Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Let the World Series begin (already)!

So this is a World Series first: My son Matt and I are rooting against each other. I’m a lifelong Dodger fan and he’s a diehard Red Sox fan. Full disclosure: Because of my son I’ve become a big Red Sox fan too so if they should win I won't be crushed.

I know Fox is thrilled. It’s a marquee match-up of two teams that have national followings and haven’t met in the World Series in 102 years. Should be fun.

The games will be on broadcast television on Fox, not cable networks that are channel 354 on your guide (IF you even get them). I know he’s much maligned, but I think Joe Buck does a terrific job and John Smoltz is the best analyst he’s had (sorry Tim McCarver). Kill the fucking Google commercials though.

I don’t know who is calling the games for ESPN radio, but LA listeners, whoever it is has got to be better than Charley Steiner. To think that for 67 glorious years we had the great Vin Scully and now we’ve got a guy who can’t go five minutes without making a bonehead mistake. Recent case in point (and trust me there are many – there are tapes floating around of his bungled calls much to the delight and prolonged laughter of everyone in the baseball media): In the last NLCS, the Dodgers went into Milwaukee with a 3-2 game advantage. One win and they go to the World Series. But they lost game 6 necessitating a game 7. When they won, this is what Charley said:

"They came into Milwaukee, down 3-2 and won last night and again tonight to win the NLCS."

WHAT THE FUCK?!

He also had the wrong pitcher in the game for an entire inning.  

And this is the man sitting in Vin Scully’s chair! This is an embarrassment to the organization. And worse, typical. (You should hear that tape.) 

So if you have the MLB app, or Sirius/XM I suggest either the Red Sox home broadcast (Joe and Tim are homers but they know which players are in the game) or the ESPN broadcast, and in Los Angeles I’m hoping that ESPN710 carries the national feed.  Or better yet, listen to Hall-of-Famer Jaime Jarrin.  Even you don't speak Spanish you'll still be able to follow the game way better than listening to Charley Steiner.

For a more in depth article on his many mistakes, the LA TIMES today offers this

As for predictions? I think the American League is stronger than the National, and the Red Sox have a powerhouse team. Their Achilles Heel is their bullpen. The Dodgers have depth, tremendous flexibility (each player can play seven positions -- further confusing Charley), Kershaw (when he’s good), a strong bullpen, and all-or-nothing hitters who either homer or strike out. I personally am not a fan of substituting players in the second inning and bringing in relievers in the third. I understand the analytics but there’s also a Wile E. Coyote element to it where managers over-manage and outsmart themselves. How many times in playoffs have you seen unlikely heroes? Well, you tend to eliminate them when they’re pulled for a pinch-hitter in the third inning because analytics recommend it.

The ideal player used to be someone like Willie Mays. Now it’s Dave Kingman.

And then there are factors that analytics can’t cover. The weather. How does that affect a team? If there is a rain delay what does that do to your pitching staff? How long does the rain have to go before you lift your pitcher? (If game 1 or 2 is rained out they would normally just push till Thursday. But Fox has Thursday Night Football that they paid a billion dollars for. They’re not going to pre-empt that. Does game 3 get pushed all the way to Friday?) Temps should be in the 30’s in Boston. That could be a factor, especially for a team that plays in sunny LA. If the Dodgers thought San Francisco crowds were hostile, that was the Queen’s Tea compared to Boston. How will the late afternoon shadows at Dodger Stadium affect the Red Sox unaccustomed as they are to that condition?

And then of course there are injuries.  

The Dodgers last played in Boston in 2010 (they were swept). Clayton Kershaw did not pitch in that series. How he will fare the first time with that Green Monster at his back is anyone’s guess – stats or no stats.

Will Chris Sale bounce back from a disappointing and injury-plagued LCS? Closer Craig Kimbrel hasn’t exactly been lights out either. Will the Red Sox get the good or bad David Price? Will the Dodgers get the good or bad Clayton Kershaw?

So I guess what I’m saying is: whichever team has the better record, Charley Steiner will report the opposite.

48 comments :

Jim S said...

