23 October 2008

Fox Sports

I'm loathe to write of bias for many reasons. Namely that it is almost never as bad as the offended party usually claims (as he is viewing the matter subjectively), it is almost impossible for any person to relay information without projecting his own prejudice in some manner, it is silly to expect him not to, and it's too easy to dismiss the forest for the few trees of bias. When the bias becomes the forest (see MSNBC or Fox News) then it becomes a problem most easily remedied by simply not watching. I've never understood people who claim to hate a news outlet and yet continue to solicit that outlet, especially the fragile waifs so easily offended by the New York Times (it is only the "paper of record" because of longevity and marketing, not for content). I complained for months about the content of the Philadelphia Inquirer; how the writing wasn't merely biased but juvenile in its incoherence and structure and, most offensive, riddled with poor grammar. There were other problems of incompetent delivery and impotent management (Supervisor: "I can't get rid of a delivery guy just because he's not delivering your paper."--read that again). The problem was easily solved by cancelling the paper and instructing the semi-literate simpleton at the customer service desk never to solicit me again (surprisingly, she didn't get that part as I still get telephone and mail solicitations at least monthly). I picked up a copy of the Inquirer after the Phillies clinched the pennant. It has gotten worse.

But I digress.

The coverage of the first game of the World Series by Joe Buck and Tim McCarver was beyond the pale. It started during the Phillies series against the Dodgers, but I assumed that the Dodgers were getting all of the favorable attention due to the fact that they're in LA and that Joe Torre is their manager. But it continued, more pronounced, last night with the Tampa Rays.

Their manager, Joe Maddon, was referred to as a "genius" no less than three times. Dubbed thus by the Nobel Committee of analysts in the Fox Sports booth for his irreplaceable, concurrent work in the fields of quantum chromodynamics; analytic number theory and mechanism design theory. All while managing a baseball team. Genius, indeed. He wears glasses.

Their right fielder, Ben Zobrist, was able to overcome the insurmountable, awe-inspiring challenge of converting to RF from short-stop. I hear a movie-of-the-week is in production. His heroism duly noted, Buck and McCarver went into fits of hysteria in the fifth inning when the center-fielder charged-in to try to catch a short pop-up and Zobrist, our hero, backed him up! He grabbed the ball off a hop after the CF missed it to prevent extra bases. Dear reader, don't you get it? He executed fundamental baseball skills that are taught to the six-year olds at the fields near my house; a feat pulled off by not-quite sober softball players nightly. He mastered a skill performed no less than a thousand times this season alone in Major League Baseball, even by the knuckle-dragging troglodytes with "Phillies" emblazoned on their chests. Yet this was impressive.

He was to be outdone, though, as far as the great McCarver was concerned, by his teammate, catcher Dioner Navarro. In the sixth inning he caught the ball. Let me set this up. The pitcher threw a ball--his job. The batter did not swing, this is good since: he was a Phillie; it was out of the strike zone; it was correctly called a ball by the umpire; I am a biased Phillies fan. Little did I appreciate what came next. McCarver declares, "What a great job by Navarro!" You see, he caught the ball. Never mind that his job description is "catcher." Never mind that "catching" is the sort of applied physics that my dog has mastered. The myopic McCarver seemed to think the ball was in the dirt. With the super-fast film that is used by the broadcasters in these games, it's a pretty bad call on his part, but perhaps forgivable since he's very old. However, they re-played the pitch, very slowly. Now we could all see, very slowly, that the ball was a good three or four inches off the dirt. I'm not saying that catching in the majors is easy and I would most likely soil myself if I were to don the gear and have to catch a professional pitch, but has the bar been set so low that we bestow "greatness" on a man for not letting a ball get by him? A man whose sole job description is not to let the ball get by him? I want McCarver to represent me at my next job review. Neither McCarver nor Buck revised the greatness tag after review.

All of this happened and more while the Phillies were mere pedestrians. Nothing anyone did was remarkable. And outside of our pitching, this was true. So I was more than a little boggled when one of the two jackasses stated matter-of-factly that the Rays bullpen was superior. It isn't, not by a damn site. I never would have believed it if you told me at the start of the season that the bullpen would help bring us to the playoffs and the World Series, compensating for some quiet bats, I would have thought you nuts. But they did.

And while the Phillies did nothing remarkable, the Rays did less. That's why we won and will take the Series in five games.

A pox on Fox for delaying the feed so it isn't synchronized with the live radio broadcast so I can't enjoy the dulcet tones of Harry Kalas while they're playing.

I do plan to record the radio broadcast for the last half-inning for posterity.

Go Phillies. One down, three to go!

1 comment:

Claudio said...

you really are a homer!