Craig Calcaterra

Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez is going to be in the studio for Fox


From announcer bias to announcer . . . well, whatever it is Alex Rodriguez has.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post just tweeted that A-Rod is in Los Angeles and will be part of the Fox NFL Sunday show today. That’s . . . weird, but who cares about football? What we do care about is that he will be announced as part of the Fox postseason studio shows going forward as well.

This inspired an almost immediate tut-tutting, but that seems premature to me.

On the one hand, yes, It is absolutely certain that Fox’s motivation here is to turn heads and get attention. This is why they do most of what they do these days, be it hiring Jason Whitlock and Colin Cowherd or inflicting Pete Rose on us all. It’s pretty transparent, actually, and putting A-Rod on TV is right in line with that. On the other hand, that doesn’t mean he won’t be good! Indeed, I could see this going either way.

If Rodriguez is self-conscious and concerned with how he looks on TV — a pretty classic A-Rod thing — he could be terrible and stiff. He has shown in the past year, however, that he can be pretty funny and quick in interviews. And regardless of demeanor, his actual baseball knowledge and insight has long been lauded by his teammates and coaches. Even the ones who hate him. If that translates, he could be good. You never know with analysts until they start analyzing.

This could be a Pete Rose situation in which a controversial figure is hired and delivers bad insight and analysis. It could be an A.J. Pierzynski situation in which a controversial figure is hired and delivers pretty damn good insight and analysis. The point is, no matter what motivated it and no matter how controversial the figure, all we as fans should want is some good insight and analysis.

I’d like to think A-Rod will give that but I’m prepared for the possibility that he won’t. Either way, we should give him a chance and see how he does.

There’s nothing sadder than fans complaining about media bias

Joe Buck

I am thankful for the wild card, division series and the non-Fox LCS each year because they remind me that we’re actually kind of lucky to have Joe Buck.

No, he’s not a particularly wonderful baseball announcer compared to many around the game, but he’s considerably better than some of the other ones on national broadcasts. By the time the Fox-broadcast LCS and the World Series rolls around and Buck is on the scene it feels like we’re improving some. And heck, he’s familiar after all of these years. There are a lot of guys I’d rather have call big games, but given the slim pickings we have in this regard, Joe Buck is quite tolerable as an exercise in enjoying the product of reduced expectations

But not everyone is even as charitable as that. Some Royals fans have decided that Joe Buck is biased against their team and have started a petition to have Fox remove him from their games:

It was announced today that Joe Buck will be calling the ALCS games on Fox and Fox Sports 1. As a Royals fan who was forced to endure his love for our opposing team, more specifically, their pitcher, we find this to be untenable.

For example, on October 29th, 2014, Joe Buck said Bumgarner 87 times, Giants 56 times, San Francisco 24 times, Kansas City 13 times, and Royals 8 times.

Our opinion is clear and simple, why not have someone that will call the game evenly and without a preconceived love for either team?

The only thing dumber than these sorts of petitions is the claim by fans that announcers (or writers for that matter) are biased against their teams.

For one thing, it isn’t true. Really, no one cares about your rooting interest, chief. Certainly not as much as you do. Your life may be so narrow and sad that your team matters to you more than anything in the world, but the rest of society doesn’t think about them that much. And when they do think about them they don’t gin up enough emotion about it to actually hate them. You’re just imagining it.

Indeed, when someone says “[person] is biased against [my team]” I instantly translate it to “I have a pretty severe insecurity/persecution complex and, while I’m not fully conscious of it, my belief that people have it in for that which I love serves to validate my myopic and sad fixation on the professional sports team from my general geographic area.” The media isn’t biased against your team. But they do pity you when they stop to think about you.

There’s also the fact that, even if Joe Buck or other person did hate your team, it doesn’t really matter. I know there are a great many sports fans who think that what an announcer says has some sort of impact on the outcome of sporting events — RIP to all of those no-hitters jinxed by commentators doing their job and noting that a no-hitter is underway — but there are a great many people in the world who believe all manner of dumb things. This may not be the dumbest, but it’s way closer to, say, believing in the tooth fairy than it is to thinking anything reasonable.

If you don’t like Joe Buck, turn the sound down. Or mute him altogether and synch up the radio broadcast to the TV. Or just do what I do and try to tune him out. Any of those approaches are far more effective — and far less reflective of a pathetic person — than railing against his bias or demanding his removal from your team’s games.

But maybe I’m just biased.

Video: Travis d’Arnaud’s homer hit the apple

Travis d'Arnaud

One of the most underrated ballpark features in all of baseball is the home run apple in New York. When it popped up in Shea Stadium in 1980 it was cute. It’s bigger now and more institutionalized — the old one is outside the park now, serving as something quasi-iconic as opposed to just quirky — but it’s still pretty cool.

As far as home run signifiers it’s way better than the sculpture thingy in Miami. Simplicity is always best. As far as 1980s-era ballpark kitsch it hasn’t lost its soul the way Bernie Brewer’s slide at Miller Park has. It used to be a fun plunge into a beer mug. Now it’s just a big long water park-style slide without the water. Frankly, Bernie Brewer has lost his way.

But the apple is still the apple. And it sits 431 feet away from home plate in center field. Last night Travis d'Arnaud hit it with a homer, just as it was warming up to do its job to commemorate the homer.