So give a guy a break, TBS.
Today marks the beginning of the baseball playoffs, the "Fall Classic." It's the time of year our spirits have been raised by late-game heroics; it's the time of year our souls have been sucked dry by Fox's talking baseball Scooter.
And the torch is being passed, media-wise at least, to TBS for a lot of the early playoff games. You know TBS, right? It's destination viewing for, well, Saved by the Bell in the morning and Seinfeld, Friends and Everybody Loves Raymond at night.
If the one-game playoff the other night between the Colorado Rockies (who Mr. Torrealba plays for) and the San Diego Padres is any indicator, TBS needs to – in baseball lingo – 'adjust its delivery,' pronto. The network flubbed the coverage badly in its debut.
There were times during the game where the camera would focus on one player, whether at bat or out in the field and not identify the players. Viewers – or maybe just this viewer-- would have to play amateur detective and think "Well, he's got dirt on his jersey. So maybe it's the guy who slid into first a half-hour ago."
Then there was another moment where TBS did close-ups of all the defensive players for the Rockies, one-by-one, in silence, without identifying any of them verbally or via caption.
You shouldn't have to expend mental energy wondering such things when watching sporting events. Your thoughts should be focused on things like strategy, double-switches and whether or not there's enough beer in the fridge.
And it's not just me. And it's not just the lack of communicating who the players are. The reviews – based on a one-game unplanned playoff, mind you – have been tepid, at best.
According to Salon.com's King Kaufmann – one of my favorite sportswriters out there:
My first impression of TBS was bad. I went to TBS.com looking for information about the very first game to be carried under the network's new agreement with Major League Baseball, which was about three hours away, and I found ... nary a mention of baseball. A prime-time schedule that should have read, in its entirety, "Baseball, 7:30 p.m." instead advertised reruns of "Friends," among other wonders.Speaking of Trevor Hoffman – the all-time baseball save leader who blew the game the other night – TBS could not stop promoting the fact that if you went to the TBS website, you could see Hoffman discussing his pitches with … wait for it …. wait for it … Alyssa Milano. But that's another issue. And, frankly, if the decision is between Milano or Fox's Jeanne Zelasko, well, TBS will probably win over some undecideds there.
I intrepidly found the baseball page, which, hours before the network's MLB relaunch, was filled with boilerplate features. What's on Trevor Hoffman's iPod.
Another underwhelming review came from the Chicago Tribune:
TBS didn't get off to a great start Monday with its coverage of the Rockies-Padres wild card playoff game. In a puzzling move, the network assigned the who-are-they? announcing team of Don Orsillo and Joe Simpson. Considering this was TBS' first big game -- in prime time, no less -- it should have trotted out its No. 1 crew of Chip Caray, Tony Gwynn and Bob Brenly.It kills me to agree with that assessment of Cal, but it's true. TBS was bending over backward trying to give him some air-time coming in and out of breaks, but he added nothing. Nothing at all. He even took great pains to praise the home plate umpire. Criticizing the guy calling balls-and-strikes is like a batting practice pitch -- you swing hard and for the fences. But the Iron Man refused to take his cuts.
Also, Cal Ripken looked more like the Tin Man than the iron man in the studio. At least a couple of times he seemed at a loss for words when host Ernie Johnson threw him a question. Given his tepid opinions, Ripken is not going to be another Charles Barkley.
I'm willing to chalk up TBS' rough first step to some opening-night jitters – I'm watching either way, so what choice do I really have? – but I hope that once the actual playoffs begin today that TBS works the kinks out of its swing.