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Is Baseball on Television Too Cluttered?

Jason Barrett

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Bank of America asks, “What is your favorite baseball memory?”

(A better question is, “What is your favorite banking memory?” That’s easy — walking into a B of A in which the teller-window line isn’t 15 deep.)

Favorite baseball memory? Listening to games on a transistor radio.

Because watching games now — and many this postseason have been terrific — is an unceasing babble-filled, graphics-filled, replay-filled, commercial-filled, stress-filled slog-and-a-half.

(On a rare positive note, thank you, Fox, for no “K-Zone” and no “PitchTrax.” Man, that PitchTrax box on TBS — it’s like a Sudoku puzzle on your TV screen!)

All right then, before we get too wound up about TV baseball’s frontal attack on the senses — trust me, Couch Slouch is IN A FOUL MOOD today — let’s first address last week’s State of the Union Bat Flipping Referendum, in which red-and-blue Americans deeply examined the attitudes and mores of a divided Sports Nation.

Me? I’d prefer if the Blue JaysJose Bautista had handed the bat to the batboy while running down the first-base line — attaching a short note of apology to the pitcher for ruining his day — but if he wants to turn that piece of lumber into a flying jamboree act, I fully support him exercising his right to freedom of expression, as long as no humans, umpires or animals were harmed in the making of his magical moment.

Okay, where were we?

Announcers always drive me crazy, particularly the ex-jocks, but I’m not going to name names anymore — these fellas have families and they’re respected pillars of the community, so I don’t see the need to single out individuals at this point.

Which brings us to Pete Rose. Are you kidding me? I’d put him in the Baseball Hall of Fame before I’d put him in a broadcast booth. Charlie Hustle’s on Fox’s pregame studio show; I half-expect him to multitask — you know, express himself with some half-baked half-thought on Josh Donaldson, then autograph a couple of baseballs at $5 a pop.

Anyway, once the games begin, every pitch is bisected and dissected; they parse out every last detail of every four-seam fastball. It’s as if Tim McCarver, to ensure his legacy in retirement, left behind an incurable virus — let’s call is “McCarveringitis” — that infects every baseball telecast.

(A friend of mine recently showed me a tape he had of an “NBC Game of the Week” with Curt Gowdy and Tony Kubek from 40 years ago. What an easy listen — they didn’t say anything they didn’t have to say. The screen was clean. The game breathed. You didn’t feel like you were standing in a telephone booth with someone banging cymbals over your head every 12 seconds.)

Adding to the nonstop talk is the nonstop statistical debris.

Here was TBS’s “Stat Cast” on a running, diving catch by Cardinals center fielder Jason Heyward: “First Step: 0.32 seconds; Max Speed: 17.9 mph; Total Distance: 57 feet; Route Efficiency: 94.5 percent.”

Wow. I don’t know where to start.

Let’s start with his first step — 0.32 seconds. To put that in context, my first step toward the kitchen when I smell Toni’s mac-and-cheese is 0.26 seconds, so I don’t think Heyward’s getting a real good jump there. And “route efficiency”? That concept is only relevant driving on L.A. freeways on a Friday afternoon.

Here was MLB Network’s “Stat Cast” for Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel: “Extension: 6.2 feet; Velocity: 91.0 mph; Perceived Velocity: 90.4 mph.” Analyst John Smoltz offered, “Obviously, the extension is going to affect the perceived velocity.”

I thought the same thing.

But the proverbial final straw for me came, of course, in the form of replay.

I was sitting down with some ice cream to watch the deciding game of the Mets-Dodgers series. The very first batter, Curtis Granderson, grounds out on a close play; the Mets challenge the call, and he is ruled safe. I mean, I haven’t even enjoyed my first scoop of Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk, and there already is a replay delay.

So I turned to a “Seinfeld” rerun — occasionally they have some baseball on there.

To read more visit the Times Union where this story was originally published

Sports TV News

Gus Johnson: ‘Nobody Ever Told Me I Was Doing It Wrong’

“I just want to delight in the excellence of these young men and women that I have the chance to call because I know it’s so important to them because it’s important to me.”

