Fox being Fox

If the World Series had been Dodgers-Red Sox instead of Phillies-Rays, Fox’s TV coverage would have gone something like this…

Joe Buck: Manny Manny Manny. Manny Manny Manny Manny?

Tim McCarver: Manny Manny Manny Manny Manny Manny. Manny Manny Manny Manny, Manny Manny Manny Manny.

Joe: Manny Manny Manny Manny. Manny Manny Manny — Chris Myers?

Chris Myers: Manny Manny Manny Manny Manny Manny Manny. Manny Manny Manny Manny Manny Manny. Manny Manny Manny Manny Manny Manny. Manny Manny Manny Manny Manny Manny Manny Manny. Manny Manny Manny Manny Manny. Manny Manny Manny, Joe.

Joe: Manny Manny Manny Manny Manny Manny — there’s a grand slam by Rafael Furcal — Manny Manny Manny Manny Manny.

Tim: Manny Manny Manny Manny Manny Manny Manny Manny Manny Manny Manny Manny Manny Manny Manny Manny Manny Manny Manny Manny Manny (continues until end of inning)

By the way, don’t let anyone claim that the Rays are a “small-market” team — Tampa-St. Petersburg is the 13th-largest media market in the U.S. (link is to a Nielsen PDF). Larger than Seattle-Tacoma (#14), larger than Minneapolis-St. Paul (#15), larger than Miami-Ft. Lauderdale (#16).


Jim pointed out the other day that Ed Goren, the President of Fox Sports, wrote to the L.A. Times in support of Tim McCarver. Among other things, he said that McCarver is “the best first-guesser in the business.”

Now, much as I like to complain about McCarver, I’m sure there were times in this World Series when he displayed his reportedly impressive first-guessing ability. But the one example that Goren chooses to cite lays bare the reasons that Fox’s baseball coverage is so utterly terrible.

Here’s Goren’s example: “Who else would have suggested that Tony La Russa remove right fielder Chris Duncan for defensive purposes in Game 5 before he botched a fly ball into a double?”

Hmm. Who else? Let’s see:

1) Steve Stone

2) Me

3) Any Cardinals fan who had seen Duncan play at any time in person on on television, or who had heard a Cardinals game on the radio in which he played. Those people would know that Duncan is by trade a lousy first baseman, but that, given that there’s no place for non-MVP first basemen in St. Louis this decade, he’s learning to play the outfield. And he’s not very good at it.

4) Any fan of one of the teams the Cardinals played against this season after Duncan was called up and began playing regularly.

5) And, oh, yeah: Anyone who had watched Game 5 of the 2006 World Series up to the point when McCarver suggested replacing Duncan . . . and who had therefore seen Duncan’s earlier error, an embarrassing botched pop fly.

That Goren didn’t realize himself that it might be worth removing Duncan is bad enough.

That he also didn’t realize that many, many, many of the people watching might have figured out on their own that removing Duncan might be a good idea is bad enough.

But that he realizes neither of those obvious facts, and then, therefore, thinks that Tim McCarver is a genius because he points out what we’ve all realized tells you all you need to know about why Fox’s coverage of baseball is so bad.

They do not care about, like, enjoy, or understand the game. Nor do they care about or understand those of us who do.

Another footnote to TV history

Despite Joe Buck assuring us repeatedly that it was “the most anticipated new game show of the year,” Fox’s “The Rich List” has been canceled after one episode aired. Thus, it now joins Jackie Gleason’s “You’re in the Picture” as a game show canceled after one episode; and, more on-topic here, it joins “South of Sunset” as a series canceled after one episode due to low ratings despite

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heavy promotion during the World Series.

Also, Fox Sports president Ed Goren has written a letter to the L.A. Times defending Tim McCarver (“He is the best ‘first-guesser’ in the business”).

There’s life after the Devil Rays

Lou Piniella is going to be a color commentator on Fox, paired with

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Thom Brennaman, at least for a month and a half. If I recall correctly, he had some pretty good insights during that one game during last year’s playoffs where he was the third man in the booth — when he could get a word in edgewise between Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, of course.


