Preface I haven’t posted a word in over two years. It became a second job I didn’t need. But my mind has been leaking out opinions and judgments recently and I just have to get them out of my head and into sports space.
Philadelphia Sports fans are lucky to root for our teams. Win or lose, the players and coaches are almost always worth loving or loathing. They are hardly ever dull. But those mouths that report, comment upon, broadcast or otherwise pontificate upon our teams are, mostly, world class wonderful or dumpster horrid. Let me tell you what I think.
Back in the day when the Phillies were hopelessly rotten, we’d tune in to the games just to enjoy the repartee between Harry and Whitey. Oh, how much fun they were. Listening to them made you (almost) Von Hayes, Juan Bell, or Steve Jeltz. Now that the Fightin’s have the hammer, now that the home town boys are a powerful, cohesive team, a team we can love, the broadcasting is mostly hideous. Here’s my take on those voices:
Tom McCarthy Average. Competent. But just doesn’t have the juice to make me care. He’s not quite on key. He makes occasional, silly, factual mistakes. Small errors, but mistakes unworthy of a true lead #1 announcer. For instance, he reported that Ryan Howard was “6’6″, 260 pounds.” It’s an insignificantly wrong statement, but it bothers me. Still, it’s clear he’s done his homework (as opposed to Gary Matthews who never resorts to such frivolous stuff as “facts”), but it’s hard to fall in love with him. Probably his greatest accomplishment is spoon-feeding Matthews for 3 innings every game, or for nearly 500 innings over the course of a(regular) season. “Hey Sarge,” he’ll ask, “what do you think about growing onions on your bunions?” Just listen to the difference between how McCarthy runs a game when he works with Chris Wheeler or Matthews. In the first case, he’s an announcer calling a game. in the second, he is a high paid baby sitter.
Gary Matthews Rotten. Just horrible. The most apt adjective for his painful mutterings: ponderous! His mouth was made for mute. I grudgingly admit he’s gotten better over his four years on the air. He has almost dropped his “As well’s” completely, and I’d guess his “Actually’s” have been reduced by a full 50%. But, Lordy, he remains dense. His grasp of the obvious is so obvious that he puts “obvious” in a chokehold. He belabors, no crushes, the most obvious plays or situations, just sits on top of them and destroys them with his endless, idiotic ramblings. Has Matthews ever studied his craft? The evidence is “obvious” – he has not. The fool.
WAIT! FLASH!! THIS JUST IN!!! Last night (Sat., May 7 v. Braves) Matthews proved for all time that he is the dumbest of the dumb. Here are two quotes proving my thesis beyond any Einsteinian doubt … are you ready? Here they are: “It’s no fun watching games when you’re wet. You’d rather be dry.” Oh my God, this is so unbelievable. Next: “They’ve got different sized umbrellas. Some of them are smaller than others.” Do you realize how smart this makes Yogi Berra look? Maybe we need to appoint Matthews to the post of United Nations Ambassador. He’d be our ace in the hole on the Security Council. All those wise heads would nod in unanimous agreement that no, you cannot dispute the wisdom, the insight of Ambassador Mathews.
My Name is JJ and I’m a Matthews Junkie My God, I just realized I’m a Matthews junkie. Oh, please help me. I try really really hard NOT to watch the middle three Matthews innings on TV. Every now and then my resolve weakens, and I’ll turn-on the sound. The latest bit of idiocy concerns a Matthews statement he knew to be without merit. It’s like when a little kid tells a lie. We know he’s lying. The kid even knows he’s lying. He just hopes we adults won’t notice. So get this. It’s the day game following Wilson Valdez’ et al amazing 19 inning victory. Both managers have replaced some of their everyday players for the day game. For the locals, Michael Martinez took shortstop for J-Roll. For the visiting Reds, Miguel Cairo replaced Scott (Booooo!) Rolen at third. When Tom McCarthy tossed yet another softball Matthews’ way, asking, “Sarge, how does a manager decide who to rest after such a long night game?” Well, the keenly observant Matthews reported that “Cairo replaced Rolen because Cairo’s younger.” Sure, that’s the reason. No doubt. Except that Cairo is OLDER than Rolen. What’s so sickeningly obvious is you could tell Matthews knew he was guessing. He was so clearly hoping and praying no one would notice that he was clueless. But in a way, this represents an upgrade for the Ignorant One. This time he KNEW he was full of crap. That’s a clear signal of growth, because typically, he has no idea that he’s so ridiculously, so relentlessly, stupid. HOW DOES HE KEEP HIS JOB??
Whoops – Just have to add a new one. “Reporting” on Ryan Howard swinging at bad pitches, the grand orator said, “When he learns to not swing at balls that are balls, he’ll do better.” Oh, my. Where is the Rhodes Scholar committee?
Chris Wheeler It’s well know that many folks despise him. I like him. He’s into the game and reports with insight and passion. He’s also fun. You know how very much he loves our home town boys and that makes Wheeler one of us.
Scott Franske and Larry Andersen This pair is this millennium’s Harry and Whitey. These guys know how to tell a story and how to make it entertaining at the same time. Franske’s pacing is, to me, reminiscent of Vin Skully’s. In fact, to my ears, he sounds a little like the Dodgers’ beloved broadcaster. As for L.A., there is no better wit sitting in any broadcasting booth in Philadelphia. Best of all is the genuine rapport, even affection, they share. Just listen to how they needle each other. They’re sharp and fun and should be on television. By the way, do you know why L.A. was bumped from the TV booth? I have it on good authority that he didn’t always refer to the graphics on screen. Sometimes, he’d simply ignore them. For shame, Larry. Bad Boy.
