My Take on Last Night’s ESPN Coverage

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I enter any game I watch on television with a clear mind regarding the personalities who are calling the game for the network the game is on. This even goes for games that are broadcast on ESPN despite the almost universal negative reaction fans have to the announcing team of John Miller, Joe Morgan and Steve Phillips. But last night I was treated to 3 hours of talk about the Mets lack of edge and how, if they don’t make the playoffs this season, they should be dismantled to make room for players who have edge. The pinnacle of this discussion was Phillips’s assertion that Carlos Beltran, batting .379 going into the game, should be the core player that is jettisoned in the dismantling.

I have no problem with the discussion having taken place during the broadcast. Part of the reason people watch nationally televised games is to hear the announcers talk about the teams involved so they can learn more teams they may not see very often. So despite the fact that everyone in Metsland has mostly tabled this discussion over the last couple of weeks the issue is fair game to be discussed during the broadcast. I’ll even give them the benefit of the doubt that last night’s game was not very exciting so they needed something to talk about. But this was almost 3 complete hours of the same discussion (briefly broken up by a short interview with Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti).

In the meantime Mike Pelfrey was charged with 3 balks and I still don’t understand exactly why two of them were balks. The only commentary we got was “Oh, you can’t do that” and then a return to the edge discussion. It’s the announcers responsibility to be sure that the viewers understand what is happening in the game and they failed horribly last night.

The person I blame for this is the always well dressed John Miller. (Did anyone involved in the production of the game see his outfit before the broadcast began? Who let him get on the air with that get up?) I always viewed part of the responsibility of the play-by-play guy to refocus discussion to what’s going on in the game when something happens. Not necessarily to kill the discussion but to bring it back to the game when it’s needed and even play dumb in asking the commentator’s questions for the sake of having things explained to the viewers and return to the conversation only when game play allows. He’s the quarterback in the booth and he’s got to direct his booth mates.

Though I wholly disagree with Phillips assertion that Beltran should go (I don’t believe that Jose Reyes should go either) I respect his right to have that opinion. I’m not quite as upset about it as many other fans are because I realize that his job (and perhaps his past job as Mets general manager) contribute to his opinion. But I don’t need quite as much time dedicated to the subject as there was last night.

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