TBS Announcers to Tweet During Postseason

The Major League Baseball announcing crew over at TBS will be using Twitter to provide extra insight into the network’s coverage of the 2009 baseball post season.

During TBS’ coverage of the Division Series and the National League Championship Series all announcers’ tweets will be made available on the network’s Hot Corner Twitter Feed.

Among those expected to tweet are studio announcers Ernie Johnson, Dennis EckersleyCal Ripken Jr. and David Wells along with game announcers Chip CarayRon DarlingBuck MartinezMarc Fein and Craig Sager.

TBS is also promoting fans to follow the action via the network’s Facebook page and Hot Corner Blog.

You love to watch the NFL, even an exhibition

I’m put in mind of the great Rolling Stones song “Out of Time” — You don’t know what’s going on/You’ve been away for far too long …
You’re out of touch, my baby.

That would be me. Again.

Just days after I wrote about my disregard for the NFL preseason, NBC’s telecast of the Hall of Fame Game between the Bills and Titans crushed ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball featuring the sport’s premier matchup of the Yankees and Red Sox. Though the baseball game scored well for ESPN with a 3.0 rating and 4.7 million viewers, the Bills-Titans drew a 4.9 rating and 7.9 million.

With the public’s affection for even an exhibition taste of the NFL, you’d think the least Terrell Owens could have done was play more than one series.

Full o’ Buster

Buster PoindexterAs I watch ESPN’s promos for the tireless work of baseball reporter Buster Olney — constantly taking phone calls, talking in Japanese to Ichiro, passing himself as he walks out of a building — I sometimes pause to consider how improbable this would have seemed in the ’90s.

I worked with Buster when he covered the Orioles for The Sun in 1995 and 1996. In fact, it was a running joke with one of my former bosses that Buster was “my hire.” In actuality, I was one of the sports department managers who was involved in reviewing candidates and I kind of favored another writer over Buster — yet another example of my poor judgment.

Of course, Buster turned out to be a terrific baseball beat guy — smart, plugged-in, insightful. He wrote great game stories that focused on the pivotal moments and key decisions. And no one outworked him as a reporter. He was hypercompetitive. In fact, his relationship with one of his Sun baseball colleagues was strained by the fact that this reporter was very friendly with The Washington Post‘s Orioles writer, back when The Sun and Post competed on the beat.

The thing is, I never would have pegged Buster as a future TV personality. I used to wonder whether he ever even smiled. That same guy who was always so serious every time we spoke now can sit in and crack wise on Mike & Mike in the Morning?

Then again, maybe Buster always was funny, but I wasn’t sharp enough to realize it.

Baseball: Stats all, folks

The news that a proposed movie based on Moneyball has been shelved could be viewed in a few ways. For one thing, just imagine you’re A’s general manager Billy Beane and you suddenly discover there isn’t going to be a movie with Brad Pitt playing you. Now, if that were me, I’d be majorly bummed. I’d have been telling everybody I knew, “Brad Pitt is going to be me in a movie!” (Yeah, I know, you’re looking at that photo and thinking I would be lucky to get Jack Black.)

ray 'n' homerAnother view is to say this is a strike against the stat-heavy view of baseball, because Beane so famously is enamored of numbers in evaluating talent. The news should make for a happy day among those who deride the progeny of Bill James as baseball nerds.

(Not to beat this whole Brad Pitt thing into the ground, but having him portray a stat-head should be enough to remove the nerd tag.)

At the same time, we have a rather curious blog post by MLB Network commentator Harold Reynolds — whose work I have always enjoyed — who takes a puzzling, tortuous path to say he doesn’t buy the importance of the OPS stat (on-base plus slugging percentage).  I’d summarize his argument if I could figure it out.

(Kansas City Star columnist Joe Posnanski has a wonderfully off-the-wall reaction to Reynolds’ post in his own blog. Thanks to Deadspin for pointing these out.)

Some former players — and apparently Reynolds is one of them, with Joe Morgan being the most prominent example — want to disregard the statistical analysis they seem to believe takes the human element out of baseball and reduces their visceral experience to dry numbers on a page or computer screen.


Media polls — vote early and often

ray 'n' homerLast month, when we learned the final regular-season college football coaches’ poll will become anonymous starting in the 2010 season, it got me thinking about how the media have pulled back from exercising authority in polls and awards.