Jim Jackson No, not the splendid play-by-play Flyers announcer, but the middle three innings baseball broadcaster. He does not belong in the booth. Yes, he is a competent professional, but it’s an insult to have Jackson announcing Phillies games. He’s a carpetbagger. He’s an outsider. He’s a part-timer. He doesn’t hang with the team. He doesn’t dream, eat, or sleep Phillies baseball. How could he? He’s the Flyers play-by-play announcer. Counting pre- and post-season he broadcasts in the realm of 100 games per season. From October through most of June, he’s at his real job. Everyday. With the Flyers. That’s his gig. We trust him. He’s good at it. But put him in our radio booth and he instantly loses any credibility. When he’s got time off from hockey, here he comes to ruin the game. Oh, he is just awful. He’s even got his very own trademark home run call. I mean, wow. ” It’s outta here. Goodbye.” I have to pause now because I’m shivering with excitement. But the problem runs deeper than Jackson. It’s not his fault that was offered a second pay check. Whoever is in charge of broadcasting decisions is incompetent. Shoving the maddening mutterings of Matthews down our throats is merely bad judgment. But destroying the rhythms of Franske and Andersen is a felony offense against all of us who follow the team. I mean, here the Phils finally have a duo worthy of succeeding Harry and Whitey. Instead, they shove the banal, white bread reporting of JJ down our throats. It makes me gag. It makes me sad. In fact, it’s infuriating. Someone should be fired for that decision.
MICHAEL BARKANN I’M WRITING THIS IN A FONT CALLED, “BARKANNMEE,” WHERE EVERY WORD IS IN CAPS, BOLD AND IN CAPS, ALL THE TIME, DAY AND NIGHT, 24-7, KNOW WHAT I MEAN? THERE IS NO MODULATION IN THE BARKANN UNIVERSE, ONLY THAT SELF-PROMOTIONAL SHOUTING, THAT PERPETUAL CONCEITED LOOK-AT-ME WINK WINK AIN’T I THE GREATEST?! IN THAT GALAXY THERE IS ONLY ROOM FOR THE GLORIOUS GREATNESS THAT IS MICHAEL, MIKEY B, THE BARK, THE BROADCASTER EXTRODINAIRE: MICHAEL THE B GIVING A PERPETUAL SHOUT OUT TO HIS OWN ASTONISHING MAGNIFICENCE. HE’S MICHAEL BARKANNBARKANNBARKANN LOOK AT ME I’M MICHAEL BARKANNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!! SAY IT AGAIN: BARKANNBARKANNBARKANNNNN LOOK AT ME I’M MICHAEL BARKANNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
HEY, EVERYBODY, LOOK: YES, IT’S MICHAEL BARKANN, WHERE EVERY WORD IS EAR-BUSTING, WHERE EVERY WORD IS DESIGNED TO DESPERATELY DRAW CONTINUOUS ATTENTION TO HIS OWN WONDERDOUS WONDERIFFIC WONDERFULNESS. EVERYBODY LOOK SOME MORE. IT’S MIKEY THE B IN ALL HIS PERPETUAL GLORY. AND YO, KEEP ON LOOKING AT OUR OWN MICHAEL B EXTRAORDINAIRE, THE VOICE OF HIS OWN GRANDIOSITY, THE MAN, THE MYTH, THE LEGEND, THE STAR OF STARS. HEH HEH HEH. HEH. HEH. TWITCH. TWITCH. YAKNOWWHATIMEAN? THIS JUST IN! AIN’T I GREAT?
Amy Fadool The questions must be asked: Has Amy Fadool ever gotten through one segment of a telecast without getting lost, getting stuck, or mispronouncing a word? Has Amy Fadool ever gotten through a segment without the need of a translator, having “marble-mouthed” her way through the English language with a machete? Huh? What? Really, if you can’t get a United Nations official translator to interpret her garbled narration, you could be cruel, and hire a lip reader. Imagine the psychological damage you could do? I mean, folks, just how did Fadool get this gig? Did she win a middle-school sports readers tournament? Did she win a “cone-to-work-with your mom/dad day?” Is she Barkann’s love child? Actually, what’s unfathomable is not HOW she got the job, but how she KEEPS the job? And please, please, spare me the cutie-cuteness. Arrgh.
Lisa Hillary Finally, a substantial new reporter was recently added to the Comcast Sports crew. Lisa Hillary knows her Flyers, reports with authority and without affectation. And, not only can I actually understand her verbiage, I want to listen to her reporting. She knows her stuff.
Ron Burke I really like Ron Burke. Why isn’t he in the mix more often? Maybe he’s not cute enough? Maybe he’s not enough of a self-promoter. A lot more Burke and a lot less Barkann, Fadool, et al, would brighten the Comcast sports landscape significantly. Burke is affable, well-informd, not stuck on himself and can be relied on for solid reporting …. all with a twinkle in his eye. He doesn’t make himself the center of all things glorious and wonderful.
….. which reminds me of Barkan …. again I’ve written Barkann a number of times, telling him how his blatant self-promotion, self-pretention, self-glorification is particularly odorous, and I signed by name to each mail. Well, the GREAT BARKANN must have been particularly affected by my (witty, stinging) barbs that he Googled me, made a few unpleasant remarks in return, and wrote, “You really must like me to write so often.” I replied, “NO, Barkann, you’re the price I pay for liking Philly sports.” It’s so rewarding when your TV icons turn out to be exactly as they pretend to be on air.
John Clark – NBC10 He’s got the doofus market cornered. A rah-rah, sophomoric jock sniffer, I still grudgingly admire him because he seems to outwork every other pretty-faced TV sports announcer. He’ll stake out Philly International all day long waiting for some high profile sports figure to touch down. Still, when he reports, more than once, with a straight face that he’s learned “Placido” Polanco’s first name is actually pronounced, PLACEEEEDO, and not “PLAH-cee-doh” as is de rigueur, well, you just can’t take the boy seriously now, can you?
Howard Eskin WIP The man has lost his mojo and has been weighted-down with a weak sidekick (Ike Reese). Sadly, for me, anyway, Eskin’s become a bit of a caricature of himself. Still, I admit that in some very real ways, I admire him more than any of the sports talking head fraternity. He get’s down in the trenches. He goes into locker rooms to get the word. He seems to have great contacts in every of the major professional sports teams’ front offices; he breaks many a a story before any of his competitors. And get this: he actually goes to games, to press conferences and generally does the kind of stuff an actual reporter would do. The King is dead. Long live the King!
