Monday, October 23, 2006

Radio/TV "Production"

I thought about this as a comment to Doc's post, but I had some thoughts from yesterday as well concerning sports and those who cover it. I have been on the record several times about people who talk about football on a daily basis; not only do I think most of these people have no idea what they're talking about, but they speak in a uniquely uninteresting, repetitive, overly-assertive manner.

For the past few weeks, I haven't really watched football, but I've kept up with it by listening to ESPN radio on Sundays. This is not because I enjoy listening to ESPN radio's coverage; I just want updates. You listen to these guys talk, and they might be the most inarticulate people I've ever heard--yeah, I harp on their constant, overbearing use of the word "football" in every sentence, but these guys are hooked on the testosterone-scented phrases like "they've got to smash 'em in the mouth" and cliche-ridden no-shit analysis like "if this team doesn't stop the run, they're going to have a long day." They might as well let people from home dial in and yell, "Go Cowboys!"

So I listened to that all day, and then here comes the World Series. Tim McCarver is the Joel Schumacher of broadcasting: he's terrible most of the time, but occasionally he comes up with a nugget and stays employed. Last night's Kenny Rogers nonsense, where Fox cameras spotted some sort of substance on his left palm, brought on some outstandingly bad conjecture. For instance:

McCarver says something about it looking like pine tar. Then he mentions that pine tar is an illegal substance; that pitchers can use the rosin bag and on a cold night blow on their hands, but that's it. But then, he doesn't explain how exactly pine tar could help him pitch.

So now that we've established that Rogers has some sort of unidentifiable substance on his left palm, wouldn't it help if Fox had someone search through their pregame footage and see if there might have been a moment their cameras caught him applying it to his palm, or maybe found some sort of reason it might have been an accident? Surely they could have, in some way, reconstructed some of his steps, or at least figured out when it might have gotten on his hand--but instead we're treated to questions we'll never get answers to. You could also delve into Rogers' last two starts, dominant ones, and see if anything went undetected in those games.

So then, 2nd inning, substance is gone. McCarver asks stupidly, "If it wasn't illegal, why did he wash it off?" And Joe Buck says even more stupidly, "Good question."

Let's assume the substance was not illegal. Surely McCarver and Buck have had mystery substances on their hands in the past, not to delve too deeply into their personal lives. But surely after the first inning, a teammate saw the Fox broadcast and told him about it, or he noticed it in the dugout. Now, would Rogers sit there and go, "Hmm, mystery substance. I think I'll keep this on my hand because it's not illegal. Why would anyone think this is illegal anyway? I love my hands being dirty."

Let's assume the substance was illegal. Surely someone in the Tiger dugout said, "Hey, Ken, uh, Fox caught you with the pine tar." Either way, there's absolutely no reason Rogers should have anything on his hands after Fox dutifully pointed it out on national television.

Once again, a situation is given no real investigation (pregame footage, etc.), is given no insight (how can pine tar help?), and the wrong questions are asked, and somehow Fox pats themselves on the back for "job well done" when it's "job? well, lazy."

All of this, and not to mention Fox's unbelievable penchant for not paying attention to the game. There's all these "behind-the-scenes" shots in the dugout during the game, added to "Hey, Robert Knepper from Prison Break is here!" that add nothing. They need to take some notes from the eighties, where the broadcasts featured knowledgable baseball men and camerawork that emphasized tension and drama on the field.


At 10/24/2006 12:18:00 PM, Blogger Doc said...

The pine tar on a pitcher's hand gives them a better grip and more power on the ball, which accelerates spin and makes the ball move more. Not only do pitchers frequently use pine tar, but they also more frequently use sunscreen and/or shaving cream for the desired effect, as reported on at

Disturbing stuff, but that's baseball. What would a World Series be without some controversy? Regardless, Rogers did what he had to do to win the game, and there's really nothing the Cardinals or MLB can do about it.

At 10/24/2006 06:48:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

Judging by the title I thought you were going to tell some crazy stories about us in college: "I love semen in the hair jokes."
Great post; I had many of the same thoughts while watching this transpire on Sunday. The whole time I was thinking couldn't he just have dirty hands, and how would you know either way sitting up in the booth. How crazy he would wash off his hands between innings if they were dirty. And the fact that LaRussa didn't make a deal out of it has to mean something.

At 10/24/2006 09:21:00 PM, Blogger Chris said...

Oh wow, the good ol' days of MTSU. I remember a lot of those movie review shows; we got away with a lot of crap, not that families were gathering around the warm glow of our college production lining up to be offended.

Yeah, I agree about LaRussa. He's one of those guys who would definitely raise a big stink if he thought Rogers was cheating--Rogers pitching well after the 1st certainly helped that.


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