate to see the Cubs lose him. His reputation as a poor manager preceded him, but he's been completely different as an announcer.


Big +1. Even when it's clear he doesn't fully embrace some of the more obscure statistics (i.e. you could pick up this during some of the "Stat Sundays" WGN did during Cubs games this season), he doesn't berate them and at least makes an attempt to see their merit. And hell, I'll say it, he's usually good for a few chuckle-worthy comments during every game.

I've found Ernie Johnson the weakest part of the Ripken-Smoltz booth, although he's not that hard to listen to. You can tell he's not a baseball guy, but he does a good job of directing the conversation to the people who should be talking about a play/sequence/etc.


Yeah, he's not terrible or anything, but I can't hear his voice during an MLB game without thinking, "Who is the NBA guy filling in for here?"

   33. hokieneer Posted: October 09, 2012 at 11:53 AM (#4260429)
I find Thom Brennaman to be the most unlistenable broadcaster out there.

...

But the second anything positive happens for the Reds his voice rises up into a crescendo, which would be awful enough if I didn't understand a word of english, but since I do, I get to hear him booming about a catch/base hit/strikeout as if it not only saved Game 7 of the World Series, but all of humanity as well.


Thom also goes to the far other end of the spectrum at the drop of a hat, way worse than his dad.

Todd Frazier strikes out with runners on 2nd and 3rd, 1 out, in the 3rd inning of a scoreless game, Thom will say:

"And that's pathetic. You have to put the ball in play there, give your self a chance to score a run. If the Reds don't get to Garcia this inning when they have this tremendous scoring chance, then good luck scoring at all today. I mean, you have to pick up your pitcher in those spots, give him something to work with. You know what I'm saying Cowboy? Leake is pitching a hell of a game so far, and Frazier's inability to execute the simplest of tasks is putting all the pressure in the ballpark on Mike. I know he's trying, but he just made Garcia look like vintage Tom Seaver. Inexcusable."

And that will continue on, much like that, through the rest of the inning.
   34. esseff Posted: October 09, 2012 at 11:57 AM (#4260434)
I don't have TBS, so I've been listening to the radio teams on MLBTV and I agree, the Giants guys are very good. My only complaint is the booth is a bit crowded. Dave Fleming is pretty good, but seems extraneous with Kuiper and Krukow already there. Is that just because its post-season?


Yes, it is. Normally, Kuiper and Krukow do TV, while Flemming (two m's) and Jon Miller do radio.
   35. Davo's Favorite Tacos Are Moose Tacos Posted: October 09, 2012 at 12:08 PM (#4260446)
I don't know how you actually say his name, but I've always read it as "Will Leech," which--combined with his profession--causes me to view him as an Ayn Rand villain, à la Wesley Mouch.
   36. OsunaSakata Posted: October 09, 2012 at 12:13 PM (#4260453)
Hammels pitched well, was a recent addition to the Os, spent years in Colorado, had a mid-season operation, was wearing a knee brace, and hadn't pitched in a month. Couldn't those be topics to pursue? Chen is a Taiwanese import, had pitched in Japan for 4 years. Was there any film from over there? How did Dan Douquette get him over the competition? How was his adjustment to American baseball and culture.He is a national hero back home with much press coverage.

Instead we got lots of camera views of sweaty Sabathia, the canny veteran and intense Andy Petitte, the veteran gamer.Lots of best hitter in baseball chatter about Cano and how Jeter and Tex never make errors. blah, blah


Those backstories sound like "Up Close and Personal" Olympic coverage. It might draw casual fans. I wouldn't mind that myself. Of course, you couldn't do four minutes, but 15-30 seconds of video of a player in another country, in the minors, on another team would be the right length.

And, has been suggested in previous years, the national broadcasts ought to have a local announcer from each team in the booth, rather than two national jocks. I realize this might be subjecting myself to Hawk if the Chisox get back in the playoffs again.
   37. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: October 09, 2012 at 12:19 PM (#4260463)
I'd be a lot more receptive to this argument if this strike zone issue hadn't been going on since prety much the game's inception. Hell, when I was a wee lad and Andy was already an old man, it was common knowledge that the two leagues had different strike zones.

That was because the NL umps wore their chest protectors inside their jackets, and as a result couldn't bend over as far, and wound up with a higher strike zone. But there's a big difference between having to adjust your hitting zone when you get traded to the other league or play in a World Series, and having to adjust it every goddam day.