Marc Zumoff You do understand, don’t you, the labor Zumoff puts in thinking up his dozens of “spontaneous” sayings, and then his protracted practice in making them sound authentic in front of a mirror? Marv Albert is happy with one catch-saying,” YES!” And Dick Enberg has two, “Oh, my!” But the faux extemporaneously clever Zumoff has more than “doubled up” their paltry numbers. Zu has sayings for all occasions. He’s “turning gold into garbage” all the time. He’s taking his cleverness to “the weight room” and “lacing” three from deep. By the way, when’s the last time they made basketballs with laces? Last year he was fond of calling jams by the term, “heaving it down,” until he realized that heaves go UP not down. Maybe it’s just a case of “double vision.” Or maybe Zumoff is “just having his way” with us. Or perhaps he expects us to “pick-up the change” for him. But still, you have to say “he’s working hard for the money,” even as he “locks horns” with his listeners.
A player never scores a basket and has 17 points, no. Instead, he either “drops” or Zu will “give him 17.” And when Zumoff is on a homemade cliche roll, he is “putting the pedal to the metal.” Uh oh, wait just a minute. We can’t credit him for that one. Nope, that’s not a Zumoffism. That’s taken from the mouths of hundreds of other sportscasters. All we can do is “T him up.” And here’s the thing: the 76ers have never led a game all year. They might be ahead by 10 points, but they’re not “leading.” No, they’re “holding” 10. Imagine if they were ahead by 25 and how heavy it would be to “hold” all 25.
In the end, while Zumoff is super sharp-witted and astonishingly astute, while Zumoff is so fastidiously “busting a move,” we, the listeners, are busting our eardrums. Yesssssssssssss, oh Yessssssssssssssssss he is!!!!!
Dei Lynam and Kate Fagan The two sharpest basektball commentaors in town. Love listening to the first and love reading the second. They obviously know the game, respect the game, and can translate the game for their audience. And oh, Bob Cooney needs to sharpen-up his game. But I fear ‘ordinary’ is as high as he’ll fly. He gets out-scooped regularly by Fagan.
Anthony Gargano The loudest voice with the most blustery laugh on WIP radio. Not just loud and often obnoxious, Gargano steals the show from Glen Macnow for five hours every day. IOt should be called the Gargano show, with Glen Macnow now and then. If you’d dare to compare, just listen to the easy repartee shared between Glen and Ray Didinger on Saturdays. There is a shared broadcast, a wonderful rapport that simply swifts through the airways.
There’s a lot to like about Comcast SportsNet. Let me say thanks for Derrick Gunn. Let me say thanks for Ray Didinger. Let me say thanks for Leonard Weaver. Let me say thanks for Mitch and Rick. Let me say thanks for bringing us so many Phillies, Flyers and Sixers games. Let me say thanks for Keith Jones. Let me say thanks for Vaughn Hebron. Let me say thanks for Chris Wheeler (I hear you, boo birds. Be quiet.). And let me say thanks, and blow a kiss for all those years with our Harry the K.
Regular readers know how much I detest the Monarch, Barkann; the sophomoric, incomprehensible mumblings of Fadool; the pierce-your-ears-break-a-glass sound of Gudel’s voice. But more and more often I see graphics that misspell words or get facts wrong. I recently noted a mistaken posting of the Giants- Cowboys score on Sunday last. I also spotted the misspelling of the word Browns (“Bronws”).
But earlier today I saw two new beauties. During Andy Reid’s press conference, Comcast ran a crawl reporting that Sixers GM, Ed Stefanski had just met with Allen Iverson in Dallas. Now that’s a radical scoop (Comcast Alert! Comcast Alert!!) given it happened a mere 14 days ago. Nice work, lads. In the meantime, the mercurial DeSean Jackson is apparently in Diddy mode, changing the spelling of his name to “DeSenae.” It’s just crazy that the suits either don’t notice or don’t care that they’re presenting an inferior product, one that dwells in the sewer of laziness.
Still, my friend Mick, former number one ranked tennis star at Cheltenham High School, suggested I bag my rants and give praise where it’s due. And so I thank Comcast for what it does well. It’s noted and appreciated. But, at the same time, there’s more work to do to give sports fans a better product.
Comcast Sports Nuts; The Daily News Needs To Be Better; Amy Fadool’s Foolish “Mikey-Mikey;” and Other Silly Stuff
Barkann, Oh Barkann
Regular readers are well aware of how much I loathe and despise the self-promoting, self-aggrandizing, self-obsessed, me, ME, MEEEE, Michael Barkann, the Monarch of Me. Lately, however, I’ve tried to take a more distanced view of this pathetic, egomaniacal man. And, voila!, suddenly it’s all clear. Barkann is afflicted. He can’t help himself. He doesn’t even know what he’s doing. His “act” is so deeply ingrained, it’s taken root and has a life of its own. So, on goes Barkann, on goes Barkann, on goes Barkann. Hotter than hot, Barkann is nature’s revenge for global warming.
Comcast Sports Net Telecasts
There’s a lot of sloppiness going on and going on often. It’s become predictable. I haven’t made notes, but errors in their graphics have become endemic. Last Sunday, well after all day games were done, they listed the Giants’ record at “6-5,” when every Eagles fan new the Giants had beaten the Cowboys and were 7 -5. All the other channels had the record right. Another curious problem is the frequent spelling errors. For example, the Cleveland Browns were labelled the “Bronws.” Charming work behind the scenes.
Most of us know that Fadool won the “camper competition” to pretend to be a real-life sportscaster, despite her sad infirmities, namely marble-mush mouth, and problems speaking simple sentences. We all know the many times she’s mangled words or simply had to stop and hit the re-start button. Seriously, Fadool has had to stop speaking many times, going back to the beginning to try, try again. Is no one at Comcast embarrassed??
But now, Fadool has reached a record high for low dudgeon. On a recent toss-over from the Monarch, Barkann, Fadool twice referred to him as “Mikey.” That’s right a double Mikey. Mikey. Mikey. How humiliating. Do I have to even add, “unprofessional?” Since it’s the end of the school term, Fadool gets a grade duplicating the first initial of her last name, namely, an “F.” It’s time for remedial, Amy.
