Author: Craig Calcaterra

old TV

Fox’s World Series broadcast gets a low grade from The New York Times


Richard Sandomir does his normally good job of reviewing and dissecting the Fox World Series broadcast over at The New York Times. His verdict: it wasn’t good. While Fox’s camera work was excellent and some of its graphics good (others bad) Sandomir gives the booth low grades, noting that the three-man setup is too chatty and that Harold Reynolds and Tom Verducci’s insight was often shaky, too late or less-than illuminating. Ultimately, the three broadcasters need more reps together, Sandomir notes.

The big takeaway, with which I agree: we miss Tim McCarver. Not that he was the be-all, end-all, obviously. And not that he was as good in the past few years as he used to be (he clearly had lost a step). But (a) he was way better at anticipating things and offering his insight before an event happened rather than second-guessing afterward; and (b) the mere fact of a three-man booth just really, really sucks for baseball.

Mets fans like their three-man booth, but I feel like the Hernandez-Darling-Cohen booth is the exception, not the rule. They have a relaxed thing that is better geared toward the regular season (and Hernandez is not totally full-time anyway). And if you have to have three guys in the booth, at least the Mets’ setup is ideal: a pitcher to break down pitcher stuff and an everyday player to talk about hitting and defense. Indeed, I find it rather crazy that the Fox booth doesn’t have either a former pitcher or former catcher like McCarver was who can talk about pitching. That seems essential to me.

In an ideal world — in my view anyway — you have a one-man booth with a person who can talk about the game at hand, not get lost in conversation. Someone who can set the scene and offer some occasional color-style insights (broadcasts over-analyze unimportant crap as it is). No one really does that anymore, but I think there are a lot of decent play-by-play guys who, if allowed to do that for a while, would become good at it. Vin Scully is great, but he’s not some absurd freak of nature or a god. He got great at that because he’s done it forever and knows what the heck he’s doing. If, say, Len Kasper or someone was allowed to do that for a long time and became, say, 66% of what Scully is, we’d be about 200% better with broadcasting than we generally are now. Heck, I bet even Joe Buck could do it. He’s way better than he used to be — he’s actually gotten really good at feeling the moment in a baseball game, which was one of his early problems — and he’s been around enough to make note of significant strategic things if he was allowed to.

But I suppose that’s a pipe dream. Now Fox, ESPN and TBS give us three-man booths, for whatever reason they do it. Maybe because they can. It makes for a crappy game product though. So short of going to a one-man, ratchet it back to a two-man booth and get someone in there who knows what the heck they’re doing.

Joe Maddon’s pursuit of the Cubs job called “a classless act” by some in the game

Joe Maddon

News broke just before Game 7 that the Cubs had hired — or were about to hire — Joe Maddon as their manager. Then everything seemed to back off a bit. “Details were still being worked on,” and since then we’ve had more or less radio silence. The general consensus from reporters who tend to be right about this stuff is that it’s happening, but that there was hesitancy to announce it or have it confirmed on the day of Game 7.

Or, perhaps, because there is some P.R. and fence-mending to do beforehand. Because, as Andy Martino reports, some people in and around the game are not at all pleased at Maddon going to the Cubs when the Cubs, at the moment, have a manager in Rick Renteria. Maddon is being viewed as going after Renteria’s job and, in the fraternity of managers and baseball men, that is considered bad form.

Here’s Martino:

Amid widespread expectation in the industry that Maddon will be named Cubs manager, and conflicting reports about whether the hire has already happened, lifers were saying that the mere possibility did not look good. Maddon is well-liked, and his competitors are hoping that the full details, when they emerge, will prove more flattering. For now, the fraternity is displeased.

“The whole industry is talking about what a classless act (this is),” said one high-ranking major league executive.

I’m not sure if this is a classless act for Maddon as much as it is bad form by the Cubs in not dealing with Renteria somehow first, but I suppose that’s quibbling and that it takes two to tango.  I also suspect that the delay in naming Maddon manager is about the Cubs, realizing that this all got out before they wanted it to in a way they didn’t want to, engaging in some sort of damage control. Be it offering Renteria a job elsewhere in the organization, looking to sweeten a buyout offer or otherwise trying to make it so that this is not perceived the same way a dude dumping his wife for some hot new thing is perceived.

Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds celebrate the conclusion of the World Series

Alex Rodriguez

source: Getty Images


“I’m baaaaaaaaack!”

