Monday, August 4, 2008

TBG's Sounds of Summer: San Diego Padres

Game: New York Mets at San Diego Padres
Date: June 5
Network: Cox 4-San Diego

Play-by-Play: Matt Vasgersian
Color Commentator: Tony Gwynn

Damn it. Thanks to my own stupid rule, I inadvertently ended up with a Padres game that featured Tony Gwynn in the color commentator role usually occupied by former journeyman SP/RP Mark Grant. The Vasgersian/Grant combo is one of my favorites, as neither takes themselves too seriously while being equally adept at dropping in an appropriate reference to 1980s pop music, Tisha Campbell or Disney's "Country Bear Jamboree" as the situation dictates. They haven't always connected with ultra-conservative San Diego, but p*ssing off the prudes in this town is half the fun.

Chemistry: Tony Gwynn is one of the most consistent hitters that I've ever had the pleasure of watching and his induction into the Hall of Fame last summer was a wonderful moment for longtime baseball fans such as myself. That said, Gwynn is a surprisingly rough broadcaster whose charm and personality have never translated into the booth. Vasgersian is hurt most by Gwynn's bland by-the-book approach, as he's forced to spend most of the game pulling even the smallest of observations from Gwynn. Their banter is clunky and forced, which negates the sheer entertainment value that Vasgersian brings when paired with Grant. Grade: 3/10

Knowledge: Vasgersian knows his stuff and is comfortable pointing out game strategies without getting in the way of the color commentator. He also does regional work for the FOX Network's baseball and football broadcasts and it's only a matter of time before a much larger audience is watching him work. Gwynn knows more about hitting than just about anyone, but it doesn't help his broadcast résumé when he's making claims that OF Jody Gerut is just now "getting comfortable" at the big league level (he had more than 1,000 plate appearances in the Majors entering this season) or stating the obvious ("Greg Maddux is a very effective pitcher"). Gwynn did nicely break down a busted hit & run and his analysis on the proper route in tracking fly balls was strong, but Gwynn doesn't analyze enough. Grade: 5/10

Enthusiasm: Gwynn needed his heart restarted a few times as he only really perks up when discussing hitting or if he's vehemently agreeing with an analytical point made by the play-by-play guy, Vasgersian. Meanwhile, considering the pace of the game, Vasgersian's energy was a little more subdued than usual as Padres SP Josh Banks was pitching well and the San Diego offense never really showed up. Grade: 6.5/10

Bar Stool Q: Vasgersian makes semi-regular references to some of those old A's teams and players of the '70s and '80s. He's also funny as hell and a former child actor, so that pretty much seals the deal with me. Gwynn grew up in my hometown of Long Beach, could probably debone a rack of ribs from 50 feet away and, reportedly, has one of the more, umm…"ribald" senses of humor of any athlete out there. I regret that they can't get an eleven. Grade: 10/10

Camera/Production: Cox 4-San Diego was on board the high definition bandwagon pretty early and they've since polished up the production to make for a glossy broadcast experience. On this night, they were a little slow with some replays, but in a tight, low-scoring game, nothing else was missed and the cameras captured a good amount of dugout tensions leading up to a late-inning win. Grade: 7/10

Homerism: Vasgersian is almost entertaining enough to let his rampant bias slide. Almost. As one of the most egregious screamers in all of baseball, he's capable of obliterating eardrums in the event of a walk-off win. And, wouldn't you know it, the Pads won here in the bottom of the ninth on a hit by pitch. The win moved the local nine to 16-28 on the season. Fortunately for their rating here, Mark Grant wasn't in the booth. His constant complaining about umpires makes me glad that Tony Gwynn is still this city's favorite non-threatening Negro. Sorry, LT. Grade: -6.5

Commerciality: Here in San Diego, the Padres games air on a local cable station as opposed to an FSN or Comcast conglomerate. So, as you might expect, the commercials include lots of homespun spots with poor production values and oodles of unintentional comedy. You'll be equally unsurprised to know that Chargers RB "Classy" Tomlinson appears in, what seems like all of them. He sells fake grass, pizza, spas and HD TVs. Watch all four spots and see if you can actually pick the worst one. G'head, I'll wait. If you thought he was insufferable before…

AFLAC Trivia Question: "Who was the first pick in the first-ever amateur baseball draft in 1965?" (My answer: Rick Monday; Correct answer: same) 3 for 4 [TBG Note: Yeah, yeah...I know how this looks, but to "Who broke the color barrier?" this might be the most often asked baseball trivia question out there.]

Final Grade: 25


Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say how much I'm enjoying this feature so far Bootleg Guy. I've been stationed all over the country and I've heard a lot of broadcast teams, so I'm especially looking forward to what you have to say about my hometown Braves. Have you already recorded/watched their game and do you remember if it included Skip Caray?

That Bootleg Guy said...

Glad you're enjoying it! I've got a Braves game in the queue - I think - but I don't know who the broadcast team will be. I hadn't heard that Skip Caray was in such poor health and his passing yesterday blew my mind. Outside of Vin Scully with the Dodgers, there's probably not another broadcaster I heard more while growing up than Skip over on TBS.

acctg.sean said...

I wish you could've found the commercial where LT delivers the pizza to the office and the secretarial pool of white women swoons all over him.

Mrs. Bootleg must love that one.