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About Jon
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1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
2) personally attacking other commenters
3) baiting other commenters
4) arguing for the sake of arguing
5) discussing politics
6) using hyperbole when something less will suffice
7) using sarcasm in a way that can be misinterpreted negatively
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11) commenting under the obvious influence
12) claiming your opinion isn't allowed when it's just being disagreed with

More Peaceful, Easy Feelings
2006-10-23 07:59
by Jon Weisman

Wasn't I just talking about the peaceful postseason? This week, Major League Baseball is expected to announce a new five-year contract between players and owners, extending the truce between the two parties from 1995 through at least the end of 2011.

Though there have been rumors flying that the new deal would end draft-pick compensation for teams that lose free agents of a certain predetermined value - i.e., the Julio Lugo Question (I did say predetermined) - Murray Chass of the New York Times writes that "draft-choice compensation for lost free agents will be reduced, not eliminated." He attributes an unnamed source, mind you, so we'll see if that holds up - not to mention whether guys like Lugo will be included in the "reduced" group.

* * *

Steve Lyons gave an interview to Maury Brown at The Biz of Baseball. You can also hear the audio portion at Baseball Prospectus.

The Lyons' firing feels more and more like a missed opportunity to have a real discussion about elevating the quality of baseball broadcasting.

Every year, people always wonder about whether pitching staffs should return to a four-man rotation to compensate for the dearth of quality starting pitching. Along the same lines, I'm starting to wonder whether baseball teams should reduce their two- and three-person booths back down to one. Quality over quantity.

There are some people who think someone like Lyons adds enough to a broadcast to justify a six-figure salary and a captive audience. I'm not sure. Vin Scully is not the only person left on this earth who can thrive in a one-man booth. You find the people who can talk with life and talk intelligently, and if you don't find enough of them, you don't hire them.

Get rid of the back end of your broadcasting rotation. Derail the blathering ex-athlete to the booth gravy train.

If not, at least get your broadcasters to measure their words. You don't have to be a racist to need to speak with more precision and economy.

* * *

At Screen Jam this morning, threads about some of the new releases in the movie theaters, the worlds of Scrubs and Arrested Development possibly colliding, and Peter O'Toole's struggle to find a decent role for once in his life.

* * *

Update: I have a new column up at about the impact of baseball's TV ratings in the postseason.

Just as baseball's top brass continues to agonize over what to do about its shrinking TV audience, core fans have every reason to wonder how sagging ratings will affect the way their sport is broadcast.

It's no fun being part of a diminishing society. But sadly, the once robust Television Republic of United Baseball Lovers Everywhere (TROUBLE) seems to be losing people every year.

Overnight numbers for Saturday's World Series opener dropped 25 percent from 2005's Game 1, according to Hollywood trade paper Variety, continuing a trend that has pervaded the 2006 postseason. Even the highest-rated playoff game of the year, Game 7 of the National League Championship Series, drew an audience 17 percent lower than the last NLCS Game 7, Houston-St. Louis in 2004. ...

Already, we've learned that fans will be paying a price for baseball's ratings shortfall, with Variety reporting that MLB has agreed to expand commercial time between half-innings on Fox telecasts as part of its new contract beginning next season.

So the questions hover like an infield fly: Is there any end to baseball's television decline? Will Fox or its new postseason broadcast partner, TBS, address the sport's ragged ratings by subverting the game itself?

Comments (137)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2006-10-23 08:23:42
1.   scareduck
Hear, fargin' hear.

Still waiting for the PDF of the new labor accord. My bet for the biggest bombshell is ... nothing, save for the loophole that allows George Steinbrenner to write off his new ultrapalazzo, and terminate his luxury tax payments thenceforth.

2006-10-23 08:33:06
2.   Maury
Still waiting for the PDF of the new labor accord.

It will be a bit. The sides Should have the MOU finished today or tomorrow at the latest. From there, it will probably have to be ratified before we see the CBA in total.

By the way Jon, true words on broadcasting.

2006-10-23 08:36:14
3.   D4P
There are some people who think someone like Lyons adds enough to a broadcast to justify a six-figure salary and a captive audience

I'm not sure any broadcaster deserves a six-figure salary. Are they really 2-3 times more valuable to society than, say, teachers, police officers, firefighters, etc. ...?

2006-10-23 08:39:17
4.   Jon Weisman
3 - I'm not even talking about going there. I'm not trying to make the societal argument. I'm just asking about the world of entertainment itself, where talent does make a lot of money.
2006-10-23 08:44:47
5.   bryanf
I feel so strongly about this, I'm glad to see someone else does too.

For one thing, a single man booth feels more personal. The announcer is talking to the viewer/listener, not the other broadcaster.

Second to that, it eliminates the ridiculous banter and meaningless discussion about things unrelated to the game. I hate when they start talking about football or basketball all of the sudden when there is a lull in the action.

In my opinion, an important characteristic of a good announcer is that he is able to communicate with all audience members regardless of their knowledge of the sport. I myself pretty much learned the game of baseball from Vin, but now that I know it, I don't feel like he is talking down to me. Almost all the "color" commentators have that Madden-esque quality where they just state the obvious. "He's trying to throw a strike here." Of course he is.

Anyway, this seemed a good opportunity for me to go off on this subject. :)

2006-10-23 08:44:47
6.   D4P
where talent does make a lot of money

Talent? Perhaps, but the reward structure seems to be moving away from that to things like exposure, popularity, outlandishness, etc. "Reality" TV has made wealthy stars of people with no more talent than the people sitting on the couch watching them.

To me, the real talent lies in writing the songs, TV shows, movies, etc., not in performing what someone else wrote. But the performers get most of the credit, and most of the profits. The days of the "singer-songwriter" (see: Michael, George) seem to be receding into distant memory.

