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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

FanDuel TV Strikes Deal With ONE Championship Martial Arts

“We’ve long respected the content the ONE Championship team is producing and are looking forward to bringing their action to our audience through FanDuel TV and FanDuel+.”

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FanDuel TV and ONE Championship Martial Arts have struck a deal that will see the MMA, Muay Thai, kickboxing, and submission grappling series air weekly events on the newly launched channel.

“We’re eager to continue expanding the variety of content we’re offering at FanDuel TV to introduce our audience to emerging sports,” said FanDuel Chief Commercial Officer Mike Raffensperger. “We’ve long respected the content the ONE Championship team is producing and are looking forward to bringing their action to our audience through FanDuel TV and FanDuel+.”

ONE Championship is a top-five global sports property for digital viewership and engagement according to Nielsen measurements.

“We are thrilled to join the FanDuel TV lineup and give our passionate U.S. audience yet another way to engage with ONE Championship,” said ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong. “Having a quality partner in FanDuel will help raise the profile of our company in the region and provide their viewers with action-packed martial arts events like they have never seen before.”

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Bob Costas Re-Lives First Announcing Assignment For NBC

“My biography usually says I began with them in 1980, but technically the first time I was on the air with them was in December 1979.”

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Legendary sports broadcaster Bob Costas appeared on KNBR’s Tolbert & Copes Thursday to discuss the death of Baseball Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry. But before the conversation turned to the recently departed pitcher, the show asked Costas about what he has announced that would surprise someone. He reminisced about his first time on the air for NBC.

“My very first assignment for NBC, my biography usually says I began with them in 1980, but technically the first time I was on the air with them was in December 1979,” Costas recounted. “There was a program on NBC then called Sports World. It was an anthology series that was their answer to the gold standard, ABC’s Wide World of Sports.

“So they traveled the globe, like Wide World of Sports did. So they sent me, wearing a red NBC jacket, to Tokyo to cover a sumo wrestling tournament with seven-time world power-lifting champion Larry Pacifico as my color man. Now, this is all the Japanese I learned as we came on the air: ‘Minasan kon’nichwa watashinoamaeha Bob Costas’, which means ‘Hello everyone, my name is Bob Costas’. If ever there was typecasting, when they sat and looked at their roster of announcers and went ‘Who should we send to the sumo wrestling? It’s gotta be Costas, who’s entire body weight would constitute one meal for the sumo wrestling champion.”

Costas departed NBC Sports in 2019 after 40 years with the network, announcing MLB, NBA, and the Olympics, in addition to his work with the network’s sumo wrestling coverage.

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Matt Leinart, Alex Smith Make Wager Over Pac-12 Championship Game

“I gotta be honest with you: I’m not that nervous. I know that sounds kind of arrogant and confident.”

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FOX Sports analyst Matt Leinart and ESPN analyst Alex Smith have made a friendly wager over the upcoming Pac-12 Championship Game.

USC, Leinart’s alma mater, is slated to play Utah, where Smith attended, in the game Friday evening on FOX from Las Vegas.

The two agreed to don the other player’s jersey. “At least it will be 11,” Smith said, noting he and Leinart both wore the number during their playing days.

“I gotta be honest with you: I’m not that nervous,” Leinart said when presented with the offer. “I know that sounds kind of arrogant and confident.” Smith jokingly responded by calling USC “Free Agent University”. He added he would overnight Leinart a jersey to ensure he had one if the Utes were victorious.

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