Third in a series.
Broadcast: New York Yankees on YES Network, Toronto at Yankees, 6/3/08; Announcers: Michael Kay (play-by-play), Al Leiter (analyst); Reporter: Kim Jones (hey, they’ve got a woman! I should keep count of how many women work these games – although I’m guessing none are doing play-by-play or color commentary.)
What brought me to this game was the hype over Yankee Joba Chamberlain’s first start in the majors. Naturally, there was mega-hype of Joba throughout the entire game, but especially at the start. Joba arriving at the park, a Joba bio including a map of his home state of Nebraska and pictures of Joba as a kid, Joba warming up, video of Joba’s first major league appearance last year, Joba stepping out of the dugout and taking the mound before the first inning, shots of Joba in the dugout between innings, multiple shots of Joba’s father in the stands, an interview of Joba’s father by Jones (the only appearance by the “roving reporter” during the game) that lasted most of the bottom of the second inning…it was all Joba, all the time.
Of course, the focus of the broadcasters throughout the game was on Joba, with Al Leiter speculating on what was going on in Joba’s mind, how he was handling all the hype, how nervous he likely was, comparing it to Leiter's own debut in 1987. Later, for some reason, we were treated to footage of Leiter pitching – not in his Yankee debut, as you might think, but for the Blue Jays in the 1993 World Series.
However, Joba was on a pitch count, and he was a little too wild to last very long. He was lifted after just 2 1/3 innings and 62 pitches. So for the rest of the broadcast there was a little less Joba talk. Just a little.
It was a pleasant surprise that only Kay and Leiter worked the game. In the past when I’ve seen a Yankee telecast they’ve had three in the booth, usually Ken Singleton. I’m not complaining, though. Kay and Leiter worked well together, and even after the Jays scored 6 in the 7th to open up a 9-2 lead, the discussion was still mostly focused on baseball-related topics such as the Yankees bullpen being weakened with Joba moving to the rotation and the season-long struggles of Robinson Cano. Kay was properly critical, noting that the Yankees have been inconsistent all year – a 3-game winning streak followed by a 3-game losing streak, etc., and saying that they have to do better.
They also discussed Toronto’s Scott Rolen, who was traded from St. Louis because he couldn’t get along with manager Tony LaRussa. This made no sense to them, and while they brought up the fact that Rolen also didn’t get along with Larry Bowa during his Phillies days, they didn’t make the obvious connection: the one common denominator in both situations was the miserable man himself, Scott Rolen. I wonder how long it will be before he and Jays manager John Gibbons are at odds?
It was interesting that the telecast included the stadium organist’s full renditions of both the American and Canadian national anthems. If anything, people at home usually just get a snippet of the anthem, and then only if someone is singing it. This is probably a good thing, if it took up airtime that would’ve been used for replays. This was one of those games where replays were sometimes used excessively. I don’t need to see a balk three times, especially if no one in the booth can figure out why the balk was called. And I hate the “pitch-by-pitch” segment showing each pitch in an at-bat. They used it twice in the top of the first inning, and mercifully only once more.
The graphics are bold, but stand out a little bit too much, and the noisy sound-effect factor approaches that of Fox. A couple of times there was an ad for an interview show on YES with guest Snoop Dogg that appeared in the corner of the screen with what sounded like a bubble bursting. I thought it was VH1’s “Pop-Up Videos” for a moment.
Joba! Joba! Joba! There, I’ve done my part for the cause. Grade: B -- Joe Guckin