Regal Blue

Hudler and Physioc fired, LA/OC area 65% less homer-y

Posted in Sports by gklarsen on November 25, 2009

This is just the best.  If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time (and my statistics show that you haven’t) then you know my special loathing for poor announcers.  Hudler and Physioc have always been two of my least favorite.  Steve Physioc isn’t a terrible announcer, but it’s his voice that gets to me.  It just sounds so…white.  It sounds like south Orange County.  It sounds like a voice that’s mass-produced in some factory overseas.  The passion is all fake.  It’s only all too obvious that he calls baseball games because, well, that’s who hired him.  He would sound exactly the same if he were calling games for the Arena Football League.

Hudler is another matter altogether.  I do not doubt for one second that he loves him some baseball.  He’s an Angel fan.  Oh my dear lord is he an Angel fan.  He probably remembers his playing days for them fondly, given that he was actually an okay hitter in limited at bats (couldn’t get on base to save his life, but walks are for losers, right Rex?).  Hudler is indeed so much of a fan that he had become one of the biggest homer announcers this side of the Hawk.  The Angels can do no wrong in his book.  His favorite, of course, was Vladimir Guererro for whom he coined many an irritating nick name.

Yet it wasn’t his exceptional homerism that made Hudler so bad as much as his constant awfulness at, well, announcing.  Commonplace were calls that were simply wrong.  As Rudy Kelly pointed out, getting a run and making it 5 – 2 does not “cut the score in half.”  He could mix his metaphors with the best of ’em (Looks like Salmon is gonna swim upstream and pull that line drive right out of the water!).  Statistics were not his forte, and he wouldn’t be caught dead using anything but wins and batting average.  If Hudler were to ever cheat on Guererro it’d be with Chone Figgins whom he affectionately called “Figgy.”  There was no bigger fan of Mike Scioscia’s brand of hustle/gritty/Eckstein-y baseball.  And he seemed to really like Steve Physioc which was actually kind of sweet.  I’ve never counted but I bet on an average night you’d hear an emphatic “That’s right, Phys!” about 38.3 times.

So it is perhaps appropriate that the Physioc/Hudler era is coming to an end when Guererro and Figgins are leaving.  The Angels as a team are entering a transition phase which will probably hinge upon the quality of their farm system.  Vlad and Chone won’t be resigned, nor will John Lackey, meaning that their biggest stars will be out the door.  It’s a good time for Phys and Hudler to be on their way too.

***

After what seems like a month-long layoff, the Kings have a game tonight!  The big story for us is that we’ll all finally get a chance to watch Andrei Loktionov.  The Manchester Monarch’s point leader will be skating in the second line along with Handzus and Frolov.  The other new guy, Brandon Segal, seems to be the definition of a replacement level player from what I understand.  I mean, he’s 26 and has played two NHL games.  His job will likely be not to screw up too badly while we wait for some guys to come back from injury.

The losses in our last two games certainly make tonight seem like one we’ve got to win.  More importantly, however, this team needs to show that it can score goals without Ryan Smyth.  I have no idea if Loktionov will be that guy but someone has to contribute.  Teddy Purell is getting a start on the first line tonight but I can’t imagine it’ll be too successful.  Smyth defined the first line.  He gave Kopitar tons of scoring opportunities by harassing the crease.  So far no one has shown that they’re capable of replicating that, thus the whole strategy kind of goes out the window.

I haven’t been able to find out who is in goal for Edmonton tonight but I’m pretty sure it won’t be Khabibulin (still listed day to day with a back injury) so odds are we’ll get a back-up.  Hey, I’ll take it.

Despite my negative game preview, I call Kings 3 Oilers 2 with at least one goal by Loktionov.

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Uneasy fandom, victory in Los Angeles, and getting fired for nailing your 22 year old underling

Posted in Sports by gklarsen on October 26, 2009

First of all, congratulations to the New York Yankees on winning the pennant.  While anything can happen in the playoffs, the Yankees are clearly the superior team and rightfully beat the Angels to earn a spot in the World Series.  I wish them well in their quest to beat the living hell out of those god damn Phillies, for whom I have nothing but malice and disdain.