In the ninth innning of Sunday’s Sox win, Scott Podsednik at the plate, Joe Buck says to Tim McCarver, “You know, Tim, a lot of people thought Garner should have put Lidge into game six of the NLCS, just to get the taste of that Pujols home run out of his mouth. What do you think?”

“Well, Joe, I don’t think that taste is there.”

But right around the time McCarver said “taste,” the ballgame was ending as Podsednik’s homer cleared the right field wall.

Maybe that taste is there after all? Tastes a bit coppery, like blood.

A couple of notes from the ALCS (so far)

  • Hope you enjoy watching A.J. Pierzynski running to first base while Josh Paul rolls the ball back toward the pitcher’s mound, because Fox is going to be showing it over and over and over and over and over and over and over, and that’s just during Game 3. (On the bright side, it’s not often that the Los Angeles Times has a box on its front page containing excerpts from the MLB official rules, as it does today.)
  • Lou Piniella has been fairly entertaining, and has had some good insights, drawing not only from his many years in baseball, but the fact that he was managing an American League team this season, a team that had to play against the Angels and White Sox on occasion. So it’s too bad he’s having to share a booth with Tim McCarver.
  • Talking about Mark Buehrle and the urgency with which he pitches, Joe Buck joked with Lou about the fact that some of the organizations he’s managed for would probably hate Buehrle because you don’t sell as many concessions when the games only last an hour and 40 minutes. I was hoping Lou would say, “Or sell as much furniture,” but no such luck. Maybe just in case, he’s making nice with new Devil Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg (whose attempt to get people to show up at Tropicana Field next year should not go unmentioned here).
  • Scooter explained what a change-up is 45 minutes into the broadcast (note that I did not say “45 minutes into the game”). At 8:45 P.M. Eastern, all the kids who are young enough to need Scooter to explain a change-up to them are in bed already, not that anyone in the Eastern time zone is watching any of the championship series games. At 7:45 P.M. Central — well, all the kids in the Central time zone are the children of knowledgable baseball fans of the type who go to Cardinals games and who used to go to Cubs games until the frat boys started crowding them out, so they don’t need Scooter to tell them what a change-up is. At 6:45 P.M. Mountain — well, no one lives in the Mountain time zone, especially during the daylight saving time months when Arizona is effectively on Pacific time. At 5:45 P.M. Pacific, there are no kids watching baseball because their parents are still stuck in traffic on the way home from work and the kids are watching soft-core porn via Cinemax On Demand because they’ve figured out how to defeat the “parental lock” on their cable box. At 4:45 P.M. Alaska time, kids are too busy drilling for oil or clubbing baby seals or whatever it is they do all day in Alaska. At 2:45 P.M. Hawaii time, kids are still in school, or cutting class to go surf, not cutting class to watch baseball. Therefore, Scooter is completely superfluous and should be destroyed.

I think you know what you must do

Sorry I wasn’t made aware of this sooner. A blog called “The Road from Bristol,” originally founded for the purpose of conducting an NCAA basketball-type tournament to determine the worst ESPN personality (Stuart Scott won, of course), went on to do a similar tournament to determine the worst non-ESPN sports broadcaster. The championship “game” is currently under way, and it’s Tim McCarver versus Hawk Harrelson. Vote in the comments to this post.

Get your game on, go play

My thoughts about the All-Star Game, and Fox’s coverage thereof…

  • Perhaps you should not, during your pregame show that is tightly timed and controlled to the second, go live on the air and ask Ernie Harwell a question about Al Kaline, because he will of course give a long-winded answer, thus causing Jeanne Zelasko to have to cut him off and look like a jerk doing it. (I almost wrote “big jerk,” but I don’t want some pro-pregnancy group complaining about my choice of words to describe a woman who is, uh, with child.)
  • British national anthem? I know “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” when I hear it! The amount of patriotic songs played before and during baseball games is growing out of control.
  • Hey, I thought Scooter was dead! Too bad every kid who cares already knows what a change-up is because they’re faithfully rendered in video games these days, probably with better camera angles than Fox has available.
  • Hey, it’s the descendant of the glowing blue hockey puck, this time showing the path of the ball to the plate.
  • For a second, I thought they said Jim Bouton was the general manager of the Nationals, but it’s actually someone named Jim Bowden. Too bad; Jim Bouton might reach Ed Hart-ian levels of general manager-ness.
  • I should have realized the game was going to be sponsored by Chevrolet and gotten an apple Home Run Pie at the supermarket on Sunday, but no, all I had was lemon. It was slightly better than the vanilla pie I ate Sunday, but not much. I think I’m going to stick to Hostess fruit pies for my future fruit pie needs; they also do a good job of distracting comic-book villains, as I understand it.
  • Joe Buck: You can tell a lot about Dontrelle Willis by the way he wears his hat.
    Me (singing): The way he wears his hat, the way he sings off-key…
    Tim McCarver (starts babbling about how if Gershwin were alive today, he might have written that song about Dontrelle Willis)

