My internet (which I don't really, uh, pay for) at home didn't cooperate, so I couldn't get anything posted. So, while I didn't get a Memorial Day post as I semi-promised, it wasn't really my fault.
So, as for my Indy 500 recap, my heart is absolutely broken for JR Hildebrand. Rookie (both in the series and at Indianapolis) driving the National Guard car on Memorial Day weekend gets within a football field of the finish line before crashing. You can see the result as the lede today. He did manage to get his mangled machine across the finish line, but not before Dan Wheldon could nip by. I'm sure most rookies would be happy with a second place finish, but then again, most rookies don't get second after having a stranglehold on the win. All things considered, though, a great race all around. Now I'm done with racing until next May.
NBA Finals start tonight. . .and I really just don't care. I guess I'm rooting for Dallas, but I honestly probably won't even watch. Just like I'm not a racing fan but I am an Indy 500 fan, I'm a Pacers fan, not an NBA fan. But, I would certainly like it if the Pacers were to pick up JaJuan Johnson in the draft, and while you're at it, why not pick up E'Twaun Moore in the second round? In other news, I really don't know when the NBA Draft is.
Stanley Cup Finals start tomorrow, and I definitely could write about that, but I think I'm going to hold it back until tomorrow. The short version, though, I'm pulling for Vancouver, and I really think they'll win it. But it won't be easy.
I can definitely tell I'm fully in baseball mode. On Saturday, I watched the Cubs get beat up by the Pirates,* which left me very conflicted. I really hate those series, they always leave me feeling dirty. After that game was done, I flipped over to watch the end of the Brewers game (I don't even remember who they were playing) and watched them win the game on a squeeze play that I totally saw coming. The announcers mentioned that a big part of the pinch hitter's game is bunting, which might have been a tip off, but I had it called before I even knew there was a pinch hitter. It was just the perfect situation to give it a go. And they did to perfection. After that, it was time for the Reds and Braves to start, though I left to meet a group at the bar before that one was over. It ended up going 14 innings, though (or something like that), so I got to see the immortal Chipper Jones get the game winning hit.
*In a slightly related note, is there any park that looks so dramatically different through the season than Wrigley Field? An iconic cathedral of the game on any day to be sure, but once the ivy greens up, it's a whole new level of perfection. And also put me down as a fan of having Len & Bob in the bleachers calling the game. Don't overdue it, but a few times a year, it makes for a nice touch. You can also mark me down as not a fan of four big league umpires missing an obvious balk call. I really want to put up a video to show how bad it was, but unfortunately, none seem to exist at this point. At least not online. But trust me, it was bad. The guy just took a hop towards home and then faked to third. Wrong without any hint of being right.
I watched the Cubs yesterday, too, mostly because I had planned on it all day, but also because I'm not sure I could really move off the couch if I wanted to. I hit three buckets of balls and pitched four buckets worth, and I am paying for it today. My back really hurts, but my arm hurts too much for my to reach back and touch it. My abs and sides are really feeling it, too. Totally worth it, though. I just need to heal up and do this a few more times so my body gets used to it.
I'll be watching the Cubs again tonight while I try to do wedding invitations with my broken body. Lord help us all.
I don't really have that much to write today. Instead of watching sports, I was printing wedding invitations and failing at tying bows.* But, it's definitely progress, so I'm happy. We (well, Kristine) should have flowers picked out after Saturday, too, which pretty much seals all the major decisions. There are still lots of details, sure, but the big stuff is done and mostly paid for. Hooray!
*Sorry for the flashbacks, Tanner.
There wasn't any hockey last night, as Vancouver has already moved on. It's game seven for Boston and Tampa Bay, though. I'm going to say Boston wins a tight one, based mostly on it being in Boston and I kinda like Tim Thomas. Then it's on to the Stanley Cup finals, which is a big moment in my sports calendar.
