June 27, 2017

NESN: Dave O'Brien Thinks Ty Cobb Played Against The Twins (Whose First Game Occurred Three Months Before Cobb Died At Age 74)

It was an embarrassing night for NESN's Dave O'Brien. When Dustin Pedroia led off the bottom of the third inning against the Twins on Tuesday, O'Brien turned to his press notes for one of those nonsense factoids he loves so much:
Dave O'Brien: Dustin Pedroia took a walk in the first inning. Hitting .289, two homers. . . . And lots of hits against Minnesota in his career - .360, his career batting average. Against the Twins - how about this? - only two guys have a higher career batting average in major league history. One is Mark Teixeira, who of course retired after last year, .362. The other? Ty Cobb. .378. Dustin Pedroia, .360.

Dennis Eckersley: They were called the Twins back then? I mean, when Cobb was playing? What was their name back then, I wonder? ... Just curious.

O'Brien: I'm looking. ... I think so.

Eckersley: Huh.

O'Brien: It's a minimum of 200 at-bats, by the way, that kind of career average. . . . And a 1-2 on the way ...
"They were called the Twins back then?" ... "I think so."

How in the world does Dave O'Brien not know that the Minnesota Twins were not around in the 1910s and 1920s? How does not he not know that the Twins were formerly the Washington Senators, and that they were one of the original American League teams back in 1901? (It's pretty basic baseball history. I mean, it's like saying that Babe Ruth hit 108 career home runs against the Oakland A's.)

Listening to the conversation, you can tell Eckersley is baffled. He knows something is not right, but either he's not completely sure (though that has never stopped him in the past (actually, see below)) or he doesn't want to blatantly expose O'Brien. Also, if O'Brien was "looking" for an answer to Eck's question, as he says, why did he not find (and tell us) the right answer?

As soon as the words were spoken, I fully expected O'Brien to realize he had made a mistake or for someone in the production truck to tell him the correct info, so he could quickly save face.

(By the way, the Senators moved to Minnesota for the 1961 season. Ty Cobb died on July 17, 1961, at the age of 74.)

But there was no correction in the bottom of the third.

Or the top of the fourth.

Or the bottom of the fourth.

Finally, in the top of the fifth, O'Brien addressed the matter:
O'Brien: We were talking earlier about Dustin Pedroia's .360 career batting average against the Twins. And in franchise history, against Minnesota, against that franchise - the Twins have had variations of their franchise's name. We were talking about - what were they? They were the Washington Senators -

Eckersley: Right.

O'Brien: - in the time of Ty Cobb.

Eckersley: Then Clark Griffith took them to Minnesota, I believe. Don't hold me to that, but I think that's what went down. [Clark Griffith died in 1955. His nephew, Calvin Griffith, moved the team to Minnesota.]

O'Brien: So it all comes under the banner, these days, of the Minnesota Twins franchise. You're talking about records against them.
Man, that is one awkward correction. How hard would it have been to say: "We were talking earlier about Dustin Pedroia's .360 career batting average against the Twins and how Ty Cobb was one of only two players to have a higher average. Of course, Cobb never played against the Twins, they began in 1961, well after Cobb's playing days. But before this team was the Twins, they were the Washington Senators - and it was the Senators that Cobb played against. Major league baseball considers the Senators and Twins to be one franchise."

I'm now thinking that the guys in NESN's production truck have decided to leave O'Brien high and dry any time he makes a mistake. Tonight's error was not the first time this has happened this season. In early May, when the Red Sox were in Milwaukee, O'Brien misspoke in the first game - and no one corrected him. He gave viewers the same wrong information during the next game - and no one corrected him. The following night, he gave the wrong information yet again - and still no one corrected him. I found that strange, first that O'Brien would bungle such basic information and second, that despite giving the wrong information for three consecutive nights, no one bothered to correct him.


allan said...

O'Brien was obsessed with how some Red Sox players have done against the Twins in their careers. He mentioned Bogaerts in the first inning, Pedroia in the third, Bradley in the third, and Pedroia again in the fourth.

Stats against a team (for a batter or pitcher) make absolutely no sense because the players are changing all the time. What Pedroia did against some Twins pitcher in 2009 has no predictive value in what he will do against a different Twins pitcher in 2017. Telling us that Pedroia hits well against the Twins simply because they are the Twins (which is exactly what OB was doing) is stating that you believe Pedroia somehow hits better against guys wearing shirts that look a certain way, that have a certain word ("Twins") across the chest. (And there are certain shirts, naturally, that he does not hit very well against.)

