Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Return of the Fox Follies

I watch as little baseball on Fox as possible. Listening to Joe Buck slip ever deeper into his mind-numbing monotone as Tim McCarver’s brainless banalities suck the life from everything within a fifty-foot radius like some black hole for lucid comment is too painful. They’ve become so bad I sometimes wonder if MLB keeps the Fox contract just to drive people to the and Extra Innings packages, where you can watch just about any game you want.

Last night’s All-Star game was my first tentative step in Fox’s den of baseball iniquity, and the Mid-Summer Classic found them in mid-season form. I came late, not settling into the Official Recliner of The Home Office until the top of the fourth inning, as Boston’s Adrian Gonzalez stepped in to hit. Buck droned on about how the left-handed Gonzalez shortens his stroke with two strikes and hits the ball to left. In the next breath he commented about how Gonzalez, a career .290 hitter, is hitting over .330 this year, and how it showed how much easier it was to hit with the protection of the Boston lineup around him.

Baseball analysts have studied the concept of one hitter protecting another for years. To my knowledge they have found no evidence it’s true. What Buck left out of his expert commentary was the fact that Gonzalez has moved from the worst hitter’s park in baseball (Petco Field in San Diego) into one of the best (Fenway), and that Fenway’s unique configuration makes him virtually impossible to pitch to, given the close left field wall and Gonzalez’s already described penchant for hitting the ball to left field.

That might have been enough to get me to turn off a regular season game, or at least to mute the sound on a World Series game. Given the constant line-up changes in the All-Star Game, I took my chances and left it on last night, in the masochistic hope that McCarver, the Einstein of Inanity, would say something that met his usual standard of insipidness. The Memphis Moron did not disappoint.

After a passed ball by Baltimore catcher Matt Weiters, McCarver, a former catcher himself (clearly from the days before catchers wore helmets behind the plate) excused Weiters with this: “You have to remember, catchers are more used to hitting pitchers than catching them.”

I think I know what he meant, but that’s not real close to what he said. Maybe it bothers me more than it should because I’m still in shock over the worst in-game interview in history, between Mark Grace and Justin Timberlake. (Decorum and my blood pressure prohibit exploring that topic in more detail.)

At least I won’t have to watch a Fox game until well into the playoffs. It’s a sad day for a man who grew up listening to the likes of Bob Prince and Jack Buck when Chip Caray and Joe Simpson are the announcers of choice. To paraphrase the late, great, Lewis Grizzard, Skip Caray is dead, and I don’t feel so good, either.

Beat ‘em, Bucs.

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