Game: Oakland A's at Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Date: July 2
Network: Fox Sports Net West
Play-by-Play: Steve Physioc
Color Commentator: Rex Hudler
Over the years, I think I've done an admirable job of hiding my disgust for the Angels and their know-nothing bandwagon fans. Still, it might surprise you to know that there are some things Angels-related that I can appreciate. For instance, even with 40,000+ fans in attendance at Angel Stadium, there's not an easier parking/exiting experience in the league. Oh, and I loved their uniforms from 1993-1996. I'm disclosing all of this to let you know that I'm keeping an open mind about the team's
Chemistry: Physioc has been doing play-by-play for more than 25 years and, as a result, knows the proper pacing of a baseball broadcast like the back of his hand. Unfortunately, Physioc is also tasked with ducking and dodging the uncontrollable bombast of his color man, former big leaguer Rex Hudler. It'd be lazy and clichéd to say Hudler analyzes a game in the same insane way that he played, but it'd also be true. Physioc is the narrator, Hudler is the cartoonish buffoon and – absent of any context – the two make a good team. Grade: 8/10
Knowledge: Hudler played in the Majors for nearly 15 seasons and was often cast as "David Eckstein v1.0" by fans and media. Not surprisingly, he plays up ridiculous myths like "productive outs" and views the game from the same 1860s prism as former rec-league manager C. Montgomery Burns. Hudler is capable of real insight (damned if he didn't make perfect sense while breaking down a groundball's "topspin"), but I'll take away one moment from this game: Hudler pointed out that Angels' SP Joe Saunders had allowed 10 stolen bases on the season. Physioc asked, "In how many attempts?" After a long pause, Hudler came back with, "Well, he's got five caught stealings. I couldn't find attempts." Physioc isn't nearly as awful. Grade: 4/10
Enthusiasm: While both guys overtly root, root, root for the home team, Hudler can be absolutely insufferable at times. He and Physioc drifted into a bizarre sidebar about all of the newborns the Angels' players' wives were squirting out – with the passion of a walk-off home run call. Then, at the end of one of Hudler's numerous in-game pep talks for any kids in the audience, he ended with "…play hard and do good in school". Physioc's home run calls aren't the grating scream-fests of a Hawk Harrelson, but it's pretty damn close. Grade: 9/10
Bar Stool Q: During the "Coors Light Freeze Cam" segment, Hudler gushed that a cold Coors Light sure sounded…wait, let me check my notes…"delicious". Points for the publicly broadcast love of alcohol, but demerits for the brand. And, I doubt that Physioc would be seen with Hudler anywhere outside the broadcast booth. Grade: 1/10
Camera/Production: FSN West uses a super slow motion "X-Mo" camera that does a good job of breaking down moments frame by frame. Late in the game, Hudler compared Angels 2B Howie Kendrick's swing with A's OF Emil Brown's. One half inning later, there was a split-screen with both swings.
Homerism: There are maybe three broadcasters who are going to single-handedly ruin their ratings with this one category…and, yes, Rex Hudler is on the list. He spent several minutes creaming over SP John Lackey's recognition as June's AL Pitcher of the Month with lines like "Lackey is on track-y!" And, even though he openly rooted for the Angels during a late rally, it was Physioc who attempted to mock the A's aversion to the sac bunt by pointing out that they "only" had 13 on the season, which he then proudly compared to the Angels'…13. Grade: -9.5
Commerciality: Boring. Nothing here but your national fast food chains, car manufacturers and FSN programming ads. There were a couple of spots for Sparks WNBA basketball and a few featuring Angels' manager Mike Scioscia for a local electronics chain that were unintentionally hilarious for all the wrong reasons.
AFLAC Trivia Question: Who was the only LHP to win 20 games in a season for the Angels? (My answer: no clue; Correct answer: Clyde Wright) [TBG Note: Hudler lost another half-point for his team as he's one of those broadcasters that takes way too much pride in correctly guessing the answer five seconds after the question appears on screen.] 3 for 5