Networks smothering baseball broadcasts

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But before I get right to the point …

I have a long-distance pen pal, a veteran TV sports producer and director. We swap evidence that those now responsible for sports telecasts have abandoned their primary mission and likely will never return to a place that emphasizes common sense, especially since you can’t return to a place you’ve never been.

He sent a screen shot from last Friday’s Yankees-Red Sox game on MLB Network, along with the challenge to find the game within.

Bottom to top, one could read that the Mariners were beating the White Sox, 3-1, in the third. Then, moving up, we saw four large commercial billboards at the backstop, the kind sold at a premium as they’re designed to share your attention with the game.

Along the left side, stacked vertically, were the five previous pitches and their gauged speeds thrown to the batter, Giancarlo Stanton, by Hirokazu Sawamura, in this at bat. Thus, if we had the time or even the slightest inclination, we could read that the first pitch to Stanton was a 90 mph slider, until the list finished with a 93 mph splitter and a 2-2 count.

In the middle of the screen appeared the computer-driven, artificially added strike zone box.

Moving up and to the left, the score box told us the Red Sox led, 4-3, in the fifth, one out, runner on first and that Sawamura had thrown 14 pitches. In the upper right appeared a computerized diamond, ostensibly showing where the infielders stood.

Close game, home run-or-whiffer at bat, man on first, 2-2 pitch, live TV — and the visual prompts urged viewers to look here, there and everywhere else rather than provide the most unfettered view of the game. But that was last century.

“They’re smothering the telecast,” added Pen Pal. “Do they really think viewers are devouring this minutiae?”

Naturally, anything so conspicuously stupid would never be copied, right? Right?

In the third inning of Monday’s Angels-Yankees game on YES, a moving, color-coded graphic appeared tracking Shohei Ohtani’s 25 home runs. Red, attached to a red line that arched until it ended over a fence, was for HRs hit off four-seam fastballs; blue, attached to a blue streamer, indicated it was hit off a slider. And it didn’t end until a sixth variety of pitches, purple for HRs off curveballs. The HR streamers ended in left field, center field and right field.

You were given exactly 12 seconds, before the next pitch, to decipher this, digest it, consider it, trade it with your friends!

In saner times this could have been handled with a few words: “Ohtani’s home runs have been hit off all sorts of pitches and to all fields. He’s that good.”

But plenty more where those came from. As the Kinks sang, “Take me back to those Black Hills that I ain’t never seen.”

Goodell getting away with repeated hypocrisy

For transparent PC phoniness, there is nothing like the “woke” NFL under Roger Goodell.

Last week, after Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib, without fanfare, removed a personal burden by revealing that he’s gay, Goodell jumped in to grandstand and exploit, issuing a statement:

“The NFL family is proud of Carl for courageously sharing his truth today. Representation matters. We share his hope that someday soon statements like his will no longer be newsworthy as we march toward full equality for the LGBTQ+ community.”

Yes, as if he needed them, Nassib had Goodell’s blessings.

Thus, after claiming it’s no big deal, Goodell made it a big deal. And he wasn’t done. Now the NFL has launched a televised image campaign, seizing on Nassib’s revelation to produce a 30-second spot:

“Football is gay. Football is lesbian. Football is beautiful. Football is queer. Football is life. Football is exciting. Football is culture. Football is transgender. Football is queer. Football is heart. Football is power. Football is tough. Football is bisexual.

“Football is strong. Football is freedom. Football is American. Football is accepting. Football is everything. Football is for everyone.”

Who said otherwise?

Could this be the same Roger Goodell who appointed Jay-Z — rapper, producer and salesman of unprintably vulgar, N-wording, women-degrading and homophobic lyrics — as the NFL’s de facto “Minister of Culture”?

Of course, once Goodell knew that the media would allow him such contradictions — bogus, customer-denuding declarations that “PSLs are good investments,” the 180 he pulled on his anti-gambling testimony, from “gambling destroys families” to bet on NFL games early and often, to lascivious, highly inappropriate Super Bowl halftime shows — he must know he has a free pass.

In 1970, long before the NBA auctioned its authority to TV, the seven-game Lakers-Knicks Finals ended on May 8. It’s now July and the NBA Finals, unlike summer camp, have not yet begun. The last pre-COVID Finals, in 2019, ended June 13.

Truth sounds just Rose-y

As a radio man, Howie Rose could ignore certain truths with, as Clyde Frazier might say, impunity and immunity throughout the community. As our eyes, Rose doesn’t have to be honest about what he sees from the Mets. Yet, we’re the beneficiaries of his sense of, “To thine own self be true.”

Thus, Tuesday, after Francisco Lindor struck out on a pitch in the dirt, Rose reported that “he at least ran it out, unlike [teammate] Jeff McNeil, who didn’t run when strike three bounced away last inning.”

Rose, last week, was temporarily lost in Manfred Land when in the seventh he read a promo for a contest promising a listener a big prize if the Mets scored seven in the bottom of the seventh.

Then, realizing that this was one of those seven-inning games, he broke the sad news that scoring seven in the bottom of this seventh “is impossible.”

Paul O’Neill apparently thinks he’s expected to sell the Yankees rather than serve YES viewers, most of whom know better, as a candid observer.

Monday, the Yankees were down two runs when Giancarlo Stanton led off the ninth with a rotten at-bat, striking out on a 1-2 count with a lunging swing at a Raisel Iglesias pitch that began outside, then broke further outside. Stanton missed what appeared to be an extreme waste pitch by a foot.

It was an indefensibly undisciplined at-bat, the kind Stanton often demonstrates.

But O’Neill gave full credit to Iglesias for throwing a pitch that “just disappeared.” Stop. That was insulting, like O’Neill always blaming the umps for Yankees’ failings. Would O’Neill not scoff at such commentary?

Can’t Jacob deGrom just be who he is, stand-alone, 2021 special? These incessant comparisons to Tom Seaver, Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson grow silly. They were different animals — they were nine-inning pitchers when the illogical fear of the third time through the lineup didn’t exist and pitch counts were mostly irrelevant. DeGrom, with four complete games in eight seasons, is exempt from such comparisons.

Readers asked if Michael Kay, had he worked Sunday’s PGA playoff, would have declared “Free golf!”

Good thing the Mets, team batting average .227, came to the realization that Chili Davis was the cause of their hitting deficiencies. In May, when Davis was dumped, the Mets were batting .241.

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