So I tuned in to watch last night's game as I usually do on my mlb.tv. That generally means the home team broadcasters. That also usually means a healthy dose of Cubs bashing. I can handle a little homerism from the broadcasting crew, whether it be known Cub hater Milo Hamilton or the White Sox crew. But I'm not sure I've heard such an obvious agenda to go after all things Cubs as I did last night.
The crew was Thom Brenneman and color man Chris Welsh. Ah Brenneman, that name seems familiar, doesn't it? It appears that Marty and son got together for lunch Monday and compared game notes. So with all due respect to the actual "Awful Announcing", let's take a look at some of what Brenneman and Welsh said, thanks to the beauty of archived mlb.tv games. The quotes may miss a word or two and I generally skipped over the actual play-by-play moments to shorten the bites, but I promise you this is what they actually were saying, in the spirit they intended (Contains strong language...from me).
Top of the First - Ryan Theriot up
TB: "He got a lot of playing time in the leadoff spot while Soriano was on the disabled list."
Grand Total of games Theriot lead-off while Soriano was on the disabled list - 0
Alright, nothing too egregious though, but we're not off to a good start.
TB: "Then there were all the rumors and all the stories that Jim Hendry, the Cubs general manager was trying to acquire Brian Roberts from the Baltimore Orioles which would have put Theriot, of course, on the bench."
Right, I remember this from the offseason. There were all those Brian Roberts to the Cubs rumors and then they kept interviewing Theriot about how he feels about the Cubs going after Roberts. Wait..no, that was DeRosa who plays second base for the Cubs. Try buying a scorecard Thom...
Bottom of the first - Felix Pie while showing the defensive positions and a graphic showing that Pie has made zero errors in 102 games
TB: "Don't be fooled by that 0 errors in career games. He has overthrown and badly overthrown third base and home and inexplicibly has not been been charged with an error."
I can't quite express the vitriol that he used when he said that. He went on to mention something about all the reports he's seen say that Pie has real problems with hitting the cut-off man.
Now I watch just about every Cubs game, maybe have missed about a total of two games worth this year and I think I recall Pie missing the cut-off man once or twice all year and maybe once where the runner advanced. I also remember him throwing a bullet to nail a runner at third base and generally exceptional defense.
Top of the 2nd - after Soto's HR
CW: "You show me a catcher anywhere who is not a good high fastball hitter....They're usually stocky and strong and usually like to jump on the high cheese."
Holy crap, positional profiling!!! Honestly I don't even get this one...is there something about putting on catching gear that makes you a high, fastball hitter?
Bottom of the 3rd
TB: "In the month of the April they won a franchise record 17 games...(followed by list of team offensive records they set). That being said, they come in just five games over .500."
Yeah Thom, they come in just on pace to win 94 games. What a crap fucking team!
Bottom of the 4th
TB: "I have a beef with this whole catch thing. ... I've have only heard of 'let's go out and play catch'. Have you heard from anybody who outside of the Northeastern part of the country that ever said 'let's go have a catch." Have you ever heard that said ever in your life. The only place I've heard that term is the northeast and now i"m hearing it all over the place.
"That Field of Dreams movie, I guess that's what made it popular"
Good work Thom, you've alienated the most densely populated area of the United States and attacked one of the great movies of all-time. Glad you got that off your chest. And for what it's worth, Transmission, whose family is from the Midwest, uses the phrase "let's go have a catch."
Top of the 5th - Alfonso Soriano up
TB: "When they signed Soriano they thought they were getting a 40/40 guy. Soriano one of the only three players in the history of the game to go 40/40 in a single year...but leg injuries have really taken away a big part of his running game."
Really, you think the Cubs were betting on Soriano to repeat something that's only been done four times in the history of baseball? (He did correct himself later and mentioned that it's actually happened four times).
TB: "(Piniella) has continued to field questions about how long are you going to bat Soriano in the leadoff spot. His numbers have just been absymal whether they be last year or this year. Granted he spent a lot of the time out of the lineup this season."
I hope the Cubs put together a whole team of players with abysmal 299/337/560 seasons with 33 home runs, 70 RBi's and 97 runs scored in 135 games.
