October 21, 2003

Deep Thoughts, by Aaron Gleeman

Here are some random thoughts I had while wondering if FOX's new show, Skin, will have the highest ratio of commercials to actual episodes in the history of television...

I've tried to keep my mouth shut about the way FOX broadcasts these games, but I just can't take it any longer. Last night's broadcast began with clips from Russell Crowe's new movie, which I assume is a FOX product. They tried to tie-in clips from the film, which appears to be about pirates, into the World Series, and the whole thing made me want to change the channel.

It really is pathetic that FOX takes the most important games the sport has to offer and decides to begin them with a lame attempt at fooling us into thinking tying a soon-to-released movie into the third game of the World Series is anything but a blatant commercial. And that's not all they are guilty of.

They also show cast members of FOX TV shows in the audience during just about every game. I saw the cast of Skin in the audience for a game last week and they all looked like they were being held hostage. Then they showed the guy from The Next Joe Millionaire at the game the other night. Seeing Joe Millionaire Jr. was particularly pathetic, because they showed the guy before the show had even aired, which meant the only possible way anyone would have any clue who he was is from the commercials for the show. I mean, at least with Ron Silver someone might see him on camera and say "hey, that's that guy with the beard from those movies" or something.

And, of course, those Joe Millionaire commercials run about 50 times per game, along with about 300 Skin commercials. I can't begin to tell you how many times I have heard "His father is the District Attorney!" and "He's filthy rich!" during the last several weeks. At least we can all take pleasure in knowing that both shows bombed horribly.

It's bad enough that they show the same few commercials over and over and over and over again, but the commercials are constantly running into the actual game, causing the viewer to be sent back to the game in the middle of the inning's first pitch being delivered and, in a few instances, causing the viewer to completely miss a pitch.

FOX spends several moments during the early portion of each and every playoff game showing the announcers using Sprint cell-phones in the booth. Recently they have taken that a step further, using celebrities like Robin Williams and Simon Cowell in the in-game Sprint commercials.

They also have this annoying America Online icon/logo thing appearing throughout each game. Sometimes it's at the bottom of the screen, sometimes it's at the top, sometimes the icon is throwing a computerized pitch before a replay. It's incredibly distracting and just plain tacky.

And then there is the "Pepsi Fan Cam," which is incredibly annoying, very stupid and another obvious commercial being "hidden" by FOX.

I understand the need for FOX to make money. After all, they are paying a ton for the rights to broadcast the World Series. But my god, have a little class and respect for what is a fairly important sporting-event and something that has a long and storied history. It's one thing to do a "Toyota Game Summary" or "Pepsi Fan Cam," but it is a totally different level of tastelessness to interrupt the broadcast of the actual game by showing Joe Buck and Tim McCarver doing a Sprint commercial with Simon Cowell.

Okay, now that I have all that off my chest, here are some thoughts on the actual game that was played last night...

How in the world can a team with a payroll of $165 million have Karim Garcia as their starting right fielder? Such things boggle the mind.

By far the funniest moment of the night was when the following graphic was shown:

Ivan Rodriguez's favorite recording artist: Yanni

And then, wouldn't you know it, FOX immediately flashed to a shot of Yanni sitting in the front-row. There are so many jokes to potentially be made here that I don't even know where to begin, so I'll leave it alone.

I know this seems like a simple point, but it is still worth mentioning. There is absolutely no way Hideki Matsui was able to hit 50 home runs in Japan while maintaining a ground ball/fly ball ratio like he has this year. You simply can't hit that many homers when everything is on the ground. I wonder exactly what he is doing differently and, perhaps more interestingly, why he is doing it differently.

As if seeing Yanni in the crowd weren't enough, FOX's cameras also showed us Mike Tyson. I have a strange feeling Tyson might be kind of fun to sit next to at a baseball game, but how shocked would you be if you were sitting there eating a hot dog before the game and he sat down next to you? I say it's 10-1 odds Mike buys you a few beers and you end up getting your faced tattooed together after the game.

The umps this post-season have been, in my opinion, incredibly inconsistent. I rarely have a problem with an ump making bad calls, but I do have a major problem when they are making bad calls and not being consistent with their strike zone. In the bottom of the 3rd, Mike Mussina struck Miguel Cabrera out with a pitch low and away that the ump called a strike. Then, in the top of the 4th, Josh Beckett threw the exact same pitch on 3-2 and the ump called it a ball.

