To borrow from Dickens: It was the best of times, it was a waste of time.
But I’m still a fool in love. I think that baseball, my first true love, will suddenly cure itself, its good senses restored as a matter of applied common sense. Thus it was with Pollyanna optimism that this past Saturday would be a great day for the foolish.
In the rarest of modern scheduling, both the Mets and Yankees would play early-afternoon games on TV. That would be followed by a later time zone, late-afternoon game, A’s vs. Astros, on FS1. This was to be a Throwback Saturday.
But fool me 500 times and shame on me.
The three games totaled 66 strikeouts in just 26 ¹/₂ innings. With two strikes, batters conspicuously did not shorten up to try to make contact, to put the ball in play. Standing then sitting ducks, poultry in back-to-the-dugout motion.
It was another home run-or-nothing drag as per the dictates of latter day baseball. And the “analytics” applied to such strategies continue to escape those who can recognize junk science from a cure, as baseball, like basketball and football, continues to disembowel itself for only rotten reasons.
The next day, Sunday, the Rays and Yanks, in 10 innings, struck out a total of 21 times. There is no wishing it away.
Telecasts, I suspect, have been similarly afflicted by inattentiveness due to same new-old-thing games.
In the first inning of Sunday’s Rays-Yanks, there were two out, none on when Tampa Bay’s Austin Meadows was nailed on the shoulder by Jordan Montgomery’s pitch. Immediately, Michael Kay and John Flaherty cited the bad-to-boiling blood that has recently spiced Yanks vs. Rays.
At that point the YES truck should have been in full live alert mode.
On the next pitch, the half-inning ended with a ground out. Certainly, as the game moved to commercials, YES would focus on Meadows to see if he crossed Montgomery’s path or if the two exchanged cross words or even glares.
But nope. We saw a waste shot of the Rays’ dugout then a closeup of Montgomery as he neared the Yankees’ dugout. Anticipating better was a waste of time.
Anyway, Monday, in an 8 ¹/₂-inning game. The Rays and Rangers struck out 29 times. Among the 51 outs, 29 K’s. And the game included two designated hitters, to prevent pitchers from batting and presumably striking out.
Tuesday, the Indians vs. White Sox totaled 24 strikeouts. All pitchers have become Nolan Ryan. And soon, plenty of good seats still available!
Suzyn gently corrects Sterling
There is a kindness to Suzyn Waldman in deference to her 82-year-old partner, John Sterling, that’s now often gently heard on Yankees radio broadcasts.
For example, Wednesday a wild pitch that beat catcher Kyle Higashioka, but Sterling said it eluded Gary Sanchez, who was the DH.
Waldman could have corrected him — she could several times per game for the past 20 years — but instead recapped the play, adding Higashioka in place of Sanchez for clarity and accuracy.
Tim McCarver did likewise to spare Ralph Kiner in his old age. Waldman should know it’s appreciated by those who get it.
Between CBS and ESPN, a lot of dubious things, often in the form of unneeded filler, were spoken throughout the Masters.
When Mark Leishman suddenly was one back, we were told he was playing “under the radar.” Whose radar? That was another way of saying that CBS hadn’t much bothered to pay him much attention.
But the most ridiculous was heard Sunday, when Jim Nantz and Nick Faldo, as winner Hideki Matsuyama played the 18th. The CBS duo claimed that Matsuyama’s win will “grow the sport in Japan.” Japan has been golf crazy since the 1960s.
NBA In Denial Games of the Week: Jazz 112, Blazers 103 — 90 3-pointers taken, 25 made (27 percent).
Tuesday, another give-and-stay, Suns 106, Heat 86, 86 3-pointers, shot at 25 percent. There were 81 taken in Bucks-Timberwolves.
You wanna call this pro basketball at its highest level? Knock yourself out.
That facts-free smear job CBS’ “60 Minutes” pulled on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was par for a long course.
Years ago, “60 Minutes” presented a report on the ugly, anything-for-money ways and means of International Olympic Committee bossman Juan Antonio Samaranch, an unrepentant World War II fascist diplomat who preferred to be called “Your Excellency.”
There was nothing new to report, Samaranch operated with immunity and impunity from acts including bestowing medals and other honorifics on murderous dictators who delivered piles of cash, but the timing was conspicuously suspicious:
CBS had just lost Olympic rights to NBC.
Constant clutter clouds Kay’s good moments
Sunday in the 10th inning on YES, John Flaherty asked Michael Kay what he thought about this automatic runner-on-second gizmo, clearly to encourage-by-fabrication ball-in-play action that has been lost to either/or baseball.
Kay: “I wouldn’t mind it so much if they at least did it in the 12th, but I don’t think I like it in the 10th. Give teams a chance to win it with real baseball instead of something contrived.”
Right on. Couldn’t agree more.
And that’s when Kay is at his best, in extemporaneous moments, leading with his natural side as opposed to what he rehearses then repeats ad nauseam (now available without a prescription!).
Otherwise, he’s self-saturated in conspicuous contrivances. What he might consider creative and clever, quickly becomes tired, self-promotional and predictably silly as he sells silly as his signature calls.
Saturday, with the Yankees down, 4-0, in the ninth, Kay made with his standard, “Do the Yankees have a rally in their bones?” Ugh. Sunday, as the game moved to the 10th, it was his “Free baseball!” Enough!
He also parrots what only sounds good. Sunday, Brett Gardner, from a 1-2 count, walked. “A good at-bat for Gardner,” said Kay.
Not it wasn’t, not even close. That walk was a gift. He was the beneficiary of bad pitching by Diego Castillo, who next threw three pitches nowhere near the plate. Gardner would have been mad to swing at any of them.
And now Kay ends telecasts with his home run call, “See Ya!” His presence is too often predicated on the contrived, prefabricated self-service that doesn’t benefit him or us.