Yesterday we learned that Orel Hershisher is leaving ESPN to take a job broadcasting Dodgers games. Because, for some reason, ESPN thinks that a three-man booth is good for baseball (it isn’t) they felt obligated to fill Hershiser’s spot. And because, for some reason, ESPN thinks Curt Schilling is someone people want to listen to (he isn’t) they have given him the gig. Schilling will become a Sunday Night Baseball analyst alongside play-by-play commentator Dan Shulman and his former Phillies teammate John Kruk.
Schilling is not dumb and, in the studio, he is capable of making good points from time-to-time. He also, however, (a) tends to fall back on cliche at a pretty high rate; and (b) has a habit of trying to say too much in too short a time and his voice gets high and strained and, frankly, it’s kind of exhausting to listen to him for a long time. One wonders how he’ll sound over the course of a three-hour broadcast.
The bigger issue here is the insistence by ESPN on having a three-man booth. It leads to exceedingly long stretches of conversation among the broadcasters, with everyone trying to say things to justify their existence in the booth which, in turn, causes them to ignore game action for several minutes at a time. I mean, say what you want about Joe Morgan, but at least when it was him and Jon Miller in the booth they talked about the game going on in front of them. Now? Sunday Night Baseball is often unwatchable or, at the very least, unlistenable. Adding Schilling does nothing to remedy that.
Royals’ right-hander Yordano Ventura was pulled in the fifth inning of Saturday’s matinee against the Tigers with an apparent injury. After throwing four pitches to start the fifth and serving up a Justin Upton double, Ventura was visited on the mound by head trainer Nick Kenney. Per Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star, he’s day-to-day with back spasms and lower back tightness.
It’s just another bump in the road for the defending champions, who currently sit 6.5 games back of a postseason spot with seven left to play. Through 176 innings in 2016, Ventura posted a 4.35 ERA and 1.2 fWAR, a considerable downgrade from the 4.08 ERA and 2.7 fWAR he contributed during last season’s championship year despite a moderate bounce-back in the second half.
Prior to his early exit from Saturday’s game, Ventura went four innings for the Royals, giving up three runs on 10 hits and two walks and striking out six of 24 batters faced.
If you’re looking to rep the red and royal blue this October, you best get your gear inside the ballpark. According to Lauren Zumbach of the Chicago Tribune, the Cubs have sought a court order that would allow them to seize unauthorized merchandise being hawked outside of Wrigley Field. That includes shirts with taglines like “Just One Before I Die” and apparel depicting a blue flag with a white “W.”
[The Cubs] received a trademark for “W” flags, but a trademark for use on apparel is pending. Deeming a letter of the alphabet worthy of a trademark might seem like a stretch, but around Wrigley, everyone knows what that particular W in that particular color combination means, [intellectual property attorney Douglas Masters] said.
While seven vendors have been named in the suit, the Cubs have a list of 30 more whom they suspect of trademark infringement, including retailers who primarily operate online.
Back in 2013, the Cubs ran into a similar issue when a fan dressed as alternative mascot Billy the Cub and made multiple appearances on game days outside the park. After six years in the role, Billy the Cub was ordered to cease and desist his ballpark activities by the team.
This time, however, Billy’s tip jar pales in comparison to the revenue unauthorized sellers stand to reap over the next two months. With the playoffs just around the corner and playoff merchandise sales in full swing, quashing the competition (both on the field and off) will be top priority in weeks to come.
The club’s full complaint can be found here.