Number twenty-nine in a series.
Broadcast: Baltimore Orioles on Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN), Boston at Orioles, 8/20/08; Announcers: Jim Hunter (play-by-play), Jim Palmer (analyst), Amber Theoharis (the 8th, and last, woman to fill the reporter role -- but she had nothing of substance to do, so enough about her).
When Gary Thorne was the play-by-play announcer for ESPN’s coverage of the NHL, he displayed two tendencies: mispronouncing players’ names and getting overly excited over routine plays. So how does that translate to baseball? I don’t know. Although Thorne is in his second year as part of the Orioles’ MASN broadcasts, he was away on this night. So that left us with Jim Hunter (who is not the former pitcher; Jim “Catfish” Hunter died in 1999) and Jim Palmer (who is the former pitcher and one-time Jockey underwear model – see gratuitous sample at the end of this post).
While they generally did a nice job, they also began having dopey discussions after the Orioles rallied from an early 4-0 deficit by scoring 10 unanswered runs in the 2nd through 4th innings. Among the subjects covered were yachting, their golf games, and players keeping in touch via text message (Palmer: “When I played we used carrier pigeons.”)
But Palmer also seems more willing to be critical than many analysts. In the top of the 2nd, Boston’s Jacoby Ellsbury dropped a perfect bunt that pitcher Chris Waters fielded. As Hunter called the play, Palmer seemed to sense what Waters was about to do: “No, don’t throw it away! Ohhh!” Sure enough, Waters’ errant throw allowed a run to score.
Shortly after that, a 1-2 pitch to David Ortiz that appeared to be a strike was called a ball, which led Palmer to criticize the home plate umpire. “Aw, call him out – how do you not call that pitch?”
The telecast was gimmicked up (if that’s not a word, I want credit for creating it) for “Wired Wednesday,” so there was an in-booth interview with Orioles VP of baseball operations Andy MacPhail as well as live interviews with O’s pitcher George Sherrill and manager Dave Trembley in the dugout. The Trembley interview provided a couple of amusing moments when a ball was lined over the third-base bag and landed in foul territory. It was called fair by the umpire but the ballgirl fielded it anyway, not realizing it was in play. Palmer was describing the replay while, through Trembley’s microphone, you could hear someone in the Orioles dugout yelling, “Brutal! Brutal!” A moment later Hunter ended the interview by thanking Trembley, who replied, “I wish we could’ve got off a pitch earlier. I would’ve run out there and talked to Bob Davidson.”
One nice touch was that they not only flashed the speed of each pitch onscreen, but also the type – fastball, slider, etc. Grade: B-minus.
And since you made it this far…