Smile Politely

Why Would This Game Be on Television, Anyway?

Last night was the biggest game up to this point of the season for both the Chicago White Sox and the Minnesota Twins. I excitedly set my DVR to record the game on Extra Innings channel 740 and left to attend the Smile Politely editors meeting; I planned to write a running diary about the game for this column when I returned home. I was a little nervous when none of the Esquire TV’s were tuned to the game, and then my wife called to say that the game was not being broadcast on that channel. The game was only on WCIU in Chicagoland, and the Twins broadcast was blacked out because we’re in the Sox local viewing area. Thanks, Major League Baseball! I’m sure that no one in Illinois outside of the Chicago metro area was interested in watching the game, anyway. It’s good to know I could watch the Nats-Marlins game with whichever broadcast team I choose, though.

So, instead of a running diary of the complete TV broadcast full of snarky comments about Hawk and DJ, you, dear reader, instead get to enjoy a diary of the last 3-1/2 innings of the game based on listening to Ed Farmer and Steve Stone’s radio broadcast.

Bottom of the 6th
Farmer and Stone talked about Carlos Gomez’ odd habit of smelling and kissing his bat before each pitch. It’s hard to fully appreciate how weird it looks through the magic of radio, but they did a good job of giving us a feel for it. The game’s already 7-1 in the Twins’ favor, with Sox starter Javier Vazquez knocked out after four innings and five runs. My co-worker, Jim, predicted that Vazquez would leave after 4-2/3 and five runs allowed and trailing 5-1. I’m thinking about asking him for some lottery numbers tomorrow.

Top of the 7th
Farmer’s getting a little pissy, talking about how Twins starter Scott Baker is “just throwing batting practice out there,” maybe bringing it at 75-80 mph, by his observation, at this point in the game. Somehow, Baker’s able to set the Sox down in order, though.

Bottom of the 7th
Sox bullpen pariah Boone Logan is in the game, pulling mop-up duty after starting the year as the team’s top lefty reliever. He lasts three hitters, and escapes with a mere two runs allowed on back-to-back homers to Jason Kubel and Delmon Young; it’s now 9-1 Twins. Oh how the mighty have fallen; Logan was absolutely unhittable when I watched him pitch in April and May. Good insight from Stone about Ron Gardenhire sticking with Denard Span instead of the now-healthy Michael Cuddyer for this series. You get the feeling that the radio guys actually do some research before these games by, you know, talking to the opposing manager. Stoney’s going to be a great addition to the TV booth next year, but I’m curious to see how he and Hawk get along.

Top of the 8th
The Twins’ righthanded version of Boone Logan, Jesse Crain, comes on to protect the lead and promptly walks the leadoff hitter. Farmer cracks, “Joe Mauer makes a visit to the mound to tell Crain how much he liked that walk.” This is only about 1,000 times better than listening to the TV play-by-play. Crain induces a double play to erase the walk, and gets a fly out next to face the minimum.

Bottom of the 8th
Wow, when did the Sox add the indomitable Horacio Ramirez to their bullpen? When somebody sucks for the Royals’ pitching staff, that’s a good reason to stay far, far away. These guys don’t like doing on-air ads anyway, but Stone has even less enthusiasm than normal when he says, “Today’s a good day for a Hyundai.”

Top of the 9th
Farmer points out that new Twins pitcher Matt Guerrier has allowed 11 homers in 70-plus innings pitched. Ouch, I didn’t know he’d been that bad. Another good quip from Farmer about the less-than-hospitable Metrodome press box: “We couldn’t tell exactly what happened [on that foul ball] because we were encased in concrete.” Ken Griffey, Jr., pads Guerrier’s homer-allowed total with a solo shot, but the Sox don’t make any more noise, and the game ends 9-2.

So, the Twins are only a game and a half back entering tonight’s titanic struggle, which I hear is important enough to be on the television set! Oh happy day!

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