Thursday, October 09, 2008

Silly Playoff "Thoughts", Vol. 2

DISCLAIMER: This is not an analytical post.

* I was thrilled to see the White Sox dispatched. I like all four of the teams that are left, and will not be bothered by any possible outcome. I’d prefer Phillies/Red Sox, but Dodgers/Rays and Phillies/Rays would be fine too. If it happens to be Dodgers/Red Sox, the Manny stuff will get very stale after about five minutes of FOX pregame coverage. That’s a poor excuse to root against it, though.

* Has it become illegal to have a five-game Division Series? The last to go five was the Angels/Yankees series in 2005. The last LCS to go the distance was the ALCS of a year ago, but that wasn’t a great series for a seven-gamer, as most (Game 2 and the first seven innings of Game 7 as the exception) weren’t nail-biters. And of course 2002 was the last seven game World Series, and 2003 the last to go at least six. As a general fan of the game with absolutely no rooting interest, it would be nice to see a great series. The last two games of the Red Sox/Angels ALDS were a good start, at least.

* I listened to a fair amount of the first round series on ESPN radio, due to other obligations (multiple day games will do that some times). Some general thoughts on the announcers:

Red Sox/Angels: Dan Shulman and Dave Campbell. I think that this was the best of the four crews; Shulman gets a little melodramatic sometimes, but otherwise I think he’s a fine announcer. All color commentators say things I disagree with (as is to be expected), but Campbell comes across as pretty intelligent. He mentioned Baseball Prospectus several times, although unfortunately mostly in reference to the “Secret Sauce”. At least once it was about DER. On the flip side, he is a product of an evil institution (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, don’t worry about it. I’m not going to elaborate).

Dodgers/Cubs: Jon Miller and …I’d have to look it up. Whoever it was obviously did not leave much of an impression for me, but I do like Miller as the play-by-play guy. Of course, I don’t enjoy him on TV because he’s paired with Joe Morgan. The only worse possible team might be Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, but no network would be silly enough to pair those two up…

Phillies/Brewers: Michael Kay and Steve Phillips. Bleh.

Rays/White Sox: Gary Thorne and Chris Singleton. Singleton is one of the first of a generation of commentators for which I am young enough to remember the entirety of their major league careers. Not that I actually remember the glorious details of Singleton’s. Regardless, that’s a plus, I guess; I think that if you are going to have some ex-player to provide insight, then all things being equal it’s better to have a more recent player. However, he used to work for the White Sox and it showed in the broadcast of this series. I don’t mean to imply that he was biased--just that he talked a lot more about Chicago because he’s much more familiar with them. It's up to the listener to decide whether they would rather have a local announcer intensely familiar with one of the teams or a national announcer intensely familiar with neither.

Thorne is much more likeable than Kay, but he’s a horrible radio announcer, because he seems to forget that he’s not on TV. There were multiple times where he omitted pitches (all of a sudden he would say, “the 2-0 pitch is over the outside corner for a strike”--wait, there were two pitches already?) and did not give the location/trajectory of batted balls (“base hit!” or “base hit into right field”--okay, how hard was it hit? Was it down the line, in the hole, or into right-center? Was it hit on the ground, a line drive, a blooper?) On TV, announcers who give you all the details are obnoxious, but the converse is true on the radio.

I can’t imagine it’s easy for guys who go back and forth between the two mediums, and I respect that. It’s still annoying, though. Mike Hegan of the Indians radio network, who comes across as very likeable, is still someone I hate to listen to because he was a TV or TV/Radio announcer for years. He is now solely on the radio, but has yet to tailor his style to fit it.


  1. Thorne is a terrible announcer. He did the play-by-play for MASN, the Orioles TV Network, and I can't begin to tell you how many mistakes he would make during the course of the game. He is absolutely obsessed with Batting Average with RISP. He quoted this stat every time the O's had a runner in scoring position. Not to mention the fact that he never corrects himself when he does make a mistake. I hope that the Orioles (who own MASN) don't bring him back next season.

  2. My criticisms of Thorn were overly-harsh. He's not a terrible baseball announcer. It is an instance where his performance doesn't match his high-profile reputation as an announcer.


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