I know what you mean about fathers and sons and their teams. In 1968, I was just a boy who started the first grade and the Tigers played the Cardinals. My dad, St. Louis born and bred, told me he hoped the Tigers would win. (They did, coming back from being down three games to one), but that's because he is a good dad. He got his revenge in 2006, when the Tigers played the Cardinals again, this time winning four games to one.

Yes, baseball fans have long memories. That's part of what makes the game great.

Prediction - the Red Sox take it four games to two. They are just so strong and their pitching has really come on strong.

Paul Thompson said...

As a lifelong resident of the upper midwest, I'm still salty about the Brewers. Have to root against the Dodgers all the way.

Curt Alliaume said...

Thanks for the recommendation. Back in 2016, Fangraphs, based on voting from the fans, ranked the Dodgers' radio team eighth of 30 teams (but that was with Vin Scully doing three innings) and the Red Sox team 14th. I don't tend to watch the games as much, so it's important to know who will be better at providing an accurate description when listening.

https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/2016-broadcaster-rankings-radio-10-1/

Gary Campbell said...

During the regular season, Joe Davis calls the games on the Spectrum TV broadcasts. He is quite good.

VP81955 said...

Beat the New England Evil Empire and their pink-hatted, "Sweet Caroline"-singing fans!

How many titles have Boston teams won in the past 15 years? About a dozen, right, and all four of them too. In contrast, Los Angeles last won with the Kings in 2014 -- two Stanley Cups this decade and they still can't get arrested. (That leads to a discussion of how two-dimensional and front-running LA sports fans are -- Dodgers/Lakers, Dodgers/Lakers -- but we'll leave that for another time,)

This ex-Washingtonian hopes the Dodgers win, if only because it'll likely mean they won't pursue Bryce Harper as a free agent and he might just stay with the Nationals, who in their 50 years including Montreal have yet to play in a best-of-seven series. Not a Bosox/Chisox/Cubs "curse," but weird just the same.

goodman.dl said...

The ideal player is still Willie Mays. It's just that guy is incredibly hard to find. I hear there's a Mantle-Mays type player in Anaheim...

Mike Barer said...

Thank you for having occasional sports post, even though you have said that it irritates a segment of your readership.

Tim B. said...

We’re going to have to agree to disagree on this one - the Brewers loss over the weekend was heartbreaking. We’ll be back next year! (We don’t worry about rain around here - that’s all I’m saying...)

There’s definitely not a lot of Joe Buck love around town - he was siding with the Dodgers and also mispronouncing Brewers names,

Disappointed fan still looking for a Brewers World Series win....

Mike Barer said...

Even though I'm a huge Baseball fan, the World Series comes so late in the year, that my mind is totally focused on football.
That would change quickly if the Mariners would ever make it.

Robert Forman said...

Have you seen Vin Scully's Proposition 4 advertisements? I haven't studied the propositions yet but if Scully wants it then I'm voting yes.

Anonymous said...

I really hate both teams so I'm stuck. But I will root for the...sigh...Dodgers because I hate Boston more.

Pam, St. Louis

James said...

One thing baseball does right: there's no two-week gap between the end of the playoffs and the beginning of the Series.

Janet Ybarra said...

I think it's also a plus that you have a cross country Series. It should bring more fan interest, I think, than a more geographically limited Series.

Fred Vogel said...

Joe Buck is awful. Charlie Steiner is awfuler.

Jeannie said...

I think the managers' story is cool: both are ex-Red Sox players and former Dodgers teammates, but they're also writing a new chapter in World Series history as the first two minority managers to skipper WS teams. Somewhere, Jackie Robinson is smiling. I'm a Sox fan, but will never stop loving Dave Roberts for that 2004 stolen base. So like you, Ken, I'm happy either way, and looking forward to a clash of the titans this week.

Mike Bloodworth said...

¡GO DOYERS! (The hotdog and the team)
M.B.

tb said...

Can't wait to see 800 commercials with a tiny bit of baseball in-between

Babe Ruth said...

Can we figure out a way to have the dugout cameras removed?? I really and I mean REALLY hate watching a game from the comfort of my home or bar and being subjected to the WORST VIEW IN THE STADIUM! On top of that, the cameraman swings the camera like an amateur cell phone video and players always walk in front of the camera requiring a quick switch from the director.

Ken, since you directed TV shows and also was a baseball broadcaster, what's your 2-cents on the dogout cameras?