The Daily News Sportswriters’, well, Crutch
Here’s a copy of an email I sent to Josh Barnett, DN’s Sports Editor, earlier this week. Naturally, I didn’t get a reply. I have noticed, however, that ensuing articles have dropped the, well, offending well’s.
Dear Josh Barnett,
I don’t know the grammatical term for, well, using the word, ”well,” as a modifier, but I recognize a crutch when I see one. Are your writers under orders to, well, use the word ‘well’? If so, they are doing damned well.
In today’s paper, Paul Hagen goes for a “well” in para 8: “This is odd on a couple of levels. One is that, well, that’s not usually how they conduct themselves.” Also in today’s paper, now that you’ve brought Bob Cooney into the starting rotation, he got in his own well in the first paragraph. Good on ya, Bob. “It was a setting that hasn’t been present at the Wachovia Center since, well, since Iverson was there before.
Sam Donnelon is a more frequent well flyer. But the past and present (and probable future) King of Wells, is, well, Mr.R. Hofmann. Hoffy is hitting about .333 in his weekly columns, good for a ball player, but, well, below the Mendoza line for a sports writer.
I’m having a little fun with you, but really, it’s epidemic and annoying. I’ve thought that the Daily News sports pages have been living off their reputations, well, for several years. Certainly, putting an embargo on all well’s for the foreseeable future would, well, be appreciated.
A Phantom, Real Life, Let’s Pretend Interview with Chase Utley or An Ode to Utley or Ima Love da UT!
This is a transcript of a real life, not really, I’m pretending, but coulda been true, interview with Chase Utley. The interviewer writes a blog named, “PhillyMediaSports”, and is known far but not so wide as “JJ.”
JJ – Tell me, Chase, about the amazing four home run game you just had.
CU – I’d like to thank the Marucci Bat Company for the work they did in making the bats to specifications. Without them, it wouldn’t have been possible.
JJ – Yeah, but Chase, you’re the one that hit the ball.
CU – That’s something that came about because of the great job our BP pitcher did today. He was grooving nothing but strikes.
JJ – Seriously, aren’t you gonna take credit for this amazing accomplishment?
CU – It’s a team game, and with Ryan Howard hitting behind me in the clean up spot, it makes the pitchers throw more fastballs to whoever is hitting ahead of him.
JJ – Well, Chase, all four homers landed in exactly the same section in the right field bleachers. You must have been totally locked-in.
CU – I have to thank Milt and Chuck for all the help they give me.
JJ – Let’s switch to another topic. You recently had a few games where you made some bad throws. Some people thought you were about to get “Steve Sax Disease,” but you seem to be on target now.
CU – I don’t think I ever had any problem throwing the ball, but if I had, Sam Perlozzo would have done a fine job helping me out.
JJ – You’ve put together some amazing numbers, and if you continue at the present pace, you could wind up in the Hall of Fame.
CU – That’s something I don’t think about. We’re just playing one game at a time and trying our best to win every day.
JJ – But surely you’re aware of the incredible success you’ve had.
CU – We are only interested in team success and in winning ball games. As long as Jimmy and Shane keep getting on base, RBI opportunities are gonna be there for Ryan, Jayson and Raul. I just do my best to try to contribute.
JJ – Well, Chase, thanks so much for taking time to give me this interview. It was a pleasure.
CU – Oh, don’t thank me. You’re the one who came up with the questions.
JJ – How true. I was terrific.
(more to follow)
We love our Fightin’ Phils. But here we are in November, with Christmas wrapping paper and candy canes already in stores, and we’re not quite ready to wrap up the season. No, not yet, not for two more games, both ending in “W’s.” But, there’s still plenty of annoying stuff going on.
One Vulgar New Yorker
Unlike many locals, I harbor no particular disgust for New York fandom. Ok, I lied, I despise them just like all of us.
During Game 3 of the World Series, I had great seats, six rows behind the Homie’s dugout. And it was great fun for three innings as the boyz led and Cole Hamels was in control. But then, calamity struck, the Yankees pulled ahead, and all the fun was sucked out of the ball yard.
At the exact time that the Yankees took the lead, I became aware of a horrible-sounding voice behind me. I turned around and saw what I can only describe as a truly ugly man wearing a faded blue ball cap, with white “NY” emnbroidered on it, shouting profanities in the general direction of the Phils dugout, and yucking it up.
Where did he come from? He hadn’t been there before. He was the living, breathing caricature of the prototypical New York fan. Obnoxious with a capital “O.” He was full of himself, loud and vulgar, and was rubbing the Yankees sudden success in our faces. I took it for awhile, but when he began making cell phone calls, bragging that he had “snuck into an empty seat in row 7,” I flipped. I jumped from my seat, found an usher, reported the dude, and within minutes, whimpering like a girlie man, he was removed from the district. See ya,twerp. Buh-bye.
Championship Team, Expansion Team Cheerleading
It all started, I think, with the founding of the American Football League. When the league was formed and had second rate players and third rate stadiums, they introduced the clarion”Charge” call, to alert the unknowing local yokels of when to cheer. Fifty years later, the poison has spread throughout sportsdom like swine flu. Now, scoreboard operators and their staffs have become glorified, cheerleading DJ’s. Where I find this most objectionable is when they find the fans too dumb, or apathetic, at least, to know when to cheer. Scoreboards light up with instructions to “Get Loud,” or “Make Noise.”
It’s the kind of thing you’d expect to find in an expansion town, or at the least, San Diego, but certainly not on the east coast. That’s why I was horrified to see the Citizen’s Bank scoreboard explode with directions to GET LOUD, and to MAKE NOISE at Game 3 of the Series. All the theatrics of modern faux extravaganza’s came into play: flashing lights, changing colors, exploding stars, all urging us, the ignorant masses, to cheer – as if we were too dumb to know, or maybe too passive to care. Insulting, unnecsssary, putrid theatrics, and at the core, disrespectful of the gathered faithful.
