Fri. Jul 20th, 2018

Is Baseball on Television Too Cluttered?

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

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