Joe's MLB on TV Report - Cubs and Astros

Eighteenth in a series.

Game: Chicago Cubs at Houston Astros, 7/19/08
Broadcasts: Chicago -- Comcast Sportsnet Chicago, Announcers: Len Kasper (play-by-play), Bob Brenly (analyst); Houston -- FSN Houston, Announcers: Bill Brown (play-by-play), Jim Deshaies (analyst), Patti Smith (reporter – and woman number six out of 17 teams reviewed thus far)

You may remember -- at least I hope you did, since I only posted it about 24 hours ago :grin: -- that for the Tigers-Orioles game I tried to record both broadcasts of the same game but was thwarted. Happily, the DVR worked this time. For this Cubs-Astros game I was able to watch both teams’ broadcasts. So consider this a doubleheader. Unfortunately, there were no controversial plays or bench-clearing brawls that really might have drawn different reactions from the two sets of announcers.

In fact, they pretty much picked up on most of the same points. They both talked about Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano’s temperament on the mound, occasionally showing frustration when things aren’t going so well. He didn’t have any outbursts on this evening, though perhaps he had cause. He wasn’t hit particularly hard but lost 4-1, and got no run support at all -- Zambrano provided his team’s only run with a homer.

Both Houston’s Jim Deshaies and Chicago’s Bob Brenly thought that the Cubs’ Derrek Lee might have hurt his wrist when he struck out swinging and dropped his bat awkwardly. Deshaies added, hopefully, “Go ahead and take the weekend off, big fella.” And both pointed out bad baserunning by Chicago’s Ryan Theriot in the 5th inning, when he tried to take third on a grounder to shortstop after doubling with one out.

Stylistically, the play-by-play varied. Houston’s Bill Brown is older and more old-school, while Chicago’s Len Kasper is more willing to engage in banter with Brenly. When Brenly referred to Lance Berkman’s prior nickname of “Fat Elvis,” Kasper joked, “Would that be Elvis Costello or Presley?” Kasper also referred to the Cubs’ 8th-inning lineup of D. Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Geovany Soto and asked, “How about three solo home runs to tie it up?”

Deshaies, for his part, referring to the Astros’ trio of Berkman, Carlos Lee and Miguel Tejada as BLT, said they haven’t all been hot at the same time. “Maybe because of the salmonella scare,” he added. Yeah, but that only involved the ‘T’ portion of that sandwich…

The Cubs did not employ a reporter during their broadcast. (I should note here that some teams seem to use a reporter at home games only.) Patti Smith’s role for the Astros was limited to three ticket promos for upcoming home games, one promo for the nightly text poll question, and an interview with a local Habitat For Humanity representative.

The Cubs’ Comcast camerawork had a slight advantage over the Astros’ FSN work on one play. Chicago’s Mark DeRosa lined a shot that hit the short left field wall at Minute Maid Park so quickly that DeRosa was held to a single by Carlos Lee. Watching the Astros’ broadcast I couldn’t see the ball go off the wall at all, and didn’t know where it was until I saw Lee grab it and turn to throw. The camera located behind the plate had to zoom to catch up to the play. (Perhaps it was clearly visible on a high-def broadcast but I am not blessed with that technology.) The ball was clearly visible on the Cubs’ broadcast.
Grades: Cubs B-minus, Astros C-plus. -- Joe Guckin

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