Number twenty-four in a series.
Broadcast: Arizona Diamondbacks on FSN Arizona, Atlanta at Diamondbacks, 8/7/08; Announcers: Daron Sutton (play-by-play), Mark Grace (analyst), Todd Walsh (reporter)
You probably know that Mark Grace is a former All-Star first baseman who spent most of his career with the Cubs before signing with the D-backs after the 2000 season. You may not know that Daron Sutton is the son of Hall of Fame pitcher and current Nationals analyst Don Sutton. Daron Sutton pitched in the minors for a couple of years, never making it to the big leagues.
So the apple kind of fell far from the tree. And when it comes to broadcasting, that apple fell wayyyyyyyy far -- I’m talking New York-to-Beijing far.
These two clowns, with occasional “help” from the pre- and post-game studio host Todd Walsh, don’t shut up. Worse, their conversations are sometimes rambling and often off-the-wall. Walsh gave a long-winded report that took forever to explain that equipment was being installed in a room at Chase Field for MLB’s soon-to-be-implemented instant replay system. The way he discussed it, it seemed as if he thought this was some breaking story that no one was aware of. (Then again, maybe it was new to some. I mean, has anyone ever actually met a Diamondbacks fan? They struggled to sell playoff tickets last year.) That story devolved into a tale about some pizza party held in that same room, one which neither Grace nor Sutton were invited to.
This silliness seeped into everything. The “key to the game” this night was Old Mother Hubbard (with a camera shot of Braves’ first-base coach Glenn Hubbard.) Why? Grace’s explanation had to do with the previous day’s game when Pittsburgh’s Jeff Karstens pitched a perfect game for 7 2/3 innings: “I’m thinking that yesterday, and the famous Mother Goose fairy tale, uh, lack of a better, you know, Old Mother Hubbard, you know, went to get the dog a bone and the cupboard was bare. Is that correct? The cupboard was bare. You know, like yesterday, the Diamondbacks went to the cupboard offensively and the cupboard was bare. There was nothing there. So I think Mother Hubbard probably went to the grocery store and restocked for the Diamondbacks offense…” It went on like that for another minute or two, and at the end of the inning they put up a photo of Old Mother Hubbard.
Another gag that ran throughout the game involved the “team reads,” or promotional announcements about upcoming games, ticket sales, etc. Apparently it’s normally Grace’s job but on this night they took it away from him, to his faked displeasure. They had taped bits in which various people -- a player, a coach, other employees -- would read the promos instead. In the 7th, though, they went to their radio booth and had Matt Williams read one. As he read, with the graphic on-screen displaying the same information, a camera panned the crowd. Unfortunately, while this was going on, so was the game. Atlanta’s Kelly Johnson lined into a double play to first base, but we didn’t see it until after the tag was already applied to the runner.
Earlier, there was a glitch in which, as a Braves player was being picked off second base, when the catcher threw to second they cut to the wrong camera, and we suddenly saw a closeup of the torso of someone in the Braves’ dugout holding a baseball. By the time they cut back to the field the play was over.
Sutton had one line that made absolute sense, and it came in the top of the first, when the telecast got off to a rousing start with Grace’s discussion of the broadcast plans for the weekend. Grace was doing his usual stint working one of the Fox Saturday games, and Sutton…well, I don’t know what he was doing, though Grace said he was flying to Hollywood. They joked about their flight plans and mentioned their replacements in the TV booth Saturday. Sutton then added: “There’s a good chance they’ll lock the door. They’ll never let us back in -- they hear an organized broadcast, professionals…” If only...
Only the fact that their homerism wasn’t near the blatant levels of the White Sox crew keeps this grade from being worse. Grade: D. -- Joe Guckin