Monday, May 07, 2007

"Now what I want you to do is just get everybody out from now on so we can win. OK? OK."

Wonderfully validating anti-Sportsthink moment from tonight's ESPN Monday Night Baseball telecast. Yanks vs. Mariners. Third inning. The Yanks' rookie pitcher, Matt DeSalvo, is having trouble finding the plate. (Note to non-baseball fans. That means he's throwing balls when he should be throwing strikes.) He walks the first two Seattle hitters, with the heart of the order coming up. Pitching coach Ron Guidry calls time, visits the mound for a chat. Guidry departs, DeSalvo promptly throws a pitch that's hit on the ground to all-everything shortstop Derek Jeter, who smoothly converts a twin killing. (Note to non-baseball fans: That means you get two outs on one play. Also known as a double-play.) One had to smile at the ensuing banter between former star pitcher/current ESPN analyst Rick Sutcliffe (a diehard Sportsthinker if ever there was one, thus a tireless fount of related cliches) and play-by-play man Dave O'Brien (who has cultivated a reputation as a more cerebral/cynical announcer in the Vin Scully/Bob Costas mold).

Sutcliffe says: "Well, whatever Guidry told him worked."
O'Brien replies: "Yes, he said, 'Make him hit it to that guy at short, he's pretty good.' "

...All right...maybe you had to be there. But I found it gratifying, so humor me.


Cal said...

I don't notice it as much in baseball, but what really irks me is the sideline reporters in football and basketball. The information they provide is not all that enlightening and the questions that are asked at halftime to either the coaches or players elicit so many rote responses. Maybe it was a great idea when Jim Lampley started doing it in the '70s on college football, but it needs to be stopped IMO.

Steve Salerno said...

Yes, Cal, I will admit that this has always been worse in the more "intense" sports, like football and hoops, which tend naturally to lend themselves to greater (overt) emotion, and thus are more easily converted into metaphor, allegory, and the focus of inane questioning on same by media types. I don't recall if I mentioned this in SHAM, but the single best putdown/comeback to this type of questioning was authored by none other than Larry Bird. A reporter came up to the Pacers' then-coach with a complex question that incorporated all sorts of data--apparently the reporter was quite proud of his statistical analysis--then asked Bird to speculate whether, "based on all this," Bird expected the Pacers to win their forthcoming playoff game. Bird paused for a beat, then replied, "Look, all I know is, we win 100 percent of the games where we finish with more points than the other guy."

Trish Ryan said...

That's pretty funny. Even funnier if you're a Red Sox fan. Honestly, I can't remember a time when the Yankees were so consistently bad - for my whole life, they've been like the mob of baseball: they'd roll into town, and everyone would hide, hoping the carnage wouldn't be too bad.

If you want classic non-sportsthink commentary, check out NESN's Remdawg (I'm not even sure what his real name is). He talks about the furniture in his hotel room, how many times his co-commentator changes suits, and what the food is like at the different stadiums. No power of positive thinking to be found.

Steve Salerno said...

Trish, I really like your mob metaphor. I think it was especially apt for a while there, too, with the team being run by Torre and Mazzilli and Girardi and the rest of the Five Families. Indeed, of late, it might even be possible (and, who knows, valid) to conceive the timeless enmity that has always existed between the Yanks and Sox in more updated, ethnic, "Gangs of New York" (or even "The Departed") terms: the Mafia coming up to Fenway to try to vanquish the Irish mob, who are sick and tired of being bullied...

Yanno, I think that's exactly what the Yanks/Sox rivalry needs to make it fresh and compelling to a new generation: a strong note of gang violence, complete with "hits" in front of fruit stands, bombs underneath cars, etc.

Whaddya think? ;)