2006-10-23 08:45:47
7.   D4P
it eliminates the ridiculous banter and meaningless discussion about things unrelated to the game

See: Steiner, Charlie, and Monday, Rick

2006-10-23 08:48:52
8.   bryanf
6 - Here's to the writers. You're so right about this one.
2006-10-23 08:59:03
9.   Greg Brock
6 Let's go with James Taylor or Carol King if "Singer/Songwriter" comes up.

I was right there with you until you dropped George Michael on me.

2006-10-23 09:07:22
10.   D4P
But what do JT and CK have to do with Arrested Development...?
2006-10-23 09:22:32
11.   LAT
I'll play devil's advocate here.

Not that I don't agree about the one announcer thing but to the masses baseball is a dying sport. It has fallen behind the NFL and NBA in ratings. In a world where the audience wants everything from their hamburgers to their sports casters bigger, louder and more controversial a one man booth doesn't attract the young less educated viewer. A couple of idiots in the booth drawing diagrams and yelling at each other is apparently what the masses want-so give it to them. A one man booth while more enjoyable for some of us is not in the best financial interest of baseball

2006-10-23 09:24:11
12.   Jon Weisman
11 - You may be right, but with baseball's TV ratings on a steady decline, I don't know if your argument that "that's what the masses want" holds up.
2006-10-23 09:34:51
13.   D4P
Looking back at my high school experience (late 80s/early 90s), football and basketball were definitely the "cool" sports, and baseball was somewhat of a black sheep. Chicks dug the two former sports, and didn't care much about the latter. Football and basketball games were big social events, and those teams had cheerleaders. Nobody cared much about the baseball games. Course, I supposed it made a difference that the football games were played at Autzen Stadium (home of the Oregon Ducks) and the basketball games were played in an indoor gym that accommodated a decent crowd, while the baseball games were played at an outdoor field with not much seating.
2006-10-23 09:36:08
14.   Maury
The complete transcription of my interview with Lyons is now online:

Steve Lyons - Addresses Firing From Fox

2006-10-23 09:36:47
15.   Maury
Arg... link tags not enabled:

2006-10-23 09:38:20
16.   Jon Weisman
Thanks, Maury.
2006-10-23 09:49:19
17.   screwballin
And I'll play devil's advocate, second string:

To someone like me who never played the game, I still find that I get some insight from the likes of Lyons or, yes, even McCarver. One recent play from the Mets-Cards series comes to mind: A batter squared up to do a squeeze bunt with Guillermo Mota on the mound, and Mota threw the pitch right at the batter, forcing him to foul it off defensively. McCarver pointed out that the Dodgers teach pitchers to do that in that situation, and Mota undoubtedly picked that up from his stint here.

I've watched thousands of hours of baseball, but I'd never heard that before; I otherwise would have assumed that it was just an errant pitch. So I learned a little more about the game, which to me is worth all the inane blathering that comes with it.

And in my mind, that's the color guy's job. Moreso than the play-by-play guy, who probably knows more about broadcasting than baseball, the color guy should know the game inside and out, and be able to convey that to the audience. If you have someone like Vin who brings all of that to the table, that's great. But the Scullys of the world are few and far between.

2006-10-23 09:51:32
18.   Jon Weisman
Update to this post - I've linked to my new column on about baseball and television.
2006-10-23 10:14:03
19.   scareduck
So the questions hover like an infield fly: Is there any end to baseball's television decline? Will Fox or its new postseason broadcast partner, TBS, address the sport's ragged ratings by subverting the game itself?

Feh. Obvious answer to ratings problems: three straight years of Dodgers-Yankees (or Angels-Mets, take your pick) World Serieses. Now, how to go about fixing just that scenario... :-)

2006-10-23 10:14:41
20.   Chris H
Ratings are down for everything everywhere. Television is transitioning to a market of abundance. The good news is that MLB's Advanced Media division is in a good place to capitalize on that.
2006-10-23 10:18:20
21.   Vishal
that's just a great solution. baseball on television is having trouble keeping viewers, so let's make the commercial breaks longer and generally degrade the quality of the viewing experience, toss in bad, ignorant broadcasting teams and horrible audiovisual gimmickry to boot, and then wonder why the ratings continue to drop! rinse and repeat.
2006-10-23 10:26:11
22.   Jacob L
21 Jeez, I was just about to say that, so I'll add this . . .

I find it funny how the Fox affiliates still schedule postseason games for 3 hours when there hasn't been a postseason game at that length or shorter since 1984. Think of how many viewers tune in for the "Malcolm in the Middle" rerun every night in October, only to find a lousy baseball game in the 6th inning staring them in the face.

And when I say "staring them in the face," I mean staring them in the face. I actually like some of Fox's high-tech stuff, but I'm sick to death of the super-duper closeup on pitchers, hitters, managers, fans, etc.

I generally don't hold by the "baseball games are too long" line of thinking, but the postseason is out of hand. Way to make it worse, Fox.

2006-10-23 10:26:23
23.   D4P
I'm shocked, shocked, that Scooter hasn't made a bigger positive impact...
2006-10-23 10:36:56
24.   LAT
WARNING: I am about to be a snob

12. I agree that the current announcing format does not seem to be driving audience growth in baseball but the "louder" approach seems to succeed in other sports. Why? Maybe it works in football because a screaming John Madden ranting about blood, boogers and dirty uniforms is like inviting your "Deliverance" cousins to a pig roast while baseball in more like dinner at a fine French restaurant where Vin is the sommelier. When you invite Madden to the French resturant or Vin to the cousins house it just doesn't work. I don't know the answer but its the same reason the folks at Dodger Stadium are opting for loud music between innings instead of the organ. As the ever loud and obnoxious Dick Vitalle would scream, "Its all about the demographics, Baby!!!"

