While the Phillies and Rays' games have been back and forth battles there's something else that's been bothering me. Something that starts with a "J" and ends with an "oe Buck".
I've said before that Tweedle Dumbass irritates me. Last night was no exception. While Jamey Moyer pitched quite well for a man who can now collect AARP benefits, and the Rays defense kept an erratic Garza in the game, Mr. Buck's started telling us the story of Matt Garza's confrontation with Dionner Navarro, then veering off on a tangent about Eva Longoria, then giving a pitch count, then telling us that 24 Redemption is "OUTSTANDING" (what a shock!), then giving Ryan Howard's statistics, then urging us to watch football, and then finishing the Garza story, just 4 short innings later. Just so you know Dumbass, any time you want to call the game, that's okay too.
For a while I found sweet, sweet relief. I turned on the radio and heard San Francisco Giants announcers (Jon Miller and Joe Morgan) call a couple innings. They talked about things like the strategy for hitting against a fastball specialist like Matt Garza, and the effect of the Jamey Moyer's change-up on young Rays hitters. Unfortunately, my parents didn't like the time delay between seeing something, and hearing it called on the radio.
This begged the question: why don't I have magic powers that can eliminate the time delay between television and radio? Since I can't answer that one, I'll ask another: why do we have the worst announcers in the game, for the biggest games in the season? Why must we be forced to have Joe Buck and Tim McCarver in our home for three weeks a year, like the unwanted Mounds bar halloween candy you buy on sale November first?
The answer, of course, is money. Fox pays baseball top dollar, so Fox gets to show the Series. FOX pays 466 Million Dollars each year to broadcast one game a week and two rounds of the playoffs. But baseball ratings have dropped precipitously ever since Fox took over, with this years ratings marking the lowest ebb yet and since Fox took over World Series ratings have gone, down...down...down.
Why all this has happened, no one can quite explain: some point the finger at the networks forgetting to advertise baseball until October (I don't know if I'd like to see Justin Morneau on American Idol...but it would probably juice up the ratings), others say that it's the lack of major markets in the World Series (but the Yankees/Mets Series in 2000 got the lowest ratings of all time--until two years later, when the Angels were in it).
I say it's the announcers. If you give a lousy product to enough people, eventually they're not going to want it (Of course, I said the same thing about the Scary Movie Franchise...and those guys must be bazillionaires by now). If the announcers don't make watching the game even more enjoyable, you have to be a serious fan to endure it. Witness: the first three pages of a google search and Buck and McCarver yields nothing positive, but dozens of "fire these idiots" petitions.
So let me make a suggestion baseball: void your contract with Fox and move things over to ABC (which owns ESPN and thus would own the sport). They already pay 200 Million, plus Fox's 400 means you can get more than 600 Million Dollars, let's say: 624,375,000.
Why that amount?
Because if you take away $24,375,000, you'd still have the richest television contract in the history of baseball, and you'd be able to pay for one day of free admission for every major league team as an apology for the '94 strike, rampant steroid use, Buck and McCarver, and those hideous Futuristic Jerseys from the late 90's.
You'd make thousands of average baseball fans happy and give yourself a huge PR bump. Add in an inning or two of announcing for local fans at home from your new premier announcers (say: Hall of Famers Bob Ueker, Tony Gwynn, and oughta-be-hall-of-famer Bert Blyleven), and you suddenly have made a move that makes baseball a topic of conversation throughout America, whether they are sports fans or not. Make yourself the sport for fans, the sport that gives back, the sport that admits mistakes and make yourself the sport everyone likes.
That would be awesome; but almost completely inconceivable. So Tweedle Dum will keep giggling like a teenager in health class at anything remotely amusing, and Tweedle Dumbass will keep whining about every umpire call like a teenager doing health class homework. And ratings will keep dropping.
But owners will keep getting money. And isn't that what matters?
Oh...wait...no it's not. A back and forth ball game, with home runs, scrappy plays and a walk off...whatever that was for the Phillies...that's what matters.