October 12, 2000

It Ain't Over 'Til Someone Wins

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Any sports fan can tell you that watching games on TV is not the same as seeing the game in person. It’s basically two different experiences.

When you watch in person, your enjoyment is dictated solely on your knowledge and interpretation of the game at hand. No one, save your friends and the weather, can ruin your viewing pleasure.

It’s a different story when the game is broadcast. Ironically, your odds of enjoyment are much lower in the comfort of home. When you turn on the TV or radio, evil specters creep into the room.

That’s right — sports commentators. Play-by-play people. The guys on the sideline, just waiting to pounce on the mike and comment on the obvious.

Most people can’t stand the play-by-play guys. It’s understandable; they’re dumb, they ramble, they step on the action on the field. Put a jock and a sports dork in front of a national audience, and it’s bound to happen.

NBC’s baseball coverage is by far the worst. It rises above asinine and to become genuinely sickening. But this week I have learned to love it.

The secret is to not to resent the banalities and Tourette-like bablings; you must treasure them. Seek out the stupid and revel in its glory. Do not scream at the set. Enjoy the moment, because they are all around you, and they are beautiful in their simple grace.

Last night, Bob Costas and Joe Morgan were in rare form for the second game of the ALCS. In the bottom of the eighth inning, the game was tied, 1-1. With two men on for the Yankees and no outs, Morgan said, “I think you need to try to score a run in this position.”

Yes, Joe. Yes you do.

Last night’s ‘Comment Extrordinaire’ was courtesy of Morgan as well. When Al Martin slammed into the wall along the third base line in pursuit of a pop foul, Morgan remarked, “that’s why they have the walls padded — so the players can jump into them.”


Of course, that’s a little more insightful than his ALDS game five comment. Just in case some of you at home were confused, Morgan noted, “this is a must-win situation for New York tonight.” Apparently it wasn’t for the A’s, though.

Jim Gray is my personal favorite. While talking to Alex Rodriguez before game one of the ALCS, he pointed out that, “you and Jeter are exactly the same, but Jeter has three rings. Does that make you angry?” Tact, thy name is Gray.

Bob Costas is a bit more cerebral than Morgan and Gray, but it works against him. He can’t avoid a cheesy pun. After Arthur Rhodes was shelled for seven earned runs in one inning, Bob Costas quipped after a TV break, “the Mariners ran into a bump in the ‘Rhodes.'” If I wanted to watch the game called by Fozzie from Muppet Babies, I would have phoned him.

The baseball in this postseason has been pretty good, but the commentary has been even better. Be sure to watch the rest of the ALCS, because as soon as one team wins four games, it will be over.

Archived article by Tom McNulty