In basketball, the Bulls choked again. I had a feeling this would happen, and said as much as I was leaving the Bulls-Pacers playoff game I went to. The Pacers lost that one (another close one), and Bulls fans were going nuts. I kept shaking my head and wondering what they were all amped about. If you're having that much trouble with a team that scraped its way into the playoffs, how were you going to handle a real top-tier team like Miami or Boston? And we got our answer, which was not well. I'll be the first to admit I haven't watched a full game since the Pacers went out, but from what I've seen, Dirk Nowitzki finally figured out the secret of basketball. Or tapped into some of that crazy Nazi science I read about in Irregular Webcomic! and now is part cyborg. Either way, I'm picking the Mavs. But, you knew I couldn't go too long on this blog without talking about how turning the Bulls logo upside down makes it a robot reading a book. And, well, today is that day. Literate Robot might not be the best name for a basketball team, but it sounds like a pretty good band name to me.
In baseball, there weren't very many games last night, and I again didn't really watch any because of wedding stuff. The Cubs won pretty big earlier in the day, which makes them tied with Pittsburgh for 4th. And now the Cubs and Pirates play each other, and this is one of those series where I get conflicted. The Cubs have been my team for life, but I know these Pirate players. Plus, the Pirates are scrapping their way back to respectable, so my heart always goes out to those teams. So, that probably means I'll watch these games and just root for good games and feel dirty doing it.
In a quick update, the Derek Jeter Hit Counter stands at 2,976 as of this morning. Surely, even at the measley (for Jeter) .255 he's currently hitting, it won't take him too long to get these last 24 hits. And good for him. I've not been the biggest Jeter fan, mostly because he has been Mr. Yankee of this generation. But it's hard to get too down on him, as he's always gone about things the right way and always gave it his all. And now that he's entering the twilight of his career, I think it would be very fitting for him to be the first Yankee to get 3,000 hits, all in pinstripes.
This also marks Memorial Day weekend, which means I've been paying attention to racing for a past few weeks, and now comes the one race I care about. This is an especially special Indy 500, being the 100th anniversary of the first race. Dan Dakich keeps saying "people who know" are really pushing Danica, but I can't buy that based on the qualifying the general mess the Andretti team has been this month. It's not a guarantee, but I would think the winner is most likely to come from the first three rows or so. Plus, there are definitely no flukes in that first nine. This leaves me picking from Alex Tagliani, Scott Dixon, Oriol Servia, Townsend Bell, Will Power, Dan Wheldon, Buddy Rice, Ed Carpenter, and Dario Fanchitti.
Even for those of us who just watch one race a year, those are some pretty rocking names. My heart's with Ed Carpenter, mostly because he's running with Sarah Fisher's crew. So he's my hopeful to win, but my head says he won't get it done. So, if my heart doesn't get to pick, my head says it'll be Will Power, because I'm told he's been tearing up the other IRL races and he's done well here before. But this whole field is littered with great drivers, and you never know where the wrecks are coming. Just ask Danica about the 2008 race. For those who don't remember, Danica had been complaining about her car all day, but managed to get it up to 7th before Ryan Briscoe took her out on pit road. I'm sure it was accidental, but Danica started walking over towards his crew, and it sure looked like she was ready to throw fists. Part of me wanted to see how that ended, but it was probably for the best when security turned her away.
Anyway, have a great weekend. I haven't really decided if I'm writing on Monday or not. Maybe that will be my post-race column, and then we can all ignore motor-sports for another year.
I just wanted to take a quick moment to be glad that Tuesday set a new high for readers in a day, and yesterday was definitely higher than usual. So to all the new folks, welcome, I'm glad to have you. Hope you find it as enjoyable to read and I do to write, and don't be a stranger with the comments (as most have clearly been). Anyway, on to today's post.
For those of you who haven't heard of Wordle, let me just say it is one of the greatest things I've ever found, and I think I've finally got enough content to use it on this blog. Here's the current cloud.
There are a few words in there I would think it would filter out, like it does for words like "a" and "the." But, it seems clear that I abuse "just" and "good." I'm going to make it a bit of a personal goal not to use those two words for a whole week. "Pretty" as a modifier might get thrown in there as well, though "pretty" as an adjective (ie "a pretty play" as opposed to "pretty good") will be acceptable. Other than that, the big words are about what you would expect. I did think it was funny 3-2 made an appearance. I'm also not sure just how far back Wordle takes this blog, as I note Dexter made an appearance, and I'm pretty sure I only used that in one post, maybe two.