2006-10-23 10:39:48
25.   popup
I am not dogmatic about a one man booth. Jon Miller and Dave Flemming on radio with the Giants are excellent, and they share a microphone. Jack Buck and Harry Caray with the Cardinals many years ago were also excellent and they worked together on the air.

What I dislike about most broadcasts is the witless banter between broadcasters and the inability of whoever it is doing play by play to describe accuarately what is happening on the field. After a lackluster call of the play, typically the color broadcaster chimes in with an analysis of the play, no matter whether the play was a routine grounder to second or a brilliant diving catch by the centerfielder.

In general I would prefer a one man booth simply to avoid the pitfalls of mindless talk between the broadcasters and over analysis by the color broadcaster. The best formula for success though is intellegent broadcasters who have some regard for the quality of what goes over the air.

Stan from Tacoma

2006-10-23 11:12:40
26.   natepurcell
I'm not sure any broadcaster deserves a six-figure salary. Are they really 2-3 times more valuable to society than, say, teachers, police officers, firefighters, etc. ...?

its not value to the society, its about how much people are willing to pay you to do what you do.

its always has been and always will be in capitalism.

2006-10-23 11:27:15
27.   Terry A
2006-10-23 11:36:56
28.   D4P
Where's gpellamjr when you need him...?
2006-10-23 11:50:56
29.   Terry A
27 - I do not know, but I would like my new friends in the various intelligence bureaus to know that I was, you know, joking.

I love me some capitalism.

2006-10-23 12:00:55
30.   D4P
Terry A = Enemy Combatant

It has been nice "knowing" you...

2006-10-23 12:13:19
31.   bigcpa
20 Good point. I look at that 32.8 rating for the 1980 series and think that must have been the only channel not coming in fuzzy that week. I think we're just drifting down to some steady state of audiences who like postseason baseball. The 2004 series became water cooler chatter so you brought in lookie-loos. All the tinkering with broadcasters and graphics couldn't get me to watch tennis or skating.
2006-10-23 12:38:57
32.   Jon Weisman
20/31 - I talked about that in my column. The World Series won its nights Saturday and Sunday. But that doesn't mean Fox is satisfied. On the other hand, if this series goes seven games, they'll be thrilled.
2006-10-23 12:39:54
33.   gpellamjr
28 When you wrote that, I was explaining to some of my students why it makes you sound ignorant, rather than discerning or intelligent, to separate "real communism" from "what Marx wanted" or somesuch. There's nothing that gets under my skin more than hearing that communism "is a nice idea" or that the Soviet Union "didn't have real communism". Well, it got under my skin more, probably, when one of my students today asked me during this conversation: "What's commulism?"
2006-10-23 12:44:53
34.   D4P

Sharing a donkey...?

2006-10-23 13:12:10
35.   gpellamjr
34 I think it's more like the process of bringing all mules together into one place, like the Athenian synoikismos. This will take some research!
2006-10-23 13:18:08
36.   Chris H
#32 I read the rest of the column and it was a good read. I think you nailed the key elements.

Obviously, MLB is going to continue to milk the big dollar TV deals as long as is possible, but it seems that is coming to end (outside of the World Series I don't think we'll see baseball on network TV beyond this contract cycle). Fortunately, baseball is doing it's darnedest to create new revenue streams through digital distribution.

It remains to be seen whether they understand that watering down the product to appeal to non-sports fans is a stupid business model going forward. There is going to be a lot of money made in delivering niche demographics-- catering to it's hardcore fanbase would be very lucrative.

2006-10-23 13:26:24
37.   Linkmeister
From Jon's column:

"Fox and ESPN put so many of their eggs in the basket of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry."

Hear hear. Last I looked, not only were those two teams in the same league, they were in the same division! They can't play each other in the World Series, TV guys; get over it.

I think weekend WS games should be played in daylight, but that's not gonna happen because of televised football conflicts (solution: shorter baseball season!). I'm really tired of television dictating how/when games are played, but I recognize that even if there are 40 million voices similar to mine squawking about that it ain't gonna change. Pity, that.

2006-10-23 13:31:24
38.   scareduck
36 - outside of the World Series I don't think we'll see baseball on network TV beyond this contract cycle

Based on what? It's getting cheaper and cheaper to actually set up a network. The audience for playoff baseball may be declining, but all audiences are declining. Can the ALDS win its timeslot? The answer to that is almost certainly, "yes".

In my view, television these days faces three large issues:

1) Overcoming the itch to declare Seinfeld-size audiences as the measure of success. These just aren't going to happen anymore.
2) Measuring smaller audiences more accurately.
3) Reaching those smaller audiences profitably.

If the Superbowl is the size audience baseball needs to reach in order to be successful, then the game's over; no sport outside the NFL is going to deliver that. But by moving the goalposts, so to speak, baseball can still be successful. As someone else above mentioned, it may well be that we're on the verge of MLBAM being the broadcast of future postseasons rather than Fox or ESPN.

2006-10-23 13:36:04
39.   das411
First of all, those ratings kinda make me feel like Kyle from South Park when the President explained the 9/11 conspiracy to him: "Really? ....REALLY?" Those numbers actually say that replacing Houston with New York in the NLCS caused a 17% drop in ratings? Really?

Re: broadcasters, what I think would work the best would be for the national network to hire one play-by-play guy (Jon Miller, Joe Buck) and rotate the local home team's announcers in to do color commentary for every 3 innings. This way you still have the brand identity of FOX = Joe Buck and Sunday Night Baseball = Jon Miller (and ok, Joe too) but you also do get the local flavor and hear what each team's fans get to experience when you do that game. Now, whether this would make us just as sick of the NYY and Bosox broadcasting teams is a separate issue, but the only way to solve the problems those teams pose would be to add/move teams into those markets and the NHL will out-rate the NFL before that happens.

