Wednesday, August 13, 2008

TBG's Sounds of Summer: Texas Rangers

Game: Oakland A's at Texas Rangers
Date: May 30
Network: Fox Sports Net-Southwest

Play-by-Play: Josh Lewin
Color Commentator: Tom Grieve
In-Game Tapeworm: Jim Knox

Lewin is more famous here in San Diego for being the play-by-play radio voice of the Chargers, while Grieve was the General Manager of the Rangers for a time and is the father of fizzled-out phenom, Ben Grieve – who had exactly ONE notable baseball skill: his sweet swing. That's not to be confused with actually, y'know, hitting the ball. Ol' Ben was the monarch of the on-deck circle, though.

Chemistry: Lewin and Grieve are actually a LOT better than I remember. Lewin's voice is vibrantly energetic and meshes well with Grieve's curmudgeonly tone. Around the 3rd inning, Grieve absolutely lit up – for him, anyway – during an odd discussion of favorite John Wayne movies. Obviously, he lost me (African-American, born after 1940) and Lewin begged off, as well, but the whole thing was endearing in an addled, Abe Simpson sort of way. Grade: 8.5/10

Knowledge: Wow…now I wish I hadn't been so fast with the "addled" adjective. Grieve is terrific at breaking down the minutiae for the casual fan. He analyzed and explained the effectiveness of A's RP Keith Foulke's goofy delivery. He outlined the differences between Rangers starting pitcher Kevin Millwood's follow through before and after he went on the disabled list (this game was his first start back) and, most impressively, he walked viewers through easy-to-understand reasons behind Phillies 2B Chase Utley's power surge this season. Lewin doesn't embarrass himself, either and wisely defers to Grieve to talk to the "how". Grade: 9/10

Enthusiasm: Lewin isn't quite a screamer, but he's right at the dividing line when it comes to exciting plays for the home team. Both of them got a little too giggly over a guy in the stands who bore more than a passing resemblance to Rangers shortstop Michael Young. My A's lost the game and both broadcasters excitedly went on and on about how a sweep would put the Rangers in second place ahead of Oakland. On May 30. Grade: 6.5/10

Bar Stool Q: Lewin was often funny and self-effacing, so I'd have no problem splitting wings and pitchers with him. Grieve knows his stuff, but seems more like the guy who'd tell the party in the next booth to pipe down during the National Anthem and bitch about the $8.95 asking price for potato skins ("I can make these at home!"). On the plus side, Tom's son, Ben, would most likely be tasked with showing us to our table. Grade: 6/10

Camera/Production: There was nothing too notable either way. A hee-yuge picture-in-picture graphic during a baserunner advance on a sac fly blocked out way too much of the screen. But, this was more than made up by an onscreen homage to the 1984 Topps set, as a baseball card-like graphic popped on screen regarding whichever Ranger was "hot" at that moment. Grade: 5/10

Homerism: Lewin and Grieve were surprisingly balanced with no more cheerleading than you'd expect from the home town team. Since Oakland lost, I was ready to deduct one point on principle. Unfortunately, the broadcast crew also includes Jim Knox, whose sole purpose is to interview fans in the stands during the game. I shouldn't have to "mute" a baseball game, Jim. Grade: -5

Commerciality: Surprising to see a state with as rich a Hispanic history as Texas gets those Taco Cabana ads featuring an extremely cheesy Spanish-accented voiceover. A couple of spots for Whataburger did nothing for me, but maybe they'd consider dredging up this mildly offensive ad campaign. Wasn't he in Cannonball Run?

AFLAC Trivia Question: Which Hall of Fame outfielder had the lowest career batting average? (My answer: Reggie Jackson; Correct answer: same) 5 for 10

Final Grade: 30


thatnicka said...

ooooh! AFLAC question correct AND gets to shun Reggie...even though you were too young to remember him on the A's.

Be happy nicka, there ain't much you're too young to remember these days.

That Bootleg Guy said...

Reggie did spend 1987 with the A's, which I clearly remember. Sadly, his final season was captured in only one baseball card set in 1988 (Score). In that '87 season, he penned (dictated) a long SI cover story ("Reggie on Racism").

Here was the gist: "Yes, I'm Black, but I'm also very rich. Why do you hate me?"

NickaBar said...

I recall 1987 (That DOESN'T count nicka) and his stupid wood framed card and looks like he's falling down. He really looked like shit at then end of his career..he almost looks better now.