Players have long said they were OK with this as long as the application of the strike zone was consistent throughout the game.

Some players have, and other players have asked the perfectly sensible question: Why should they have to re-learn a rule that's taught to them ever since Little League just because of an umpire's peculiar take on it?

It's true that you'll never be able to uniformly enforce the rule book strike zone without causing our sensitive umpires to call a #### strike, but that's why balls and strikes should be called by robots. It never ceases to amaze me that so much fuss is made about the once-in-a-blue moon atrocious call on the basepaths or the foul line, to the point where the game has to be stopped for a replay, while for every blown call like that, there are scores of poorly called balls and strikes that affect the outcome of a game far more.

   38. greenback calls it soccer Posted: October 09, 2012 at 12:21 PM (#4260466)
At this point I feel obliged to point out that at no point

Damn, that's a lot of points.
   39. Justin T steals bases with his bat Posted: October 09, 2012 at 12:24 PM (#4260474)
Leitch's viewpoint is invalid for holding up Ron Darling as an example of the good side of TBS's roster.

And Dick Stockton does surprisingly well, in my opinion.

I don't notice Ripken delivering much insight. He was in the booth for a few innings of an O's game near the end of the year, I think when his statue was unveiled, and part of the banter with Thorne/Bordick was about his upcoming TBS debut and him asking them whether it was better to watch the field or the monitor, etc. He could be a lot worse for how unpolished he is, but that doesn't make him good yet, to me. And he needs to stop calling all the players by their first names.
   40. SoSH U at work Posted: October 09, 2012 at 12:26 PM (#4260476)

Some players have, and other players have asked the perfectly sensible question: Why should they have to re-learn a rule that's taught to them ever since Little League just because of an umpire's peculiar take on it?


No, Andy, they haven't. You might have been you saying it, but that's an entirely different thing. And they haven't been saying it because major league players have been dealing with inconsisent applications of the strike zone since Little League. I find it bizarre that a 700-year-old baseball fan such as yourself is just now discovering that umpires have these demonic personalized strike zones, but that's the way it is. We just have better technology to track it, that's all.

   41. eddieot Posted: October 09, 2012 at 01:05 PM (#4260521)
The back-and-forth of pitcher's vs hitter's POV might be a little too obvious for some, but it more or less works

Personally, I love this kind of booth construction, when the guys are good announcers. Jim Kaat and Ken Singleton were fantastic together, as are Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling. You get distinctly different analyses of the same at-bats and it's often fascinating. But there are always exceptions (I'm looking at you Larry Andersen and Sarge...)
   42. Moses Taylor, Moses Taylor Posted: October 09, 2012 at 01:14 PM (#4260537)
But there are always exceptions (I'm looking at you Larry Andersen and Sarge...)

That's actually the best (only good?) part of the Hawk Harrelson/Steve Stone pairing.
   43. Busted Flush Posted: October 09, 2012 at 01:23 PM (#4260552)
listening to an iTunes U series on the Civil War & Reconstruction by Yale prof David Blight

That is a fantastic series.
   44. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 09, 2012 at 08:12 PM (#4261101)
There are ways they could improve it - show the 3B coach giving signs when the batter steps out, show the outfield and infield positioning. Just stop showing random people in the crowd, please.


This. Anything but showing the batter stepping out, putting his bat under his shoulder, adjusting his helmet, and then unfastening and refastening his batting gloves *when he didn't even swing at the g**damn pitch.* This sadly ubiquitous little tic grates on me more and more with each passing day. Yep, getting old.
   45. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: October 09, 2012 at 10:27 PM (#4261308)
Angel Hernandez doesn't have a personalized strike zone. He simply has no idea of the concept of a strike zone.
   46. Dan Evensen Posted: October 10, 2012 at 01:21 AM (#4261426)
Dick Stockton is probably no longer qualified to do baseball play-by-play. He's got this habit of mixing players up, as well as not knowing which bag the player is rounding.

Other than him, I've found the TBS crew to be pretty good.

I'd love to see something other than the crowd and the bench as well. From the baseball broadcasting history I know (mostly from my own VHS and DVD collection), I blame that phenomenon on ABC in the mid-1980s. FOX shoulders most of the blame for the closeups of the pitcher's nose.

Of course, watching NBC games from before 1990 will make you weep and long for what we once had. Particularly games directed by Harry Coyle. If more fans knew what they were missing, they'd be outraged. Believe it or not, there was once a time when networks only showed a replay if there was a point to it, when the slow parts of the game were punctuated by shots of the fielding alignment, and when the play-by-play guy had a great love of the game and actually did his homework.

