Guess what? We’re not alone on this planet. Other intelligent life lives here, but you have to wait for it. You can’t summon or chase it.
Fox’s mild-mannered analyst, John Smoltz, went off last week. Well, “off” for him. Goodness, he almost spoke with an exclamation point. But he, too, sees highest-level, best-paid baseball in a heap of self-made, untreated trouble, a matter of fundamental neglect.
Game 4 of Dodgers-Braves. Braves up, 2-1, top of the fifth, a Dodger on first, one out. Lefty-swinging infielder Max Muncy was up, thus the Braves were in a shift.
In what likely were his most candid on-air moments since joining Fox in 2014, Smoltz:
“I’m still amazed that we’re in this shift era, I really am. I’m amazed that hitters haven’t made the shift go away. Maybe because the rewards system hasn’t given them any reason for it to go away, but you’re talking about the most important time of the year.
“Yet, you’re not going to see anyone on the left side of the field. In the playoffs. You can’t put a bunt down to get a rally going or get a runner on? But you’re still trying to swing for the seats. I’ll never understand it.
“I get it, over 162 games. You have two or three guys you want that to happen. But when you’re shifting six players that, to me, is still one of the most amazing phenomena I’ve witnessed in the time since I’ve been out of the game. And not seeing anybody, for the most part, try to change their fate.”
And with that, Muncy grounded out into the shift.
Then the game, won 6-2 by L.A, deteriorated into another senseless phenomena: Bullpen Roulette. With no automatic intentional walk to speed things along, the game crawled to the finished line in 3:45.
And again, strikeouts surpassed hits. Let’s sing it together: 16 batters K’d, 14 hits were made, 13 pitchers pitching and a partridge in a pear tree.
ESPN doesn’t need Gruden for MNF gobbledygook
Jon Gruden, having left ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” after six years, is still afflicting the telecasts.
Gruden arrived with a well-reasoned plan to speak superfluous platitudes — “He’ll be a big addition to this Miami Dolphins football team” — say nothing of import, pay small attention to the games and even less attention to accomplished play-by-play man Sean McDonough, leaving McDonough to dance with himself.
So, when Gruden bolted to coach the Raiders, ESPN fixed this mess by demoting McDonough back to college football and assembling a new mess, still in development.
Interesting, is that just after departing ESPN, Gruden ripped the NFL’s “instant” replay rules as absurd — something he could’ve said almost weekly on MNF, but didn’t.
Now, as if we’ve been pals since $8.95 steak dinners at Tad’s, we have Tess, Whitt and Boog — freshly promoted Joe Tessitore, freshly retired Cowboys tight end Jason Witten and freshly promoted former NFL defensive tackle Booger McFarland.
McFarland speaks from a ridiculous contraption. He’s suspended in a chair along the sidelines, a mobile device perhaps inspired by Stephen Hawking, but one McFarland says suits his needs as it contains a cup-holder.
From that device he’s heard from who-knows-where, like an airport public address interruption. He’s big on interpretation, such as explaining hard hits as “messages” and suggesting that QBs “should take what the defense gives them.”
His Week 3 defense of suspended — alleged sexual assault — Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston, a career miscreant starting at Florida State, as a victim of harsh NFL punishment still rings weak, even insulting.
But wherever he is, McFarland seems to have a good view of line play, which he speaks with applicable relevancy.
So is McFarland’s perch another ill-conceived, expensive and worthless ESPN gizmo? Why not have him in the booth with Witten and Tessitore?
What I’m told is Witten’s reps demanded their guy work in a two-man booth, quite a demand from a first-year announcer. But ESPN didn’t realize Ray Lewis couldn’t speak a discernible sentence until it won the race to hire him.
Witten tries hard, too hard — meaning he makes short stories long, as in “somebody on the outside has got to step up to stretch the field for this Washington offense.” Witten, like Fox’s Troy Aikman, is big on “stepping up.”
Tessitore is a grad student in the Mike Mayock School of Dance, Floral Design and Silly Talk. The QB doesn’t scramble, he “extends the play.” A leaping catch is the result of “high-pointing the ball.” He seems eager to prove that he wants to be heard as slick rather than wise.
The problem with it being too early to tell if this team will be any good is that it isn’t that early. They make an awful lot of noise. See-it/say-it is followed by needless, three-man tack-on talk, standard modern excess.
How do TV networks prevail upon their top announcers to speak less because, after all, it’s TV? Given that I don’t know of a single time such advice has been given, let alone, followed, I don’t know.
Catch stat drops ball
During the Yankees-Red Sox series, Boston center fielder Jackie Bradley trapped a sinking fly. A TBS graphic then testified that the “catch probability” was 2 percent.
No it wasn’t. He didn’t catch it, thus it was zero percent. Had he caught it, it would have been 100 percent.
Designed and displayed to enlighten the dim, these latest in stupid stats are based on all outfielders — good or bad, fast or slow and regardless of conditions and game circumstances — traveling the same distances.
Monday, when Redskins cornerback and trash-talker Josh Norman was flagged for a late and totally unnecessary hit — his latest in a series — we recalled that he was the player, among hundreds, chosen by Fox as its in-season correspondent. Of course, he was.
Jim Neill, Fort Worth, Texas, has a good question: Given Irish import Conor McGregor’s arrest and riot-causing conduct, why is he allowed a visa to work in the United States?
That there were some good plays in Game 4 of Red Sox-Yankees didn’t matter to Fox. It went to commercials with slo-mo video of players showboating. Not that Tuesday’s game, which ended near midnight, could further encourage immodesty in kids.
Can’t shame the shameless, continued: An NBC Sports Update last weekend gave only Rugby results and English soccer scores — both NBC weekend properties.
Since signing that big contract, Odell Beckham Jr. has turned his career around. Instead of being selfish and disruptive, he’s disruptive and selfish.
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