Believe me, I ain’t no Yankees fan but for the next couple weeks we’re real good friends.

***

On to a more positive note as the Kings continue to look fantastic.  They handily defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets who never were really in it to begin with.  Handzus and Kopitar scored two goals within a minute of each other in the first and Stoll added a third in the second before Columbus managed their first.  Kopitar would add his second goal on the power play just five minutes later.

Once again the defense held Columbus back in the third period with the exception of a power play goal by Kristian Huselius.  Frolov scored two thereafter and that was the game.

The big news will undoubtedly be about Kopitar and deservedly so.  Two more goals last night means he’s not only the points leader, but the goals leader as well.  It’s becoming more difficult to figure out whether this is just a hot streak or if this is the player we’ve come to expect all along.  Certainly San Jose will provide an interesting test this coming Wednesday.

Special mention should be given to Frolov who was really putting on a show in the third period.  His first goal of the night was something to see, as he handily beat two defenders before lacing a wrist shot past Mason.  His power play backhand was a great piece of shooting as well although one wonders whether or not it more to do with the goalie feeling a bit of exhaustion.  Mason was slow on the reaction and the puck was in before he could recover.  Still, a great night for Frolov and whether you agree with his recent benching or not he’s been displaying some remarkable skills lately.  Let’s hope it becomes more of a habit than we’re used to.

There is little to dislike about the team at this point.  The defense has been aggressive, the offense fluid and effective, and Quick has settled in.  Again, the Sharks should be a pretty good litmus test.  As if there weren’t already good reason to watch that one, it should be very telling of the team’s progress thus far.

***

And on to some good announcing news:  Steve Phillips has been fired! Speaking of malice and disdain, Phillips has sat behind the Baseball Tonight desk every night to spout off meaningless cliches and half-assed ‘analysis’ all the while making me wonder how this bastard ever got to be a GM of a major team.*  It wasn’t just the uber-white guy hair or the stiff and awkward gesticulations that made him one of the worst ESPN guys.  His utterly unshakable confidence in his own opinions is what made him the joke of Baseball Tonight (and any game they stuck him in as the third man).  Baffling opinions from a guy that ought to know better, strange demeanor and unwarranted confidence.  That was Steve Phillips.

*You can imagine that I loved reading about him in Moneyball.  In his dealings with Billy Beane, Phillips is portrayed as essentially a sucker; a guy you could take advantage of because he was poorly equipped mentally to get the job done.  I’m putting a bit of my own spin on it but that’s essentially what happened.

This is actually the second fun Steve Phillips story of the week.  Fangraphs recently looked back on the rumor (now confirmed by Keith Law) that Phillips once offered David Wright to Toronto for Jose Cruz Jr. straight up back in 2002.  This is all kinds of hilarious because Phillips often claimed that he “discovered” David Wright and thus claimed some of Wright’s success as his own.  It was his ace in the hole on the broadcasts in which is was mentioned how lousy the Mets were under his reign.

Now back to the present.  Initially, Phillips was granted a leave of absence.  This was a few days ago.  But Sunday night on SportsCenter one of the anchors spoke directly into the camera and stated that Phillips had been fired for, essentially, unethical behavior.  It’s times like these we should all be especially grateful for Deadspin who has the details.

It’s no secret that ESPN studios is rife with corporate incest.  We’ve learned that the combination of old jocks being in charged, a lousy location for scaring up tail (Bristol, CT), and a company-wide mentality which can conservatively be described as patriarchal has created an environment where the boys spend a whole lot of time nailing the hot summer interns.

This should surprise no one.  But it highlights how egregious Phillips’ behavior must have been in order for ESPN to fire him.  He was a prominent member of the baseball reporting team so one has to assume that some curious indiscretions would be dutifully swept under the rug.  However, this affair with a 22 year old female production assistant became public recently.  So public, apparently, that ESPN really had no choice in the matter.

I’ll let you read the details of it on your own, suffice to say that this chick went a little nuts.  The ESPN release naturally features her erratic behavior in the otherwise brief article, even headlining it as “Phillips to enter rehab.”  Of course it was all Phillips’ fault for starting up a ‘relationship’ with her in the first place.  Jesus christ man, when a 60 year old white haired guy nails a 20 year old, you gotta accept some responsibility when it inevitably goes bad.

