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Red Sox slog, deserving All-Stars, the announcer's art, sweepers, good old batting average

Monday 6/10/24

Yesterday I watched all three hours and twenty-two minutes of the Red Sox-White Sox game in which Boston ground out an ugly, uneventful win against a bad team that had just beaten them twice in a row to salvage a split in the four-game series when anything but a sweep would have been a disappointment. I don't know what I was thinking. I just watched it. I had already done a lot, though not enough.

Jarren Duran isn't a bad ballplayer. He's better than I thought he'd be. I doubted whether he'd stick in the Majors. Ten triples is a lot to have a week and a half into June.

Dave O'Brien and Will Middlebrooks floated the possibility of Connor Wong as an All-Star this year for the Red Sox. He could make it, but I don't believe he deserves to. You need to be the starter in order to make the All-Star team in my view. Not someone who shares the position. Share is different than being spelled at times. He's the starting catcher, what, sixty-five percent of the time? That takes you out of the All-Star running for me. It's not enough.

The Red Sox should have a single All-Star representative: Tanner Houck.

The Red Sox are back at .500. Once again. Somehow that puts them 1.5 games out of a Wild Card spot.

To be fair to O'Brien, he doesn't just go along with stupid things. He might not take some hard line stance, but he'll convey how he feels, even if that feeling or thought doesn't jump to the defense of a Red Sox player or manager Alex Cora. It's subtle, but you know. NESN wants a pro-Red Sox broadcast. Papelbon in the studio certainly takes his liberties with that, but what are you going to do when it's Papelbon? He gets away with it the most, and then O'Brien to his degree, but again, he's subtle with it. You'll also notice how he sets up his partner in the booth to say what he thinks in this non-confrontational but more honest way, and I give him credit for that. Middlebrooks is tolerable if he's sticking to what just happened on the field. He's not any good, but the bar for everything now is so low.

Jerry Remy worsened at his job over the years. But if you listen to him on a broadcast from back in the late 1990s with Sean McDonough, you hear how much better his approach to his craft was. He'd jump in, describe, illuminate, jump back out. There wasn't this emphasis on running commentary, to always be talking. When you're just talking, you're often not communicating with intent. You're simply filling with sound. That's easier because it's like you never have to be on and excelling--you just have to be going. See the difference?

A problem with sports announcers in general at present is that they feel like they always have to be saying something. The game has sounds and those can be part of the sounds of your broadcast. You don't need to fill every second with your words. It's kind of like the difference between a Marx Brothers picture and one by Laurel and Hardy. The Marx Brothers never stop. It's machine gun-style jokes. Nothing gets a chance to breathe. Laurel and Hardy understood pace better, allowing that breathing to happen, rest periods, the natural duration of things and letting those durations play out.

Phillies starting tomorrow at Fenway and then the Yankees, the two best teams in baseball. I feel like the most one could hope for is for the Red Sox to be at .500 still when those two series are over, which may be a stretch.

Announcers now use the term "sweeper" a lot now in describing a certain kind of pitch. What the hell is a sweeper? And they use it so casually, as if the term has been used all along, like "fastball," but no one was saying sweeper a few years ago. I see the same pitches. There aren't new ones. Is this a slider? Looks like a slider to me. But then why are they still using the term slider? What is going on here?

At the start of the game yesterday I noticed how when the Red Sox' starting batting order was displayed, there was exactly one stat on the righthand side: batting average. It's kind of ironic, isn't it? We're told batting average is meaningless, this outdated stat, an ineffectual means of evaluating someone's game or even a part of their game, and yet, when being forced to choose one stat to sum up each of the players in a batting line-up, it's batting average. Seems hypocritical almost, doesn't it? But it's not like I can't see a world--because things just get worse and stupider--where WAR replaces batting average with something like this, or someone's average swing speed in mph, or something pertaining to that player and sports gambling. There it was for now, though: batting average. I'm sorry, but I think that's the stat it all comes back to, the most purely baseball stat of all.


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