Sixteenth in a series.

Broadcast: ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, Colorado at New York Mets, 7/13/08; Announcers: Jon Miller (play-by-play), Joe Morgan (analysis), Peter Gammons (reporter)

More than a few people feel that ESPN shows a bias towards New York teams in their sports coverage. If you’re one of those people, this was not the night to be watching Sunday Night Baseball. With the game featuring the Mets at Shea Stadium, and with the Home Run Derby and All-Star game at Yankee Stadium the next two nights, and with both stadiums being replaced after this season, it was almost non-stop New York coverage.

I almost expected to hear Frank Sinatra start spreading the news…oh, wait. Not only did they play “New York, New York” coming back from a commercial, they even plugged a greatest-hits album timed to coincide with the 10th anniversary of Sinatra’s death — or, as Jon Miller strangely put it, “to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Sinatra’s death.”

Sixteenth in a series.

Broadcast: ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, Colorado at New York Mets, 7/13/08; Announcers: Jon Miller (play-by-play), Joe Morgan (analysis), Peter Gammons (reporter)

More than a few people feel that ESPN shows a bias towards New York teams in their sports coverage. If you’re one of those people, this was not the night to be watching Sunday Night Baseball. With the game featuring the Mets at Shea Stadium, and with the Home Run Derby and All-Star game at Yankee Stadium the next two nights, and with both stadiums being replaced after this season, it was almost non-stop New York coverage.

I almost expected to hear Frank Sinatra start spreading the news…oh, wait. Not only did they play “New York, New York” coming back from a commercial, they even plugged a greatest-hits album timed to coincide with the 10th anniversary of Sinatra’s death — or, as Jon Miller strangely put it, “to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Sinatra’s death.”

So we heard a lot about the final season at Shea, about the final Yankee Stadium season, about both new ballparks (plus some video of the CitiField construction), about how Joe Morgan wished he had played in Yankee pinstripes for a year (he had the chance, but when he became a free agent he signed with Houston instead), how Morgan thought the All-Star game would be “the most exciting game in the last 20 years” because of the players and the setting, and on and on.

Jon Miller is entertaining, but I have a strange pet peeve with the way he pronounces the names of some Latino players. In this game, it was the Mets’ Carlos Beltran. Everyone else puts the emphasis on the the first syllable — BEL-tran. Miller always reverses the emphasis — Bel-TRAN. It is a bit off-putting.

Joe Morgan gets on my nerves because in the past he’s said things that have tended to be incorrect. This example isn’t particularly egregious, but it irked me a little. After a Jose Reyes RBI single during the Mets’ 7-0 win, Morgan talked about how, because of the lack of the designated hitter, “you don’t see leadoff hitters in the NL drive in 85-90 runs.” Well, you do see it at times. Jimmy Rollins drove in 94 last year and 83 the year before. Reyes himself has come close, with 81 in 2006.

Morgan also feels there is too much criticism of Reyes when the Mets are struggling, saying that “there are 6 or 7 other superstars on this team.” Not including Reyes, I’ll give you Beltran, David Wright, Johan Santana, and (though he’s overrated) Billy Wagner. The rest are either too old or too young or just not that good. But what do you expect when Morgan declares that, with the Mets on their way to their 9th consecutive win, that this was the Mets team we all expected to see all season long? (Obviously he didn’t read my prediction on the discussion board.)

Peter Gammons talked about the Rockies before the game started, one of the few times when there was discussion of a team not based in New York, and was called upon three times during the game. The broadcast also featured live interviews with both managers from the dugout. Colorado manager Clint Hurdle’s answer to Morgan’s question-that’s-more-of-a-comment about how Hurdle, the NL manager for the All-Star game, wanted the NL to win the game was long enough that they ended the interview without any followup. There were also three “SportsCenter Right Now” studio updates, all three featuring the same one or two news items.

Visually, the ESPN telecast is very busy. Besides the use of the “K-Zone” graphic on a number of replays, and the “18/58 Update” (as in 18 and 58 minutes past the hour) at the bottom of the screen, there was a constant “Instant Update” of fantasy statistics at the top of the screen, above the bar showing the current game score. Throughout the entire game they flashed updated player stats, not only after the at-bat but during it. For example, “Podsednik after 2-1 count, .195, 1 HR, 6 RBI” followed by “Podsednik after 2-2 count…”

And how many times do they need to flash the graphic saying “NOW: MLB Rockies at Mets” followed by “NEXT: SportsCenter” and “MON: All-Star Home Run Derby”? With all of the other promos and commercials, it’s just overkill. And I don’t need to be constantly reminded what I’m watching right now. Then again, I also don’t need to be told I’m watching ESPN but the logo is part of the bar at the top showing the game score, and it’s part of the “18/58 Update” and “NOW/NEXT” bars, and the transparent “bug” is in the bottom right corner. Maybe they just think we’re stupid? Grade: C-minus. — Joe Guckin

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