Instead the official release states Phillips will go to rehab and focuses an unwarranted amount of attention and column space on how crazy this girl is as if to mitigate the level of assholery.

Good riddance, Steve.  You brought this on yourself so ain’t no one gonna feel bad for you.

***

Now if we can just get John Kruk out of there we might have something.  Honestly why can’t it just be the ESPN Peter Gammons hour?  I’d watch that.

Our favorite Nicaraguan, and other observations

Posted in Sports by gklarsen on October 17, 2009

Up until the eighth inning on Friday, this had been a real lousy few days for us Dodgers/Kings fans.  The Kings got smoked by the Red Wings in a result no one was particularly surprised with.  The one bright spot was that Dustin Brown managed to get goal.  That’s about all.

Then there was the Dodgers.  I don’t need to recap game one of the NLCS.  It’s been done several times and a whole lot better than I’m capable of doing.  The big controversy, of course, was Torre’s decision to stick with Kershaw in the fifth even though he was clearly struggling.  As MSTI pointed out, there was plenty of blame to go around.  George Sherrill had a miserable inning, for example.  The umpiring was suspect at best.  Chan Ho Park and his new beard decided to shut us down even after a lead-off double.  Though our offense was otherwise rolling, it’s tough to get out of such a hole.

Okay did anyone really expect a pitchers duel on Friday?  Vicente Padilla v. Pedro Martinez does not scream low scoring affair.  Yet Padilla continues to throw incredible games for us and he matched Pedro pitch for pitch with the lone exception a Ryan Howard solo home run.  He didn’t mess around either.  Until his last inning of work, he didn’t get a single batter to a three ball count.  His fastball appeared to have a ton of life on it and always appeared in control of the game.

Pedro Martinez frustrated the Dodger bats thoroughly through seven.  I lost count of how many pop ups he drew.  It didn’t get excruciating until around the fifth, however, because he wasn’t striking anyone out.  No one made good contact against him but it looked as if any time the lineup would figure him out and start smoking line drives.  No line drive ever happened, however, and after the fifth it looked as if Pedro might CG us (not to mention shut us out) and we would be heading back to Philly down 2 – 0.

Then Charlie Manuel happened.  After seven absurdly effective innings, Charlie figured Pedro had done the job.  Time for that vaunted Phillies bullpen to take over.

And take over they did.  Manuel used five (5) pitchers to get through the eighth who collectively allowed two runs, good enough to get us the lead.  Park, who was due for a meltdown anyways, was ultimately credited with the two runs and only managed to record one out.  Four more relievers made sure those inherited runners scored, one on a magnificent throwing error by Chase Utley (who is rapidly becoming this series’ Matt Holliday) and another on our hero Andre Ethier’s bases loaded walk.

Manny then ended the rally with a pop up.

But it was good enough and Broxton shut the door in the ninth, two grounders and a fly out by the top of the Phillies order and off we go to Philly with the series tied.

Lots of people are praising Vicente Padilla, and rightly so.  Quoting from MSTI again:

On the other side, let’s not gloss over what Vicente Padilla did through 7.1 IP, matching Pedro save for one pitch that Ryan Howard deposited into the left-field stands. As he’s pitching for a contract this offseason, you could almost hear the “ka-ching! ka-ching!” sound effects each time he got an out, couldn’t you? With how horrified everyone – yes, us too – was about the fact that he was starting Game 2, he was fantastic, again. It’s almost as though he’s figured out that if you just tone down the whole “being a giant dick” thing slightly, your fantastic stuff can really help you succeed.

I also have to believe that Padilla is an excellent example of why the playoffs are far more random than we like to believe.  Remember Anthony Reyes?  No?  I don’t blame you.  But when the Cards won it all in 2006, Reyes put up some exquisite starts in the post-season, most notably shutting down the Tigers.  He was awful before and awful after and I’m relatively sure he’s out of the majors by now.  But any pitcher (…almost) is capable of throwing an awesome game, just as an “ace” is capable of getting smacked around and this is just as true in the playoffs as it is in the regular season.  Tom Seaver said something to the effect of, “In 36 starts, I’m lucky if I have my good stuff in ten of them.”  You’ve heard other pitchers say the same thing.  Its a battle some starts, other times the ball just feels great.