Now, I've known about this tool for a little while, and I'll admit, it kind of fascinates me. I wrote a novelization of Earthbound a little while back. That was one of the first things I ran through Wordle. Here was the result.
I'll bet you can guess who the main characters are. I also used "just" too much there, too. To bring this back to a sports related topic, here's a Wordle that listed each NBA team's minutes-played leaders. Here's the Pacers, which I think would be a My-T-Fine poster). Maybe a throw a logo on there for good measure, but I don't think it's necessary.
As far as actual sports go, I didn't get to watch a lot because all the severe storms we had knocked out my satellite. I did get to see the end of the Mavs-Thunder and fell asleep before the Reds-Phils marathon ended. And apparently I missed a Dane Sardinha (who I've had dinner with) sighting. Apparently the TV crew was mostly asleep by the the time he got in the game, too.
Before I get into the good day for the NL Central, though, it's time to point out that my adopted-for-this-postseason Vancouver Canucks moved into the Stanley Cup finals last night in dramatic fashion. I watched all of the first three periods, but fell asleep before overtime started, so I missed the winning goal and didn't see if they touched the Campbell Bowl or not.* In any case, good to see a Canadian team back in the finals. Plus, any excuse to post maybe the worst jerseys off all-time, maybe in any sport, is a plus.** That said, the Canucks actually wore these downright respectful jerseys in the 1994 finals (relatively speaking).
*Some Wikipedia editor (presumably from Vancouver) is ON IT. Also, upon further review, they didn't.
**Special thanks to my cube-neighbor Jonathan Mayer for finding this picture.
The much-maligned* Roberto Luongo played out of his head for most of the game. Based on the first period, I really thought the Sharks would get shut out. Vancouver scored on a pretty slick goal early in the game, and I really thought that might be all the scoring we would see. But, Luongo let a sort-of soft one in on a power play, and then made a pretty bone-headed decision in the third period to put the game in jeopardy. Thankfully for Canada, the Canucks battled back and forced OT with just 13 seconds remaining on the clock, ending regulation on one of the best games of this postseason. It should also be noted that Ryan Kesler, the goal scorer, hobbled off the ice earlier in the game and was a real question mark if he would return at all.
*To Blackhawk fans, anyway.
Unfortunately, as I noted earlier, I fell asleep at this point, so I didn't get to see this odd goal to clinch the conference, or all the traditions that go along with it. Oh well. Maybe I'll be able to make it all the way through Boston and Tampa this evening, assuming Boston wins (a big assumption)..
In baseball news, the Cubs actually blew somebody out! True, that somebody was the Mets, which you may have heard are kind of a mess these days. But, I'm not going to be the one to talk bad about an 11-1 win. In fact, the whole NL Central had a pretty good day. In addition to the Cubs, the Cards won 3-2 (in extras), the Reds won 6-3, and the Brewers won 7-6. The two losers, Pittsburgh and Houston, lost by a combined three runs. Not a bad day at all. Plus, there was a Reed Johnson sighting in center field yesterday. Now, I like Marlon Byrd, but Reed might be my favorite current Cub. And he made a sweet diving catch while I was flipped over to the baseball game between periods.
This is probably going to turn into AP Hockey for the next couple weeks, so just be prepared. It'll be full-time baseball after that, though. Until then, enjoy Johnny Canuck. He play with no real helmet or pads, but don't take his gloves away. That's a pretty rough-hewn stick, and Johnny Canuck does not do splinters.
So we have to settle for the Cleveland "I." If anybody wants to take me to task for calling the Indians a "lost organization" last month, feel very free. I definitely deserve it. The Indians kept rolling, beating the Red Sox 3-2 and are the first team to 30 wins in the bigs. You may be asking yourself, who are these Indians? I know I am, so let's look at who's driving this team.
