Saturday, August 9, 2008

TBG's Sounds of Summer: Toronto Blue Jays

Game: Toronto Blue Jays at Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Date: May 31
Network: Rogers SportsNet

Play-by-Play: Jaime Campbell
Color Commentator: Rance Mulliniks

From what I can gather, Rogers SportsNet is the very loose equivalent to Fox Sports Net for Canada. More specifically, they're competing with TSN, which ESPN owns a stake in and airs a nationally-branded Sportscentre. If you're not confused yet, know that RSN (the one ESPN doesn't partially own) airs the ESPN feed of Sunday Night Baseball. OK, then. Quite honestly, the thing I'm most looking forward to are the commercials. I discovered Canada's delicious secret – Ketchup Flavored Lay's Potato Chips – during my 2006 family vacation in Vancouver and I'm hopeful they'll get some deserved ad time.

Chemistry: For those scoring at home, Campbell is Canadian and Mulliniks spent 10 years with the Blue Jays as a third baseman/spare part. Both are so unspeakably bland that they almost accidentally make it work in the same way a two scoop vanilla cone is often tastier than it looks. There was a reference to 18th century folk band The Mamas and the Papas ("California Dreamin", I think) that appeared to get them both gushy on the air. Later, an impromptu lesson on staying square when bunting turned into a "hip to be square" joke. You could almost hear them high-fiving each other for getting that one in. On an unrelated note, I've never felt Blacker in my life. Grade: 6/10

Knowledge: Both Campbell and Mulliniks read right from the media stat sheet that's often included with the price of a program ("Garret Anderson is 8 for his last 38", etc.). Mulliniks also mispronounced "Izturis" for the whole game, calling him "Izzituris" (instead of "itz-TUR-is"). I mean, I get that it's not "Smith", but come on. I could've done without the usual David Eckstein pro-small ball nonsense, but the little pixie was playing in Anaheim for the first time since he left as a free agent, so I'll allow it. Grade: 4/10

Enthusiasm: In a really nice touch that I wish more broadcast teams would emulate, Campbell and Mulliniks stayed quiet for Eckstein's introduction so the viewers could hear the P.A. guy and the crowd response. OK, maybe not "enthusiasm" in the truest sense, but it does show a love for the game and an appreciation for the fans. Otherwise, they were just kind of blah. The whole jet-lagging road trip, low-scoring Angels win in 10 innings thing probably didn't help. Grade: 4.5/10

Bar Stool Q: The demographics of 90% of my department within the cubicled confines of the Unnamed Defense Contractor are well-represented by Campbell and Mulliniks. And, there's a reason why I don't drink with most of them. Let's give them a point for the assumption that they could at least charge an evening out on the expense account. Grade: 1/10

Camera/Production: Flipping through my notes, I couldn't find one thing I wrote about the broadcast qualities, good or bad. Much like either umpiring or a meal at McDonald's, I guess that's about all one can ask for. Grade: 5/10

Homerism: Nearly a month after he'd been released, Campbell and Mulliniks threw erstwhile Blue Jay Frank Thomas under the bus one more time. They toed the nonsensical company line that without Thomas, the team had "more flexibility" in that addition-by-subtraction style that's always used with unappreciative players of a certain…moving on. Grade: -7

Commerciality: Surreal to see Budweiser advertisements on Canadian TV. Aside from the whole American beer vs. Canadian beer thing, I remember back to our Vancouver trip, as it was impossible to even find beer. We ended up paying $16(US) for a six pack of Sam Adams. $16(US)! There were a couple of dated spots that "introduced" McDonald's Angus burgers. I couldn't find the real commercials, but get with the program, Canada…those funny tasting Mickey D's meat patties have been in the States for over a year. And, in an awesome recruiting ad that could never air in America; the Canadian Forces were shown with weapons drawn in variously staged "hot spots".

AFLAC Trivia Question: None. I assume this American sponsorship is a casualty of that whole national health care they have up there. Between this and their plentiful harvest of condiment chips, I wish I was Canadian. Well, Western Canadian. From the months of May to September. Early September.

Final Grade: 13.5


Jeff Hansen said...

It's true; we're so lame...

Rance Mulliniks is probably the greatest name from my childhood.

Budweiser and Coors have a billion ads on Canadian TV. Nobody drinks either of them. Honestly, nobody drinks Molson or Labatt either.

That Bootleg Guy said...

Sorry, Jeff, but I'm still a little bitter over what your boy Roberto Alomar did to my A's in the 1992 ALCS - starting the downward spiral that would continue unabated for Oakland over the next six or seven years.

In Canada's defense, though, Stanley Park was awesome and I could easily get used to Vancouver's mid 50-degree days in the middle of September.