I only want two things from scoreboards: easily accessible, useful information, and as many replays as possible. Oh, a third desire is to be entertained before the game with highlight packages and mini-documentaries of great Phillies accomplishments.
Instead, what we get in Philly is a scoreboard whose graphics are poorly designed and inaccessible at a glance. It’s busy, confusing and disconcerting. Where is the pitch count? Oh, now I see it, over there. Where are balls and strikes? Uh oh, no time to look the ball’s in play. There are a lot of lousy graphic designers out there in the world who have no sense of order or proportion, and apparently we’ve got a contingent of them at the Bank.
One More Thing
A lot of fans got to the ball park early. I was with a huge crowd waiting for the gates to open at 5:05 P.M. on Saturday afternoon. For the next two hours, the Phillies Jumbotron featured a swirling mess of incomprehensible activity which, after intense scrutiny, could be deciphered as a kind of space station featuring moving Phillies and Yankees logos. Around and around they moved, over and over again, ad nauseum. I’ve posted a picture. Take a look.
WIP’s Howard Eskin and Ike Reese Show
This is painful. It is not going to last. We were told that Eskin’s ratings had dropped and that he’d need to have a sidekick to bolster his afternoon drive-time standing. And so Reese won the prize. To my way of thinking this was no prize, it was a demotion. After all, Reese had his own show at 7P.M.
So what have we now? A mismatch of sub-epic proportions. Eskin completely dominates Reese making Reese an afterthought to the proceedings. Eskin is all too obvious in his contempt for the situation and, instead of inviting Reese’s participation, ices him out. Reese tries and tries to jump in, kind of like Celine Dion trying to upstage Aretha Franklin, but guess what? It ain’t gonna happen. Not now, not later, not ever.
And worse, in a vainglorious attempt to get his foot in the door of Eskin’s superiority, Reese has rendered himself an idiot. Yesterday, he aimed his full quiver of arrows at Jimmy Rollins, condemning Rollins at length for his poor performance. It was small minded, self aggrandizing, and a pathetic effort to find footing on Eskin’s stage. It was a hollow attempt and it failed. It made Reese all the smaller.
Eskin obviously resents the situation. He sees Reese as an intruder and because of this, Eskin will torpedo the show. This show will not survive. Something must change. But Eskin is too smart and too clever to go down with the ship. I’m betting Eskin has his agent out there right now, scouring TV and radio stations, for a new gig. He surely knows his show is going down and he is going to bail as soon as he can. Vai Sikehema, watch your back.
Yesterday, on Daily News Live, Sam Donnellon, sports writer and bronze tongued orator, had a heh-heh moment at Charlie Manual’s expense. Are you as sick as I am of these no-longer-ink-stained denizens who still find it amusing to chop down ol’ Chuck for being so “stupid” and “dumb”? Isn’t it time to put that crap aside? Manuel has proved to be among the best, if not the very best, manager or coach this city has seen in decades, or perhaps, forever. Chuck rules and we all know it.
We also know that tortured syntax has no correlation to smarts. If that were true, Donnellon’s stuttering, stammering, faltering half sentences would mark him as semi-literate, hardly qualifying him for his position as a columnist for a big city paper.
Just for the record, Donnellon remarked (something like), if you listen to Charlie long enough, you’ll eventually get a gold nugget. The implication, of course, is that Charlie ain’t too smart. Just another low blow by a would-be high-brow local sports writer. Stuff it, Sammy.
Did you see this week’s Sports Illustrated piece on Raul Ibanez? Seems he has a tear in his abdomen. I wonder how he can play through the pain? I wonder even more why our hometown Knights of the Keyboards (Ted Williams’ famous derogatory slur aimed at Boston’s beat writers) couldn’t uncover this information? The gulf between Ibanez’ pre and post injury production is obvious and we all figured something was wrong, but who really knew? No one told us. This isn’t just a lapse in coverage, this isn’t just a blunder, mistake or omission, this is a major failure to uncover critical information that even a grade B group of writers should have reported. This casts serious doubt on the quality of sports reporting in our town. Apparently, we have a championship baseball team and a bush league group of sportswriters. Bad work, boyz, bad work.
Matthews and McCarthy: The M ‘n M Boys – Candy Coated Nuts; Michael Barkann, Prince of Snides; Closing the Spectrum; Phillies Telecasts; Comcast Sports Net Lets; and a Plethora of Other Sinister Observations
A RECAP OF THE 2009 PHILLIES REGULAR TV SEASON … AND OTHER STUFF OF DUBIOUS IMPORT
MICHAEL BARKANN – A SAD, PATHETIC, LITTLE MAN
I’ve written before about the Great Michael Barkann, a legend in his own spleen. There are some further comments about His Greatness lower down in this blog. But I’m compelled to insert a few more words about this meatball right now, right at the top.
The Phillies just lost Game 2 of the NCLS playoffs to the Dodgers, a painful loss, primarily because of Chase Utley’s throwing error, his second such error in two nights. Now I ask you, is there any more stalwart athlete than Chase Utley? His work ethic has become legend, and his contributions to the grand awakening of Phillies baseball is well-documented and equally well celebrated. And rightly so. As our beloved Harry Kalas once exclaimed, “Chase Utley, you are the man!” Is there anyone out there who doesn’t believe that? Chase Utley, as much or more than any Philadelphia professional athlete, deserves our admiration and respect. But apparently not when the Great Barkann can score a few smarmy points off of Utley’s misfortune.
Here’s why I’m so agitated. Because the smug, self-satisfied, self-aggrandizing King Barkann took the lowest, most repulsive cheap shot during “Post Game Live” just minutes ago. After all of King Barkann’s hand-wringing about this terrible turn of events, after all his orgasmic oratory about whether or not Utley had “Steve Sax” disease (Sax, a second baseman for the Dodgers in the 1980s, developed a throwing hitch where he couldn’t accurately toss the ball from second to first base.), Barkann took a cheap shot that makes sleaze look like a prom dress on the most beautiful girl at the ball. During a replay of a routine ground ball to second, which Utley handled in the most ordinary way, throwing out the runner at first, Barkann the Great, with his typical sleazy smirk, exclaimed, scornfully,” Nice throw, Chase!” What a jerk, this Barkann, what a slanderer. Anything to promote yourself, eh Mikey boy. I think I need a Bark-enema, and a long shower.