First of all, names you might have heard. Shin-Soo Choo is (until recently, anyway) the current holder of the Garrett Anderson "Most Underrated Award." Anybody who had him in fantasy knew what he was doing, along with guys on MLB Network, but that was about it. He is the product of a baseball academy in Korea, and they did a fine job. Apparently the man can hold his liquor, too. I don't think I would even be standing if I blew a .21, let alone trying to drive a car. You've also heard of Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner, but the Tribe have been doing this damage without them. They've played a combined 50 games, and they were all very productive games. But, when two (star) players combine for just a touch more than total games played, there's an issue.
A definite name to remember is Asdrubal Cabrera (SS). Right now, the guy is hitting for a .312 average, hit 10 homers, stole seven bases, and is boasting an OPS* of .919. That OPS number is 14th best in baseball, and he's done it with 186 at bats. The 13 ahead of him average 160 at bats. He's got a very impressive season going and ought to be an All-Star. I would argue that he should be the All-Star starter, but I doubt he has the name recognition yet. We'll see if Jeter's struggles have dimmed his star amongst casual baseball fans yet. I'd wager no.
*On Base Plus Slugging. Pretty much what it says, your on-base percentage plus your slugging percentage.
Anyway, back to the Indians. I was going to keep going down the list, but it's become very clear very quickly that basically everybody on the roster is having a very solid year with names you never heard of. Or had heard of, but were definitely not impressed by.* Which sounds awfully familiar. It might be a good thing MLB finally put a team in Miami.** Plus, the real owner looks like this rather than this.
*Here's looking at you, Justin Masterson and Fausto Carmona.
**That might be a regretful decision, though, going by the attendance numbers. Maybe the new ballpark will help.
So, to all who despaired because it looked like LeBron took the last mangled remains of Cleveland and stomped on them with the glee of a three-year-old stomping on a bug, fear not. Chief Wahoo has restored some hope in a city that is perennially in short supply.
Plus, I know a lot of people have been down on Chief Wahoo the past, oh, I dunno, fifteen years or so. I, however, love him and love the Indians hats. So, here's a picture of him, just because. And if somebody can make him into a pretzel, by God, I want pictures.
I had a great, amazing weekend. I went to Missouri to celebrate my Uncle Charlie and Aunt Dottie's 40th wedding anniversary. We were the only folks from Indiana to make the trip, which was a good surprise for them. Kristine and I got to hit up the Dexter BBQ,* which was amazing as always. Had a great time catching up with people at the party, snapped some pictures, and had our usual breakfast at the American Steakhouse. A great trip, and it's made coming back to work awfully hard today.
*I had no idea there were locations outside of Dexter, but good for them. They deserve it.
I won't harp on work, though. This isn't the blog, and history would seem to indicate nothing good comes from complaining about your place of employment on the internet. This is the blog, though, to complain about the Cubs. Other than a very good eight inning on Saturday, they were their usual dud selves this weekend. It's bad enough the Cubs are sitting a five games under, six and half out of first and we're not even through May. But I've gotten a bit numb to the losing, at least this year. What is worse is the throwback game they played on Saturday. I didn't see it live, because I was at the party, but that's just as well.
For those unaware, this was the first series the Cubs played in Fenway since the 1918 World Series (not the first time ever, as I previously wrote), and so to mark the occasion, the teams wore the uniforms from that series. Now, there are always going to be some inconsistencies between the modern throwbacks and the actual jerseys. But, unlike the game in LA with the Dodgers, the execution was. . . well, lacking. Here is the uniform at the Hall of Fame's database, Dressed to the Nines. And for good measure, here is the Red Sox look from that year. Now, here is what they actually wore. Not the worst execution, they seem to have nailed the logo. But those socks are nowhere near what they are supposed to be. I'm also not sure the unis should be grey, but I'll chalk that up to MLB rules. The Red Sox were a bit harder to mess up, as they were just plain white. But, again, the socks are not right at all, and that seems kind of necessary with a jersey that plain. That said, there wasn't a whole lot you could do about those jerseys. Both teams also had numbers on the back, which isn't period appropriate. Again, probably MLB rules, but if they can have everybody wear 42, they can go one game without numbers. There were also the Majestic marks that felt out of place, but I can't gripe too hard about Majestic. They're a whole lot better about that than Nike and Under Armor.
