I’m still reeling from the loss of my beloved Cubbies in game one in the best of 5 playoff series against the Los Angeles Dodgers and don’t really want to talk about the game itself yet right now, so I’ll speak of the game itself only in the periphery. I actually knew what I was going to write about today while the Cubs were still winning the game though, and that is the God-awful job TBS is doing covering the divisional series.
TBS, the Turner Broadcasting System, is the home to the Atlanta Braves telecasts during the season, but big Teddy Turner bought the rights to divisional playoff baseball and now we’re stuck with him until the contract runs out.
The problem with a station like TBS getting the games is that they don’t really have a stable of competent announcers to cover the games. Take decrepit, old Dick Stockton for instance, perhaps no one puts more BS in TBS than he does.
Simply put, there is no worse baseball play-by-play man in the entire world than Dick Stockton. He’d made more mistakes before the first pitch than most broadcasters make in an entire season. You’d think a professional PBP man could, at very least, remember that Lou Pinella manages the Cubs and Joe Torre the Dodgers. Or that Ryan Dempster’s first name is, in fact, Ryan and not Brian.
To say that Dick Stockton is a bad announcer is truly an understudy! Oops, I mean an understatement. Yeah. Old Dickie got that wrong too, saying that, “to say this is a big series would be an understudy.” An understudy? Really Dick?
The bigger tragedy is that because the play by play man is so weak, so are the color commentators who are left to blab without direction. It’s horrible. Tony Gwynn and Ron Darling, the color commentators, flounder like goldfish on carpet without a strong lead to use them effectively.
And if the game announcers are bad, the in-studio show is painful. Memo to Dennis Eckersley: The 70’s are over. Please unfeather your hair and step away from the microphone. Cal Ripken, you are baseball’s Iron Man so how is it that your commentary is so incredibly anemic? And the idea of having a current player, in this case Curtis Granderson as one of the commentators is just plain stupid. How can you expect a guy to give an honest opinion about pitchers he knows he’s going to have to look out at again next season? You can bet your ass he’s not going to knock some guy who can stick a 94 mph fastball in his ear hole next spring!
From top to bottom, the TBS team was bush league. They may get away with this sort of thing for the NBA playoffs, but that’s because they host regular season games, have an in-studio team that has worked the entire season and play-by-play and color analysts who are already on staff—and actually work their sport for the entire season, not just the playoffs.
Fox and ESPN both have the resources to broadcast these games properly, but obviously were outbid by Turner for the games. Major League Baseball sold out to the highest bidder instead of ensuring that the integrity of the games was assured. And so, for the divisional series, we’re left with a rag-tag group of past their prime and never weres to broadcast the games and it’s truly painful to endure.
TBS may have the money to buy the games, but they obviously don’t have the resources to broadcast them well. They are fiercely ill-equipped to do these games justice. Every August, the Little League World Series has more professional coverage than the MLB Divisional Series is getting from TBS, and that’s no understudy.