It just seems like it's been that way throughout the playoffs, in both leagues. One minute a pitch is a ball, the next minute it is a strike and then all of a sudden it's a ball again. I wonder if Questec is being used in the playoffs?

Rain delays in playoff games are always bad news. The good news? Juan Pierre avoided the same fate as Vince Coleman.

This isn't a particularly insightful note, but Josh Beckett's curve ball is absolutely disgusting.

I know all of you are extremely curious as to what goes on in a Baseball Primer chatroom during a rain delay like last night's. Well, we played what is very unimaginatively called "The Two Team Game."

Here's how it works:

One person says two teams and everyone else races to see who can name a player who played for both teams the fastest. Here, let's try it...

Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Florida Marlins.

(Insert Jeopardy music)

Got an answer yet? The one that immediately came to mind for me was Gerald "Ice" Williams. That game may seem easy, but try playing it with a couple dozen baseball geeks during a 40-minute rain delay sometime.

Is the phrase "just beyond the outstretched glove of Derek Jeter" the most said in the history of the world?

Is there really a need for a "sideline reporter" during a baseball game? FOX used Chris Myers last night and his title for the game could have been "Pretend Weatherman in Charge of Telling the Audience Incredibly Obvious Things." He was on the broadcast maybe three or four times and each time he would say something like "The rain appears to be back here in Florida" or "They say the rain will be back."

The latter comment might have been at least remotely informative, if Myers wasn't being hit by a torrential downpour as he said it. I also particularly enjoyed the moment when Myers was on camera, talking about the rain, and decided to ad-lib. He took his umbrella down and then leaned over to a man wearing a poncho sitting next to him and said, "hey buddy, mind if I borrow your coat." To quote the great Howard Stern, I got some serious "douche chills" on that one.

Okay, remember when I said Pudge Rodriguez proclaiming his love for Yanni was the funniest moment of the night? I was wrong. David Cassidy singing (or trying to, at least) "God Bless America" has that beat, and it isn't even particularly close. What happened, Greg Brady was busy? I never thought anything could make me long for the days of Ronan Tynan, but I was wrong.

Alfonso Soriano looks completely clueless at the plate. He is having problems catching up to fastballs of late, which is his specialty. And when he gets down in the count, you can basically just flip a breaking-ball somewhere in the vicinity of home plate and he'll swing at it.

Soriano is an amazing player with some remarkable skills, but I am shocked he is able to hit as well as he does with the complete lack of discipline he has. I keep waiting for teams to simply stop throwing him strikes, and maybe his performance this post-season will lead to more of that.

Dontrelle Willis comes in to relieve Josh Beckett and Joe Buck informs us that "Dontrelle Willis was named NL Rookie Pitcher of the Year by The Sporting News." What a joke. Anyone who thinks Dontrelle Willis was the best rookie pitcher in the NL this season should have their head examined. The fact that a relatively respected publication like The Sporting News would give him that honor is simply ridiculous. And if you don't believe me, click here to read more.

Derek Jeter doubled down the right field line, past a diving Derrek Lee with one out in the eighth inning. Why wasn't Lee guarding the line in that situation? Tie game, top of the eighth inning? I don't get it.

Matsui then singled Jeter in with the go-ahead run and the CD player in my brain (yes, I have a CD player in my brain) immediately cranked this up:

Say your prayers little one

Don't forget, my son

To include everyone

Tuck you in, warm within

Keep you free from sin

Till the sandman he comes

Sleep with one eye open

Gripping your pillow tight

Exit light

Enter night

Take my hand

Off to never never land

--- Metallica, "Enter Sandman"

And, sure enough, The Sandman entered and it was lights out for the Marlins.

I flipped over to David Letterman during a commercial and saw "Dr. Phil" talking to Dave about his new weight-loss book. The book is called "Ultimate Weight Loss Solutions" and apparently includes seven steps for losing weight. There is, of course, one very large (and bald) problem with this, which is that Dr. Phil is fat!

Can you imagine the cojones a "husky" person has to have to write a book telling people how to lose weight? That's like Neifi Perez writing a book on hitting or Aaron Gleeman writing a book about how to pick up women!

*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****

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