The funny thing is that you could actually follow the game and the score then without having the box up in the upper left-hand corner.
   47. boteman Posted: October 10, 2012 at 01:28 AM (#4261429)
Of course, watching NBC games from before 1990 will make you weep and long for what we once had. Particularly games directed by Harry Coyle. If more fans knew what they were missing, they'd be outraged...The funny thing is that you could actually follow the game and the score then without having the box up in the upper left-hand corner.

What??? Don't you want the networks to bring us the HUMAN STORY??!!
   48. Justin T steals bases with his bat Posted: October 10, 2012 at 04:33 AM (#4261443)
And to sass things up?
   49. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: October 10, 2012 at 04:57 AM (#4261444)
watching NBC games from before 1990 will make you weep and long for what we once had.

Vin Scully calling the games, for one. Game 5 of the '84 Series remains a cherished possession of mine. (And Game 6 of '86, too.)
   50. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: October 10, 2012 at 08:15 AM (#4261470)
Some players have, and other players have asked the perfectly sensible question: Why should they have to re-learn a rule that's taught to them ever since Little League just because of an umpire's peculiar take on it?

No, Andy, they haven't. You might have been you saying it, but that's an entirely different thing.


Actually I think the player I had in mind there was Wade Boggs or some other noteworthy Major Leaguer. I didn't quote him by name only because I didn't feel like tracking down the quote.

But beyond the mild ad hominen, what exactly is wrong with roboumps for balls and strikes? I can see the argument that the technology isn't yet perfect, but any other objection is purely sentimental horsecrap.

Unlike replay, which I detest, a roboump wouldn't result in game delays, and you also would be rid of the sort of personalized strike zones that not only vary from ump to ump, but also between scrubs and superstars, who frequently benefit from them. If we're supposed to adjust to personalized strike zones, why not just "adjust" to things like personalized foul lines or personalized bad calls in general? Why insist upon game delaying technology to overrule the tiny percentage of bad calls that take place after a ball is hit, and refuse to employ time-neutral technology that can stop the overwhelming majority of bad calls from being made in the first place?
   51. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: October 10, 2012 at 08:32 AM (#4261478)
Unlike replay, which I detest, a roboump wouldn't result in game delays


"And we've got a stoppage here as Morris from IT comes down to do a quick reboot of the Ump-o-matic 2000. Ump-o-matic 2000's new upgrade is brought to you by Apple. Apple, when you're sense of self-worth is tied up in the products you buy, Apple is your vendor."

Kidding aside my concern with the roboumps is that I think the game would change dramatically. I think we'd see a game that makes the 90s/00s look like a pitcher's era. Walks would skyrocket and with hitters able to truly lock in on a strike zone we'd see home runs and offense in general jump in numbers.

I am also not entirely convinced that the roboumps are as accurate as we think they are.
   52. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: October 10, 2012 at 08:39 AM (#4261481)
Kidding aside my concern with the roboumps is that I think the game would change dramatically. I think we'd see a game that makes the 90s/00s look like a pitcher's era. Walks would skyrocket and with hitters able to truly lock in on a strike zone we'd see home runs and offense in general jump in numbers.

From what I've seen, I think you'd also get a countering force in strikes being called at the upper end of the rulebook strike zone, which is almost never done today. Some of these marvelous personalized strike zones we've got now barely extend above the belt.

I am also not entirely convinced that the roboumps are as accurate as we think they are.

As I said, that's a legitimate objection. For now. But if we can send a man to the Moon, yada yada yada....
   53. SoSH U at work Posted: October 10, 2012 at 09:32 AM (#4261515)
But beyond the mild ad hominen, what exactly is wrong with roboumps for balls and strikes? I can see the argument that the technology isn't yet perfect, but any other objection is purely sentimental horsecrap.


Don't go all Ray on me (now that's an ad hominem, unlike the imaginary one in my previous post). I think adjusting to the way the individual umpire is calling balls and strikes is a skill, one the better players take advantage of and the weaker ones whine about. It requires paying attention to the game, understanding what the umpire's preferencs are early on (or, going into the game with a working knowledge of the guy behind the plate) and using that knowledge (along those lines, I also like the fact some catchers can frame pitchers better than the others, and parenthetical thoughts). Moreover, and this is just a theory, as a fan of put-in-play ball, rather than TTO tediousness, I suspect that a uniform zone will lead to even more of the latter, which I don't want.