The Associated Press media poll no longer is part of the Bowl Championship Series ranking formula. Many prominent newspapers prohibit staffers from voting in polls, for league awards such as Most Valuable Player or for halls of fame.

The thinking is that, by voting, the media are making the news rather than just covering it. Media members also are put in position, the argument goes, to have significant financial impact on teams (getting them into lucrative bowl games) or players (who might have incentive clauses tied to where they finish in award votes or can reap the benefits of being hall of famers).

Well, maybe.


Bye-bye, shaving cream pie

Pie faceAdd this to the list of tired sports-on-TV high jinks: the shaving cream pie to the face during baseball post-game interviews.

It hasn’t quite reached football’s Gatorade dump on the coach yet, but the pie face, as an occasional prank, used to be kind of amusing. But it seems to happen more and more now, so you know it’s coming and thus isn’t funny — kind of like the jokes on Two and a Half Men.

It’s not as if I have a humorous suggestion for another way high-spirited ballplayers can have fun with the star of the game as he’s interviewed live on TV. I’d probably end up recommending something like holding up a sign behind the interviewee that says, “Read every day.”

Though that wouldn’t ever get tired.

Ladies Day on the Web

All the Way May So the Los Angeles Dodgers have taken it upon themselves to explain the great mysteries of the Emerald Chessboard to the fairer sex. As reported by the Los Angeles Daily News (via Deadspin), former Fox pre-game host Jeanne Zelasko will call play-by-play, joined by Dodgers coach Mark Sweeney, on weekly, female-targeted radio Webcasts called DodgersWIN. The WIN stands for Women’s Initiatives Network.

The broadcasts’ instructive nature apparently will be quite elementary. In an example cited in the News piece, Zelasko explained that Sweeney’s reference to the “six hole” meant the player batting sixth in the order.

However, “we’re not going to talk down to people,” Zelasko told the newspaper.

Maybe the broadcasts can explain why the Dodgers haven’t won a World Series since 1988.

XM Radio Dedicates Channel to Baseball Classics

This Sunday, baseball fans who subscribe to XM Radio will have a new channel dedicated to them which will, for one day only, “be dedicated entirely to baseball-themed songs, famous play-by-play calls and other classic odes to the game.”

Here is more from XM:

XM listeners will relive some of baseball’s most historic moments, such
as Milo Hamilton’s television call of Hank Aaron’s record-setting 715th
career home run in 1974. They’ll hear dozens of versions of “Take Me
Out To The Ball Game,” plus a variety of other songs including
well-known tunes like “Centerfield” by John Fogerty and “Willie, Mickey
& The Duke (Talkin’ Baseball)” by Terry Cashman and rarely heard tracks
such as “The First Baseball Game” by Nat King Cole and “There Used To Be a Ballpark” by Frank Sinatra.

The channel will also present baseball programs from the Golden Age of
Radio, famous baseball-themed comedy bits like Abbott and Costello’s
“Who’s On First” and George Carlin’s “Baseball-Football,” spoken-word
pieces including James Earl Jones’ recitation of the classic baseball
poem “Casey At The Bat,”…even clips from Bugs Bunny in his memorable “Baseball Bugs” cartoon.

Here is one of the clips listeners will be able to enjoy…Courtesy of the late George Carlin:

XM subscribers can find the programming on Channel 55.

Joe Buck Doesn’t Watch Much Sports

From the “You must be kidding me” department…

Take a listen to this short clip from Fox’ Joe Buck on the Colin Cowherd radio show today on ESPN Radio.

For a guy who makes a living as a sports commentator, shouldn’t one of his tasks be to watch as much sports as possible? It’s his job for crying out loud!

I agree with both men that, for normal people, their lives prevent them from watching much sports during the week. But for you guys watching sports IS part of your job!

Buck is also right about the pace of a baseball game and the time required to watch it. It does take away a little from the enjoyment of the game. You can blame television and some of the prima donna athletes for that.

As much as I like Joe Buck’s on-air work, he should probably take a little more interest in the product on which he describes.

Why Can’t I Watch My Team?

There has been much discussion as to why viewers of MLB. TV are restricted to which games they are able to see in their local area.  As Bleed Cubbie Blue tells us, it all comes down to territorial battles and the coverage map.

I agree with him that in this day and age the technology is available to allow anyone to view any game they wish, for a price.  It is probably also possible for local markets to insert advertising to market their viewers, no matter which game he or she is watching.  It’s time for the sports leagues to expand their territories and cater to the fans, who are now spread out across the country.