THE PLAYOFFS: WE’RE BEING CHEATED
No, I’m not talking about our wondrous Fightin’s. And no, I’m not talking about games that are played in 28º Siberian weather, and that last until 2 in the A.M. And no, I’m not talking about announcers who are clueless and boring and who have no rapport with one another. And no, I’m not talking about umpire ineptitude. And no, I’m not talking about the extra commercials squeezed in that delay play. And still, no, I’m not talking about the TBS “Pitch Trax” that pretty much overwhelms the picture, in both size and in the massive, hideous, filled-in-with-red rectangle of the strike zone. What I AM talking about is how the pageantry of these games is sliced, scalpel-like, from our sight. How we’re denied the pleasure of seeing all wonderful fuss that attends these very special moments in our lives. It’s obscene and intolerable and someone should damn well do something to fix it.
Do we not all love the ceremonial first pitch? Who, I wonder, will throw out that first ball? And will that person throw like a ball player or shot put it up there like a paddy cake? And I want to see the player intros. I want to see them high five each other. I want to see who tips their caps. I want to see who writes messages on their hands. I want to see who pantomime’s a “Hi, Mom.” I want to know who sings the National Anthem. I want to see how they are dressed. And most of all, I want to see how they mangle the song. And I want to see Stealth Bombers flying overhead in formation. And I want to see the starting team run out onto the field. And I want to hear the sound of the crowd erupting with cheers for the home side.
But we’re denied that. We are denied the pomp and circumstance that helps make playoff baseball so special. For that, I will not forgive Bud Selig and the denizen team owners. Let them mess with game time, let them make the game absurd by playing in hurricanes, bitter cold, and snow. Let them have their dozens of extra commercials. Let them do whatever they want to us. But do not let them destroy the unique pleasure that the spectacle of playoff baseball promises, and used to deliver.
THANK YOU PHILLIES
It’s the eve of Game 1 of the NCLS, and I want to express my joy for this team: their talent, their guts, their character. The biggest surprise? Ruben Amaro’s incandescent, persistent excellence. Within hours of taking over as GM, he had to make so many crucial decisions, decisions piled up on one another, decisions that couldn’t wait, decisions that had to be right, with just that first chance to get them right. And that’s what he did, right down to getting Cliff Lee and the surprising Ben Francisco. He had the courage to take icon Jamie Moyer out of the rotation and the foresight to check out and sign Pedro (The Master) Martinez. Amaro was shrewd and strong and practically flawless. And then there’s Charlie. When have so many Phillies fans been so wrong for so long about one man? Charlie has done the job at least as well as each of us fans could have, and probably just a bit better! Chuck is our very own Casey Stengel.
McCarthy & Matthews: The M ‘n M Boyz – Candy Coated Nuts
Tom McCarthy’s announcing doesn’t make me want to puke, but it sure does make my stomach queasy. Here’s what bothers me:
1. His incessant talking. He never seems to pause to let the game speak for itself. He never lets the game breathe. In fact, I’ve checked: McCarthy talks more (much more) than the very excellent Scott Franske, Phillies radio announcer. Our Tom likes to keep the volume turned way up. BLAHBLAHBLAHBLAH.
2. Worse, all that talking is at a relentlessly high decibel level. The activity McCarthy describes doesn’t seem to matter. Whether it’s a promo or a homer, everything Tom says is LOUUUUD.
3. T-Mac has lapsed into (unknowingly, one prays) parodying Bob Uecker’s parody in the movie, “Major League.” A parody of a parody. Is that a parody, squared? Remember when Uecker’s character, the announcer Harry Doyle, exclaims, after a wild pitch, ”Jusssssst a bit outside?” Well, McCarthy has gotten into that ‘jusssssst’ mode and it’s infuriating. What’s so dismal is that the Uecker character knows he’s playing burlesque with his reporting; Tom doesn’t.
4. Misstatements. McCarthy miss-reports game action often enough to make it both noticeable and annoying. It raises questions about his competence. He doesn’t seem to realize that we’re watching, too. This is not radio, Tommy boy. We can actually see what’s taking place. Here are a few examples, examples where I cannot document exact games or innings, but I assure you the information is accurate.
“Raul slides home ” – No, it was Carlos Ruiz. ”Rollins steals home” – No, it was Chase Utley. Maybe it’s the “home” part that’s so confusing.
The biggest and most unforgiveable screw-up happed early in the season when Brad Lidge came in to try for a save. McCarthy reported that in 2008, Lidge had saved 47 consecutive games. Every single Phillies fan among us knows the number was a perfectly round 48.That is an error that should have caused a bench-clearing brawl in the control booth. I never heard a correction.
And then there are the more common screw-ups, like long fly balls caught on the infield grass, or long runs for balls outfielders just moseyed under, etc. I don’t ask for perfection, but when you get in wrong, and you know it’s wrong, the call should be immediately corrected. Apparently, Tom is unaware of this.
5. I’ve saved the worst for last. Yes, I refer here to the odious McCarthy cackle. The McCarthy guffaw. The McCarthy knee-slapping-get-red-in-the-face chortle. Those loud laughs are jarring. They are completely disproportionate to the stimulant preceding it. Back in the day, we’d call that being “simple,” as in idiot or fool. Whatever you call it, it makes T-Mac seem the buffoon. And yes, it draws attention away from the game.
Put Out an APB (Awful, Puerile Babbling) for Gary Matthew
Oh, don’t you worry, I know I stole Matthews’ “S.” In fact, this is the last time I’ll ever use the “S” in Matthews. Why, you ask? Because he doesn’t seem to know there’s an “S” at the end of Hamels. Apparently, Matthew has not been told that Cole’s name ends in Hamels, with an “S.” So, if Cole ain’t getting his “S”, then neither is Matthew. No “S” for you!!!!