Look ma, no sentimental horsecrap.



   54. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: October 10, 2012 at 10:29 AM (#4261569)
But beyond the mild ad hominen, what exactly is wrong with roboumps for balls and strikes? I can see the argument that the technology isn't yet perfect, but any other objection is purely sentimental horsecrap.



Don't go all Ray on me (now that's an ad hominem, unlike the imaginary one in my previous post).

Well, we 600 year olds are rightly sensitive about being called 700, but I did call it mild.

I think adjusting to the way the individual umpire is calling balls and strikes is a skill, one the better players take advantage of and the weaker ones whine about. It requires paying attention to the game, understanding what the umpire's preferencs are early on (or, going into the game with a working knowledge of the guy behind the plate) and using that knowledge (along those lines, I also like the fact some catchers can frame pitchers better than the others, and parenthetical thoughts). Moreover, and this is just a theory, as a fan of put-in-play ball, rather than TTO tediousness, I suspect that a uniform zone will lead to even more of the latter, which I don't want.

Look ma, no sentimental horsecrap.


Maybe not, but it still sounds as if you're justifying different sets of rules for some players in a kind of social Darwinist sort of way.

I'll make a pool analogy here, and try to explain it for those not familiar with the game.

One of the biggest pain in the butts in the game of nine ball when it's played at a high level is the excruciating amount of time it takes for some players to "freeze the rack", meaning that all nine balls are touching each and every adjacent ball within the diamond shaped rack, without even a microscopic gap between any of the balls. The reason for this is that a frozen rack results in a far better break shot and a far better opportunity to run the rack without giving one's opponent a shot.

The problem is that on many tables, surface imperfections make "freezing the rack" virtually impossible without spending insane amounts of time racking and re-racking, up to even 10 or 15 minutes in some cases. Players who find this tiresome and accept imperfect racks** are at a major disadvantage.

About three years ago, seeing this time delay problem, and realizing that it was making nine ball an impossible game to present to TV packages, some genius invented what's called a "Magic Rack", a piece of ultra-thin plastic that serves as a substitute for the traditional rack. With it, you just place it on the spot and drop the balls in little grooves. This automatically freezes the rack perfectly in about ten seconds, every time, with no variation.

Problem solved, right? Wrong! Instead, what you get are a number of players who insist that racking the balls as a definable "skill", even though there's no "skill" involved other than patience. Even though this "skill" has nothing to do with the game itself. And even though the Magic Rack can make a match proceed at a less than glacial pace. It's the same sort of reasoning behind the idea that players have some sort of inherent obligation to conform to an umpire's individual peculiarities, rather than obliging the umpires to just learn and follow the strike zone that's in the goddam rule book. I'm a great believer in the intangible attributes and pleasures of baseball, but the idea of different strike zones for superstars and scrubs isn't among them.

**In high level nine ball, unlike "sociable" pool, you rack your own rack, not your opponent's.
   55. SoSH U at work Posted: October 10, 2012 at 10:47 AM (#4261597)
Maybe not, but it still sounds as if you're justifying different sets of rules for some players in a kind of social Darwinist sort of way.


How the hell would you come to that conclusion? I've said nothing that would indicate I prefer different strike zones for different players, and in fact support just the oppposite.

Moreover, I see little evidence of it in baseball (now, with baskeball, you're on to something). Data last year showed that Livan Hernandez got far more strike zone breaks than Felix Hernandez, and I'm pretty sure it isn't because Livan is more superstarry. I'd reckon it's because Livan does a better job hitting the glove (because, with his stuff, he has to) than the King.

I've simply stated my preference for the game as it is and always has been - the umpires calls their strike zone - as I think that leads to a better product. This isn't to say that any strike zone is acceptable. It must be reasonable - which, I find it generally is. And it must be consistent, which is a major concern and one where I will side with the legion of BTF strike zone shriekers.

But if this guy gives the pitch a couple of inches off the plate but doesn't like the inside corner, or that ump likes a high strike but won't give the low one, that's not some peculiarity that never cropped up until Fox put the little tracking box on the corner of your screen. That's baseball. And adjusting to the day's strike zone has been a part of baseball forever. And in my view, the ability of both the batter and the pitcher to make those adjusments on a daily basis is a feature of the sport, not a bug.

Also, except in milk, homogeneity sucks.

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