Friday, August 22, 2008

TBG's Sounds of Summer: Arizona Diamondbacks

Game: Washington Nationals at Arizona Diamondbacks
Date: June 1
Network: FSN-Arizona

Play-by-Play: Daron Sutton
Color Commentator: Mark Grace
Intrusive In-Game Soft Focus Feature Chick: Kyndra de St. Aubin (sorry, kids…there is not ONE picture of her online. Not one!)

I'd forgotten how name-droppingly awesome that inaugural Diamondbacks squad was. Imagine, if you will, opening a pack of Upper Deck baseball cards in 1992, silently promising yourself that one day you'll own a team…and, when you do, these will be your players: Devon White, Matt Williams, Andy Stankiewicz, Hensley (Bam Bam) Meulens and Bernard Gilkey. Of course, Arizona would go on to win the World Series in 2001, finally delivering a baseball championship to the hundreds of thousands of transplanted Chicago Cubs fans out there who were actually alive in 1908.

Chemistry: During the pre-game segment, Sutton and Grace seemed determined to shatter my ear drums. Their primary screaming point was that the month of May had passed (in which the D'Backs went 11-17) and that every team is 0-0 in June. The whole thing was just another silly means of motivation for athletes (and fans, too, I guess), so to that end, at least Sutton and Grace were on the same page. Thankfully, they toned down the bombast once the game started and were actually a lot of fun together. Sutton screwed up an in-game promo – having to stop and start over again several times – with Grace needling him about it throughout the rest of the game. Grade: 8/10

Knowledge: Grace can be frustrating at times because he's capable of much more than lazy ex-jock phraseology. He and Sutton sarcastically shot down the importance of team meetings and wondered aloud why they're always scheduled hours before a team faces the other squad's worst starting pitcher. But, earlier Grace droned on and on about the D'Backs "going back to the running game". As if the drop of six team stolen bases from April (19 wins, 8 losses) to May could make up for the 60 point drop in SLG from the same two months. Grace is another old school guy who gets all ornery at all the newfangled stats out there, but really, Gracie…you hate OPS? It's on-base plus slugging. A+B = C. The eggheads aren't reinventing the wheel here. Grade: 5.5/10

Enthusiasm: Conceding that I've never broadcast a baseball game in my life, I daresay that my make-believe home run calls while playing Baseball Stars were better than Sutton's ("Driven! [Elijah] Dukes! Back! Gone!") It was like a bad simulcast of $25,000 Pyramid. Sutton got a little too gooey over IF Chad Tracy's home run ("That is a redhead leaving the ballpark!") and made a dated reference to something called a "rave", then chuckled as if anyone under 30 (or over 35) knew what the hell he was talking about. Grace is a little out of control at times and his phlegm-filled vocal chords get especially grating when things go well for the home team. Grade: 7/10

Bar Stool Q: Grace has the disheveled, looks-older-than-he-is appearance of a man who was quite the show on road trips during his playing days. Let's stop short of a libel lawsuit and suggest that he might know the best places in Phoenix for bourbon and a Cuban. And, women. That's all I'm saying. Sutton doesn't have the name recognition of his partner and I can envision his best pick-up line: "I'm sure you've heard of Mark Grace. Well, I sit on his left!" Actually, I'd buy him a beer to hear him use it. Grade: 7.5/10

Camera/Production: De St. Aubin practically hijacked the entire third inning for a feature on FSN's "Good Sport of the Week". It's absolutely a good cause, but I don't think it's insensitive to ask that a baseball game remain separate from an extended PSA. I was surprised to see that even during games broadcast to their home audience, FSN shows a lot of shots of the swimming pool beyond the outfield wall. The novelty hasn't worn off of you guys yet, Arizona? Grade: 3.5/10

Homerism: Grace does have that Rex Hudler vibe about him – undeniably knowledgeable, but content to be the peak of the D'Back Cheerleaders' Pyramid. He's also got a surly edge that is probably more endearing to those who watch him everyday. Sutton and Grace did a bit of quibbling with the umpire's strike zone, which wasn't nearly as absurd as the comparison of an opposite field single by 2B Alex Romero to Tony Gwynn. Grade: -7.5

Commerciality: Diamondbacks SP Randy Johnson, in the obligatory local car dealership advertisement, sounds like he's over-dubbed from inside a wind tunnel while hawking Van Chevrolet. My favorite line: "I can buy a vehicle anywhere…" That's how you relate to the working class fan, kids. You won't see too many creepier ads than the one for Riviera Pools with a guy in the stands forcefully gesturing with a half-eaten hot dog in his hand.

AFLAC Trivia Question: "Who was the last team to play in Washington DC before the Nationals and who are they now?" (My answer: Washington Sentaors...Texas Rangers; Correct answer: same) 10 for 17

Final Grade: 24


Jeff Hansen said...

Devon White! Even the knowledge that he was a leadoff hitter with a .303 OBP in 1992 cannot dissuade me. Best damn glove I've ever seen.

Not exactly glamorous shots of de St. Aubin, but they'll do.

That is a terrible AFLAC question.

Tom said...

Got a grainy, bigfoot-esque one for you here. She looks a lot like Ned Yost.

In other news, you're already the fourth hit in Google if you search for her name. She must be huge in the, uh, desert.

That Bootleg Guy said...

I'm genuinely embarassed to reveal just how much time I spent looking for a picture of Miss Kyndra. That you guys found them so quickly is even worse. I mean, not as bad as her mug, but still...

And, I genuinely have NO recollection of Devon White-the Diamondback Years. Or, the Dodgers, Marlins(?) and Milwaukee(???) Wow. Now, *this* I'm embarassed about.

eric c. said...

Sutton got a little too gooey over IF Chad Tracy's home run ("That is a redhead leaving the ballpark!") and made a dated reference to something called a "rave"...

In the same paragraph, TBG mentions $25,000 Pyramid and Baseball Stars. And, that's why I love this blog.

whitey herzog said...

I think Devon White fell into the category of skinny fast black guy so he should hit leadoff.

That Bootleg Guy said...

Good call. I wanna know how Whitey decided who'd lead off on those 1980s Cards teams that were nothing but skinny, fast black guys. OK, well, before Vince Coleman got there.

Eric: Touche. But, in my defense...meh, I got nothing.