Also, is there anybody here who can verify whether or not Al Michaels ever did any regular MLB broadcast? I definitely can remember Costas doing the 1993 World Series but there is a whole generation of us out there who have grown up with ballgames on local channels + FOX + ESPN + superstations only, and we are definitely savvy enough to buy our own team packages online through is, when it doesn't demolish my dorm bandwidth limit...grr!!

33 - How old was said student? I turned 5 two weeks before the Berlin Wall fell...

2006-10-23 13:38:32
40.   D4P
In my view, television these days faces three large issues:

4) Bringing back Arrested Development

2006-10-23 13:40:26
41.   Jacob L
Even in its worst years (and one could argue this is the worst year) the baseball postseason is two things:

1. good drama, and
2. better than whatever else is on tv.

Sure, there were a bunch of stinker games and lopsided series early on, but the tide officially turned with Thursday's Game 7.

FWIW, I thought the Tommy marketing campaign was right on. I mean why would you not want to watch the baseball postseason?

I think part of the problem is that the postseason always starts out with a central story line, this year being the Subway Series redux, and when it doesn't pan out, everybody loses interest. Part of the problem is the on-going assertion that the NFL can do no wrong, and baseball can do no right. That story line will perservere despite the steroid suspension of a high profile NFLer while baseball approves a new labor deal.

I do agree with 31, but when the World Series is not a water cooler material every year, that's a problem. Maybe MLB should encourage more violence and gambling.

2006-10-23 13:46:40
42.   scareduck
41 - or ball-doctoring by 41-year-old pitchers with lousy postseason reputations.
2006-10-23 13:52:25
43.   trainwreck
To further the conspiracy of Kenny Roger's hat...

He wears a batting practice cap that no one else wears and it happens to have a black rim, which standard caps do not have.

2006-10-23 13:53:19
44.   Eric Stephen
39 Al Michaels worked baseball for ABC in the mid 1980s, at least. I specifically remember him calling the 1985 World Series (the Denkinger game), the 1986 playoffs (the Dave Henderson game), and the 1987 Twins/Cards World Series.

I could look it up, but I want to say off the top of my head that he also worked locally for the Reds or Giants in the 1970s.

2006-10-23 13:53:50
45.   Jacob L
42 Touche.

39 I like the idea of bringing in home town announcers, and it brings to mind another problem with Fox's broadcasts.

In their regular season Saturday afternoon games, how many times is the game shown in Los Angeles either the Dodgers or the Angels (or both)? 2 problems with that:

- that's a game I can see anyway if its not picked up by Fox,
- Fox doesn't show a weekly national game, and if they do, its usually Bos-NYY. Is it any surprise, then, that when the World Series comes around that only the local fans know or care about the teams involved?

2006-10-23 13:56:03
46.   Eric Stephen
Just looked it up...

Al Michaels worked for the Reds AND Giants, and I forgot about the 1989 World Series as well.

2006-10-23 13:56:22
47.   Jacob L
44, 39 ABC had a Monday Night Baseball thing in the summers back in the 70s/on which Michaels did play-by-play along with Cosell, possibly Jim Palmer, and others.
2006-10-23 13:58:53
48.   underdog
I think the World Series broadcasts would be that much more enjoyable if the cast of characters from Arrested Development rotated as announcers for Fox. I'd enjoy hearing Tobias explain what a screwball is much more than hearing Scooter, or Tim McCarver, explain it. But they'd have to bring the show back first!

Meanwhile, does anyone else feel both queasy and angry when ESPN brings into their MNF (and NBC into their Sunday night games) booth some star of some ABC/NBC program they want to plug, during the game?! This makes me (in Peter Lorre voice) very angry!

2006-10-23 13:59:44
49.   Jon Weisman
For years, I thought Al Michaels was the natural successor to Vin Scully. But that was a long time ago ... and thankfully, Vin's still going.
2006-10-23 14:28:05
50.   Linkmeister
Al Michaels even did Hawai'i Islanders baseball before he got to the big leagues.
Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2006-10-23 14:47:37
51.   twerp
Al Michaels did double duty in the '89 series, doing "man on the spot" news coverage for a good while the night the Loma Prieta earthquake hit.

He did well, enough so that there were comments like "I didn't think a sports guy could do that well."

Surprise, surprise...

2006-10-23 14:54:24
52.   bigcpa
I remember Michaels doing Monday Night Baseball as late as 1987. I watched Fred McGriff hit one of his first ML hr's into the 3rd deck at Yankee stadium.
2006-10-23 15:07:13
53.   twerp
I may have part of the answer to the TV ratings problem...

Rework rival network and other contracts where necessary and find a way to pair Al Michaels and Bob Costas, maybe even rotating games they broadcast between national networks.

Yeah, when pigs fly the space shuttle.

2006-10-23 15:11:00
54.   trainwreck
2006-10-23 15:30:20
55.   twerp
IMO, Costas not doing baseball has been a great loss to the sport and to him...
2006-10-23 16:10:28
56.   underdog
As a SF resident during that quake, I'll never forget it - even though I wasn't watching the game at the time, but rather experiencing it live. But I remember watching the rerun later, how Michaels said, "I'll tell you what, I think we're having a --" and then it blipped off the air. Really eerie.

Returning to Arrested Development one more time, fans of the show and Mr. Show might enjoy this upcoming movie:

2006-10-23 16:16:58
57.   Linkmeister
Per Wikipedia (I know, I know), Michaels' coverage of the Loma Prieta earthquake was "nominated for an Emmy Award for news broadcasting."
2006-10-23 16:25:07
58.   Marty
Awww....RIP Jane Wyatt
2006-10-23 16:37:32
59.   JonT
I agree with most everything that's been said, so not to pile on...

