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Joe's MLB on TV Report - Marlins

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Number twenty-seven in a series.

Broadcast: Florida Marlins on Sun Sports, Chicago Cubs at Marlins, 8/16/08; Announcers: Rich Waltz (play-by-play), Tommy Hutton (analyst), Craig Minervini (reporter)

Of the many, many, many game elements or graphics featuring a commercial sponsor -- the Coors Light 6th Inning, the AFLAC trivia question, the Aspen Dental Play That Made You Smile -- the single worst one I’ve come across has to be the Maroone Call to the Bullpen. When there’s a pitching change in the middle of an inning of a Marlins telecast, before they go to commercial we’re treated to this jingle, sung to the tune of the Ray Parker Jr. “Ghostbusters” theme:

When you need a car
Truck or van
Who you gonna call?
Ma-Roo-Neeeee!

Three times my ears were subjected to this. It was three times too many. No, make that about twelve. I want credit for having seen it other times.

Based on my previous glimpses of Marlins games I didn’t have very high expectations, and I pretty much got what I expected. There’s a bit too much homerism, a bit too much clowning, and mediocre play-by-play from Rich Waltz, who at one point referred to the Cubs’ backup catcher as “Henry bleepin’ Blanco” because Blanco, starting in place of Geovany Soto, had the nerve to hit a home run.

When Florida’s Dan Uggla hit a ball that hit the flat-edged top of the left-field fence and somehow bounced back into play, the announcers thought that it had to have bounced off folded-up rows of seats (used when Dolphin Stadium is reconfigured for football) just behind the fence, making it a home run. It appeared the umpires were going to confer and review it. Tommy Hutton’s comment was “So far the Marlins have come up on the short end of this deal every time this year -- about time a consultation is changed…” Or at least results in a changed call. But the umpires did not meet and the call stood. Both Waltz and Hutton were surprised, even though the second replay seemed to show that the ball never actually got over the fence.

In his one moment of relevance, reporter Craig Minervini said that some fans sitting near where the ball hit the fence told him that the ball ricocheted off a fastener attached to the top of the fence, and that’s why it bounced back into play. The camera zoomed in on one such fastener, which was circular-shaped and stuck out from the fence itself.

There were a few references to the large crowd in attendance (very unusual for the Marlins), but only one mention that the majority were Cubs fans. Hutton said he hoped the Cubs fans’ “fun-ness” -- their lively enjoyment of the game -- rubbed off on Marlins fans. It would be better to hope that more Marlins fans actually show up.

(Fun fact: Tommy Hutton spent a few years with the Phillies, starting in 1972, the first year I began following baseball. I was thrilled when I learned that he and I have the same birthday.)

And if you think the chatter between the booth announcers and reporter is fun, you’ll love the nightly cameo from the Spanish-language broadcasters doing the SAP audio feed. On this night Waltz and Hutton talked briefly and pointlessly to Cookie Rojas, Tony Perez and Pepe Frias.

Although the game was shown on the Sun Sports regional network, it was a product of sister network FSN Florida. The graphics were all FSN-style graphics, and the FSN logo even appeared on a number of them. Grade: C-minus. -- Joe Guckin