Tagged: John Smoltz

Why Can’t TBS/FOX Have One Local Voice?

I was getting excited today thinking about the start of the playoffs tomorrow night – planning my game menu, making sure my lucky clothes were clean, vowing not going to panic if things don’t go perfectly (fat chance). And then I remembered that YES wouldn’t be doing the broadcasts for any of the games and I’d be listening to “strangers” for the duration of the postseason. And it bothered me. Why do these generic announcers for networks that don’t cover us on a regular basis have to parachute in every year? OK, I know why. They have contracts. But couldn’t they at the very least include one local guy from each playoff team? Would that really be so difficult? It would certainly improve the quality of my fan experience. And apparently, I’m not the only one who feels this way. No sooner did I rant about this to my husband than I read Raissman’s column in today’s Daily News. Seriously, Ernie Johnson, Ron Darling and John Smoltz doing my team’s games? When Bud Selig asks his committee for suggestions about improving baseball, how about somebody mentioning a mistake that’s so easy to correct? Don’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled that the Yanks are even in the playoffs; Dr. Phil could be calling the games and I’d be fine with it. (Not really, but you know what I’m saying.) I just wish we didn’t have to listen to stories we’ve heard a million times and “analysis” from people who don’t especially care. 


New York Yankees broadcaster Michael Kay is relegated to pre- and postgame duties as a national broadcast team takes control o
f the play-by-play for the Bombers.

Near the end of the Yankees‘ loss toBoston Sunday in the regular-season finale, Michael Kay, in a funereal tone, said the Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network would be turning postseason coverage of the team over to “the network.”

This was not the first time a YES voice has lamented the fact he would be turned into nothing more than a hood ornament on the Bombers’ playoff sedan. You cannot blame Kay, or any other mouth, for feeling blue.

It’s cold being turned away at the door when the party is about to start.

YES‘ cast of thousands does six months of heavy lifting, then another broadcast team parachutes in, landing on prime playoff real estate. It’s even worse for Yankee voices. Don’t ever forget the regular season is relatively meaningless for the Bombers. The “mission statement,” often repeated on YES (it’s written in blood and locked in a safe), is that anything short of World Series victory is failure.

In April, year after year, it’s presented as a given that the Yankees are guaranteed a postseason berth. Making 15 trips in the last 16 seasons validates the mantra. These cats mean what they say. So now after regular season hors d’oeuvres have been served by YES voices, TBS’ crew comes in to work the banquet. YES mouths do get to sweep up. They are working pre- and postgame shows.

There use to be a time, many moons ago, when a network with postseason TV rights would add a local voice to its broadcast team. Not only would this lend some educated insight, it also would be of great appeal to fans in the market.

That all changed when the money got big. Fox (NLCS/World Series and TBS (LDS/ALCS) are paying Seligula & Co. a combined $3 billion in baseball’s current TV deal that runs through 2013. Both outlets also air regular-season packages but the bulk of the dough is spent on acquiring postseason inventory.

For that kind of cash, TBS and Fox suits (besides praying each series goes the distance) do their own thing. They want their baseball brand to be “pure.” That means using theirvoices, the guys they are totally invested in. Under this philosophy, there is no room for one of the participating team’s voices, even if it might rid the booth of a perception problem.

Not only do fans believe these national crews don’t have intimate knowledge of their squad, they swear they are rooting against them. Of course, this is nonsense. No matter. It happens every year without fail.

As they did last fall, some Yankee fans will be pointing fingers at TBS’ booth. Ron Darling, the Mets‘ SNY analyst and a regular on TBS’ Sunday afternoon baseball cablecasts, will be working Yankees-Twins along with John Smoltz and Ernie Johnson.

Yankees-Red Sox: No More Goose Egg

Well, that was a relief.
Still, I wouldn’t call the Yankees’ 13-6 victory over Boston a well-played game. Not when our pitchers walked TWELVE batters…when Joba had his worst start since the break…when Posada inexplicably trotted home instead of sliding. But the offense pummeled Smoltz and Traber, and their effort put the Yanks up by 3 1/2 in the division. It was an honest-to-goodness drubbing – the kind of game where you can sit back and just enjoy the show. I had to leave the house after the fifth to teach my writing workshop, but I watched the rest when I got home. It was late by the time I saw Vicky Martinez make the final out, but it was worth staying up for. Beating the Red Sox is delicious, any way it happens.
Now it’s on to Friday night with AJ facing Josh Beckett. Clearly, Beckett isn’t Smoltz. We’ll be facing a pitcher who isn’t on the verge of retirement (or should be). So how can we beat him and take two in a row in this series? Once again, I went to the videotape for answers.
#1) Obviously, Josh Beckett likes jewelry. That watch is the size of my head. But it’s his Phiten titanium necklace (Joba wears one too, and look how that worked out) that gives him a sense of health, energy and well-being. If I’m the Yankees, I steal Beckett’s necklace before the game. He’ll be convinced he’s lost his magic power and possibly freak out.
#2) He said, speaking of his health: “The last time I was a hundred percent, I was sixteen years old.” That would suggest he has a few aches and pains – not a surprise given how knock-kneed he is. If I’m the Yankees, I not only make him throw a lot of pitches but bunt early and often, forcing him to bend over.
#3) As for the Papelbon part of the video, if he comes in to pitch I would simply show him a picture of himself with his celebrity look-alike and wait for him to implode.
Speaking of look-alikes, I hear David Ortiz is having a press conference on Saturday with Peter Gammons standing by to report. Will Ian McKellen play Gammons in the movie version?