While we’re on the topic of names, Matthew must be the only hard-core Phillies supporter who doesn’t know that JA Happ is not known as JAY AY, but Jay. The downside to every grand Happ pitching performance is the Matthew post-game interview. “Tell me, JAY AY, what pitches did you have working tonight?” JAY AY, as if.
The thing with Matthew is that he begins talking without knowing where he’s going. His brain needs a roadmap. He grasps the obvious with such clench fists that he chokes obvious to death. (RIP, obvious.) More, he feels compelled to speak after nearly every pitch. He fills the air with babble. The result of all this is a world-class incoherence that is as painful to listen to as it is insulting to viewers. He infects telecasts with nonsense and takes away from the pleasure of watching our boys achieve such wonderful results.
What’s notable here is that Matthew is not stupid, but he IS an ignorant man. There is a significant difference between stupid and ignorant. Stupid is a condition; ignorant is a choice. That Matthew has not noticeably improved in three years’ work only confirms that he is lazy, has no pride in his work and is, indeed, ignorant.
Here are a few “best of” Matthew moments, or “worst of,’ depending on which more accurately describes the Matthewian incompetence. Let’s call them “The Great Eight.”
1. Attempting to analyze a long home run by Raul Ibanez: That’s got a little more distance than it’s goin’.
2. Clarifying pitcher’s exploits as hitters: Pitchers are not actually known for being really great hitters.
3. Explaining the meaning of a “cut fastball”: You cut that ball so you can cut it.
4. On winning: The more games you win, the better.
5. On choking up on the bat: That ball is off the end of the bat by his hands there.
6. Describing Ryan Howard running the bases: He should be able to move with his feet.
7. On playing shortstop: Shortstop is the busiest position. You have line drives. You have grounders. You have pop-ups.
8. On winning road games: In most cases, it’s always difficult to win on the road.
Because he has indelibly proven that he’s an incompetent ignoramus, by the powers invested in me by the blog universe, I herewith proclaim, aver, and attest that from henceforth and until further notice, Matthew is reduced in rank from The Sarge to buck private.
Who is to Blame for the Dreadful M ‘n M Duo? It’s either Mark DiNardo or Rob Brooks or Both
DiNardo is the Director of Broadcasting and Video services, and Brooks is the Manager, Broadcasting. Without knowing who’s exactly responsible for what, I blame them both for the horrible decisions made on Phillies telecasts for the past four years. However, my suspicion is that Brooks was demoted from Director to Manager at some point during this season. But I don’t know and haven’t asked.
It started with the vanilla man, Scott Graham. Graham made a grand slam, game winning, walk-off home run sound tepid. That is no easy task. Graham was sent packing after one dismal season.
Then Gary Matthew was hired. During that first year, these two denizens of broadcast brilliance devised a three-man booth. They married Harry Kalas, Chris Wheeler, and Matthew into one awful trio. Even worse, when Harry took his middle-three innings “vacation,” Wheeler stepped out of his analyst’s role and did play-by-play. It was clumsy and confusing. But it somehow got worse.
Last year, Tom McCarthy was hired. Our supervisory genius’s learned their lesson and did away with the three men in a booth idea. But still, they were determined to reinvent baseball telecasts. So what did they do? They went with a four-man rotation, a quartet of combinations joined together at odd intervals. What a mess. There was no rhythm to the reporting of the games. It was chaos. Here’s what the genius’s did” They had Harry and Wheels do innings one and two. Harry and Matthew did inning three. McCarthy and Matthew did innings four and five. McCarthy and Wheels did inning six. And Harry and Wheels were, at last, reunited for the final three innings. So there you have it: One game, three announcers, and five combinations. How do you get continuity to announcing with that? How do you get coherence? You don’t. You get chaos. The chaos of incompetence or of overblown ego, or both. I think both.
During the season just completed, with the tragic and deeply sad passing of Harry, McCarthy was forced into being lead announcer for all nine innings. Wheeler got innings one through three, and six through nine, with Matthew sandwich in the middle. I have no further comment on that.
But what I most certainly do have a comment on is the necessity – the critical necessity – of finding a lead announcer to replace Harry. McCarthy can have the middle three innings, but under no conditions, NONE – should he be allowed to resurrect his “roving-in-between-pitches” diverting interruptions to the game. Those painful, boring, everlasting intrusions must not be permitted to sully the telecasts again. So, DiNardo, so, Brooks, so, Dave Montgomery, please get the job done right.
My Own Personal Closing the SPECTRUM Celebration
In a new twist to acknowledge the closing of the Spectrum, I have been honored to be the first private citizen asked to organize a closing celebration, the 483rd in the last 5 months. Please mark your calendars for Mischief Night, Friday, October 30th. You are all cordially invited to join me in the back of the Rite Aid parking lot, South Broad Street, at two minutes before midnight. There will be free swine flu shots for the first 13 arrivals.
THE DARING, THE DASHING, THE CUTIE PIES AT WIP
I listen a lot to the boyz at WIP — in short bursts. I mean I’m a Philly sports fan so I can’t help it. Even 12 step programs haven’t cured me, so I guess I’ll have to admit I’m an addict. Hello, my name is JJ, and I’m a WIP sports addict.
But amid all the station’s hype and self-promotion, there’s some good stuff. For me, the best work is done by Glen Macnow and Ray Didinger talking Eagles on Saturday’s. Not only is Ray the best of the best at talking Birds football, but the synergy between Mac and Diddy is a joy to listen to. Their rapport is as important to me as the information and opinions they dispense. Good stuff.
The same isn’t true for Mac and Anthony Gargano. My perception is that Gargano is a loud mouth who often speaks over Glen and their guests. It’s not uncommon for Gargano to ruin an interview by stepping on an “interviewee’s” answer. Inevitably, the thread of the answer evanesces and the juice of the topic is lost.