When Pablo Sandoval caught the final out of the World Series last night, he effectively activated Alex Rodriguez from his season-long suspension. Now there is a distinct possibility that the soon-to-be free agent Sandoval could have Rodriguez as an occasional backup at third base on the Yankees next year. So that’s fun.

Also fun, this scene from outside of AT&T Park last night:

All of the amazing, wonderful, heroic ballplayers of the 90s were out there, somewhere, enjoying the conclusion of the World Series. I’d even like to think Roger Clemens was smiling.


Oh, wait. He doesn’t really do that, does he.

Brian Sabean pushed all of the right buttons this year

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 11.30.36 PM

KANSAS CITY — On July 25, this man played second base for the San Francisco Giants:

source: Getty Images

Yes, that’s Dan Uggla. He of the complete and utter nosedive in production and the albatross contract in Atlanta. The Giants picked him up when the Braves released him because, really, they had no other options. Marco Scutaro suffered a gnarly back injury which basically put him on the shelf for the year and none of his replacements were really getting the job done. They had almost completely frittered away their lead in the NL West which, at one point, had been as big as ten games and the Giants were desperate.

Uggla failed of course. I guess he still gets a World Series ring because the Giants give them to everyone, but he failed and he was sent packing just a few days later. At that point Sabean decided to let Joe Panik, one of those replacements for Scutaro, have the job. Panik improved all season long. Tonight he made the key defensive play of the game, turning a sweet double play that halted a would-be Royals rally. Sabean’s decision paid off.

As did many others. Trading for Jake Peavy who, while he laid an egg in the World Series, certainly helped the Giants stay afloat when they were sinking. Taking a chance on Michael Morse when a lot of teams passed. The Tim Hudson deal. Not that this is new for Sabean and the Giants. In the past he picked up Burrell, Javier Lopez and Cody Ross. Marco Scutaro and Hunter Pence. Way back in the day he got Jeff Kent when everyone thought he should keep Matt Williams.

Obviously there are a couple of great players here, both drafted by Sabean, in Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner. But the Giants have not, at really any time in Sabean’s tenure, been a dominant team. A team everyone looked at in March and said “yep, they’re gonna win the World Series.” But here they are tonight, hoisting their third trophy in five seasons. And one of the biggest reasons for that is the guy in the front office, always doing little things to make the Giants better.

Madison Bumgarner pitches the Giants to their third World Series win in five seasons

Madison Bumgarner

KANSAS CITY — It’s a cliche that someone in some P.R. office came up with, but in Madison Bumgarner’s case it’s true: October is when legends are born.

The Giants ace came out of the bullpen after four innings and, on two days rest, absolutely dazzled. He pitched five innings, allowed only two hits didn’t walk anyone and struck out four while shutting down and shutting out the Royals. The Royals who never looked like they had a chance against him.

Even in the ninth, when Alex Gordon wound up on third base following a misplay of his single by Gregor Blanco in center, you didn’t get the sense that Bumgarner would break. Not with a hobbled Salvador Perez at the plate, still obviously feeling the effects of being hit by a pitch earlier in the game. Not even if Perez was healthy, actually. Bumgarner was nothing if not cool this entire month. And while 40,000-plus Royals fans in attendance may have had faith, those with less defined rooting interests didn’t think it was possible. And in the end, it wasn’t.

This postseason has been defined by armchair managers second-guessing everything the real skippers have done. But Game 7 of the World Series didn’t allow for too much of that. One could question Ned Yost allowing Jeremy Guthrie to start the fourth inning rather than going with Kelvin Herrera. One could certainly ask why Yost never pinch hit for one of his lefties once Bumgarner was in the game — I think I just saw Josh Willingham’s face on a milk carton — but it was only with two outs in the ninth that the Royals even threatened. And then it wasn’t much of a threat.

For the most part, the managers handled things like a Game 7 should be handled. Bruce Bochy using his best pitcher for the duration (though I imagine Bumgarner would snap Bochy’s neck before surrendering the ball). Yost’s only relievers were Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland. All of whom, with the exception of Herrera’s first few pitches — did their jobs. There was no tomorrow for either team, and each manager, more or less, managed like there was no tomorrow.

No, this game was decided by the players. By some key singles and a few sac flies. By some excellent defense by the Giants – they turned two double plays, one of them spectacular and rally-squelching — and by great pitchers throwing great stuff.

But one was greater than the others. One, the obvious choice for World Series MVP, won two games in this Fall Classic and saved Game 7, turning in an instant classic tonight. Madison Bumgarner, a legend is born.