Victorious Over Blue Jays, Yanks Take On Red Socks

Sergio Mitre wasn’t an unmitigated disaster in the Yankees’ 8-4 win over the Jays on Wednesday night, but he didn’t last long enough to get the win – or any real vote of confidence from fans.
Sergio Mitre.jpg
He did, however, generate several suggestions for his look-alike, including one from commenter leekru, who insisted he’s the spitting image of celebrity has-been Wilmer Valderrama, except that Wilmer smiles occasionally.
At first, the offense seemed handcuffed by yet another rookie pitcher (this is the last – I mean last – time I’m spelling Rzepcyzynski), but they manufactured a couple of runs in the second and Swisher hit a bomb in the seventh to tie it at 3-3. The rest came off the Jays’ newly acquired reliever Roenicke. Poor guy. The Yanks singled and doubled him to death.
Damon’s homer in the ninth off Tallet made it unnecessary to use Mo (I didn’t see the need for Hughes either, but don’t get me started). Johnny had three RBIs. I always feel the Yanks are better with him in the lineup, in spite of his often adventuresome play in left field.
The bullpen did its job for the most part, and the Yanks have now won three straight. If only A-Rod would start hitting homers again. I miss his towering shots and his Clydesdale (hat tip: Was Watching) jog around the bases, but he’s got a different #5 hitter behind him in almost every game. It would be nice not to have a revolving door in that spot. 
And speaking of A-Rod…
…commenter TribeGirl is convinced his double is Daniel Sunjata, who not only stars on “Rescue Me” but played Reggie Jackson in “The Bronx Is Burning.”
But on to Thursday night’s series opener against Boston at the Stadium. Clearly, the Red Sox have owned the Yankees this season. So what can be done to reverse the disturbing trend? How can the offense get to former Braves legend John Smoltz, who is nearly 20 years older than Joba and, therefore, has much more experience on the mound? Once again, I reviewed videotape before making my recommendations.
#1) Smoltz said, “The biggest challenge for them is to tame me down.” 
There are several ways to tame Smoltz down. One is for the Yankees to hire a cowboy and lasso him.
Another is for trainers Gene Monahan and Steve Donahue to immobilize Smoltz using one of these. 
And a third way is simply to summon Yankee Stadium security to do their job.
#2) Smoltz referred to his “blood boiling” and how he can’t get enough of that.
Perhaps the Yankees could test the veracity of that statement by getting a clubhouse attendant (or that merry prankster, A.J. Burnett) to sneak into the visitors dugout and give Smoltz the Carrie treatment?
#3) Smoltz maintained that he’s “a full boar guy.”
Maybe the Yankees should call someone at the Bronx Zoo and get one of their own.
Or did he mean he was a “full bore guy?”
I’ll let Joe Girardi and his coaches interpret. Bottom line? Joba needs to have a great outing. If he does, the Yanks will be just fine.
Oh. I almost forgot. I have one more ballplayer/celebrity look-alike, this one courtesy of Newsday.

Calling All Healthy Pitchers! Hello? Are You Out There?


No, of course nobody’s answering the phone because there aren’t any healthy pitchers. Not that are available anyway. Which must be why the latest trend in baseball is signing hurlers with a history of injuries. The Yankees? A.J. Burnett. The Red Sox? Brad Penny and John Smoltz. (I know, I know. The Yankees spent millions and the Red Sox didn’t. I’m just saying.)
The Yanks still need a #5 guy in the rotation, since Pettitte seems destined for retirement and/or many days in court testifying about The Rocket.
So back to the rumor mill I go. Yes, there was my post about Pedro the other day. But now people are throwing out names like Freddy Garcia,
who’s had shoulder surgery – twice. A-Rod played with Garcia on the Mariners and is pushing for his former teammate. According to Joel Sherman of the NY Post, Alex likes Garcia’s “fortitude.” I’m all for fortitude, but what about the actual ability to last more than an inning and get major league hitters out?
Randy Wolf is on the list,
despite his two arm surgeries. He nearly pitched a no-hitter with the Padres, but how’s his shoulder right now?
Kelvim Escobar is yet another name being bandied about.
He suffered a tear in his shoulder in ’08 but is trying to make a comeback. Swell. I feel better already.
And, finally, there’s Ben Sheets. He’s still around. Still unsigned. Still waving his medical records at GMs.
He’s had problems with his elbow, his back, his inner ear, you name it. Just look at that delivery. I’d give myself a hernia if I threw like that.
Reclamation projects are very satisfying when they work out. But surely there must be someone out there who does not have the body of a dilapidated house.
It would be great if the Yankees could depend on one or two of the rookies to fill the spot in the rotation, and maybe that’s how it’ll go. But what if Hughes/Aceves/Kennedy go down? We still need a body. Just not this body.
Was it always like this? Were pitchers fragile in the old days when I watched them as a kid? Am I simply “misremembering,” as Clemens would say? Or do today’s pitchers put more stress on their arms? I’d love to hear everybody’s opinion about this. My husband thinks it was the same then as it is now, and reminded me about Sandy Koufax, who left the game in his prime because of injury. My take is that it’s different now; that for some reason these guys get hurt younger and more often. 
I’m beginning to wonder whatever happened to the robust, hearty, healthy athletes who once seemed indestructible.
It feels like this happened to them.
Superman Sleeps.jpg