Back to actual play on the field, the Pirates had a good weekend, now sitting just two games under .500. This just might be the year, folks. Not to get to the playoffs or anything, but at least say they spent a year winning. In Ohio, the surprising Indians kept surprising, sweeping what looked to be a surging Reds team. If Cleveland can win today against a hot Boston team,* they'll be the first to 30 wins this year. Who woulda thunk it? I'm starting to wonder if we're watching a real life Major League. I'm not sure who's playing what parts, though. I might sit down and sort that out later.
*Yeah, I know, they just got done playing the Cubs. But they played the Yankees last week, too, so that 8 out of 9 wins is pretty good.
In other news, the Indy Indians have also gotten hot. They are still five games under, but that's a whole lot better than it looked like the season was going to play out. And the Wabash baseball team was ousted this weekend after losing a nail-biter to Salisbury on Friday, 7-5. Still a pretty darned good year. Now it's time for the Dans to get into the swing of things.
Also found out I get to stay at work for an extra hour. And just as I was bursting with joy to be back at the cube, too.I also just jumped right into to writing this entry, but I've decided I really need to start putting at least a lede photo on these posts. So, after deciding that, you know get a picture of some ribs from the Dexter BBQ.
I'm heading to Missouri after work today, and I can't wait. I've only been at work for an hour, and I've already lost a lot of faith in humanity. Or at least in humanity's literacy. I swear, the next time somebody tells me they aren't a computer wizard, I'm going to point out to them that all they need to do is read. Really, it's not that hard. All I need you to do is just read the list and find what I ask you to. I never know how bad a significant part of the population was at reading until I started this job.
But, hey, it's fine. I'm told the rapture starts tomorrow, so I won't have to be annoyed much longer. If the rapture comes through, I know I'm not answering any more tech support calls one way or the other. Of course, I would feel a little more confident if the rapture had any real Biblical evidence beyond one very vague line in a letter from Paul. But, you know, it could always spring a new denomination, like the Seventh-Day Adventists. No reason to let silly things like failed prophecies get in the way.
In sporting news, I get to wade deep into Cardinal country with my hardcore Cardinal fan relatives just in time for St. Louis to claw their way back into first, and the Cubs sitting not-so-pretty in fifth. They did just sweep a surprisingly good Marlins team, but they're still a third place finisher in that division. I'm ready to revise my wild card pick to whoever comes in second in the East, Braves or Phillies. I just have to hope that the Cubs can make a decent showing in their first trip ever (I think, anyway) to Fenway Park. Saturday's game is supposed to be a throwback game, so that's something to look forward to. The one in LA came out pretty nice (not Braves-nice, but nice). We'll see if the 1918 version turns out as well. I guess I just worry the Cubs' play won't be up to their uniforms.
In other sporting events, the Boston Bruins shut out the Lightning 2-0 last night, giving them a 2-1 edge in the series. Things are shaping up for my preferred Stanley Cup (at least at this point) of Vancouver and Boston. And, if you can't tell, I've kind of adopted the Canucks as my team since the Blackhawks went out. And, as far as adopted rooting interests go, Animal Kingdom will see if he's a real Triple Crown threat on Saturday, too. I'm pulling for him.
And a hearty congratulations to my Wabash College Little Giants. They beat up on Christopher Newport 9-3 yesterday in the NCAA regionals. I feel kind of bad for Christopher Newport. They were ranked second in the nation coming into regionals, and first in the South region where Wabash was placed. They were promptly swept out of the tournament after Wabash beat them, after suffering an 11-1 defeat to Webster. Neither of which, it should be noted, were in the Top 25, nor were they particularly close to it. 'Bash plays again this afternoon, taking on Salisbury. And if the bracket weren't so ridiculous to understand, I would say a win today puts them into the championship game, but I think that depends on how the other games go. All I really know is dotted lines don't belong on a bracket.
