I’m pleased to present a guest post from Doug Bird, who has offered to write a regular Sunday post here.
TBS hasn’t forgotten that the game is the star and not the announcer, Fox still hasn’t replaced the man with the golden voice with someone who actually cares about and pays attention to the game on the field, happening right before his eyes, the replay afficiados are still screaming to be heard on virtually every play and the games on Fox are passing the midnight hour, no weekend day games in sight.
The coverage on TBS, as in past years, has been markedly better than that of Fox for several reasons. The focus, despite the over-talk of Ron Darling, is on the game itself. Now, Darling has a pretty good broadcasting voice as far as that goes and seems to know what he is talking about but seems to be of the opinion that no one listening has watched a baseball game before. The third man in the booth, John Smoltz, began his career in the over-explanation mode, but quickly realized that the odd insightful comment was much more valuable and in tune with the flow of the game and has become one of the few interesting ex-players to listen to during the game.
I do wish that TBS had used Atlanta Braves broadcaster, Joe Simpson, on its telecasts, a man who’s broadcasts are always insightful and interesting. But that is a small criticism. TBS does not run incessant commercials between pitches, nor do they fill the screen with bars and bars of information. Unless you are one of those who own a gigantic television screen, it makes it difficult to actually see the events unfolding on the field at any given time. Most of us, and certainly the regular fan, are able to keep track of the number of outs, the score, the pitch count and how many runners are on base. For those who have just tuned in for whatever reason, a quick and non distraction to the ongoing game, would certainly suffice. TBS seems to realize that the game is for the fan, not for their corporate sponsors.
The opposite, sadly, has been true of Fox baseball coverage for many years now and four hour plus games have become the norm instead of the exception. I tuned in the other night an hour after the start time and the game was still in the second inning. Surely there must have been a long rain delay or a score of 10-10. No, the score was 2-2 and there been no rain delay. As I continued to watch the game, there were commercials, and many commercials, between pitches. These were not of the full thirty-minute variety, (fortunately), but a quick ten-second or so verbiage by Buck, with the company logo filling up half the screen. There were also instances of missed first pitches because the commercial break had run too long.
Buck often finds it difficult to concentrate on the game, talking about anything else or engaging in what I’m certain he considers to be, witty dialogue with partner Tim McCarver. Tim attempts to steer the conversation back to the on filed action but generally with little avail. I often feel McCarver would like to leave the booth and sit in the dugout or stands where he could hear relevant baseball conversation. Who could blame him? Fox often advertises other show during the game, either network shows or the upcoming Sunday NFL match. It seems to be a chore for the Fox network to even broadcast baseball games. With the Giants now in the World Series, the games will feature two teams which Fox rarely, if ever, have shown on their Saturday broadcasts. How they must be crying in their collective soup now that neither their beloved Red Sox or Yankees will be on the biggest stage of all.
There should be day games on weekends. No, a 4 p.m. start is not a day game– 1 p.m. is. Again, Fox is to blame although surely major league baseball shouldn’t pander to the Fox executives despite having greedily signed on the dotted line. Late October and early November weather is cold, especially at night. Cold is not the optimum condition in which to play baseball. It also gives no leeway in case of inclement weather, (see 2008 World Series). The Little Leaguers of America, always given lip service by major league baseball executives, are not likely to be awake past 11 p.m., forcing them to miss the latter part of the games.
Baseball playoffs, on weekends, should be played in the warmth of the afternoon sun, not the cold frost of the evening. There should be no commercials between pitches. Announcers should discuss the ongoing events on the field, not everything but those happenings. The game should be first, foremost and last. I could do without everything else. Sadly, Fox will be covering the World Series again this season and with the conclusion of the American League playoffs, no more TBS.
Email Doug Bird at firstname.lastname@example.org