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Joe's MLB on TV Report - Padres

Fourth in a series.

Broadcast: San Diego Padres on Cox Cable Ch. 4 San Diego, Chicago Cubs at Padres, 6/4/08; Announcers: Matt Vasgersian (play-by-play), Mark Grant (analyst)

Technically this was mostly a good broadcast – the graphics were eye-catching without standing out too much, and mostly devoid of accompanying sound effects. The use of replays was not overbearing. The cameras didn’t miss a pitch. Nearly perfect, except for the many shots of two oddballs in the crowd: a juggler in a gorilla suit and a dancing fool in a friar’s robe and a fedora.

So much for the good news. That leaves the broadcasters.

One indicator that someone talks too much is when he or she uses phrases like “not only does he lead the National League, but in fact he leads the major leagues.” The only words required are “He leads the major leagues.” Matt Vasgersian, who first entered into my consciousness through his appearance in some annoying ad for a sports video game years ago, used that or a similar phrase at least three times during the game.

Vasgersian is one of those announcers trying too hard to inject his personality into his work. It usually leads to weird comments. Take the bottom of the first inning. San Diego’s Scott Hairston leads off against Chicago’s Ted Lilly. Vasgersian just noted that Lilly was looking for his 5th win in a row. Hairston promptly lines a home run to left. Here’s the call: “He’s gonna have to come from behind to do it because Scott Hairston has just put the biscuit in the basket, in honor of the Stanley Cup finals tonight.” Ummm, what? And when the Padres’ Justin Huber made a sliding catch in left field, which was wet due to earlier rainfall, to end the second inning: “They should hose down left field every night for Justin Huber!” And cut to commercial without another word. As if no outfielder ever makes a sliding catch on dry grass.

In referring to Lilly’s having left his last start trailing 7-0 but not getting a loss since the Cubs eventually won, Vasgersian said that Lilly “spit the bit.” The typical comment is that a pitcher who gets a no-decision after trailing was “taken off the hook” for the loss. To say Lilly spit the bit sounds more like he gave up, not that his team rallied to win.

In addition, Vasgersian and analyst Mark Grant treated us to a discussion of the difference between Diamond Dry and Turface, two competing products used to soak up water, not to mention multiple remarks about the two costumed fans. Grant’s comments weren’t particularly memorable, except for when he went into cheerleading mode late in the game. After Padres starter Greg Maddux finished his 7th strong inning with the score tied 1-1: “All right, let’s get him some runs.” And after Brian Giles led off the 8th with a double: “Now let’s get him over, and how about getting him in!” Happily for Grant, they did, as the Padres won 2-1.

There are a few more things I wrote down, but I’ll finish with one more recommendation: get your facts straight. Vasgersian said that Adrian Gonzalez, at his current pace, could join just two other first basemen to finish a season with 40-plus home runs and 140-plus runs batted in, Lou Gehrig in 1927 and Todd Helton in 2001. Immediately, alarm bells went off in my head. It’s obvious that I, a Phillies fan, would remember it, but Ryan Howard’s 58 HR-149 RBI season occurred just two years ago.

But I was even more offended when Vasgersian mentioned an e-mail he received correcting something he said on the previous day’s broadcast. It seems that on Tuesday he said that “Lou” (no idea who he is) sounds like police chief Quimby from The Simpsons. Dude, it’s Chief Wiggum. Quimby is the mayor of Springfield. Grade: D’oh! I mean, C-minus. (I know, I know, a grade of D would've made the “D’oh” line really zing…) -- Joe Guckin