In any case, just remember that Wabash Always Fights, and I would be tickled pink if Wabash got to meet Marietta (the #1 ranked team nationally) in the World Series rounds.
Before we do that, though, let me just note that the Canucks really piled it on the Sharks last night. I fell asleep before it was over, and it was 3-2 Vancouver last I knew. When I woke up this morning, I found out the final was 7-2, (obviously) Vancouver wins. It might be over early out west. And good for Vancouver. They've been a team for 40 years (a fact that is trumpeted at center ice at the moment) and made two trips to the finals. First a fluke team that got it's lunch handed to them by a very strong New York Islanders team (part of their four-in-a-row dynasty) in 1982.* The return engagement was in i1994, where they ran into a team of destiny in the New York Rangers. This, though, was a much better showing than their first New York trip. 1982 was a a pretty unceremonious sweep, none of the games being very close. 1994 was a seven-game dogfight. The Rangers won by a combined score of 21-19. But, alas, the Rangers had a curse to break. Now it seems to be Vancouver's turn, and they won't have to deal with a New York team to break it.
*1982, it should be noted, is a special year for Wabash College as well. That was the year Pete Metzelaars and crew led the basketball team to a national championship.
Now, on to the Cubs. They managed to hold on last night, winning 7-5. I didn't see most of the game, but Brenley mentioned Jeff Samardzija* pitched well and picked up the win. Samardzija, as you may be aware, played tight end for Notre Dame, which is cool. But it might have set him back a bit as a pitcher, as witnessed by his many trips to Iowa. I always thought he was going to make a fine closer, but then Carlos Marmol showed that was going to be a lost cause. Besides, Samardzija wanted to start. Which required another trip to Iowa, and he had so much success he's back in the bullpen. Still, as Brenley noted, it might not look pretty, but he has been getting the job done, so good for him. He's also one win behind Carlos Zambrano for the Cubs lead, which highlights one of the many problems the Cubs have this year.
*How that poor kid ever learned how to spell his name astounds me. I'll bet he was a spelling bee champ.
Maybe the story of the night, though, was Alfonso Soriano's continued ineptitude with the glove. You may remember he broke in with the Yankees at second base, and he hit a ton. But, he cost the team too many runs with the errors he made. This continued when he was traded (for that reason) to the Texas Rangers, who in turn traded him to the Washington Nationals. His stint in the capital was only notable* for finally being moved off the infield, which had been bandied about for some time. He stayed in left when he got to Chicago, and he showed he can throw runners out. He led the league in outfield assists in Washington, and I know (until recently, anyway) watching him in Chicago I expected runners to be cut down if there was any play at all out of left. But I still have to wonder why he bothers to bring a glove to the ballpark. His ongoing series "Adventures in the Outfield" continued last night on a routine ground ball. You know it's not a good sign when a ball that's hit a couple feet in front of the plate turns into an outfield circus.
*He actually was pretty decent, but most people seem to totally forget his year in Washington, and sometimes his stop in Texas and just remember his time with New York and Chicago. I guess that's the power of the "money franchise."
I guess I'm just curious how he has never turned up as a DH. Clearly he can hit, that has never been an issue. In 2008, he was very clearly the most exciting lead-off man I've ever watched, and he started off plenty of games with homers. But his defense has been atrocious no matter where he's put. Maybe it's time for him to take the Jim Thome route and not even have a glove at the park.
I'm not sure when it was announced that Harmon Killebrew had succumbed to esophageal cancer. I don't remember if I had heard before I wrote yesterday's post or not. It was not a shock. Killebrew had just announced last week that the doctors didn't think they could beat this cancer, so he was moving to hospice care to finish his days in the company of his wife.
Killebrew was a legend, that's for sure. The problem is, he was well before my time, and I'm not entirely sure I had ever seen any footage of the man until yesterday. I had heard his name time and time again, obviously. But how did I manage to miss a man so great? It sounds like because he was a pretty low-key guy his entire life, homers or not. But it seems networks would run old footage of him they way they do Mays or Mantle or somebody. Such is life, I suppose. Not everybody can be an icon.
