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TBS Baseball Review

TBS BASEBALL REVIEW
MLB Divisional Playoffs 2007
by Michael Melvin


ALSO ON SITE

There is no use trying to put together a sentence eloquently and gently dancing around the subject of poor work. So I won’t even try composing one which delicately says TBS is doing a horrible job at broadcasting the divisional playoff series, they just are.

Frankly, it really seems like they were unprepared to broadcast the games. This is completely inexcusable because they broadcast the Atlanta Braves all year. They have prior experience with broadcasting baseball games! The production value of the games I have seen (all of them) are on par with the likes of minor league baseball broadcasts.

My problems with TBS began as they covered the play in game between the Colorado Rockies and San Diego Padres (I was watching via Direct-TV.) Based off of the stakes of the game alone, this game was destined to be full of energy. Not to mention, how everything in the National League panned out this year, one would figure this game wouldn’t be decided in regulation…ultimately it wasn’t and this game was one of the best games I’ve seen in quite sometime. However, the announcers delivered the game like it was an ordinary game. I really felt like they were sleepwalking through it, I remember yawning when short stop Troy Tulowitzki hit a triple off of San Diego pitcher Jake Peavy. I really can’t articulate how unemotional I perceived the announcers, but I found it dreadfully unprofessional and had to keep switching back to Monday Night Football to recharge my emotion (and that game was a blowout).

The announcing issue played the most pivotal role in my active distaste for the TBS broadcast, but broadcast blacking out in key action moments (during a pitch, a hit, etc.) drove it home for me. The person who subscribes to Direct-TV suggested it may be the satellite feed which was interrupting the signal so I let it slide until the next broadcast. But there I am Wednesday afternoon, watching the Phillies host the Rockies, and though the broadcast didn’t go to black, the picture was going into mosaic in some moments and then cleared up. For the record, I was watching on an entirely different cable provider (which by the way, I e-mailed Cablevision requesting TBS-HD for the playoffs, which can be found on channel 739, so those in the New York area can thank me for HD baseball) so it has to be directly traced back to TBS itself.

I’ll just mention the announcers by name here because I found them all to be terrible for the same reasons. Don Orsillo (Red Sox play-by-play guy) and Joe Simpson called the Rockies at Phillies, Ted Robsinson and Steve Stone called the Angels at Red Sox, and Dick Stockton and Ron Darling (Mets analyst) called the Cubs at Diamondbacks. The former two duos were guilty of lack of passion, the analysis was poor, and they never really grabbed my interest. Stockton and Darling actually had me for awhile and if I had to pick a broadcasting pair that performed the best I’d select Darling and Stockton.

However, I will keep in mind that all announcers covered games where pitching played an integral role. Of course, pitching or defensive baseball games are guilty of lack of action. This is why I am keeping an open mind for the remainder of the divisional series games.

I am worried about the Yankees at Indians series. Chip Caray, Tony Gwynn, and Bob Brenly have the play calling responsibilities. Earlier in the season I watched a Phillies at Padres game on satellite television in which Gwynn was the analyst for the Padres. He is not very good to say the least; I am attributing it to him being relatively new to broadcasting. But for TBS to sign a “rookie” broadcaster to cover games in their first year broadcasting MLB Playoffs is not a good move in my book.

The last issue, which really doesn’t affect me but needs to be addressed anyway, is the fact that this is the first year the playoffs are not on network television. There are some homes out there that do not have cable television and with TBS broadcasting the games, this deprives some families of watching games in the comfort of their own living room. Just an interesting thought to ponder.

The presentation TBS has is excellent. I love the scoreboard graphic they have and I love the graphic they do in between innings; all of the graphics have like a mechanical theme and they fold or retract into something.

The final thing I want to comment pertains to the TBS MLB on Deck, Inside MLB, and TBS Game Break shows/segments. Ernie Johnson, Cal Ripken Jr. and Frank Thomas are the on-camera hosts for these shows. If you want to laugh tune into these portions of TBS’ coverage because Frank Thomas is awful, and it is so funny to watch an Emmy Award winner (Johnson) try to lead him with questions that will render good answers. Unfortunately Thomas never delivered.

For example, Johnson asked Thomas to analyze David Ortiz’s swing on a hanging breaking ball that he hit for a home run. Thomas goes “Yep, that was a hanging breaking ball…” it was absolutely hilarious to watch because Johnson waited for a moment for Thomas to continue but he said nothing else.

I really hope these guys don’t ruin the Yankee game for me, rest assured I’ll be tuning in to find out and will write further and more in depth as I see more broadcasts.

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