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Is Baseball on Television Too Cluttered?

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Bank of America asks, “What is your favorite baseball memory?”

(A better question is, “What is your favorite banking memory?” That’s easy — walking into a B of A in which the teller-window line isn’t 15 deep.)

Favorite baseball memory? Listening to games on a transistor radio.

Because watching games now — and many this postseason have been terrific — is an unceasing babble-filled, graphics-filled, replay-filled, commercial-filled, stress-filled slog-and-a-half.

(On a rare positive note, thank you, Fox, for no “K-Zone” and no “PitchTrax.” Man, that PitchTrax box on TBS — it’s like a Sudoku puzzle on your TV screen!)

All right then, before we get too wound up about TV baseball’s frontal attack on the senses — trust me, Couch Slouch is IN A FOUL MOOD today — let’s first address last week’s State of the Union Bat Flipping Referendum, in which red-and-blue Americans deeply examined the attitudes and mores of a divided Sports Nation.

Me? I’d prefer if the Blue JaysJose Bautista had handed the bat to the batboy while running down the first-base line — attaching a short note of apology to the pitcher for ruining his day — but if he wants to turn that piece of lumber into a flying jamboree act, I fully support him exercising his right to freedom of expression, as long as no humans, umpires or animals were harmed in the making of his magical moment.

Okay, where were we?

Announcers always drive me crazy, particularly the ex-jocks, but I’m not going to name names anymore — these fellas have families and they’re respected pillars of the community, so I don’t see the need to single out individuals at this point.

Which brings us to Pete Rose. Are you kidding me? I’d put him in the Baseball Hall of Fame before I’d put him in a broadcast booth. Charlie Hustle’s on Fox’s pregame studio show; I half-expect him to multitask — you know, express himself with some half-baked half-thought on Josh Donaldson, then autograph a couple of baseballs at $5 a pop.

Anyway, once the games begin, every pitch is bisected and dissected; they parse out every last detail of every four-seam fastball. It’s as if Tim McCarver, to ensure his legacy in retirement, left behind an incurable virus — let’s call is “McCarveringitis” — that infects every baseball telecast.

(A friend of mine recently showed me a tape he had of an “NBC Game of the Week” with Curt Gowdy and Tony Kubek from 40 years ago. What an easy listen — they didn’t say anything they didn’t have to say. The screen was clean. The game breathed. You didn’t feel like you were standing in a telephone booth with someone banging cymbals over your head every 12 seconds.)

Adding to the nonstop talk is the nonstop statistical debris.

Here was TBS’s “Stat Cast” on a running, diving catch by Cardinals center fielder Jason Heyward: “First Step: 0.32 seconds; Max Speed: 17.9 mph; Total Distance: 57 feet; Route Efficiency: 94.5 percent.”

Wow. I don’t know where to start.

Let’s start with his first step — 0.32 seconds. To put that in context, my first step toward the kitchen when I smell Toni’s mac-and-cheese is 0.26 seconds, so I don’t think Heyward’s getting a real good jump there. And “route efficiency”? That concept is only relevant driving on L.A. freeways on a Friday afternoon.

Here was MLB Network’s “Stat Cast” for Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel: “Extension: 6.2 feet; Velocity: 91.0 mph; Perceived Velocity: 90.4 mph.” Analyst John Smoltz offered, “Obviously, the extension is going to affect the perceived velocity.”

I thought the same thing.

But the proverbial final straw for me came, of course, in the form of replay.

I was sitting down with some ice cream to watch the deciding game of the Mets-Dodgers series. The very first batter, Curtis Granderson, grounds out on a close play; the Mets challenge the call, and he is ruled safe. I mean, I haven’t even enjoyed my first scoop of Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk, and there already is a replay delay.

So I turned to a “Seinfeld” rerun — occasionally they have some baseball on there.

To read more visit the Times Union where this story was originally published

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Lauren Shehadi: Ernie Johnson Is The Model For Studio Hosts

“To me, he’s the greatest in-studio host. What he does best is facilitate greatness.”

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In addition to her job at MLB Network being a host on MLB Central, Lauren Shehadi is hosting TBS’s Tuesday night baseball coverage each week with Jimmy Rollins, Curtis Granderson, and Pedro Martinez. The Tuesday night games are new for Turner Sports this year after doing only Sunday games during the regular season in addition to the network’s postseason coverage. 

Shehadi was a guest on The Kyle Koster Show this week and she was asked what the goal was for her with the MLB on TBS Tuesday broadcasts. She takes a lot of inspiration from what she sees on Inside The NBA on TNT.