You're an idiot, Thom. And spell your first name like every other Tom out there, will you?
CW: "He's never averaged over a course a year more than 3.9 pitches per plate appearance. Most leadoff hitters, that do it for a living, and they work the pitchers are somewhere up over four, so he's definitly deficient at that."
For the love of Joe Morgan, can FoxSports Ohio please spring for a computer and an Internet connection for these guys?
Brian Roberts - 3.91 career, high was 4.20 last season, the only year he's been above 4
Kenny Lofton - 3.73 career, high was 3.97
Alfonso Soriano - 3.68 career, high was 3.90
Juan Pierre - 3.43 career, high was 3.69
Rafael Furcal - 3.86, high was 4.10
(also only one season over four)
Jimmy Rollins - 3.66, high was 3.86
Johnny Damon - 3.86, high was 4.30(has had four seasons with over four pitcher per plate appearance)
Ichiro Suzuki - 3.56, high was 3.76
Grady Sizemore - 4.01, high was 4.15
(three of four seasons above four)
Curtis Granderson - 4.05, high was 4.08
(three of four seasons above four)
Jose Reyes - 3.60, high was 3.67
CW: "Maybe he lives by the credo I'm a leadoff hitter and not a leadoff looker."
Shut up, just shut the fuck up!
Top of the 6th - Geovany Soto
TB: "You look at his career numbers, I'm talking about his minor league numbers, he just came to the majors for the first time this season. And you wonder, you know, where did all of this offense all of a sudden come from Geovany Soto?...You look at his minor league numbers, .260 one year, .269, .242, .271, .253...he had never hit more than nine home runs in a minor league season..NINE, until last year when he hit TWENTY-SIX in Triple-A Iowa and hit .353. Now all of a sudden, in his first full-year in the major leagues, granted it's only a month and a week, but he's hitting almost .340 and leads the Cubs in runs batted in with 24."
Now I'm probably just testy at this point and it's tough to capture this in a quote, but if you listen to the broadcast Thom is clearly trying to lead the audience to believe that there's something fishy about Soto's resurgence., like possibly...
CW: "I don't mean this in a bad way, but before steroid testing, you see a blip in the radar like that you say, well..
Thom jumps in a little too quickly...
CW: "...one of the possibilities might be he's juicing, but obviously that's not the case anymore, everyone's tested. And you know that doesn't happen very much with baseball players because usually, whether it's at the minor league level or the major league level, by the time you're 28 or so...I'm not sure how old Soto is...he's only 25, you reach a certain plateau of productivity. You pretty much stay within range. Maybe now that he's getting closer to the prime of his career...around...he's 25, so it'll be a couple years until he's in that...but maybe he's reaching a new plateau."
I swear a producer whispered in their ear pieces to please NOT suggest that Soto took performance enhancing drugs. We're not in the mood for a libel case. It actually seems that Welsh was ready to agree until he awkawrdly stumbled through a more reasonable explanation that Soto might just be a late bloomer. Soto and about 1,000 prospects before him in the history of the game.
TB: "Well another guy that was similar to that was Sammy Sosa...now people can accuse Sosa of "did he do this or did he do that". To my knowledge he's never been tested in a positive way for any kind of steroids, whether people believe or not he did is an entirely different question."
"But the point being, that Sosa was one of those guys coming up through the White Sox organization who never hit many home runs, then all of a sudden got to the big leagues and started knocking the cover off the ball."
Thom just couldn't let go the juicing angle, could he? Sure he tip-toes around the issue, but he chooses a player to compare Soto with that is generally regarded as a user. Of course, Sosa was always considered a top prospect in baseball, a 5-tool talent with huge power potential. Soto was just fat and finally slimmed down last year. Other than that, they're pretty much the same, Thom. Real great example there, but you did manage to tenously link Soto to PED's. Well-done.
I'm probably just coming off as a bitter fool looking to pick a fight. That might be the case, but I sure wasn't the only one to notice it. There were quite a few of us in Parachat who noticed the same thing. I'm tempted to mute the game tonight, but now I was just want to listen for what gems Thom and Chris Welsh spout off during the game.