Jeff Boice said...

Since I grew up in Wash. State and now live in the DC area, the World Series is just a myth to me. I'm OK with either team winning- I didn't want the Brewers in because I'm one of those few who can say they attended a Seattle Pilots home game.

I hate analytics. In 2014 the Nats manager (Matt Williams) lived and died by his charts. Game 2 of the NLDS, Jordan Zimmermann retires 20 Giants in a row. Nats up 1-0 with 2 out in the ninth, he walks the batter on a 3-2 pitch. Zimmermann gets pulled for Drew Storen who promptly gives up the game tying hit. Nats lose in 18. Williams defends his decision to pull Zimmermann by pointing to his charts. I think that the Nats could have saved money by compiling those charts on a computer program and having Siri manage the team.

I'm too old to stay up past midnight to watch these games. I'm happy with looking at the highlights on my cellphone early the next morning.

Rob Dames said...

Forever Cardinals fan so I have no dog in this rodeo... or something like that.

Buttermilk Sky said...

World Series? Ah, yes, the November Classic in hypothermic New England. I hope the managers will speed things along by refraining from those idiotic challenges where everything stops dead so some uber-umpire in New York can squint at the video and eventually confirm the ruling of the original umpire -- but I'm not optimistic. And let's find sponsors for everything -- "This visit by the trainer brought to you by Blue Cross of Omaha..." because baseball isn't slow enough or lucrative enough.

Maybe I'll just read about it. My dad was an Orioles fan which, as someone says in TWELVE ANGRY MEN, is like banging your head into a wall three times a day. My poor Mets have been out of contention since Arbor Day. So, whatever.

DARON72 said...

I'm a Red Sox fan and I'm worried about their pitching. Almost every starter is inconsistent and Kimbrel makes Papelbon look like Mariano Rivera. Joe Buck is terrible and I'll take your word on Charley Steiner. I'd rather hear Bob Costas or Joe Davis any day. I do like Smoltz though. I always skip the FOX after game show because Pete Rose just keeps embarrassing himself and flip over to the MLB Network after game coverage unless the FOX analysts are different this year.

Mike Bloodworth said...

P.S. I may miss the first few innings because I'll be standing in line to buy a "MEGA MILLIONS" ticket.
M.B.

Victor Velasco said...

Five, maybe ten thousand Sox fans at Dodger Stadium? Puig, absorbing the Boston love at Fenway? This series could give baseball a shot in the arm or shoot it to hell.

Brian Stanley said...

"The ideal player used to be someone like Willie Mays. Now it’s Dave Kingman."

So would you suggest asking someone on the Dodgers what they thought of Kingman's performance?

Liggie said...

Don't like either team, so I'll skip watching it and burn off the DVR backlog. Even if I did watch it, if Joe Buck is calling, I turn on SAP and listen to Spanish audio (I can speak it).

That said, if I'm driving during the games, I'll likely tune in to ESPN radio. Dan Shulman has the call, and he is excellent. Per Awful Announcing, here are all the media outlets and personnel, national and local: https://awfulannouncing.com/schedules/your-2018-world-series-announcing-schedule.html

@Daron72: Pete Rose was let go from Fox after news of his involvement with a teenage girl years ago came up.

VP81955 said...

Someday we'll have a Nats-M's World Series, and we'll see if you're right. Both fan bases have suffered (and neither has won a WS), but Ken Burns and his PBS literati couldn't give a damn about either since neither one is "iconic." Doris Kearns Goodwin discussing Nationals or Mariners fans? Wake me what that happens.

Roger Owen Green said...

As a Yankees fan since childhood, I'm rooting against the Red Sox.
But the Dodgers beat the Pinstripes in the 1963 Series, so meh.
Go dodgers, I guess.

jcs said...

Working in the Longwood Medical Area, a stone's throw away from Fenway, for seven long years almost automatically turns you - even if you're a European cancer researcher - into a Red Sox fan. The club supports cancer research through its partnership with the Jimmy Fund since 1953. The Red Sox stepped in after the original supporting club, the Boston Braves, left town.

