Game: Detroit Tigers at Seattle Mariners
Date: July 4
Play-by-Play: Dave Niehaus (Innings 1-3); Dave Sims (Innings 4-9)
Color Commentator: Mike Blowers
Rally Fry Girl: Cara Capuano (mildly attractive in-game correspondent who hands out french fries to parasites who bring signs begging for free food)
Niehaus was inducted into the broadcaster's wing of the Hall of Fame this past July. According to the M's website, he has called 4,817 of the 4,899 games the team has played in its entire history. Blowers played in the bigs for 11 seasons (including four with Seattle), but I'll always remember him for his 1998 campaign with my A's. Oakland trotted out Blowers, Dave Magadan(!) and Ed Sprague(!!) at 3B that year before finally calling up Eric Chavez to cease the misery. Eric Chavez "saving" the A's. Damn, that was a long time ago.
Chemistry: Niehaus is like a LOT of other aging broadcasters who are locally beloved for their familiarity with listeners, while no longer much of a talent. His crusty old-school schtick is a two-car crash on the microphone with the meandering, mumbling Blowers. In the second inning, the running (off-)topics of conversation were: the New York media, Keith Hernandez, cheesecake and Canada. Sims and Blowers mesh a little better together, but Sims – tragically – appears to have been born without a personality. Grade: 4/10
Knowledge: Blowers enjoyed some success in his career against SP Kenny Rogers (who started for the Tigers in this game) and relayed some neat little gems regarding how to hit him. Blowers also was surprisingly informative as he outlined the changes a defense makes behind a famously good fielder like Rogers. Niehaus and Sims simply call what's in front of them. Although, I'd be remiss if I didn't share Niehaus' call of a Kenji Johjima groundout ("Easy play. (pause) Renteria will throw him out.") or a Curtis Granderson strikeout ("Nice pitch." (Long pause/no follow-up)). Grade: 5/10
Enthusiasm: Sadly, I didn't get to hear one of Niehaus' screaming home run calls for the Mariners. It's probably a good thing, as I'm still not sure how the old guy gets a pass for inanity like "Get out the rye bread and the mustard, it's grand salami time!" Dave Sims got a longball, though. His "…it's a no-doubt-abouter…!" bit needs work. I'm fairly certain Blowers nodded off around the fifth or sixth inning. Grade: 4/10
Bar Stool Q: Well, Sims is Black, so we've got that in common. Not many of us left that can talk baseball at a comprehensible level. And, yes, that includes ESPN's Eric
Camera/Production: FSN-Northwest used lots of patriotic music into and out of commercial breaks in honor of July 4th. Yankee Doodle Dandy? The Girl I Left Behind Me? Ugh…this was the equivalent of those pandering American flag lapel pins to my ears and I never want to hear…hey, Lex Luger's theme music! Sadly, Niehaus refers to the song by its original name. The starting line-up graphics blew by so fast that Blowers had to wake up and speak at a normal rate. Grade: 4/10
Homerism: Muted. Niehaus isn't overbearingly biased when the score is low and close, so my ear drums survived in tact. Sims made a passing reference to a recent controversy involving M's starting pitcher Erik Bedard and his reluctance to throw more than 100 pitches per start. It really sounded like he was going to take Bedard to task, before gently applying the breaks. Blowers was born in Germany. The discussion on that subject covered the bottom of the third inning. Grade: -3.5
Commerciality: Banner Bank, Safeco Investments and the usual marketing-to-guys spots (beer, cars). The M's do have a pretty funny ad campaign of their own, but during this disastrous 2008 campaign, I can't imagine too many people laughing.
AFLAC Trivia Question: "How many 4th of July games has Safeco Field hosted?" (My answer: 4, Correct answer: 3) 5 for 12
Final Grade: 20