Friday, May 13, 2005

Boring, Boring Off Day

Since it was an off day and I’ve heard all I need to about the Jason Giambi situation, I’m going to address an issue that’s very prevalent (in my mind): the guys calling the game from the booth.

The Dodgers get Vin Scully: we’re saddled with Michael Kay. He used to be John Sterling’s color man on the radio and he performed that role nicely. Other than his rather annoying voice (maybe I’m just saying that because I dislike him so much, but probably not) I had no real complaints, mainly because I think Sterling is magnificent (this does not, however, mean that I don’t mind Suzyn Waldman. More on her later). But then the brass at YES Network had this revelation of sorts that Kay would be a perfect fit for television play by play. I genuinely am interested in the thought process that led to this conclusion.

“All right, we have Sterling for play by play on the radio, but we need to fill the slot for television.”
“We need a guy who the fans can relate to, someone on their level.”
“The problem with commentators is they know too much about baseball. Fans don’t know anything about baseball; how are they supposed to like a guy they can’t understand?”
“Um, sir, I think fans know just a bit about baseball. I mean, they are fans, after all.”
“No, no, the fans don’t know what they know. So we need a baseball dunderhead.”
“And he’s gotta be annoying! Fans are annoying, they’ll appreciate an annoying play by play guy.”
“Hey, isn’t Sterling’s play by play guy a doofus?”
“Oh, Michael Kay? Yeah, he’s quite the dolt. And Goddamn obnoxious. He’s hired!”

Even Bobby Murcer, who doesn’t know where he is most of the time, is a better play by play man than Kay. At least Murcer doesn’t refer to the first baseman as “Constantino Martinez.” Yes, Michael, I know that it’s not a common first name, and that at some point or another we all have pondered what Tino was short for, if anything. Thank you, thank you so much for providing that answer to me – every single night. Oh, and don’t forget about extra innings, or “bonus cantos” in the Book of Kay. Someone took a Latin class in college.

But the thing about Kay that pisses me off the most is his daily complaint about the length of the game. “Barely manageable” is used to describe a three-hour game, while anything three hours and ten minutes or more becomes “unmanageable.” I’m sorry, buddy, but your job is to watch and talk about 162-plus baseball games a year. Quit yer bitchin’.

Kay does have one thing going for him, though: he’s not Suzyn Waldman. She’s not so much John Sterling’s color woman than a commercial machine. I don’t know how Sterling isn’t going insane by now. His broadcast is a three hour (if barely manageable) dialogue with himself. Occasionally she’ll throw in a tidbit here and there (usually unprompted by Sterling):

STERLING: Ball three. So after walking two straight batters, Timlin has gone 3-0 on A-Rod.
WALDMAN: He just can’t find his control.

What insight! I was wondering what was wrong with Mike Timlin out on the mound, and bam! Just like that, Suzyn Waldman provides me with an answer. Now that’s sports journalism.

I could go on about her, but it would just be page upon page of me complaining about her reading off ads every fifth pitch. And about the fact that she obviously doesn’t watch the game. Ever.

Fortunately, Suzyn’s television counterparts don’t strike a nerve in the way that she and Kay do. Jim Kaat, though obnoxious at times, knows his stuff, and is generally interesting to listen to. The same goes for Ken Singleton, and especially Paul O’Neill (who I’m biased towards since he was my favorite Yankee during the World Series era).

Nice, 650 words of pure bitching. Oh, here’s one more thing to bitch about: the Yankees have one game in the next week that starts before 9 p.m. Stupid left coast trips.