First, let me start by discussing the Home Run Derby cablecast on ESPN. Once again, Chris Berman was doing the play-by-play, Joe Morgan did the color and joining them this year, was former Giants and Cubs manager Dusty Baker. I guess the only reason Baker was there was that he had managed in AT&T Park. Other than that, all three were lackluster. Berman’s play-by-play is extremely weak. Morgan doesn’t add anything and Baker just exclaimed when a long home run was hit.
Berman continues to make these stupid exaggerations using local references, “That one was hit to Sausalito!” or “That was hit to Alcatraz!” or “That one was hit to the Coit Tower!” These add nothing especially when home runs land in the crowd. A ball going out of the stadium, I can see, but ones that land in the crowd? No. All this proves is that Berman as a play-by-play announcer is a decent studio host. His play-by-play is terrible whether he’s doing baseball or golf. Rather than describe the action, he seemed to be more worried if his pick to win the Home Run Derby would survive to the final round rather than call the action or discuss the fact that the twilight caused trouble for hitters in the first round.
Plus, Berman likes to yell thinking if his decibel level increases, then he can convey the excitement of the action. The crowd cheering is enough. It’s not all about you, Chris. It’s too bad TBS could not have wrested the rights for the Home Run Derby to compliment its coverage of the postseason in its new contract. I know Jon Miller prefers to have the All Star Game off rather than be involved in the coverage, but ESPN would be better served by having him in the booth rather than have Berman.
And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Baseball Tonight was in the studio instead of being at AT&T Park. Because ESPN had broken an embargo on the All Star Game roster selections, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig would not allow the Alleged Worldwide Leader to have a set at the stadium as in the past. So reporters were allowed inside, but ESPN was not allowed to have a presence with Baseball Tonight so Karl Ravech, Steve Phillips and John Kruk were in Bristol, CT while Peter Gammons, Tim Kurkjian and others were inside the park. It was strange to see the guys do their thing from the studio, but to be honest, ESPN didn’t lose anything. But it was nice to see ESPN get punished for not adhering to MLB’s rules. Here’s hoping that the next violation leads to MLB revoking its rights to show games altogether.
I’ll give ESPN a C minus for its coverage, mostly because of Berman, Morgan and Baker. Fox’s big albatross in the booth is Tim McCarver, but he’s canceled out by Joe Buck. I’ll have a review of Fox’s coverage tomorrow.
Let’s get to the links now.
The Dan Patrick announcement was the big story for bloggers. I have heard rumors that there’s more to meet the eye on Dan’s announcement that he’s leaving ESPN, but all have been unsubstantiated and I don’t think they’re true. In any event, Reid Cherner of USA Today has a story on the announcement made yesterday on Dan’s show. In USA Today’s sports blog, it noted that Dan’s entry in Wikipedia was updated almost immediately, but with some silly information. Richard Sandomir in the New York Times has a quick hit on Patrick’s departure including some critical words for the ESPY Awards. Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News is back from vacation and the first thing he does is speculate if Patrick will go to WFAN, but as we found out yesterday from Neil Best in Newsday, that will not happen. Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune who had sources telling him last week that Patrick was going to leave says the next thing for Dan could be satellite radio. Now that’s something we haven’t heard. The fact that Greenstein was the first to get confirmation instead of speculating what could happen tells me that the satellite radio thing might be credible. David Barron of the Houston Chronicle spoke to Patrick after his show and got a tidbit that Patrick had been considering leaving for 2 and a half years. Larry Stewart of the LA Times also talked with Dan. Jim Williams of the DC/Baltimore Examiner also is on the Dan Patrick-to-WFAN bandwagon, but again, that dog won’t hunt as Dan Rather used to say.
Sandomir also has a story on ESPN breaking the MLB All Star Game announcement embargo.
Bob Raissman says tonight’s MLB All Star Game is damaged goods due to falling ratings and the steroids issue. Hint to Bob, the rating has gone down since 2001, but the game still wins the night and gets the demographics Fox desires. In a 500 channel universe, I don’t think events like the All Star Game or the NBA Finals are going to get real blockbuster ratings. The only sporting event that will draw monster ratings is the Super Bowl.
Fox Sports will have what it’s calling “Multi-platform” coverage of tonight’s All Star Game. And John Consoli of Mediaweek says starting tonight, MLB will hype the postseason, the earliest it has ever done so.
Just like Red Sox beat writers giving their midseason grades for the team, good friend LC in the 38 Cliches blog has his midseason assessment of the Red Sox radio broadcast team. I totally agree with his grade for Glenn Geffner.
The Big Ten Network launches a new ad campaign called “This is Big Ten Country”. Is John Mellencamp going to be singing on the commercial?
John Feinstein in the Washington Post gives thanks to Bud Collins.
Chris Zelkovich in the Toronto Star has praise for NBC’s coverage of Wimbledon.
Tom Jones of the St. Pete Times gives his best and worst of the sporting TV weekend.
Alex Bleth of SI.com says if you want to get a sense of the 1977 Yankees, the focus of “The Bronx is Burning” on ESPN, there are DVD’s to buy and rent. And due to the Home Run Derby, the premiere of the mini-series began an hour late and Mike Malone of Broadcasting & Cable takes the Alleged Worldwide Leader to task for it.
I had more links than I expected. I’ll have an update later if it’s warranted.