“I always think about Ernie Johnson in the same building. To me, he’s the greatest in-studio host. What he does best is facilitate greatness. He gets the most out of Shaq and Kenny [Smith] and Charles [Barkley]. If there’s no ego involved, it’s all about how the show can be so great.

“You look at him and you think how can I be like that? You want to be authentic and be yourself, but in the sense of getting the best out of your guys and girls that you talk to every day. That was my goal going in, Be authentic.”

Shehadi said she gets to spend a lot of time with Johnson and the rest of the Turner Sports crew. Tuesday nights tend to be something of a corporate family reunion. 

“On Tuesday nights, we all sit in a room and we all watch NBA, MLB, and NHL when it’s on. We get Shaq’s reaction to Sandy Alcantara’s slider in real-time. What we see from Inside The NBA is when they do demos. When they get up and walk and they are casual and they do little bits, that’s what we try to take to our show, but we want it to feel authentic.” 

When Shehadi isn’t hosting Turner Sports’ baseball coverage, she is a part of MLB Central every weekday on MLB Network with Robert Flores and Mark DeRosa. On that show, the goal for her is how to make baseball relatable to everyone: 

“That’s the sweet spot of MLB Central. No question is silly. Nobody is smarter than the other. We laugh at ourselves. We laugh at each other. It is just a fun 4 hours, grab your coffee, let’s talk the game, let’s laugh because life is short and baseball is fun.” 

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AT&T Sportsnet’s Kelsey Wingert Shows Off Stitches After Being Drilled Line Drive

“The veteran reporter is expected to get married in June. Doctors are “hoping” the scar doesn’t effect her big day.”

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Baseball reporters at the regional level have some of the toughest jobs in all of sports. Not only do they cover each for all 162 games, but there’s always the potential for getting drilled by a foul ball.

While all MLB ball clubs have expanded their netting this season to protect fans sitting close to the field, Rockies sideline reporter Kelsey Wingert suffered a nasty injury via a foul ball earlier this week.

A scary incident took place on Monday’s outing against the Rockies and San Francisco Giants at Coors Field in Denver. In the ninth inning, Giants outfielder Austin Slater hit a foul ball off Daniel Bard, with the ball heading straight to the dugout, right where Wingert was standing while reporting for AT&T Sportsnet.

After getting attended to by the Rockies medical staff and walking it off, giving fans a “thumbs up,” Wingert ended up having to go to the hospital where she received multiple stitches to her forehead.

The 29-year-old reporter took to Twitter on Wednesday to express her gratitude towards the Rockies organization and AT&T Sportsnet general manager David Woodman, who along with his wife Paula, stayed by her side at the hospital.

“I had a CT scan to make sure there was no internal bleeding or fractures and all came back clear. Thank God,” Wingert said on Twitter Wednesday. “The stitches will have to come out in a week. I’m very lucky it wasn’t worse. It was just really scary and bummed me out given the circumstances.”

You would think this was the first time Wingert got hit by a ball but back in 2018 while working for Fox Sports and the Atlanta Braves she was struck by a foul ball while standing near a camera past the Braves dugout, resulting in a fractured eye socket. 

Wingert retweeted a photo taken of her black eye after returning home where she made light of what could’ve been an awful occurrence.

While recovering from her wound, Wingert will be taking a few games off. The veteran reporter is expected to get married in June. Doctors are “hoping” the scar doesn’t effect her big day.

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Greg Olsen To Partner With Kevin Burkhardt For Super Bowl LVII

“Last season was the first Burkhardt and Olsen worked together. They largely won rave reviews.”

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The deal isn’t done yet, but Andrew Marchand of The New York Post reports that Greg Olsen is on his way to joining Kevin Burkhardt in the top NFL booth at FOX. Although Tom Brady will take over that role after he retires and leaves the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Olsen will spend at least this season on FOX’s A-Team.

Last season was the first Burkhardt and Olsen worked together. They largely won rave reviews.

Earlier this year, the former Panther told The Mac Attack on WFNZ in Charlotte that he was disappointed he didn’t get to call a postseason game. He will more than make up for that in 2023. As Burkhardt’s partner, Olsen is in line to be the analyst for Super Bowl LVII.

Marchand writes that we could get a taste of what is to come in February. He speculates that if the Buccaneers are not in the Super Bowl, it is possible Tom Brady could make his FOX debut, either in the booth alongside Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen or as part of the network’s studio show.

Now, FOX has to make a decision about it’s number 2 NFL booth. According to Marchand, Drew Brees is a candidate to be the analyst. Adam Amin and Joe Davis have emerged as candidates for the play-by-play role.

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