World Series

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          Jottings From My Notebook. Good & Bad, About Baseball Telecasts and Announcers During the 2023 Season

 

Solomon

The baseball season is way too long. The summer game, as it was called during the days when I could swing a bat and not make contact and make an error on a simple ground ball, now extends into the last quarter of the year.

As soon as I finish this article, my 2023 notebook will be tossed into the flames of my fireplace, which I ignited during the cold nights of the so-called “summer games,” World Series. But before I use the book as fodder for the flames, here are the notes I took while watching way too many ballgames since the chilly days of March.

  • Former pitcher John Smoltz, on Fox, is easy on the ears. He often tells stories, which were once a staple of announcers, but now is a rarity.
  • New York Met analysts Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez are the best duo in the business. But they are not given enough time to give the viewers a ballplayers perspective of what just happened.
  • Because of all the commercials hawking alcoholic beverages and betting on baseball games, watching the game can be harmful to your health and wealth.
  • Not being a masochist I don’t normally listen to the pre or post game programs on radio or television. But once, when we were in a traffic jam, I tuned in a post-game program and counted 19 sponsor mentions in the program on radio station WCBS in New York. There might have been more, but I turned off the radio in order to keep my sanity.
  • Three men in the booth are one to many. Maybe two too many in some cases.
  • The most hypocritical commercials on television might be the tags on alcoholic and betting commercials that say, “Bet and drink responsibly.”
  • I don’t understand why when an outfielder misjudges a fly ball and then dives to make the catch, announcers call it “a great play.”
  • Often, the best commentary occurs when the announcers let the pictures do the talking.
  • I don’t understand why announcers make such a big deal about team mascots.
  • Sure to happen in a close game when a team is a run or two behind: The producers will show fans in the stands wearing rally caps and the announcers expounding about it.
  • During a tense moment in a baseball game, television commentary doesn’t compare to the excitement generated by radio announcers.
  • Baseball announcers have it easy compared to thoroughbred horse racing callers.
  • Perhaps the most inane commentary by baseball announcers is when they compare the records of today’s players to those who played the game decades ago who they never saw perform.
  • I’d be willing to bet the farm that a good number of television viewers don’t know what it means when the announcer says, that’s was “Uncle Charlie” or “he squared up the ball.”
  • Why do baseball announcers keep saying “the pitch is on the black,” when there is no black border on the home plate?
  • Because viewers can see every play, play calling should be at a minimum and story telling and analysis at a maximum.
  • Today’s announcers seem as if they all come from the assembly line.  Gone are the days when announcers had their own personalities: Some that I remember that had their own styles were Vin Scully, Red, Barber, Mel Allen, Frankie Frisch, Harry Carey, Phil Rizutto and Rosey Rowswell, who used to break a light bulb after a home run, as if the ball broke a window, in lieu of the trite “it’s outta here” call.
  • Today, if you listen to one announcer, it’s like listening to many. And they all sound as if life on our planet depended upon the outcome of a game.
  • I always thought that TV producers and commentators made too much of the antics of the Philadelphia Phillies mascot, the Phillie Phanatic
  • Too bad Taylor Swift isn’t dating a baseball player instead of a football player. It would give the “carbon copy-like” play-by-play baseball announcers something to talk about instead of launch angles, hardest hit balls and other “math baseball” statistics.
  • I stopped watching the playoffs midway into the wild card round and won’t watch another game until the league championship series. Too many games. It turns out that I wasn’t the only one. Viewership on ABC, ESPN, and ESPN2 declined 18% from last year, averaging 2.25 million viewers. Last years average was 2.73 million.
  • On October 15, I tuned in the opening game of the American League Championship round play-off between the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros on Fox. After hearing analyst John Smoltz’s pre-game intro about the teams, I’m now convinced he does the pre-game set-up as good as anyone else.
  • I was pleasantly surprised when I tuned in the TBS pre-game show between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Philadelphia Phillies on Oct. 17. It was all good. An intelligent discussion for a change, hosted by Lauren Shehadi with former big leaguers Albert Pujols, Curtis Granderson, Jimmy Rollins and Pedro Martinez, just talking baseball and telling interesting stories. Conversely, the lead-in to the game with Brian Anderson, Jeff Francoeur and Ron Darling was the usual boiler plate talk that is ubiquitous on sports broadcasts. Darling. showed why he is considered by many media watchers to be the best analyst. He was the only one who provided meaningful information, saving the lead-in from going the way of the New York Mets, on whose regular season games he and Keith Hernandez provide superb insights.
  • I’m baseballed out. Too much repetitious broadcasting. I promised myself on Oct. 18 that I’ll not tune in another game until the World Series begins because writing about which announcers are good and bad seems ludicrous when the world is at the brink of war because of the Israeli-Gaza situation.
  • Seems unjust to me that the best teams over a 162 season can be eliminated from the World Series because they lost a few playoff games to lesser teams that got hot.
  • If baseball wants to grow interest in the game, why are all the World Series games scheduled to begin at 8:03 p.m. on school nights, shutting out youngsters who can’t watch them because the games still average close to three hours? I can remember when weekend games were in the afternoon so parents or grandparents could take youngsters to see their favorite players in person.
  • There are organized baseball leagues in North, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and East Asia, many of which have produced players for Major League Baseball teams. So why does MLB call it the World Series, when the best Major League team does not play against the best of other countries?
  • I tuned in the pregame show before the first game of the World Series between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Texas Rangers.
  • After Mike Jagger tried to compare similarities between rock ‘n roll and baseball, program host Kevin Burkhardt asked his panel what they thought are the biggest story lines of the series. Alex Rodriguez answered that Arlington was a great baseball town. And when the game moved to from Texas to Arizona he provided such great insight as “this place is going to rock ‘n roll tonight.’” David Ortiz praised the owner, CEO, GM and manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks. (Perhaps he was auditioning for a job in the Diamondbacks PR department).
  • Derek Jeter was surprised that the Rangers and Diamondbacks were in the series. But of the three panelists he was the best. Only the talented Burkhardt, before he asked the softball question to his panel, provided interesting information. If anyone had doubts that history doesn’t repeat, they now should change their mind. The pre-game show was as bad as last years. What could have made it better is to have Ron Darling and John Smoltz be the panel. As for the announcing team, is it really necessary for the play-by-play caller to say, “he popped it up” when it’s obvious to every viewer, or to get excited about a walk-off home run as if it was the first time it ever happened? . (The ratings for the five games World Series averaged 9.1 million viewers, the lowest ever.)
  • Personally, I’d rather see Taylor Swift at a football game than hear Mike Jagger talk baseball. Jagger is 80. Swift is 33. Maybe that’s the problem with baseball.
  • Chuck Tanner, the former Major League player and manager once said “What you have to remember is that baseball isn’t a week or a month but a season—and a season is a long time.”

That’s it for baseball in 2023.

 

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Arthur Solomon

Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs. He also traveled internationally as a media adviser to high-ranking government officials. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications and consults on public relations projects. He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr (at) juno.com.

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Michael Green
6 months ago

I’m a bigger fan of Joe Davis than you all, so let me get that out of the way. But here’s a wild one for you: Denny Matthews, who is behind only Vin Scully and Jaime Jarrín in tenure with one team (55 years), proposed ending the regular season on September 1 and then having playoffs with ALL of the teams, saying it would be like the NCAA’s, complete with people filling out brackets. I don’t like it, but consider this: The post-season had 41 games, and several series ended early. That is a quarter of the regular season. And… Read more »