Game: St. Louis Cardinals at Florida Marlins
Date: August 11
Network: Fox Sports Net-Florida
Play-by-Play: Rich Waltz
Color Commentator: Tommy Hutton
Former WWE Superstar Craig DeGeorge: Craig Minervini
Believe it or not, there was a time when I was an even bigger baseball geek than I am today. Case in point: where were YOU on November 17, 1992? That was the day of baseball's Expansion Draft, fielding the core of the Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins. My boy Vig and I blew off our afternoon classes, picked up a pizza and sat transfixed in front of…get this…a picture tube television set, watching the event unfold. The Marlins' inaugural outing against the Dodgers on April 5, 1993 was a HUGE deal, people. Charlie Hough, 66, beat Orel Hershiser and America was convinced that teal would always be in style. Quick aside: if anyone is interested in some bulk Nigel Wilson rookie cards, lemme know.
Chemistry: Waltz and Hutton have been together since 2005, developing a pleasant rapport with each other. Obviously, I don't watch a whole lot of Marlins baseball (neither do the locals…n'yuk n'yuk n'yuk) but, there appears to be something of a running joke as it relates to Hutton's love of sweater vests. This unusual in-game subject segued into a discussion about San Francisco – where the Marlins would be travelling on their next road trip. An unfunny jab from Waltz about a "sweater vest convention" led to Hutton – without missing a beat – firing back: "Well, we've been [in San Francisco] when there've been all kinds of conventions." Everyone's microphone was quickly killed for a few moments while they all got their giggles out. No one ever said "chemistry" couldn't be adolescent. Grade: 7/10
Knowledge: I think we can all agree that the Cards' Albert Pujols is one of the best hitters of this generation. Still, when Waltz – in mock exasperation – asked Hutton how the Marlins could get Pujols out, Hutton could only offer that Pujols was hitting .350 and "that shows he does make outs". It was like listening to Joe Morgan not answer a question during his ESPN.com chats. Several times during the game, however, Hutton dropped in critiques of varying sharpness when it came to the young Marlins. His delivery was what you might expect from a coach or manager – lacking in technical sophistication, but it was straightforward and easy to follow. Grade: 6/10
Enthusiasm: Waltz's home run call is raw and could use some work ("Cody Ross! Leftfield! Get outta here!") Also, for some inexplicable reason, in the fifth inning, Hutton left the booth and Cardinals' color man Al Hrabosky joined Waltz. This turned into a bizarre sidebar in which Waltz sounded positively star-struck by The Mad Hungarian. Hutton was having fun out there and really seems to embrace the abrasive tough-love style of analysis. Grade: 6.5/10
Bar Stool Q: Hutton played with some of the most interesting and successful teams of the '60s (Dodgers), '70s (Phillies) and '80s (Expos). His name also carries a bit of broadcast cache as a result of his work with the Yankees and ESPN. Hard to believe he hasn't penned an autobiography, but there's still time, Tommy. And, if you need a ghost-writer, I know a certain 2x Writer of the Year with a lightly-read blog who could add passion to your perspective. Waltz is originally from the Bay Area, but since the likelihood of me making a buck off of him is nil, he can buy his own fried mozzarella. Grade: 5/10
Camera/Production: Minervini's showed up during the game to interview a Marlins fan who'd finally realized his dream of being on TV during a broadcast. I'm serious. Viewers got to hear how he traveled to Tampa during interleague play, with handmade signs in tow, in a failed attempt to catch the attention of FSN-Florida's TV cameras, before finally catching a break. The Marlins get about 1,000 fans/homestand. Pretty sure they'll get everyone on camera, eventually. In the top of the 7th, the broadcasters engaged in some awkward conversation with the Marlins' Spanish announce
Homerism: Hutton was brutally honest in knocking the Marlins when necessary. All-World SS Hanley Ramirez stole a base early on, but Hutton insisted that Ramirez still needed to work on getting good leads from first base and improving his first step to second. Marlins SP Anibal Sanchez went to a full count on the opposing pitcher and Hutton was almost apoplectic. At the start of the game, however, Waltz lamented the condition of the Dolphin Stadium playing field (a preseason football game had been played there a few days earlier) and whined, "The days of multi-purpose stadiums are gone." Translation: buy our obscenely rich owner a new ballpark, please. Grade: -5
Commerciality: The SAP Marlins broadcast is brought to you, in part, by Kentucky Fried Chicken. I remembered seeing a KFC in Mexico on my honeymoon, so I guess it's not that unusual. Then, the camera crew caught the Spanish announcers in the booth with a giant bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken in front of them. This killed me. Speaking of death, Robert Wagner showed up several times to shill the Senior Lending Network. They'll send out a free DVD with more information, which I'm sure instantly lost their intended audience, all of whom remain frightened of technology. And, the look of those teenagers.
AFLAC Trivia Question: Who did Stan Musial pass to become the all-time Cardinals leader in hits? (My answer: Enos Slaughter; Correct answer: Rogers Hornsby) Sorry, Thai…I really should've known this one. 10 for 19
Final Grade: 22.5