Still, footage or no, there was plenty of tributes to Killebrew since his passing. One of the best, for my money, anyway, is the Twins deciding to wear jerseys from 1961 for the rest of their home dates in honor of Killebrew. This means the Twins are effectively mothballing a second-year jersey to honor a fallen giant. That's pretty cool stuff. It's just a shame the Twins turned awful this year, though maybe this will the spark to inspire them. That would certainly be the Hollywood ending.
In any case, after thinking about Killebrew and being totally unqualified to add anything more, I'm going to stop writing today and encourage you, if you haven't already, to go out and read all the nice pieces on Sports Illustrated and the like about Killebrew and all the stories that I have somehow missed until now.
Sorry about missing yesterday, it won't be a habit, I promise. Yesterday was just bad on a number of levels. But, we're back today. Eating at the Beef House on the company dollar can only help matters.
In any case, I would like to have a word with you, ESPN. I consume a lot of your products. I listen almost exclusively to EPSN radio. I watch a lot of ESPN on TV. There are stretches where ESPN might be the only broadcast media I consume.* They call themselves the Worldwide Leader in Sports, and while "Leader" may be a stretch, they are certainly the most popular, and for a reason.
*That's probably not strictly true, because I watch a pretty fair amount of History International, too. And ESPN doesn't show hockey, or the Cubs, or the Colts, or the Pacers, for that matter. But I do watch PTI almost every day, I usually fall asleep to Sportscenter, and like I said, it is awfully rare that my radio dial isn't tuned to 1070 AM.
All that said, why is ESPN's baseball coverage so God-awful? Baseball Tonight (or BBTN, as they apparently like to be called these days) seems to have become a shell of itself, in spite of picking up Barry Larkin, who I really liked on MLB Network. The actual game coverage is brutal. You would think ESPN money could buy top notch announcers, but that has been a total flop. They did have one of the best play-by-play guys ever in Jon Miller, but chose to let him go, so now San Fran gets him to themselves.* Oral Hershiser was a great pitcher. Not so great in the booth. I wish Bobby Valentine were half as funny in the booth as he seemed in the dugout. Dan Shulman is just lost in the mix. I haven't watched enough Monday and Tuesday night ball yet to make a judgement on both of those announcers, but what little I have watched has been underwhelming.
*I would have loved for Miller to go back to Baltimore to cover the Orioles again, but I sources tell me the Orioles are not what they once were.
And can somebody tell me what ESPN was thinking to put the K-Zone up during play? They do realize that their K-Zone isn't official, right? The only thing official about the strike zone is what the umpire calls a strike, and each individual umpire has different limits for what is close enough for a strike. Sometimes umpires get a little too into the moment and can get a little too lenient (see Eric Gregg giving Livan Hernandez pitches the Braves couldn't hit with a phone pole in the '97 NLCS), and that's frustrating. But no amount of showing the K-Zone makes it more official. Those are strikes because the umpire said so. All you're doing is cluttering up the screen with unimportant crap. K-Zone is great for between pitches to fill some time and show just how fine big league pitchers are around the corners. It is just offensive, at least to real baseball fans, to show it during play.
I understand ESPN wants to be on the edge of the curve and stay current. But, to mix my metaphors, ESPN also has a nasty habit of out-kicking its coverage. Maybe you should test that out on some day games. I'm sure you could sacrifice a little bit of time on EPSNews during the day, or even the Deuce, to show a AAA game or college game and test that out, get the fan reaction. Maybe they did, but if so, it sure wasn't advertised or anything. And given history, I doubt any real testing was done. This is the same network that brought you Kentucky basketball entirely from the camera underneath the scoreboard hanging from center court. Because I'm sure every basketball fan has wished to know what it would feel like to watch from the Jumbotron, and what better game to give it a test spin than one of the premier basketball programs in the country?
I also think that MLB Network has so outclassed all the other "league networks" that it has also left ESPN looking silly. Really, if you haven't watched much MLB Network, and you're a baseball fan, you really ought to start. Top notch stuff there.