But FOX's broadcasts in the postseason kill me. I think it was in game 1 of the NLCS that I had to actually change the channel, because the quick cuts and the super-duper close-ups were literally giving me a headache.

Couple that with the super high tech graphics which aren't necessary, and about 7 people in the booth and in the dugouts and in the stands and on the pre-game show, and the fact that none of them seem to really know or care about what they're saying and whether or not it's adding anything to the viewing experience, it's just hard to watch. I mean, one game when Glavine was pitching, FOX was cuttting away so much that they never got back for Glavine's full wind-up.

There are so many TV choices now that even if you make a game the biggest production on Earth, a lot of people aren't going to watch, and you end up alienating the real fan base. I wish I could tell FOX to just simplify things to the way we used to enjoy the broadcast, cater to the true fans, and don't pay so much for the rights. Then you won't need to make games such a production, and will end up with a good, and still very profitable, product.

2006-10-23 16:45:05
60.   twerp
55. Costas in fine form, Mickey Mantle eulogy:
(Note reference to Koufax)

While on Costas, paraphrased from his Wikipedia bio:

Costas has been fairly outspoken about his disdain for the wild card. He believes it diminishes the significance of winning a division pennant. He prefers a system in which being the wild card puts a team at some sort of disadvantage, as opposed to on an equal level with teams by which they were outplayed over a 162 game season. Once, he mentioned that the NFL regular season counted for something, but baseball's was beginning to lose significance.

Also, again paraphrased===

While broadcasting Game 1 of the '88 World Series between the Dodgers and Athletics on NBC, Costas angered many members of the Dodgers (especially manager Tommy Lasorda) by commenting that the team quite possibly had the weakest-hitting lineup in World Series history. Later, after the Dodgers had won Game 4 (en route to a 4-1 series victory), Lasorda sarcastically suggested that the MVP of the 1988 World Series should be Bob Costas.

Some other goodies, too:

2006-10-23 17:25:30
61.   bhsportsguy
So the big signings so far as been Hunter and Moyer staying with their teams.

Since Aramis Ramirez has not signed an extension, I wonder if he will opt out next week.

Still nothing about J.D. Drew but since there have been no rumors about him leaving, I guess it is pretty safe to assume that he will not opt out.

2006-10-23 17:34:21
62.   Linkmeister
Did anyone see the CBS Evening News last night besides me? Now I know what Will Carroll looks like (balding and a tad overweight). The piece was a discussion of the Japanese pitch called "the Gyro." Will had a Japanese instruction manual purporting to show how to throw the thing; they took it to Al Leiter (looking snappy in a three-piece brown suit), who said "It's a cutter. I've been throwing one of those for years."
2006-10-23 17:43:29
63.   das411
61, you forgot this huge news!

2006-10-23 17:48:10
64.   dzzrtRatt
If baseball's TV ratings were a matter of such significance, why were management and the union able to reach an agreement so quickly? Bad economics were a fundamental issue leading to the strike in the early 90s, at a time when postseason ratings were higher.

So, there's a question in mind about the real significance of this alleged ratings problem. I'm not sure the people whose money is invested in this baseball thing really see a problem. Raw ratings numbers say nothing about profitability. Sometimes a smaller audience is better if that audience can be defined for advertisers as the audience they want -- an audience that like cars, beer, insurance, beer, HDTV, and beer.

That would also argue against the idea of TV tinkering with the game. It would threaten the core, reliable audience in pursuit of a purely speculative audience that might not exist even if they were guaranteed a home run every inning. The core audience is still pretty big. If I were in charge, I'd try to figure out how to hang onto them --which I suggest a lot of the onscreen graphics do. Baseball is broadcast now as much more of a pitch-by-pitch thing, which means the casual fan is really being brought right inside the minds of the key players. Back in the good old days, you'd be hard pressed to hear more from Curt Gowdy than things like...fastball...change-up...throws 'em a curve...strike three.

Comparing baseball with football, as many TV critics do, makes no sense to me. Every playoff game in football is for all the marbles. It's so much easier to promote. The playoffs and World Series evolve, game by game, and some fans decide only after the series has partially unfolded as to whether they're going to invest time in it. My guess is the coverage of Kenny Rogers Sunday will lead to more interest later in the week, especially if he pitches again. If this series see-saws, I think you'll see a huge audience next weekend.

And -- not only do the ratings fail to account for bars, dorms and parties, what about the people who, despite ubiquitous TV coverage, choose to follow the game action on, so they can stick by their computers and converse across the planet with their baseball-watching friends on vehicles like DT?

2006-10-23 18:10:45
65.   trainwreck
Well that pitch is also about rotation in the hips. The rotation of your hips and arm helps make the ball slide so far. I guess they did not tell Leiter that.
2006-10-23 18:20:45
66.   Bluebleeder87

great great points dzzrtRatt

2006-10-23 18:26:41
67.   D4P
Bob is sure making us wait for the Notre Dame game writeup. It better be good. I have high expectations...
2006-10-23 18:59:15
68.   Bluebleeder87
0-0, -.--


0-0, -.--

Probable Pitchers

2006-10-23 19:03:13
69.   Blumoney
Jon - Re: Steve Lyons

Thanks for your honest asessment. I spent 15 years in live radio. Anybody can screw up.
It's how you recover that counts. Vinnie is the master of covering his tracks. It's not that he doesn't make mistakes - it's that he doesn't make them worse. He stays inside himself.

The problem is that prfessional atheletes are rarely qualified to be professional broadcasters. Hey - I don't try to play pro ball - so how about you ex ball players leave the booth duty to pro broadcasters.

And if you want to fix the ratings problem - how about putting radio and TV games that matter back on the air for free - instead of selling off the rights to pay radio and TV?


I had to listen to the Dodger/Giant series on KNBR because the Ventura station turns its power down at night.

