Fifteenth in a series.
Broadcast: Cleveland Indians on SportsTime Ohio (STO), Tampa Bay at Indians, 7/10/08; Announcers: Matt Underwood (play-by-play), Rick Manning (analysis)
The bottom of the 4th inning was all about…golf. Brian Whitcomb, president of the PGA, was in the booth (along with a big trophy -- why they needed to show the trophy is a mystery; it's not exactly the Stanley Cup). He was there to promote the Senior PGA championship being held in the Cleveland area.
In May, 2009.
Yes, it’s never too early to completely ignore the game being played for an entire half-inning -- no play-by-play, no analysis, nothing -- to talk about golf. At least there wasn’t much baseball to talk about, as the Indians meekly went down in order. On the other hand, this might have been a good idea. After all, the Indians’ season has already pretty much crashed and burned and CC Sabathia is now a Milwaukee Brewer. And the Indians were mired in a 10-game losing streak and down 2-0 to the Rays at the time. So maybe Indians fans found the golf chat to be a nice diversion.
Whitcomb was gone after the half-inning but there was plenty of leftover golf talk from Matt Underwood and Rick Manning in the top of the 5th. The Indians, however, made them actually pay attention to the game by scoring 5 runs in the bottom half of the inning, and going on to a 13-2 rout of the Rays.
And it wasn’t all bad. Underwood and Manning had an interesting discussion about pitchers, particularly young pitchers, who struggle with their command because they try to make a perfect pitch every single time, and don’t, in Manning’s words, “trust their stuff.” Manning noted that even the best hitters fail often enough, but a pitcher who’s falling behind in the count makes it easier on the hitters.
The only time there was a bit of overt cheerleading came in the bottom of the 5th, but it was more for particular fans than the team itself. Throughout the month of July, if an Indians batter gets a hit in the 5th inning, a lucky contestant wins free gas -- ranging from $100 for a single to $500 for a home run. Cleveland’s six hits, including two homers, led to a total of $1,500 in free gas for six contestants.
The STO graphics weren’t particularly attractive, and the “pitch track” they used a few times was the noisiest. A number of teams use a similar graphic, where a box with a grid appears, purporting to show where a pitch crossed through, or around, the strike zone. How accurate it is is difficult to know for sure. The Indians’ graphic, though, not only had the box in the corner but also used a computer-generated special effect on the ball itself as it reached the plate. That just seemed redundant.
Then there was the out-of-town scoreboard in a bar at the bottom of the screen. Once it was preceded by a Hummer driving across the bottom of the screen, revealing the bar. Later it was a helicopter lifting a tarp to reveal the bar. Reading my notes, I had a flashback to the most recent Simpsons Halloween episode. At the start of the show, various Fox logos and characters from shows pop up on screen while Marge is talking. Marge starts killing them. Oh, Marge, where were you when I really needed you? Grade: C. -- Joe Guckin