Naturally this isn’t meant to take away anything from Padilla’s spectacular performance.  He’s rightfully earned a Lima-esque place in all our hearts.

**

I believe the unholy triumvirate of Caray/Martinez/Darling have supplanted Joe Buck/Tim McCarver as my most hated announcers.  For reasons I can’t understand, I listened to the TV broadcast of the game for the first few innings instead of just listening to Vinny on the internet radio.  Honestly I can’t remember the last time I’ve yelled at a TV so much.

Buck Martinez deserves the lion’s share of the blame.  Why with all the available color announcers available in the world they decide to use this guy is beyond me.  It’s not necessarily that he has no idea what’s happening.  That’s not special.  Rather, it’s the prophet-like conviction which accompanies his narrative that renders it so intolerable.

Darling, who I said previously I didn’t mind on Mets broadcasts, contributes by adding nothing but cliches.  It’s a god damn mystery because when he’s with Keith Hernandez calling Mets games, he’s not so bad.  He tells stories, laughs, and has a good time.  He doesn’t take himself all too seriously and yet has a few nice things to add.  Yet when he’s on TBS, he becomes “Oh you can really just feed off a player’s heart and hustle and that’s gonna energize the rest of his teammates” guy.  There are no interesting stories or anecdotes, just absolute nonsense.

These two combined with Chip Caray’s mocking disinterest blend to be the most ridiculous broadcast team I’ve ever had the displeasure of suffering through.  They make Rick Monday look like a genius.  Steve Lyons positively glows with charisma next to these assholes.

On the bright side, Scully’s call of the eighth inning was a real treat.  The fact that he can still get excited about a game is endlessly thrilling.  I’ve said it so many times, but what ever will we do without him?  When the Philies are in town, he loves talking about an old backup named Chico Ruiz and can anyone say they aren’t genuinely touched by Scully’s palpable affection?

**

Cliff Lee and Hiroki Kuroda on Sunday!  All reports say that Kuroda is feeling fine.  Torre was satisfied with his simulated game so it’s happening.  While there may not be much room for error against Cliff Lee, Torre will most certainly keep Kuroda on a short leash and I like our bullpen enough to cover any lost innings.

As a last note, how awful is that Phillies bullpen?  Seriously.  Charlie Manuel changes pitchers more than Tony LaRussa and it’s obvious why.  The smartest game plan the Dodgers can utilize is to take pitches, be extra patient at the plate, and hope for even just one inning of bullpen.  It worked in game two and to a lesser extent in game one.  Cliff Lee is the prime candidate to go all nine, but all we need is three outs, especially if Hiro can recall some of his playoff awesomeness from last season and keep it within a few runs.

What I write to my friends

Posted in Uncategorized by gklarsen on October 10, 2009

This was actually an e-mail I wrote to a couple friends of mine two nights ago when the Angels were playing the Red Sox in game one of the ALDS.  It reads like a lousy blog post, possibly because it’s essentially polemic and written in my shitty apartment in Syracuse at midnight.  So here it is.

***

First off, Joe Posnanski wrote about the TBS announcers far better than I did.  Read it here.

But the reason I’m writing this at midnight eastern has much to do with the Angels/Red Sox game.  Full disclosure: both of those teams can eat a dick.  I basically watch Sox games to see Takashi Saito.  I love that man.  More than I love Andre Ethier.  At Vero Beach I said to him, “Domo Arrigato gozaimashita” after he signed my baseball.  He said to me in a super Japanese accent, “You’re wercome.”  (He’s still not good at the ‘L’s, you see).  Yes I’ve told that story about a dozen times but whatever.

And because today just seems to be the best day in sports history (editor’s note: the Dodgers had already won and the Kings beat the Wild), Saito got to come in and play.  Naturally, Terry Francona brought him in with no outs and the bases loaded and the Sox down 3-0.  Francona doesn’t seem to trust Saito and never has.  He rarely puts him in high leverage situations with the team tied or ahead despite the fact that Saito is having a very respectable year.