2006-10-23 19:04:39
70.   scareduck
64 - If baseball's TV ratings were a matter of such significance, why were management and the union able to reach an agreement so quickly? Bad economics were a fundamental issue leading to the strike in the early 90s, at a time when postseason ratings were higher.

Are market shares down but audiences larger?

2006-10-23 19:29:40
71.   Bob Timmermann
Hey, I've been busy!
2006-10-23 19:35:19
72.   D4P
Busy, schmusy. I want my writeup!
2006-10-23 19:47:50
73.   twerp
64 dzzrtRatt- well reasoned, well spoken.
2006-10-23 19:51:48
74.   Bluebleeder87

Don't you hate 'em for that!!? his great writing skills & all.

2006-10-23 19:59:26
75.   trainwreck
Anyone remember during this season when Vinnie when was introducing the Pepe and Fernando and he said the taco brigade or get the tacos out something to that effect and they both looked real irritated?
2006-10-23 20:01:49
76.   trainwreck
*when Vinnie was introducing
2006-10-23 20:03:19
77.   Bluebleeder87

what year did that happen?

2006-10-23 20:19:40
78.   trainwreck
this past season
2006-10-23 20:23:29
79.   Bluebleeder87

i don't remember

2006-10-23 20:27:24
80.   Bluebleeder87
by the way Jon Heyman (sp?) was just on MLB.TV
2006-10-23 20:29:07
81.   Greg Brock
Yes, Bob, regale us with first hand accounts of being at one of the great stomach punch games in recent memory.
2006-10-23 20:30:27
82.   trainwreck
At least one could see the stomach punch coming so we could flex.
2006-10-23 20:31:31
83.   trainwreck
Totally ruined that sentence.
2006-10-23 20:48:53
84.   D4P
Jim Leyland on Pinetar Incident II:

"I'm not going to chew yesterday's breakfast and I'm not going to comment on it," he said.

Slightly more colorful than the old standby "I'm not here to talk about the past"

2006-10-23 20:50:33
85.   Greg Brock
Man refuses to finger Kenny Rogers's fingers in pine tar incident.
2006-10-23 20:53:52
86.   D4P
What am I, your caddie...?
2006-10-23 20:56:23
87.   Greg Brock
I steal from the best...
2006-10-23 20:59:20
88.   Greg Brock
Oh, D4P, I listened to those Radiohead songs you recommended. Better than the first bunch I had heard, but not enough for me to become a fan.

I have a limited amount of time in my day, and for Radiohead to get in, somebody has to get booted. Not happening anytime soon.

2006-10-23 21:02:15
89.   D4P
I have a limited amount of time in my day

Mine is limited to 24 hours. Yours...?

So, who is not being booted to make room for the 4 Radiohead songs...?

2006-10-23 21:05:21
90.   Greg Brock
Beatles, Zep, Stones, The Who, James Taylor, Carol King, Joni Mitchell, Cream, Jimi, Doors, Croce, Kinks, Yardbirds, Hollies...

You know, the usual.

2006-10-23 21:06:08
91.   Greg Brock
Oh, and CSNY, Neil Young, Dylan. Those type people.
2006-10-23 21:06:17
92.   Steve
I heard a rumor that Torii Hunter needs a caddy.
2006-10-23 21:08:37
93.   D4P
No George Michael? Not even any Wham?

Well, I don't care for "classic rock." I do like Croce, though, as well as some James Taylor. One of the better radio stations around here was just changed from an eclectic mix of all kinds of stuff (which I liked) to a classic rock station (which I don't like).

Part of the problem with oldies is that there's never any new ones...

2006-10-23 21:10:38
94.   Greg Brock
No classic rock?

Ouch. That's the only type of rock worth listening to. There hasn't been good rock n roll for a long time.

2006-10-23 21:12:55
95.   trainwreck
James Taylor counts as rock and roll?
2006-10-23 21:17:57
96.   Greg Brock
Well, I was talking about all the other folks I listed.

James Taylor has a unique brand of adult contemporary music. At least that's what the NASA folks told me when Homer was in space.

2006-10-23 21:18:28
97.   Bluebleeder87
Croce's if i could save time in a bottle is PRICELESS!! love that song.
2006-10-23 21:19:22
98.   D4P
No classic rock?

Nope, can't stand most of it. CCR is OK, along with a few other random songs here and there. But for the most part, I don't like most of what came out prior to about the mid-80s or so.

2006-10-23 21:27:13
99.   trainwreck
I like Cream, Doors, Hendrix, and Beatles of the bands you mentioned. I also like Led, but not as much as everyone else does. I have not heard much of the Yardbirds besides their hits, but obviously they had great musicians.
2006-10-23 21:54:43
100.   trainwreck
I feels odd to hear bands from the early 90's on classic rock stations.
Show/Hide Comments 101-150
2006-10-23 21:55:53
101.   trainwreck
2006-10-23 23:06:22
102.   dzzrtRatt
98 Wow, that is an interesting musical taste boundary. It's sort of like reading only the footnotes of a book.

The one thing I've always noticed that is lacking on rock music since 1980-something is, somewhere early in that decade, the blues disappeared (except for blues purists like Stevie Ray Vaughn, and classic rock holdovers like Eric Clapton.) But bands like REM, U2, Radiohead, Duran Duran, Green Day are so incredibly white. But even black music, what's now called "R&B" has no B whatsoever. I hear no Tina Turner in Mary J. Blige, no Aretha or Etta James in Beyonce. Hip-hop has no connection with any black music tradition prior to disco, except for the occasional Ray Charles sample. Prince is a genius, but his influences stop their backward progression with Sly and the Family Stone.

