Baseball talk could use less ego
- Pete Schulberg
- Portland Tribune - News
I don't know which pleases me more: the fact that the Yankees, Braves and Diamondbacks have been banished from the playoffs or that Len Berman, Rick Sutcliffe and Jeff Brantley are banished from the broadcasts of the playoffs.
Now that Fox is alone in carrying the league championships and the World Series, we won't have to suffer through ESPN's monster mouths, whose performances during the division playoffs were as frightening as a hanging slider headed toward Barry Bonds. These are guys who have never learned that:
a) It's OK to shut up occasionally.
b) We're not interested in anything they have to say if it doesn't relate to what's happening on the field.
c) Comedy is hard.
Also banished for now is the search for the ABC Family Channel or FX or some of those other oddball places where baseball winds up on the dial these days. The established networks have figured out that Tennessee vs. Arkansas will bring in bigger ratings than Twins vs. A's.
As for the Fox Broadcasting teams of Joe Buck-Tim McCarver (on the National League) and Thom Brennaman-Steve Lyons (American League), I'll probably be turning down the sound only during the latter. If Lyons would just stick to the game, he'd be passable. But the former major leaguer from Beaverton High tries Ñ and fails miserably Ñ to be clever.
Like his father, Jack, who died this summer, Buck is as solid as they come. He also works beautifully with McCarver, which, although McCarver is the best analyst in the business, isn't always easy. The problem with McCarver is that he'll repeat something about some bit of strategy over and over and over until you want to scream, 'OK, enough already about Kent swinging at the inside heat after being fooled by the splitter the pitch before.'
But McCarver can still point out subtleties that would escape even the most knowledgeable fan. It's a shame that the teams' play-by-play guys Ñ the radio and television announcers who do the games during the regular season Ñ aren't brought in to help out with the postseason games. That was the custom when national broadcasts of World Series games began back in the '40s, and it continued for decades. It was always more fun hearing from the folks who know the players and teams inside and out.
Besides, there ought to be a law requiring that Vin Scully do the World Series every year. You want to talk about a void? That's what baseball's been in since the famed Voice of the Dodgers disappeared from postseason TV.
During the division playoffs, Fox was uncharacteristically restrained, focusing on the games and not cluttering up the action with idiotic fan cams and cumbersome graphics with statistics so obscure McCarver didn't know them.
But my biggest gripe with the way baseball is shown on TV remains: Why can't the folks back in the truck ever use the behind-the-plate camera when the pitcher is about to throw? That's the view you want if you're watching at the ballpark, and it lets viewers follow the ball with a single camera if the batter connects.