Fenway Park is an anachronism. The stadium is too small, lacks the comfort of modern arenas and offers very limited parking. After ball games local spectators have to wait fairly long for the rather slow-moving trains on the Green Line. Yet it's a great place in an excellent American city that successfully reinvented itself as a giant research lab over the past two decades.

Rory Wohl said...

Yay, I guess.

Number 1 payroll in MLB (Red Sox) faces number 3 MLB payroll (Dodgers). Who could've seen that coming?

Yes, I know, spending the most is no guarantee of success. My Giants, with their #2 payroll, blew a lot of money on a 73-89 season.

Unknown said...

I can't believe the praise for Joe Davis. He sounds more robotic than Buck. His syntax is controlled by a metronome, and every time he says the word two, it sounds like he is spitting a loogie. I loath anticipating the call on a 2-2 count. I watch a lot of Padre and a lot of Dodger games on MLB TV. The Dodger games are more entertaining, but listening to Don Orsillo of the Padres is a delight, and a modern standard. Notable exception, the great Jon Miller. Best ever after Scully.

charlotte said...

Just curious if you saw this, Ken, and if you agree with it! :)

https://nerdist.com/was-the-simpsons-homer-at-the-bat-lineup-really-that-good/

MikeKPa. said...

Blame Phillies fans for you getting stuck with Steiner:

"In 1980, when the Phillies won the World Series, play by play announcer Harry Kalas and the rest of the Phillies' radio crew were prohibited from doing the games. The reason? MLB radio-broadcasting regulations at the time forbade local stations from producing live coverage of World Series games, instead forcing them to air the national CBS Radiofeed of the games. Philadelphia fans were so outraged about this afterward that they started a letter-writing campaign to the Commissioner's Office, demanding a change to the rule. Due at least in part to this outcry from Philadelphia fans, MLB amended its broadcasting contracts the following year to allow World Series teams' flagship radio stations to air the games with local announcers"

Fortunately, the great Harry the K got to call the Phillies' 2008 World Series championship, only to die the following April, hours before a Phillies game. A decade later, he's still sorely missed.

Mike Doran said...

I pretty much stopped following Baseball at the turn of this century.
No one reason, really; it's like the old line:
If you like to eat sausage, never learn how it's made.
Over time, I'd read so many accounts of the ways that the owners had turned Baseball into expired horseradish - disillusion was hard to avoid.
I knew for sure that it was over in 2005 - when my White Sox, the team I'd grown up with, won everything from the word go - and I couldn't even get interested.
A decade later, when The Other Chicago Team Whose Name Escapes Me took it all, and all the local media acted as if 2005 never happened, it only confirmed my disillusion.
My guess was that Jean Shepherd was turning in his grave, both times.
None of the above means that I don't miss Baseball - sometimes.
The problem with Nostalgia is that at some level, you're always aware that it's basically bunk.
To all the rest of you: Go With God.

Tom Galloway said...

Notes that if Boston wins, it'll be the first team to win Serieses a century apart. And this year it's the scrappy #10 market team that goes up against teams from markets 5, 2, and 1! (Yes, I know what their payroll is, imI being sarcastic)

Saburo said...

Dan Shulman is calling the Series for ESPN radio. He did the NLCS and was excellent. I actually synced up the online audio with the DVR feed on TV. Sure I was about 2-3 pitches behind but I'd rather live with that than listen to another second of people who don't appear to love baseball as much as the rest of us watching the game...

blinky said...

Why isn't Clayton Kershaws nickname Opie? He is a dead ringer for a pre-balding Ron Howard.

John H said...

Friday question. How did you come up with the name Yellnick McWawa?

Colin Stratton said...

Sorry, but I disagree with you about Joe Buck. He's a windbag that does nothing but quote irrelevant stats and constantly pushing network promos. Only saving grace is that he is not Thom Brennaman.

sanford said...

I think Dan Schulman is doing radio. Not sure who the analyst is. When Boston and Brooklyn last played in 1916 Brooklyn was the Robins and not the Dodgers. The games in Boston were played at Braves Field as the capacity was larger than Fenway.

Lorimartian said...

