Saturday, August 23, 2008

TBG's Sounds of Summer: Houston Astros

Game: Arizona Diamondbacks at Houston Astros
Date: August 16
Network: FSN-Houston

Play-by-Play: Bill Brown
Color Commentator: Jim Deshaies
"Patti" with an "I", Annoying with an "A": Patti Smith (Sorry, kids…the Astros have someone who's even harder to find a picture of than Arizona's "interview bunny".)

20 years ago, I played with the Houston Astros…on the old Nintendo Entertainment System video game RBI Baseball. In fact, I vividly remember a dramatic seven-game series that pitted me against m'boy Smitty. I'd exhausted Nolan Ryan's arm in an earlier game and none of Mike Scott's Vaseline balls were crossing the plate, so I went to the bullpen for Charlie Kerfeld. Miraculously, he gave me six shutout innings, picking up the win and clinching the '88 Dork Series for my imaginary electronic team. Good times. While you can't see me in the postgame celebration, Charlie Kerfeld comports himself well, don't you think?

Chemistry: These guys. This was an odd little pairing as Brown is cold and rigid, while Deshaies – the former Houston Astro – poorly plays the role of "storytelling broadcaster". Deshaies spun a yarn about Nolan Ryan - during Ryan's days with the Angels - apologizing to a batter before he hit him with a pitch. It wasn't funny in the least, but Brown's overselling belly laugh was positively noxious. Deshaies spit out similar groaners ("Cy Young? Maybe if that's 's-i-g-h'!") all game long with Brown as his unlovable laugh track. Everything between them felt forced and phony. It was like watching two white men mimic my marriage. Grade: 1/10

Knowledge: By the time you're reading this, I will have sat through 30 different broadcast teams for this feature. I've never heard anyone call a game like Bill Brown. He speaks entirely in factoids and clipped bits of trivia. Y'know those silly little "stats" that accompany a player's picture on the JumboTron? ("Tejada is 8 for his last 15…") Well, that's the extent of Brown's play-by-play. "Berkman's got X runs batted in this month."; "He's hitting Y since the All Star Break."; "He's hit Z home runs at home this year."; "It's a single to centerfield…he's now 4 for 5 off this pitcher". Deshaies is just brutal. Astros SP Brandon Backe gave up five in the first inning, but not once did Deshaies attempt to analyze. Ever. All game. He dredged up some astrological nonsense about kids who are born in August having the best chance to be big leaguers. When the crazy man came in off the street corner, Brown called his notions "plausible". You have my sympathies, Astros fans. Grade: 1/10

Enthusiasm: All game long, Brown and Deshaies seemed to get excited about everything but the game. After the answer to the trivia question was revealed, Deshaies made a comment about K-Rod's five postseason wins in 2002 and called it "ironic" since he only appeared in five regular season games that year. Brown brought out the fake laugh, loudly exclaiming "That IS ironic!" It's not irony. It's "coincidence", you dolts. I guess I have to give them some credit for occasionally appearing interested. Grade: 2/10

Bar Stool Q: Deshaies was once a clean cut, inconspicuous pitcher from the late '80s. Today, he sports a shaved head, black-framed glasses and evil goatee. The original Deshaies has obviously been replaced by his doppelganger from some parallel universe. Normally, I'd be all over this…asking him about the evil Superfriends and pushing for parallel universe Uhura's evil e-mail address. But, Deshaies is just so…I mean, here's his work on the replay of a double play: "A quick two hopper…boom, boom, boom. Two outs." What are they paying him for? And, after two hours of conversation with Brown ("That's Aaron's fifth bourbon of the evening, two in the last 25 minutes.") I'd wanna punch him. Grade: 1.5/10

Camera/Production: Patti Smith pimped FSN's weekend coverage of Wee Craig Biggio's number retirement ceremony about a billion times. I exaggerate, of course, but trust me when I say that a billion Biggio network promos wouldn't have been worse than the top of the fifth inning here. Smith interviewed the CEO of the Houston Golf Association right over the first two outs of the inning. He was there to hype a golf tournament that starts on March 30, 2009 and runs through April 5, 2009. Earlier, some cell phone company sponsored this question: Who had a greater impact in their field: Babe Ruth or Elvis Presley (both of whom died on August 16)? Brown called the question "intriguing" and Deshaies said the query would "divide households". Jesus. Grade: 2/10

Homerism: Newly-acquired Diamondback Adam Dunn came to the plate early on and, to their credit, both Brown and Deshaies sang his praises (even mentioning OBP and SLG) without once mentioning Dunn's strikeouts. Too many lazy journalists and fans act like the K's somehow negate Dunn's entire offensive skillset and for a road player he's an easy target. Good job, gentlemen. See? I'm fair. Grade: -2.5

Commerciality: Your Houston-area Ford dealer sells something called an F-180 "Texas Edition". I'm guessing the glove compartment doubles as a cooler and the passenger's side airbag can be driver-deployed to assist in spousal beatings when both his hands have a beer. Mesquite Championship Rodeo is running show at – and I quote from the graphic – "The Air Conditioned Resistol Arena". I don't know why this tickled me. Maybe because I've seen the opening credits of old shows that included the words "In COLOR!"

AFLAC Trivia Question: "Other than Randy Johnson, which active pitcher has won five games in a single postseason?" (My answer: Andy Pettitte; Correct answer: Francisco Rodriguez) 10 for 18

Final Grade: 5


Anonymous said...

I watch like 90% of Astros games. Sigh...(Cy)

That Bootleg Guy said...

I see what you did there!