Sunday, August 17, 2008

TBG's Sounds of Summer: Minnesota Twins

Game: New York Yankees at Minnesota Twins
Date: June 2
Network: FSN-North (MN)

Play-by-Play: Dick Bremer
Color Commentator: Bert Blyleven
Ummm…"Telly"?: Telly Hughes
Uncomfortable Looking Ex-Player in an Ill-Fitting Suit: Ron Coomer

I've never really had much love for the Twins. In 2002, they bounced my A's out of the postseason in five games and then absolutely laid down for the hated Angels. 11 years earlier, they ruined the storybook season of the not-yet-insufferable Atlanta Braves, costing Steve Avery, Deion Sanders and Dhalsim Nixon their shots at World Series rings. That '91 Series also featured Twins SP Jack Morris' famous Game Seven performance, which is often mentioned as his entire inane Hall of Fame argument. Yeah, yeah…"winningest pitcher of the 1980s"! Fun fact: Dave Stieb had the second most wins in the '80s and, at his peak, was a much better pitcher than Morris ever was. Zing!

Chemistry: Bremer and Blyleven are quite the amiable arrangement. Bremer was born and raised in the Gopher State. His pleasant delivery and slightly nasal Midwestern twang make for an authentic Minnesota sound. Blyleven had long ago cemented his goofball reputation during his playing days and is as much of a natural on camera now as he was in 1990, when he filmed a cameo for Jim Belushi's Taking Care of Business. (This, of course, was part of an odd 18-month arc from 1989-90 in which Belushi tried to position himself as "family friendly" with films like K-9 and Mr. Destiny) I'm not sure their style would play as well in Capitol City, but there are few combos who reflect their home market as well as these two. And, there's NO way either would be as effective away from the other. Grade: 9/10

Knowledge: Sorry, Twins fans, but I remember Blyleven mostly from his 1989-91 stint with the California Angels – especially his excellent first season in Anaheim and how he nearly carried the Halos into the playoffs. Not surprisingly, his breakdown of the spin on a curveball (Bert's best pitch) that turned into a wild pitch was terrifically detailed. He opened the game with a strong, relevant scouting report on SP Livan Hernandez and later chimed in with good analysis of SP Andy Pettitte's ability to control the running game. Bert's less sure when it comes to hitting, but that's a minor nit. Bremer, on the other hand, read straight from the on-screen graphics and added little beyond the call of the game. Grade: 7/10

Enthusiasm: Folks in this part of the country simply don't do enthusiasm. It's a little jarring to hear so much dead air when the game is already being played within the confines of an airplane hangar, but both Bremer and Blyleven call the game in a plain, straightforward style (even Bert's comic relief is freeze-dried). When the Twins made a nice play or scored a run, the broadcasters' voice inflections showed it, but their well-worn rocking chair style could use a bit more oomph. Grade: 5/10

Bar Stool Q: Blyleven got into a bit of hot water when he inadvertently uttered an expletive over the air. His potty mouth gets him in the door with me, while the potential for poop from the one movie he did intrigues me even more. I mean, really, how did Loryn Locklin NOT become a star?! Bremer appears to be a wonderful gentleman and all, but he seems more at home MCing a Little League banquet at Tim Horton's. Grade: 5.5/10

Camera/Production: Give FSN-North points for including pre-recorded in-game thoughts from Twins coaches on how to play the Yankees, but it was often intrusive and the cameras were late to return to the action on a couple of occasions. I'm still not sure what purpose Telly Hughes served, other than guiding the extremely awkward Ron Coomer through the reminiscing of Coomer's playing career. Grade: 4.5/10

Homerism: Even with the Yankees in town, Bremer and Blyleven rolled out the broadcast welcome mat for the evil empire and refused to play into the "heroic underdog" mentality. It sounds like a little thing, but you'd be surprised how often this pandering tactic is used on local TV when New York is in town. The two played up the home team, certainly, but without ever throwing it in our face. Grade: -3

Commerciality: Quite the smorgasbord of awesome, including a spot for Kent Hrbek's Outdoors show. I could watch him kill innocent animals with a bow & arrow for hours. A local brand called Cub Foods sponsors "Fantastic Fridays" at the Metrodome with the enticement of free milk or orange juice coupons in certain sections! Finally, an ad for Cenex Propane had everything but Hank Hill and his "taste the meat, not the heat" tagline.

AFLAC Trivia Question: Hmmm…it seems I omitted it from my notes. Nice. I write down Blyleven's Ed Whitson joke, even though no one under 35 will get it, but I forget something that's an actual piece of this damn feature. I'll have to think of one on the fly, here…uhh, who did the Twins receive in exchange for former All-Star Chuck Knoblauch? I know Eric Milton was part of that deal, right? That's all I got.

Final Grade: 28


Jeff Hansen said...

Never like Morris. Even as a 12 year old child I could tell that he was purely a product of the Jays' offense.

That Bootleg Guy said...

Morris racked up nearly 40 extra regular season wins in his final three years, while posting crazy high ERAs with the 1992-93 Jays and 94 Indians. No way this guy should be getting as much HOF love as he does.

Anonymous said...

Telly Hughes is FSN North's token black roving reporter. I believe in addition to the Twins games, he also does sideline reporting for the Timberwolves and on rare occasions he stumbles awkwardly through Minnesota Wild hockey games.

That Bootleg Guy said...

I would consider paying for the NHL digital cable package to watch Telly do anything related to hockey.