I hate that I so prefer classic rock. It makes me feel so old. When I find a contemporary band I can get into (New Pornographers, Shins, some Dandy Warhols, Arcade Fire) I am so relieved. But really they are so few and far between. So few good songwriters, so few good musicians. I was listening to some obscure Elton John today--what a pianist that guy was/is. I am never blown away by anybody's musicianship in current music.

2006-10-23 23:18:06
103.   caseybarker
69 Not that it is guaranteed to be part of the Dodger's radio network next year, but try 1450 a.m. Oxnard. It's mainly an oldies station.
2006-10-23 23:35:47
104.   fawnkyj
- 0 99, & 102

If you like bands like Zeppelin you should try The White Stripes. Also give bands like The Kings of Leon a try if you like CCR. Also give Beck a chance. Not Jeff Beck, just Beck. He had a great acoustic album called Sea Change that you might like if you like James Taylor. His earlier albums are good. Also im suprised that Radiohead wasn't a favorite. I consider them musically something very close to Pink Floyd, especially OK Computer. Try She Want Revenge if you like Bauhaus/Joy Division. If you liked Carole King pick up Corrine Bailey Rae's album, it is very soulful but very quiet and smooth like Carole King. I think there are a lot of great bands out there its just not on MTV or most radio.

2006-10-24 00:00:21
105.   D4P
I should note that I also like a lot of stuff that came out before around 1900 or so...

I am never blown away by anybody's musicianship in current music.

Me either. In fact, some of today's most popular "artists" don't even play instruments at all. It's kind of ridiculous.

2006-10-24 00:27:02
106.   bhsportsguy
The LA Dodger's Minor League Free Agents

C Edwin Bellorin
C Brad Cresse
C Eric Langill
1B Craig Brazell
1B A.J. Zapp
SS Eric Riggs
OF Nick Alvarez
OF Jeff Duncan
OF Adam Greenberg
OF Ty Meadows
RHP Kurt Ainsworth
RHP Joel Hanrahan
RHP William Juarez
RHP Spike Lundberg
RHP Thomas Nall
RHP Justin Reid
RHP Heath Totten
LHP Ryan Ketchner
LHP Ben Kozlowski
LHP Matt Merricks
LHP Derek Thompson
LHP Kelly Wunsch

2006-10-24 06:43:42
107.   dzzrtRatt
104 You're right, I wasn't being comprehensive enough in my list of current favorites. Beck would be near the top of the list; White Stripes would be on the "when I'm in the mood, they sound great" list. There are probably a few others I would vouch for; just can't think of them all.

Another current, or I should say relatively recent artist I can strongly recommend is Gillian Welch. She and her partner do write and play extraordinarily well, and their music is amazing. At first, she sounds like she's doing old folk songs, but that's just a starting point.

73, 74 Thank you.

2006-10-24 07:29:02
108.   Xeifrank
Friends of Dodger Thoughts fantasy basketball league is drafting wednesday night. Still a few openings. vr, Xei
ID: 41973
pw: dodgers

2006-10-24 07:35:22
109.   Sushirabbit
Led Zep, over-rated? Impossible.

In a totally different direction, Alan Jackson is amazing (to me anyway). And he's a really nice guy with a cool Bentley. My wife really likes Gillian, I still prefer Bob.

2006-10-24 07:58:42
110.   dagwich
107, 109 -- Welch and Rawlings get almost constant play at my house. Seen them together many times and each show is a great experience. I'm looking forward to their next CD.

If you like Welch and Rawlings you might like the Be Good Tanyas (from Vancouver -- "Blue Horse" is a great CD), Uncle Earl, or even some early John Hartford (RIP).

I'm currently on a classic rock jag -- Village Green Preservation Society, Gram Parsons, Revolver...Revolver is an amazing record.

I drive over the "James Taylor Bridge" (Hwy 15-501 over the NC54 bypass) several times a month in Chapel Hill. He is a Local Hero.

2006-10-24 08:44:34
111.   Chris H
#102 - You should check out The Cold War Kids.
2006-10-24 09:11:27
112.   dagwich
Interesting set of ramblings, excuses, and rationalizations about Bonds by a diehard Giants fan. It made me wonder: what if a Dodger was in the same position as Bonds....

(you have to sit through a short ad to read the entire article)

2006-10-24 09:49:24
113.   Bluebleeder87

she wants revenge is pretty cool

2006-10-24 10:52:31
114.   redsoxtimesdotcom
I really enjoyed your piece on

I would love to hear Vin Scully on a national broadcast again!

2006-10-24 11:12:40
115.   Wayne Wei-siang Hsieh
Re: 112

That article might have been more interesting if it had been about a third of its actual length, and if it hadn't adopted a tone that seemed to equate pretentious hand-wringing with moral wisdom.


2006-10-24 11:36:11
116.   dzzrtRatt
110 Village Green Preservation Society and Revolver are both about as good as it gets. The Kinks had quite a run in '66 and '67, and of course the Beatles were ridiculously fertile during those years. That's another thing that bugs me about today's bands -- three or four years between albums? They're just songs, people. The Beatles, Kinks, Stones, Elton John, David Bowie, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, etc. etc. used to put out at least one album a year, along with singles, and sometimes it was two albums a year. And they'd tour (the big alibi for today's groups is "we were on tour") nonstop. And we still listen to all their music today, and it's a lot better than anything U2 has ever done, great as U2 might be.
2006-10-24 11:45:03
117.   ToyCannon
Ray Davies rules all.
2006-10-24 11:55:07
118.   dagwich
116 The burst of collective musical genius from that period is amazing, but then when I find myself thinking that I chalk it up to being an old guy now and not "getting" today's music.

In my opinion, there are plenty of great musicians and groups who put out great works every year, just not in popular genres. Richard Thompson, for one, is prolific and almost consistently high level.

2006-10-24 12:00:45
119.   D4P
three or four years between albums?