It's the same as saying Pedroia loves hitting on Tuesdays and Fridays or that he hits better when the number of minutes in the time are even (like 8:18, 8:20, 8:22, etc.). It's utter nonsense. Players are not going to hit the exact same against every team. They will do better against some teams and worse against others. It's completely random.

laura k said...

During the game, I tweeted:

@nesn Ty Cobb never played against a team called Twins. Twins were born in 1960. You want the Washington Senators. #Facts

The correction came shortly after. I appear to be the only person who tweeted about this!

Unknown said...

You mean "adorable", "wonderful" Dave O'Brien? Every time he strays off his written notes and tells one of his stories my impulse is to head to a fact-checker. Except all I want to to do is watch the damn ballgame. Last night's Cobb/Twins history was epic, as you accurately describe it. I wonder if his colleagues are as tired of his non-stop nonsense as, judging from comments on various Red Sox sites, many fans seem to be. The kindest critique you can offer him is to simply say "you're on TV Dave, not the radio, so SFTU".
(and I didn't even mention the constant carny-barking. Over and above NESN's excessive in-game promos, he can't resist ad-libbing even more sponsor B.S. In fact, NESN'S increasingly distracting gimmicks are making for a shitty product. If I wasn't addicted to baseball for the last 65 years and went to such lengths to follow my Red Sox from Canada, I'd be long gone).

allan said...

If I wasn't addicted to baseball for the last 65 years and went to such lengths to follow my Red Sox from Canada, I'd be long gone)

Me, too. And that's part of the problem. NESN has a monopoly on showing the Red Sox and so we have no choice. The diehards will always watch, so NESN feels free to add all kinds of bullshit in the hopes of attracting more casual fans. Now, why they think showing one tweet about a dog carrying a bat to the plate in a minor league game will make non-diehards want to watch a 3.5 hour game is a mystery. For years, NESN has simply thrown shit against the wall and hoped that some of it would stick.

But nothing has stuck. Not Don's blurry cell-phone videos of concrete hallways underneath the stadium, not long digressions for dating shows, not Heidi eating ballpark food, not Gary trying to act super-hip, not on-screen graphics, not any of the two dozens things I am forgetting.

ALL PEOPLE WANT TO SEE IS THE GAME!!! And of course NESN can't even do that properly and professionally. (On the play that Pedroia was thrown out trying for a double, NESN cut away from the outfielders to show the baserunner stepping on home plate (as if the run would not count if they didn't do that) and so we missed a slight mix-up in the outfield about who would grab the carom and make the throw. They got the out anyway, so maybe it was not all that important, but still ... (Showing the runner crossing the plate must be something that NESN copied from YES - which is similarly obsessed with that.)

Anonymous said...

It's a good thing D. O'B never had to compare historical notes with the Georgia Peach himself, viz. this exchange from the 1994 movie, Cobb.
Louis Prima: With all the great players playing ball right now, how well do you think you would do against today's pitchers?
Ty Cobb: Well, I figure against today's pitchers I'd only probably hit about .290
Louis Prima: .290? Well that's amazing, because you batted over .400 a... a whole bunch of times. Now tell us all, we'd all like to know, why do you think you'd only hit .290?
Ty Cobb:Well, I'm 72 f...ing years old you ignorant son of a bitch.

If memory serves, the conversation is not entirely apocryphal. I remember once hearing the .290 observation attributed to Lefty O'Doul, who was interviewed near the end of his life about comparing baseball records from different eras. Cobb did live enough, but just by a few months, to see his old Senators take the field under their current name.

But gee, these team "records" can get kind of silly. The Baltimore Orioles were the St. Louis Browns, who began as the Milwaukee Brewers in 1901. So are Orioles' team records the same as Brewers' team records? Wait. I'm getting confused. Better get Dave OB to explain it to me.

Ernie Paicopolos said...

This was a shocking lack of basic baseball IQ.

Clem said...

Allan, I'm convinced that the people who profit from baseball have very little confidence in its ability to grab anybody outside of the previously addicted. Efforts to "speed up the game", spice up the broadcasts and generally to attract casual/non-fans are so lazy and ill-thought out that I'm pretty it's all theater to show investors/partners that they're trying. The only thing they really work hard and focused at is squeezing more money each year out of the dwindling number of existing hardcore fans.