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?
Huge numbers of Phillies fans are packing the Bank, the club’s in first place, and still, I think of the Phillies as losers. Here’s a short list of losers at the helm, and I don’t mean Wes.
Dave Montgomery, CEO – I’m sure that Dave wants to win a World Series. I’m sure he feels it would be really, really nice. I think winning a World series would make Dave very happy. He would like that. Yes, he would. But I think most of us agree that with Dave, there is no URGENCY to win. It’s just so “pleasant” to be competitive, draw those huge crowds, play nine at the country club, and drink martini’s with the boys. But my God, wouldn’t we love an all-out-do everything-to-win-right-now CEO? Don’t we deserve one? Sadly, we can only conclude two things about our Dave: 1. He doesn’t have the guts to take the risks required to win. 2. He doesn’t have the smarts to win. Either gutless or incompetent. Or both. Nice.
And one more thing: this is not a young team. Their all-star trio is hovering at the tip of old baseball age. Certainly, potential for top production years is dwindling. Chase Utley will be 30 this year. Jimmy Rollins will be 30 this year. And next year, Ryan Howard will be 30. Plus, Pat Burrell, turns 32 this year, and may soon turn away from the Phillies to test free agency. No, this is not a team with a lot of time to get it done. Hey Dave, boooooooo.
Ruben Amaro, Jr., Assistant GM – Oh, this guy thinks he’s so smooth. But really, he’s transparently counterfeit. What a phony. Whenever I listen to him, I feel like I’m being “had.” He always seems to be trying sell us a used car (without an engine). I’ll bet you tons of Euros that the next time you hear Amaro interviewed, he will say three things: 1. Frankly. 2. The fact of the matter is. 3. We didn’t get to the finish line. Well, Rube, frankly, the fact of the matter is you’ve never gotten your club to the finish line. Amaro, to me, is condescending and smarmy. And utterly predictable. But he’s the prince to the G.M. throne. Bill Conlin calls him, “Gilbuckle.” I’m not sure, but I don’t that that’s a compliment. Ah well, just another UPenn boy at the gates.
Gary Matthews, an Ignorant Man. For quite some time, I thought Gary Matthews was simply stupid. But he’s not. What he is is ignorant. Stupidity you’re born with. Ignorance is a condition, a choice. As hideous as his work is, it’s obvious this guy has no interest in getting better. He obviously has never put in the time the study to improve. He makes the same mistakes over and over. He has so much room to improve you’d think it would be easy to get better. But he is quite comfortable with his gig, happy to take his money and go home. Oh, how I wish he would go home.
Tom McCarthy, a Flatulent Man. Does he never shut up? Does he think he’s on radio? McCarthy talks-talks-talks, blah-blah-blah,and is so impressed with himself. Let the game breathe, McCarthy. And while we’re at it, his in-game interruptions remain gaseous, full of hot air. A good plan might be to have “T-Mac” go to his typically far-away broadcast location, have his picture taken, not say a word, and then go back to where he started. That would serve everyone’s interests so well. Tom could be on-camera lot and lots, and we fans wouldn’t have to suffer his vacuous disruptions.
Alert! Alert!! This just in: Our dear, dear Tommy has enlightened us again. During the second inning of tonight’s Phils-Cards game (Friday, August 1st), ol’ Tom has scooped the competition. He talked about “walking around Busch Stadium and I saw lots of Cardinals fans.” Wow, really. How perfectly fascinating. Cardinals fans at a Cardinals game. Good work there, Tom.
TV Games – Television coverage of the Phillies games continues to be mottled. Most annoying, as ever, is their inconsistency with posting pitch speed. One inning, it’s shown, the next not. One pitch it’s shown, the next, not. That is so bush league. It’s so astoundingly inept.
There’s more. Do readers recall the disputed home run Ryan Howard hit weeks ago? At first it was ruled a ground-rule double, then the call was changed to a home run. I still haven’t seen a picture of Howard crossing the plate. Take a bow in the truck, boys.
While I’m at it, how about those incessant, unrelenting cutaways showing us silly shots of fans in the stands. Who cares? I want to see the players. The whole idea of showing fans cheering dates back to the first days of sports television – to show viewers the action was “live.” But now those shots come at us in oceanic waves. It’s so boring. Tedious, really.
Rob Brooks Must Be Fired Now! Bet you thought I’d forgotten. Brooks, the Phils director of broadcasting, is the man responsible for hiring the hideous Matthews, the insufferable McCarthy, and the long-gone, easily forgotten Scott (Say what?) Graham. He’s also responsible for the lack of continuity in TV broadcasts with the constant shuffling of broadcaster pairings. This guy thinks he’s re-inventing sports television. What he’s done for the last three years is to destroy the once great pleasure of watching a Phillies telecast. Entertaining, very entertaining, Robby. Thank you.
Philadelphia Sports Writers – Why is it these denizens of letters never report on any of this stuff? Both the NY Daily News and the NY Post have reporters to keep an eye on incompetence and fraudulence by sports commentators and TV executives. But not the Philly papers. Hell, maybe they should hire me. Ha!