Yankees’ playoff October is made for John (Pa Pinstripe) Sterling and Suzyn (Ma Pinstripe) Waldman.
That’s mostly because the local TV side — only on YES — gives way to one of baseball’s national TV partners, that paid goo-gobs of moolah to purchase the right to televise October baseball. On Wednesday, TBS will air the A’s-Bombers one-and-done affair with analyst Ron Darling. His play-by-play partner will be named Monday.
It likely won’t be Michael Kay, the TV voice of the Bombers on YES.
This is the cruel irony facing Yankees loyalists. If the Bombers beat Oakland and head for a division series matchup with the Red Sox, win that, and enter the ALCS, fans will get a steady diet of TBS mouths. We have no problem with that, but for years, no matter what national broadcast team is at the mikes, there has been plenty of pushback from fans who would rather watch/listen to, in the case of the Yankees, Mr. Kay and YES’ Land of 1000 Analysts.
If fans want the YES men working the game, imagine how the broadcasters feel. Working a do-or-die wild card game is a unique experience. Darling has been at the mike for most of them on TBS. “As a broadcaster I love it,” Darling, one of the Mets’ SNY voices, said during a recent interview. “I get to do a Game 7 before I get to do any other game. Every wild card game I’ve done has been incredibly compelling.”
Only more reason why a Kay or a David Cone, or a John Flaherty would like to be in the playoff booth (YES will have extensive pre and postgame coverage Wednesday). There is a way this could happen. Once upon a time, the national TV broadcaster would bring in a local team broadcaster to work with the national crew.
Not only would this satisfy fans of the participating teams, but it would give the national broadcast more depth in terms of having a voice who had covered the team all season, a broadcaster who was on the inside, so to speak. Why did networks stop using the local voice? The money they paid for playoff rights (now in the billions) made it incumbent on the networks to build a strong baseball brand. And that meant creating their own broadcast teams and selling them as the voices of Fox or TBS or ESPN baseball.
“Things have changed,” said John J. Filippelli, YES’ president production/programming, who worked for NBC Sports when it was one of MLB’s national broadcasters. “When I was at NBC we used the local announcers (in the postseason) because he brought a different dimension. The local broadcaster sees the team every day. It’s like our guys, they major in the Yankees.”
Turner has been sensitive to this. During the Final Four, it has a “homer” channel, which uses hoops voices who have worked with a team most of the season. That won’t happen during baseball’s postseason. There are too many games. It could work in the LCS’ or World Series, but there has been no evidence any network is rushing to bring a home team channel to baseball’s playoffs.
And it doesn’t look like they are in any hurry to bring a home voice into their booth, when his team is involved in the playoffs. Too bad. So, where will you land on Wednesday?
TBS? Ma and Pa?
KNOCKOUT BLOW FOR BOXING ON HBO
The news was sad. After 45 years in the chaotic business of boxing, HBO Sports stopped the fight.
No more Saturday nights, no more PPV extravaganzas. Whatever HBO’s true reason for getting out (it says the sport is not unique anymore, and HBO Sports is shifting its strategy) is tempered by memories of what year after year, was the finest production in the history of sports TV.
This is a testament to everyone, from the suits, to the camera people, audio gnomes, everyone in the truck (once I saw Larry Holmes drive them crazy by purposely coming out the wrong tunnel for his ring entrance), to the stage managers and, of course, the voices who called the fights.
Through the years, HBO brought quality to the microphones, but creativity was not in short supply either. When the producers put together Jim Lampley, George Foreman and Larry Merchant they wound up with the greatest three-man booth in sports broadcasting history. Cantankerous, knowledgeable, clever, fearless. And most importantly, unpredictable and amazingly entertaining. I would tune in to watch these guys call a cat fight.
And at the end of every telecast, it was Merchant signing off with a spontaneous soliloquy that would either have you screaming at the TV or crying. That’s just how The Merchant of Menace, a columnist at heart, could move you. He would often spin cautionary tales about the business of boxing.
Well, the business of boxing eventually catches up with everyone involved.
It finally got HBO Sports.
WORTH A WATCH
Stumbled across an episode of Bleacher Report’s (Chris) Simms & (Adam) Lefkoe Show. Let’s just say we will be stumbling across it again.
It’s kind of a 20 minute football variety show that not only provides unique info, but is clever, funny (without being stupid) and original. Definitely not two Gasbags screaming into a camera. The production value is excellent, which indicates BR must actually be spending money on the show. Simms and Lefkoe strike a chemical balance that’s not forced. They can do snark but, at the same time, are likeable.
They actually go on the road and have had cats like Sean McVay, Terrell Owens, Chad Johnson and Sudden Sam Darnold on the show. Through three episodes, Simms/Lefkoe has had upwards of 5 million views across BR’s different platforms.
ANOTHER L FOR THE JETS
When it comes to announcer assignments for Sunday’s slate of NFL games, the Jets got the short end of the stick.
This is a week where CBS has an NFC matchup — Saints-Giants — in the 4:15 p.m. window. CBS No. 1 team, Jim Nantz and Tony Romo, will work that tilt. Fox gets an AFC matchup – Jets-Jags – in the early 1 p.m. slot with Dan Hellie and, get this, Jeff Fisher handling the call. We have no idea where this team ranks on the Foxies depth chart.
The game is going to only 10% of the country. Does that make it a semi- blackout?
AROUND THE DIAL
Could it be that after it pushed the Jets to draft Sam Darnold, the usual suspects – aka The Joe Benigno Bunch – now want to run Todd Bowles out of town? Guess everyone needs someone to bitch about … Anyone else wondering why Chris Carlin doesn’t talk much Rutgers football on CMB? … ”B,” also known as Bart Scott, was scheduled to appear Saturday on NFLN’s “Good Morning Football Weekend.” Scott’s camp is optimistic over him making more appearances on NFLN. Also, Scott is very fond of saying he was “the first” one to have predicted something or pointed out something. Pump the brakes on that. It will come back to bite you … For those wondering why Ron Darling chose to flip-flop after we wrote he said he was interested in the Mets GM job, well, I have audio of his comments but I refuse to release that audio to the Mueller Investigation.
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DUDE OF THE WEEK: BILLIE JEAN KING
When news broke that this trailblazer has become a minority owner of the iconic L.A. Dodgers you could sense the playing field leveling once again. Billie Jean King doesn’t believe in barriers or ceilings. She believes in fulfilling your dreams. And the games we love are all better for it.
DWEEB OF THE WEEK: NFL COMPETITION COMMITTEE
This committee of pigskin brainiacs have done a masterful job: They have united nearly all players, coaches and media in collectively trashing the new rules protecting the leagues Papier-Mache quarterbacks. Something’s amiss guys. Remember, admitting a mistake is good for the soul.
What Kristaps Porzingis said: “Whenever I’m ready, I’m going to be back.”