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.
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?
The Top Nine Most Annoying Philadelphia Sports Personalities
What is it about the number 10? I’m tired of it; it’s so predictable. So, I’m going with my Top Nine Most Annoying Philadelphia Sports Media Personalities.
#1 – Barkann, Michael. Comcast SportsNet
By acclimation, Barkann could sweep all nine spots for himself. No one in the Philadelphia sports media community is more of a huckster, so tirelessly, so aggressively, so LOUDLY in love with his own wonderfulness. Michael B. – The Barkmeister! The Barkenenema! The Barkann’t Stop Talking About Me, Mister! Look at me, look at me, oh please, please, please look at me. Love me. Love me. Love me.
#2 – Fadool, Amy. Comcast SportsNet
OK, camp tryouts are over. She did her best. Fadool tried really, really hard. But if viewers need subtitles to understand her marble-mouthed utterances, and if she mis-speaks on every single broadcast, then it’s time to go. I mean I have seen her stop in mid-sentence –more than once – to try a second time to say what she wanted to say the first time. It’s an insult to sports fans to have to wade through such annoying, incompetent work. One more note about Fadool. She needs to hire a fact checker. On the night of September 3rd, when Ryan Howard drove in his 113th run of the season, Fadool reported he had driven in his ‘112th.’ This kind of error is like a print journalist not using spell-check; there’s no excuse for getting it wrong. That’s just bad work. Fadool needs to leave the yard. She’s gotta be OUTTA HERE!!!!!!!!!
#3 – Matthews, Gary. Comcast SportsNet
How painfully bad is this dude? I’ve chronicled his awful-awful-awful work in other posts. What makes Matthews so horrible, and his horrible work so unforgiveable, is that he doesn’t improve. He wallows in the ooze of the pathetically bad, Ad infinitum. His grasp of the obvious is so strong that he chokes ‘obvious’ to death. Bring in the coroner for “The Sarge.” And, Dear Lord, he never stops talking. He goes on and on and on and on babbling about nothing, tell us nothing, making sense of nothing. And so, I am denied the pleasure of watching the Phillies broadcasts with sound for one-third of every game. I have to ‘mute’ the television for my emotional well-being. But, in the interests of making an up-to-date report, I forced myself to watch the middle-three of last night’s game against the Giants – a Phillies 1-0 victory, a gem of a game pitched by Cole Hamels.
Here are three of Matthews’ more memorably stupid, incomprehensible babblings:
1. On Ryan Howard running the bases: “He should be able to move with his feet.” I suppose moving with your elbows didn’t occur to the Sarge.
2. On the work of shortstops: “Shortstop is the busiest position. You have line drives. You have grounders. You have pop-ups.” Now that’s deep. That’s incisive commentary. That’s analysis of the highest order.
3. On Winning Road Games: “In most cases, it’s always difficult to win on the road.” Golly, I’d sure like to know those cases where it’s sometimes easy to win on the road.
Lastly, I’ve (sadly) memorized a beauty of a Raul Ibanez home run call by Matthews. It went like this: “That’ got a little more distance than it’s goin’.” Just a little more, indeed.
#4 – Gudel, Leslie. Comcast SportsNet
It would seem to me, outsider that I am, that the first rule of broadcasting is to have a pleasing voice. But our Leslie’s voice could make serene the sound of group blackboard scratching by the entire population of South Philadelphia. Turning down the volume doesn’t help, at least not much. If you simply must listen, then it’s crucial to put away your china and glassware.
#5 – Missanelli, Mike. ESPN Radio
He’s our Mikey of Eternal Anger. Missanelli must be so unhappy. Maybe his daddy was mean to him. Missanelli is a tireless bore who, by definition, is totally predictable.The only question is when he’ll get fired. The over/under is six months.
#6 – Charry, Rob. WIP Radio
I just went online to have a first look at this guy. You know how radio personalities never look like you think they will? Well, here’s a notable exception. He looks crazed and upset. Angry Rob is second only to Missanelli because he gets so much less air time. But this dude is perpetually pissed-off, and equally perpetually dull, hollow and humdrum. A nasty man.
That’s it. I’m done. I will not continue my self-flagellation with three more paragraphs. But I will honor my commitment by filling out the roster.
#7 – Kram, Mark. Philadelphia Daily News – Does this man have a pulse?
# 8 – Spadaro, Dave. Eagles Digest – His cloyingly transparent kiss-ass defense of everything Eagles, no matter how smelly rotten it is, would make syrup angry. Have you ever witnessed a more pathetic wannabe jock sniffer? Oh you have?
Well, then, that would be Mr. High School Harry, aka #9 – Clark, John. NBC10-TV
There you have it: the nine most annoying sports personalities in Philly. Bring me some Maalox. Hurry.
P.S. I know. I know. No Eskin. No Cataldi. Cataldi deserves his very own slap-him-upside-the-head page, all by himself. On the other hand, many of you love to hate Eskin. I understand. His arrogance, his condescending in your face superior mien, is hard to take. No, it’s often impossible to take. But compare him to the other radio sports talkers, and I think you must agree: no one gets more scoops, no one gets better guests, no one does better interviews, no one goes into the clubhouses and locker rooms, no one does his homework like H. Eskin. Irascible Howie delivers the goods.