    Oh, my God, I’m starting to think like Tim McCarver — well, sort of, since I had the sense to just start singing the damn song, instead of talking incoherently about it.

  • Those red-white-and-blue bases that were used at Tiger Stadium for the 1971 All-Star Game look pretty cool and retro, like ABA basketballs. All we get in the 21st century is “Spider-Man” advertising.
  • Doesn’t Fox realize “Bad News Bears” is not a 20th Century Fox movie? I guess they’ll take anyone’s money. And I guess no actual Fox stars wanted to go to Detroit, just noted crazy person Billy Bob Thornton.
  • No Danys Baez in the game? Poor Devil Rays. Guess I’ll have to take advantage of DirecTV’s post-All-Star-Game preview of MLB Extra Innings to watch, say, the Devil Rays-Blue Jays game on Friday. The TiVo is already set.
  • Is the National League ever going to win the All-Star Game again? I know, one might have expressed similar sentiments about the American League in, say, 1981.

Jose Lima bean

A thought on Saturday night’s Dodgers-Cardinals game: since Joe Buck was off for his NFL football broadcasting duties, wouldn’t it have been great if Fox had told Tim McCarver to stay in St. Louis and instead had the game called by a certain Los Angeles-based announcer who’s been around since the last Ice Age and has more broadcasting talent in his little finger than Tim McCarver has in all the shoe-polished strands of his hair combined?

No such luck, and even if I had been watching live instead of TiVo-delayed, I couldn’t have listened to him on the radio because of the delay inherent in DirecTV. Eventually, I put the TV on mute and listened to Brian Wilson’s “Smile” on my iPod instead.

Original comments…

Toby: Levi, Did you happen to catch Fox Sports’ “Beyond the Glory” special on Kirk Gibson’s WS Game 1 HR in 1988? It was narrated by Joe Buck. …Was a great piece.

The thing that struck me, though, was that they played Vin Scully’s call of the homer first, then used Jack Buck’s a little later. I had never heard anything but Jack Buck’s call of that homer. It was very interesting.

You’re so right about Vin Scully and McCarver, though. Why does he seem to worry so much about how deep the outfielders are playing?

Toby: Whoops – Just noticed that Jim posted that. Regardless, my comments wouldn’t change–just direct it at Jim, instead of Levi.

Jim: They did an entire “Beyond the Glory” on Kirk Gibson’s home run? Wow. I’ve closed-captioned a couple of those, and they’re pretty good, but I’ve never watched one at home.

In the video of the home run, you can see one car in the parking lot beyond center field leaving early. Its taillights suddenly come on just as the ball leaves the stadium, and it apparently syncs up perfectly with Vin Scully’s call, as if the occupant of the car was listening to the game on the radio and reacted to the home run by slamming on the brakes.

By the way, it turns out that if you actually go to a Division Series game at Dodger Stadium, not only do you not have to listen to Tim McCarver on your TV, you get to listen to Vin Scully’s calls of memorable moments from the past season. His call of Steve Finley’s grand slam to clinch the division was something like:

“Wherever it comes down, the Dodgers are division champs.” (35 seconds of crowd noise)

Can you imagine Tim McCarver being quiet for 35 consecutive seconds?

Toby: NO! He’d be talking about how one of the fans in the seventh row was playing too deep to catch the home run ball.

maura: chris berman was silent after vladdy’s grand slam the other night. as was ALL OF FENWAY. it was totally creepy and everyone at work was just looking at each other all alarmed-like.

thatbob: fucking yanx