So the commentators who were either drunk, high or bored off their asses wondering just how the hell they managed to get these jobs, thought they’d have lots to say about the “japanese import.”

Quote from the color commentator:  “Saito, you know, he won’t beat you with his fastball.”

…what?!  And no, there was no qualifying statement.  There was no, “because he’ll make you look bad with his wicked slider.”  Nope.  Just left it at that.  If you were watching, you saw the radar reading at 95.  He spots it.  It has movement.  He’s brilliant.  He beats people with his fastball.  Would you like proof?  His fastball…his fucking fastball…was worth eight runs last year.  This year, in limited innings because Francona doesn’t like him, it was worth four runs (it was worth 20…20!!!! in 2007) above average.  His slider actually cost him runs.  -2 above average this year and rates consistently lower than his fastball.  Yes, that’s right, not only does Takashi Saito beat people with fastballs, that’s the best way he knows how to do it!

http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=6021&position=P

You know how long that took me to look up?  Fifteen seconds.  God damn it.  You don’t even have to look up statistics.  Read a scouting report.  Watch a video.  Ask someone who saw the guy pitch!  It’s like they’re actively not trying to do a good job.

Good-natured customer:  “Hello there, barrista.  May I have a cappuccino?”
TBS announcers:  “Here you are, sir.”
Good-natured customer:  “…what is this?”
TBS announcers:  “Oh I basically put dirt in a paper cup and put year old whip cream on top.  That’s what that smell is.”
Good-natured customer:  “Umm…I’m not sure..”
TBS announcers:  “You see, this drink plays the game the right way.  Shows a lot of grit and hustle in big situations.  Real gamer.”

Alright thanks for reading my hatred.

As you were.

p.s. The Angels are not ‘playing their hearts out for Nick.’  That’s insane.

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Tigers and Twins tie breaker

Posted in Uncategorized by gklarsen on October 6, 2009

TBS is broadcasting the tiebreaker game tonight, so at least there’s baseball before hockey. As a national broadcast, TBS rolls out the typical announcing team of dubious qualification and merit.* I’m not sure who the play by play guy is, but he sounds like he graduated magna cum laude from the Steve Physioc school of mindless broadcasting. He’s with Gary Darling, who I don’t typically mind so much when he’s calling games for the Mets.

*I read that the game was on TBS and feared the worst: Tim McCarver. Or is he just Fox now?

I don’t have too much affection one way or the other. Joe Mauer is a thrill so it’d be nice to see him in the post season. But Detroit, Porcello and Jackson in particular, made wonderful contributions to my fantasy team.

However I’m cheering for the Twins tonight for one simple reason: so announcers can stop talking about how the Tigers are so good for the depressed, down trodden city of Detroit.

I swear to god, every single bad national announcer talks about how tough Detroit has it and how great it is that they have a baseball team to rally around. First of all, how god damn insulting is that? Hey Detroit! We know you got screwed over by unregulated businesses, an automobile manufacturing base that’s been going overseas for decades, and a crime rate which rivals Baghdad but isn’t baseball a good ‘ol American refuge? Something you guys can really rally behind while you wallow in your shit hole of a city?

I understand the announcers are just trying to create a narrative. That’s what they do. They’ve got three hours of air time to fill and I sincerely doubt they know much about the team they’re covering. Do you think Gary Darling knows anything about the Detroit Tigers? No, of course not. Nor does the other guy in the booth. So there’s only so much “Wow, Mauer is really having an MVP-caliber season” and “Miguel Cabrera puts a charge into every ball he hits” you can say before you’ve gotta change it up a little. In that regard, I don’t typically begrudge the national announcers for extra-baseball comments.

But this whole “gosh how great that Detroit has a second tier team like the Tigers to make them feel all warm inside” stuff has to stop.

So, in summary, Go Twins!

UPDATE:  It turns out it was Chip Caray.  Yep.  Chip Caray.  He’s the lousy play by play guy.  You’re no good, Chip.  Please do not call the Dodgers tonight.

Which reminds me: Vin Scully will be doing the radio broadcast.  Hopefully there’s a way to get it through internet.

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