However, what I’m writing about now is a ‘remote” broadcast Macnow and Gargano did right after the Phillies clinched the Division. I believe it was in the courtyard at One LIberty Place. Apparently the event was well attended. Well into the broadcast, Glen announced they’d be receiving calls from Charlie Manuel and Cole Hamels. From the first words, it was clear to me that it was the once-funny Joe Conklin on the phone. The hosts played it straight, and never told the fans it was a put-on. That put me off. It’s demeaning to the audience. It’s downright devious. It upset me especially because Conklin did his (yawn) same old-same old impersonations, where Charlie is a dummy and Cole is effeminate. Both portrayals, playing to the most obvious kind of crap, upsets me. Not only is it demeaning, it’s old and tired it’s and not close to funny. Conklin’s been milking the same herd of cows forever. It’s time he moved on. Maybe to Kensington with Chip “Grab-ass” Snapper.
Comcast Sports Net TV “Personalities” and the First Annual Worst Sports Reader of the Year Award
Mistake prone Amy Fadool is the landslide winner. Congrats, Amy!
Comcast Sports Net apparently had a TV sports reader competition in area high schools, which must be where Fadool was discovered. In all fairness, Fadool only makes three mistakes. She is quite consistent in those errors and can be depended upon to produce them in every appearance. There’s something to be said for reliability. Here they are:
1. Marble Mouthed Delivery. I feel like I need a United Nations translator to decipher much (mush) of what she’s saying. Or if not a translator, then subtitles, in English, preferably. Fadool apparently prides herself in fast-talking, which is fine by me. But really, she should slow down and practice enunciation: eee-nun-ceeee-aaay-shun. That would surely increase the probability of communicating something decipherable.
2. Start Over’s. Unfortunately, television readers are not playing casual golf where Mulligan’s are given. In the TV biz, you’re supposed to be able to read without stumbling. I have never seen a Fadool broadcast where she hasn’t stumbled, stammered and badly failed to read her lines, and as a result, has had to go back, and do a “do-over.” It’s so painful, disconcerting, and yes, aggravating to watch. You would think someone at Comcast would notice, and maybe even take her off the air for a while so she can practice. Apparently, she has that Iverson attitude toward practice.
3. Copy. Fadool’s copy is so cliché driven that even the words and phrases themselves object. I believe the FCC actually has an edict, which permits only 100 platitudes per 30 minute telecast. Fadool appears to regularly destroy that number.
You tried hard, Amy, but tryouts are over. In the words of “The Donald”, Yer Fired.
Having assaulted Fadool (fairly, I believe), I want to hand out some kudos’s to Derrick Gunn. He’s the top of the tops. His Eagles player interviews are splendid. He asks good questions, he asks tough questions, questions which are not always easily asked, and he will follow-up when he’s not satisfied that he got a straight answer. At the same time, he’s engaging, smart and informative. The player’s obviously respect him and know that Gunn’s respect always accompanies even the toughest questions. Bravo Gunner.
For my money, Burke is the most underrated Comcast reporter. He’s smooth and calm and often understated. (The anti-Barkann.) That doesn’t mean he’s boring. No, he is right on top of things, and gives full, reliable and meaningful reports. He wears well.
DID I SAY BARKANNNNN? OH YES, I DID INDEED SAY BARKANNNNN. WHY? BECAUSE I CAN’T GET ENOUGH BARKANNNNN, JUST LIKE BARKANNNNN CAN’T GET ENOUGH BARKANNNNN. I’VE GOT BARKANNNNNNMANIA. TOO MUCH BARKANNNNN IS NEVER ENOUGH BARKANNNNN. YA KNOW WHAT I MEAN? TWITCH. TWITCH. SMIRK. SMIRK. HEY MIKEY BEE, YOU’RE THE BEST, JUST ASK YOURSELF.
JOE TORRE – JUST WONDERING
Ever notice Joe Torre wears a watch during games? Ever notice his back right pocket droops down thanks to the weight of an overstuffed wallet? Hey, managers are field personnel, so I recommend that Torre leave his personal effects in the locker room, just like everyone else in the dugout and on the field. It just doesn’t look very sporty.
Where have you gone, Ed Moran?
I went to Modell’s this morning to buy the Phillies Division Championship hat, which, by the way, is quite coolio. While I was waiting to pay, I saw three Phillies jerseys for sale on the wall behind the cashier: Ibanez, Lidge and Werth. The Ibanez and Werth jerseys were full price. However, there were multiple yellow tags adorning the Lidge jersey, which, upon closer review, indicated it was available at 50% off.
That 50% off price is actually a fine bargain. Consider that Lidge has blown 11 out of 42 save opportunities so far in the 2009 season. That’s a blown save rate of 26%. So, when you figure that his shirt sells for 50% off, that’s an almost double savings compared with his blown save ratio. Just another example of Modell’s watching out for the fan.
We Fightins’ fans exhaled last night when Ryan Madson sent Hunter Pence back into the night with a 97 mph heater. The Home Boyz need one more game to clinch their 3rd straight Division title. In a way, I’m happy the slogging has been so tough; it makes the winning all the more tasty.
Because of the importance of the games, I’ve broken a personal rule and kept the TV sound ON during the middle three innings. That, of course, produces intestinal gas due to the verbal gas that the windbag dolt Matthews discharges with his stupid soliloquies. Last night, during Jason Werth’s 5th inning at bat, the dolt Matthews belabored the point that Jason bails a bit when he faces a right handed pitcher. Well, as it happensWerth was facing a right handed pitcher, Wesley Wright, and as Matthews babbled, Werth smashed his 35th home run of the season – and 95th rbi – into the right center field stands. Rather than celebrating the home run – a critical home run that gave the homies some cushion – the dolt Matthews continued to point out Werth’s imperfection.
So, research junkie that I am, I looked up the dolt Matthews’ stats and found the following. Only 3 times did the dolt Matthews hit as many as 20 home runs, topping out at 27 in 1979. He managed as many as 90 rbis only once. Hmmn, let me think about this: the dolt Matthews unrelentingly criticizes a man who has hit 8 home runs more than he ever did and who has driven in 5 more runs than he ever did. And that’s with 5 games still remaining to be played this season.
I guess the game has gotten easier for the dolt Matthews. Or maybe he’s just an incoherent, ignorant ignoramus.