Game: Kansas City Royals at Oakland A's
Date: July 28
Network: FSN-Kansas City
Play-by-Play: Ryan Lefebvre
Color Commentator: Frank White
Not the WCW Goldberg: Joel Goldberg
Back in the day, the Royals were actually a pretty dominating force in the old American League West. But, my favorite moments came from those 1987-1990 Royals teams that unleashed Bo Jackson onto the baseball diamond. This was a time before sabermetrics, when all of us could just watch a 30 home run/20 stolen base force-of-nature rack up the strikeouts, throw out runners from the warning track and make all of us wonder if he was the greatest athlete we'd ever seen. Today, he'd be derided for his low OBP and his inability to stay healthy. Life was pretty good back then.
Chemistry: Lefebvre and White play pretty well off of each other. There were moments throughout the game when one was obviously sharing an inside dig at the other's expense, but they kept their collective focus on the field for the most part. At times, Lefebvre lobbed some obvious softballs White's way in order to engage him more and draw him into a conversation, but it kept the dead air down and made for good listening. Grade: 7/10
Knowledge: White is the greatest second baseman in Royals history and one of the best fielders of his era, so it should be no surprise that his insightful critique of the Royals infielders on a relay throw from the outfield was accurate and easy to understand. He's also a former manager in the Kansas City farm system and repeatedly dropped in gems on some of the players he managed with and against. White's dissection of a poor throw from 3B Alex Gordon actually sounded credible, even as he explained the physics of the ball's flight. Lefebvre got in on the action, too, calling out A's LF Eric Patterson for his maddeningly long swing and discussing the consequences of over-swinging with White. Grade: 7.5/10
Enthusiasm: Both men have a handle on the small-town Midwestern way to call a game. It's not that they're unenthusiastic, it's just that Lefebvre and White let the game speak for itself without trying to be bigger than the action. Lefebvre's home run call might best be described as "conversational". White has a measured energy, but a flat delivery. Grade: 5.5/10
Bar Stool Q: Lefebvre was in the news recently after running afoul of Milton Bradley's temper. I only read accounts of that broadcast and the subsequent near-incident, but I'm pretty much on record as someone who sees through the media's double-standard with certain players' "struggles". White played during the '70s and '80s in one of the most anonymously great baseball cities in America. My guess is that he also knows where to buy the best barbecue in Missouri. Those are some damn fine credentials, kids. Grade: 5.5/10
Camera/Production: It was a typically cool summer night in Oakland and the Kansas City crew treated viewers to numerous shots of fans wrapped in blankets, knit hats and hooded sweatshirts. Really, guys, I'm sorry your home base is a more humid version of hell, but I didn't need to see all of the bundled-up huddled masses after every out. According to my notes, Joel Goldberg only made one in-game appearance from the stands. In a nine-inning game, that sounds like the right ratio. Grade: 4.5/10
Homerism: Despite a 4-1 win, the Royals made a few mistakes and both broadcasters weren't afraid to say so. Frank White did seem to take too much offense to A's OF Carlos Gonzalez being compared to former Royal Carlos Beltran and the entire top of the sixth inning was a George Brett love-fest (with nary a word about how he cowardly sat on his BA on the final day of the 1990 season to beat Rickey Henderson for the batting title.) As long as America knows who the true champion is. Grade: -4
Commerciality: The good people at Sonic continue to tease me. Now, they've got an Angus burger on their extensive menu. What can I, as a Californian, do to get a damn franchise out here?! We do, however, have Carl's Jr. in Cali…except it's called "Hardee's" in Missouri. We also have a Green Burrito chain out here that's been co-branded within some Carl's Jr. Restaurants. In Missouri, they're known as Red Burrito. It's f'n' Bizarro World. There was also another anti-Obama spot, this time blaming him for the high gas prices. Only three more months of this nonsense – from both sides of the fence.
AFLAC Trivia Question: None. None! This is an outrage. Half a point deduction, Kansas City. And, YOU can explain to your fans why.