Ricky Keeler

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Gus Johnson

While fans get to hear Gus Johnson call big college football and college basketball games and get to see his reactions to memorable moments, he unfortunately never gets to see his own reaction, but he just enjoys being a part of sports, such as when he called Michigan-Ohio State for FOX this past Saturday.

Johnson was a guest on The Rich Eisen Show last week and he said while calling a game, he never wants to be too controversial and he appreciates that people choose to watch him during their times of relaxation.

“They say you never see yourself, you only see a reflection. You’ve never seen your face. You’ve only seen a reflection of your face as a human being. I can’t see myself. I would love to see myself during those moments because I sometimes don’t really understand the reaction. To me, I’m just watching the game, I’m a fan. I’m a journalist and I take that seriously, but more than anything, I’m just a fan of sports. Thank God for sports.

“People for the last almost 30 years have allowed me to come into their homes during their times of relaxation, rest, to spend time with their families. That’s important to me. When I call the game, I don’t want to be too controversial. I’m not trying to be 60 Minutes. I just want to delight in the excellence of these young men and women that I have the chance to call because I know it’s so important to them because it’s important to me. It connects you to great moments in your life and in your mind.”

Before he got to FOX, Johnson was at CBS Sports from 1995-2011 calling some memorable NCAA Tournament games and NFL games that went down to the wire. In an era where criticism can be found easily, Johnson told Eisen that he never received criticism about his broadcast style from any of his bosses:

“Nobody ever told me that I was doing it wrong. That’s one thing I loved about the CBS experience. At CBS Sports, we had different kind of broadcasters. Our leader back then and still is Jim Nantz. He had his own style. We had Verne Lundquist, we had Dick Enberg there during that time. Don Criqui was there during that time. Not one time did anybody ever tell me that I wasn’t doing it right. Nobody ever said ‘Gus, don’t do it that way’. I would get negative criticism when the Internet started, but not from my bosses.”

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Sports TV News

Scott Hanson Clarifies NFL RedZone Missteps During Raiders/Seahawks

Hanson believed in the moment that CBS was airing the overtime period to a national audience. But due to NFL broadcasting rules, the game was only available on select stations.

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NFL RedZone host Scott Hanson ruffled feathers for many football fans Sunday when he told viewers to switch from the channel to their local CBS affiliates to see the conclusion of the Las Vegas Raiders and Seattle Seahawks game.

Unfortunately, for both viewers and Hanson, the game was only being shown in a small portion of the country, with the rest of the nation’s CBS affiliates already airing 60 Minutes. The game was also available to NFL Sunday Ticket subscribers.

Hanson took to Twitter Sunday evening to explain what happened on the air and to apologize for the miscalculation.

Hanson believed in the moment that CBS was airing the overtime period to a national audience. But due to NFL broadcasting rules, the game was only available to stations in the Las Vegas, Fresno, Sacramento, Reno, Eugene, Portland, Boise, Seattle, and Spokane markets on the west coast. Additionally, the game was available in Chicago, Tampa, Atlanta, and Charlotte.

He apologized for the mistake and said he would have more details at a later date.

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Sports TV News

ESPN Creates ACC/SEC Challenge

The series will begin for the 2023-2024 season, launching with 28 games played between the two sports.

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ESPN, in conjunction with the ACC and SEC, is slated to announce the creation of the ACC/SEC Challenge for men’s and women’s basketball.

The series will begin for the 2023-2024 season, launching with 28 games played between the two sports. That number will grow to 30 contests when the SEC expands for the 2025-2026 season.

Every game in the challenge will be aired on an ESPN platform, with each side hosting the same amount of home games.

The creation of the event comes on the heels of the Big Ten’s new media rights deal with FOX, NBC, and CBS, ending a nearly four-decade relationship with ESPN. The ACC/Big Ten Challenge began in 1999, with the SEC/Big 12 Challenging beginning in 2013. Both events will cease to exist following this season.

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