It's kinda like athletes who sign big contracts, then take it easy for the next few years until their next contract year arrives and they start giving 100% again.

2006-10-24 12:14:43
120.   D4P
Perhaps my biggest musical pet peeve is people who become rich and famous simply by remaking someone else's song. That bugs me.

Oh, and I can't stand albums from people like Rod Stewart and Michael Bolton (the no-talent a-clown, not the software programmer) that cover "classics" from other artists. What a scam...

2006-10-24 12:19:35
121.   dagwich
120 You are probably not a fan of Sting's latest recording then....apparently he has taken up the lute and is "covering classics" from the 16th century.
2006-10-24 12:22:35
122.   caseybarker
Forties and fifties jazz is where it's at. There were some mighty cool innovations taking place - bop, birth of the cool, etc...

I also enjoy the Mahavishnu Orchestra and John McLaughlin's artistry.

2006-10-24 12:25:42
123.   D4P
Well, that's not exactly what I had in mind...I might have to check that out...
2006-10-24 12:38:43
124.   BlueCrew Bruin
Sorry to stray from the musical topic but I must say, the complete lack of outrage over Shawne Merriman's failed steroids test speaks volumes for the double standard in action between baseball and football.

Don't get me wrong, I love football but geez. I haven't come across a single opinion piece ranting about a "black eye" for football or about diminishing the sanctity of the game. Have I just missed these articles? Are baseball writers just more pessimistic and obsessive than football writers?

2006-10-24 12:41:05
125.   Jon Weisman
124 - You haven't missed anything. Double standard. You're right on.
2006-10-24 12:59:10
126.   dzzrtRatt
122 No question. One of the great things about being an American today is the Rudy Van Gelder reissue series, and the fact that most of those disks are now $10 at Borders.
2006-10-24 13:00:16
127.   D4P
It seems to me that (whether deserved or not) baseball has traditionally had a more genteel reputation than football, and people have had higher standards for baseball players than for football players. I mean, baseball is right up there with mom and apple pie. There is an aura of innocence about baseball that even Congress itself felt compelled to try and protect through the recent steroid hearings. Some people just don't want to believe that baseball players cheat or do bad things.

I don't think the same can really be said of football players, at least not to the same degree.

2006-10-24 13:02:25
128.   dzzrtRatt
I love how the baseball world has redefined the word "exciting" to mean "inept" or "wrong." Like this, from's discussion of who will play center field next season:

Manager Grady Little likes to play Matt Kemp in center field, although his routes to balls in the gaps are exciting and he needs to cut down on his strikeouts to play anywhere.

2006-10-24 13:12:23
129.   DodgerHobbit
124 I have to disagree
Merriman got caught with his pants down in a drug testing program more established than baseball's. Big whoop. Nobody cares as much when the system works to catch a cheater unless many people like or dislike the cheater or the cheater has many accomplishments in the sport, then it becomes a scandal.

Baseball is definately in a different situation. It is different because the program is in its infancy compared to the NFL program. It is not well established yet. And there is still the perception that high profile players in baseball are somehow still using performance enhancing substances (HGH) even with the drug program in place that the programs tests can not pick up. I don't know if you can say the same for football.

You don't hear people talking about a black eye to baseball when insignificant players or minor leaguers test positive and are suspended...because nobody cares.

You won't hear people talking about a black eye to football or that their program is ineffective until T.O. or some other high profile player tests positive.

As time passes and the high profile guys that were around when steroids andro and all that other junk have retired baseball will have put the black eye tag behind it and will be percieved much like the NFL is today.

2006-10-24 13:12:31
130.   D4P
I saw that the other day too. Funny. I think they also mentioned that if Lofton returns, he'd be more suited for left field. They didn't say why...
2006-10-24 13:16:11
131.   DodgerHobbit
128 i did a triple take on that sentence while reading that article about 10 minutes ago. 
2006-10-24 13:30:11
132.   Marty
It's funny. I like classic rock a lot more than I did 15 years ago. But, back then there was a lot of new music that really interested me. The Seattle scene with Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Mudhoney, Soundgarden, etc. And just before that, the Minnesota scene with Husker Du, the Replacements, Soul Asylum and even Prince. Now, not as much new music is interesting to me and I find myself listening to more classic rock on my ipod (along with a boatload of Hank Williams). I'm getting to be an old fart.
2006-10-24 13:56:53
133.   Bluebleeder87
breaking Bonaduce rocks!
2006-10-24 14:09:04
134.   Marty
Speaking of music, RIP Sandy West
2006-10-24 15:25:45
135.   still bevens
132 You should read 'Our Band Could be Your Life'. It has chapters on some of those bands and a couple other seminal bands that came out in that time period or a bit after (Blag Flag, Fugazi, Sonic Youth, The Replacements, Husker Du, The Butthole Surfers, Beat Happening, etc). Really cool stuff.
2006-10-24 15:35:28
136.   underdog
Have any of you (bevens, et al) seen American Hardcore yet? Heard mixed things about the quality but looks worth seeing for fans. I enjoyed the Minutemen documentary that came out awhile back, too.

128 I am sure Ken Gurnick was making a little bit of fun there.

106 Thanks for that list! Kurt Ainsworth? Wow, is he still under contract somewhere? Of the people on the list, there are some I know nothing about, but the only ones that stand out as possibly ones the Dodgers should make an effort to protect are Ryan Ketchner (if he's healthy?) and maybe Juarez and Hanrahan? Wunsch might be nice to have try to come back next season (as a Beimel replacement) but he might still be hurtin'. Other than that, not much to worry about it seems.

2006-10-24 16:19:08
137.   Marty
135 'Our Band Could Be Your Life' is a line from a Minutemen song. One of my all time favorites.

Mr. Narrator, this is Bob Dylan to me

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