Washington Post columnist Leonard Shapiro wrote about Rob Dibble today and more or less agreed that he’s a poor announcer and deserves criticism for his recent remarks about female baseball fans and Stephen Strasburg.
Despite that Shapiro also argues that Dibble shouldn’t be fired because … well, I’ll let you read his words for yourself:
Those who love him praise Dibble for his passion for the game and the team. Those who hate him wonder what sort of outrageous comment he might unload next. But they all tune in.
There’s a scene in Howard Stern’s movie Private Parts where his bosses at the radio station are going over the ratings and find that the average Stern fan listens for about an hour per day while the average Stern hater listens for about three hours per day. The idea in the movie and the idea in Shapiro’s column about Dibble is that being outrageous and controversial and often disliked can lead to big ratings.
And there’s really no arguing that, but here’s the problem with making the Stern argument for Dibble. Stern was merely one of several dozen morning shows available to someone with a radio, so the “if you don’t like it, turn it off” argument was perfectly reasonable. That is hardly the case with Dibble, because if a Nationals fan wants to watch the team on television he’s their only choice for an announcer. The alternative is muting the television or turning it off, not simply changing the station to a different broadcast of the same game.
I don’t think Dibble should be fired for his comments about female baseball fans or Strasburg. I think he should be fired because he’s not good at being a baseball announcer and without exception every Nationals fan I know dreads having to listen to him as part of watching their favorite team. Shapiro says “they all tune in” regardless of whether they love or hate Dibble. I say “they all tune in” because they don’t have a choice.
Infielder Javier Baez is back in camp with the Cubs after helping Puerto Rico to a second-place finish in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was the focal point of what was, to many, the most memorable play of the entire tournament: Baez pointed at catcher Yadier Molina, who was attempting to throw out a would-be base-stealer, before applying the tag for the final out of the eighth inning.
While Baez didn’t receive much criticism for his theatrics, aside from an insignificant handful of spoilsports, he is one of the players who most exemplifies the emotional, celebratory culture that foreign players bring to Major League Baseball. U.S. (and Tigers) second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the other side of that spectrum, as he said prior to the WBC final that he hopes kids mimic the solemn way U.S. players play the game rather than the emotional, passionate way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game.
Baez isn’t about to apologize for the way he and his teammates play the game. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Baez said, “We do a great job playing and having fun out there. That’s what it’s all about. This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it. but, you know, everybody’s got their style and their talent. I have a lot of fun.”
He continued, “It’s their choice to look at how we play, how excited we get. To us, it’s really huge what we did, even though we didn’t win. All of Puerto Rico got really together. We were going through a hard time over there and everything got fixed up for at least three weeks. Hopefully, they keep it like that.”
Angels outfielder Mike Trout came up with an idea that would allow less experienced umpires an opportunity to call some major league spring training action. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reports, Trout thinks the veteran umpires should only call five or six innings as they get back into regular season shape. The rest of the innings could be called by minor league umpires.
According to Olney, baseball officials loved Trout’s idea when they heard about it last week. One official said, “It makes a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons.” Another said, “That’s Trout — he’s always paying attention to stuff beyond what he’s doing.”
Of course, I have to agree that the suggestion is a great one. As Olney notes, the turnover rate for umpires every year is relatively low, so younger, less-experienced umpires have few opportunities to get a feel for what it’s like calling major league action. Even beyond the actual interpretation of the rules, interacting with big league personalities would also be helpful for minor league umpires.