Broadcast Blues (Playoff Edition)
A few months ago I wrote how I felt that baseball broadcasters (save for Vin Scully) were hurting the game. They were making it considerably less enjoyable for fans to experience the experience while watching on television or listening on the radio. I was brought back to that sentiment — in the words of one presidential candidate — “bigly”, yesterday afternoon.
I will begin by saying that I believe Kenny Albert, Harold Reynolds, Tom Verducci, and Jon Morosi are doing a nice job on FS1. But . . . come on.
Allow me to set the stage; and then you tell me if an opportunity was missed. On October 11, 1978, at Dodger Stadium, a stud pitcher named Bob Welch took the mound (in the World Series) with the game on the line against (one of) the most ferocious hitters in baseball, Reginald Martinez Jackson. (For those of you paying attention, you will note that I have dubbed this one of the greatest two-strike situations in the history of baseball). The pitcher and hitter battled to a 3–2 count, and a few pitches were fouled away. For the purposes of this analysis, the outcome of the at bat is irrelevant.
On October 11, 2016, 38 years to the day, at Dodger Stadium, a stud pitcher named Clayton Kershaw took the mound (in the playoffs) with the game on the line against (one of) the most ferocious hitters in the game, Bryce Aron Max Harper. The pitcher and hitter battled to a 3–2 count, and a few pitches were fouled away. For the purposes of this analysis, the outcome of the at bat is irrelevant.
So how many times, do you think, the FS1 broadcast booth made reference to that epic battle 38 years prior, and how history seemed to be repeating itself? That Kershaw-Harper at bat lasted 8 pitches and nearly five minutes. Did they overrun the telecast with nostalgia? Did they pepper the broadcast with flashback highlights? Did they talk with longing of times past? Nope! They did none of it. Not once did they mention the ’78 World Series. They didn’t show a single clip. I was screaming at my television: “38 years, TO THE DAY!” “Welch v. Jackson!” “Same exact damn location!”
Fairytales don’t get written better than that. And yet, the entire broadcast team missed it. In my anger, frustration, annoyance, I quickly tapped out a text to some baseball friends stating, “Somewhere, Vin Scully is so upset about this missed opportunity”.
Kershaw ended up walking Harper (he should have been called out on the 1–2 pitch, but I digress), and the moment passed. But, the point is, the moment was less because the broadcasters didn’t do more. Only true baseball nerds like me know/remember those moments/dates and tie them back in real time. For me, the moment was beautiful. But what about the 99.8% of the other viewers who needed a little primer, a littler reminder, of the moments that have made baseball so great?!?!
You want to increase baseball viewership, have the broadcasters bring the game to life by reminding us how our collective past oftentimes looks exactly like our collective present.