WAY off topic, but a memorable encounter for me today: Laurie Metcalf was in front of me paying for parking at the medical complex at Buena Vista and Alameda. I restrained myself as she walked off into the garage, but then couldn't help myself and walked quickly to catch up with her. I simply had to tell her how much I loved her work in the HBO limited series "Getting On" from a few years ago. Not wanting to detain her, I talked so fast, she couldn't have engaged in a broader conversation if she'd wanted to. She was very gracious and thanked me. I'm glad I took advantage of the oppportunity to speak to her about a lesser-known role (although she was nominated for an Emmy and should have won for a beautifully layered performance, in my opinion, but Julia Louis-Dreyfus won...again). I still regret that I didn't approach another favorite, Conchata Ferrell, many years ago in a movie theater lobby when I had the chance.

Louis Burklow said...

Ken, I agree with that L.A. Times article that when Rick Monday and Kevin Kennedy call Dodger games on radio they are informative and seem to be on each other's wavelength. Speaking of which, I've heard that one of Charley Steiner's pre-Dodger jobs was calling Yankee games with John Sterling. That's right, the goof who never saw a Bronx Bomber fly ball, only home runs. As little use as I have for the Yankees, I can't imagine the anguish of their fans having to listen to that pair of clown bookends call/butcher games.

Blair Ivey said...

Two words: October baseball.

Andy Rose said...

@MikeKPA.: Home team radio networks are allowed to broadcast their own call of the World Series, but they have to carry all of the ESPN commercials instead of their own. They lose money broadcasting the biggest games of the year.

Amazon Prime is streaming the Thursday Night Football games now, which are already broadcast by both Fox and NFL Network. But Amazon lets you switch to a separate announcing feed with Hannah Storm and Andrea Kremer (whom I normally like, but they seem oddly distant calling TNF). Or you can listen to the British announce team if you want. Their Irish color man somehow manages to mangle all the players' names even though he's lived in the US since the 60s, but how can you not love that accent?

D McEwan said...

My dad and I always rooted against each other for the World Series also. Dad rooted for the Dodgers, and I rooted for the stadiums to burn down and the series to be cancelled so it would stop intruding on my day.

MikeN said...

Red Sox win for first time in 86 years.
Then White Sox win for first time in 88 years(and are totally ignored).
Astros win for first time ever.
Indians make World Series for first time in 70 years.
Royals make two straight World Series, winning for first time in 30 years after all the losing, and going against the wishes of the statheads.
And of course Cubs win for first time in 108 years.

Now Dodgers-Red Sox is a rematch in 102 years.
Hopefully a Red Sox victory won't be marred by Jimmy Fallon filming a movie during the postgame celebration.

Ward Hill Terry said...

My problem with Mr Buck and the FOX broadcast is that it is so narrowly focused. The common wisdom is that the TV announcer does not have to describe the game as much as the radio announcer does. This thinking is not applicable to this series. (And probably most national baseball TV broadcasts going back 15-20 years.) The television is almost constantly showing us close-ups of the pitcher, then the batter. Then we get a shot of the pitcher throwing to the batter. The announcers don't tell us much about what the pitcher has thrown, as we, the viewers, should be able to determine if it was a splitter, a slider, an off-speed pitch, etc. What they do tell us about is: what should be done next, what was done this season, last season, the personal stories, and tepid predictions about what the pitcher and/or batter should do. What they are NOT telling us, or SHOWING us, is the rest of the game! What sort of lead(s) is/are the runner(s) taking? Deliberate bluff? Secondary lead? Staying close to the bag. What are the fielders doing to adjust between batters? Or during an at-bat? Showing an info-graphic in the corner of the screen just isn't enough. This is a game with no fewer than ten moving pieces at any time. Let's see the field! I would love to see a director experiment with a top/bottom split screen, taking advantage of the hi-def wide screens that are prevalent. On the top, the POV from just behind the mound. On the bottom, the POV from the press box above home. Then they can alternate their damn close-ups on the two screens. I want to see baseball, not facial pores!
The radio announcers, like the venerable Joe Castiglione, describe the entire game. The TV announcers should describe what the screen isn't showing. Which is most of the game.

ScarletNumber said...

Baseball had enough muscle to insist that if there was a rain out and the World Series had to be played on Thursday, it would air on Fox with Joe Buck and the NFL would be relegated to FS1 with Thom Brennaman.

So it's not completely hopeless ;)