March 29, 2018

Dave O'Brien's Opening Day Offensive: Going To Your First Baseball Game Somewhere Other Than Fenway Park Still Counts As Seeing An Authentic Major League Game

First things first: I want to thank NESN for not starting the 2018 season with the garbage that cluttered our screens during the second half of last season. Nothing worthwhile was ever shown in those graphics. It was usually information the announcers had already mentioned at least once or "facts" like 'The Red Sox have a 30-17 record when Jackie Bradley hits a home run'. Being exposed to stuff like that can only make you dumber.

Okay, onto Game 1, wherein we learn that Dave O'Brien took his idiot pills.

As NESN began the bottom of the third:
Guerin Austin: Now [Chris Sale] told us that he attended the Devil Rays' first game here at Tropicana Field, back in 1998. He said he was nine years old, it was a birthday present, and he came with his uncle and he sat in Section 144, and it is something that he will never forget. And, guys, almost 20 years to the day, he is on the mound for the Red Sox, here at Tropicana Field, on Opening Day. Now his uncle is not here, but he said he has a huge group of family and friends from his hometown of Lakeland, Florida, and, guys, he said to be back here in this building today is pretty special.

O'Brien: I think it's a lesson for everybody, right? It doesn't have to be Fenway, or an iconic ball park, to have your great memories from. It's a major league stadium, and if you are into it at that age, and, you now, watching guys do what you dream of doing one day, it will always be special.

Jerry Remy: There's no question about that.
So O'Brien believes that hearing a story about a nine-year-old kid enjoying himself at a Devil Rays game imparts some sort of lesson to all of us. That lesson appears to be that even though you didn't see your first baseball game at Fenway Park, it still counts as your first major league game and the fun you had was legitimate. That is extremely offensive.

What I am about to say may shock Dave O'Brien, but: MOST baseball fans did NOT see their first game at Fenway Park. (In fact, the numbers are not even close.) But, hey, if your uncle drags you to a dump like the Trop when you are only nine, and you somehow have fun, you might think it was special. ... And it was! It totally was. Sure, I saw my first game at awesome Fenway Park, but I'm sure your game was special, too, "if you were into it at that age".

Also: As Jerry Remy named the Red Sox's fielders in the bottom of the first inning, NESN's on-screen graphic informed us that last year's team made 107 errors. Fielding percentage may have been discredited as a meaningful metric sometime around 1890, but NESN is determined to keep using it - nay, emphasizing it - 130 years later.


allan said...

These don't belong in the main post, but I don't want to delete them:

With one out in the bottom of the fourth:

O'Brien: As you mentioned, one of Alex Cora's missions for the season will be to maintain Chris Sale, and that's why he pushed the lefty's first spring start back so deep. Sale alluded to it, that he tired down the stretch a bit [last season], as the innings and the strikeouts piled up. He still had an excellent second half, but in the ALDS against Houston, he gave up nine runs over two starts. The key will be to keep the ace fresh.

Sale's ERA for last August: 4.38. In September: 3.72. And in October: 8.38 (9 runs in 9.2 innings).

Regular Season
Sale's first 21 starts: 2.37 ERA, .541 opponents' OPS, 15-6 record (OB probably cares about this)
Sale's final 11 starts: 4.09 ERA, .733 opponents' OPS, 4-4 record

Did Chris Sale have an "excellent" second half? Perhaps OB was defining "second half" as everything after the All-Star Game (in which case, his season splits are 2.75/3.12), but I don't believe the last two weeks of July qualify as "down the stretch".

Also: In the bottom of the second, I thought I heard O'Brien say that last season Sale walked only 43 men in 42 starts. ... Now, the last time a pitcher made 42 starts in a season was almost 40 years ago, when Phil Niekro had 44 in 1979. The only Red Sox pitchers to make 42 starts in a season were Cy Young (43) and Bill Dineen (42), both in 1902. That's it! ... I went back and listened and because of some cross-talk, it is hard to make out what he says. Sometimes it sounds like 42, other times it sounds like 32 (which is the correct number).

Maxwell Horse said...

This is kind of a summation of why O'Brien drives me nuts. He seems to be locked into a perpetual mode of head-patting condescension. It's bad enough when he says things that actually make sense. But when the condescension is attached to statements that don't hold up to even vague scrutiny, it's like this weird form of "gas-lighting." Not something one looks for on a daily basis from their team broadcasts.

laura k said...

What Horse said plus this: It's exactly what Michael Kay does. Or did, but I assume his M.O. has not changed. Only NYY has history, only NYY baseball fans feel attached to their team's history.

I will never forget his snide, sarcastic, dismissive comments when NYY was in Toronto and the Blue Jays were rolling out a new logo. I lived in NYC then, and even now living 30 minutes from Toronto I couldn't care less about the Blue Jays, so it's nothing personal. It was just so WRONG. That's exactly what O'Brien did last night, with his backhanded compliment.

allan said...

head-patting condescension

That's perfect. O'Brien often says something - an odd phrase instead of the common (and easily understood) way of saying it - and you can tell he thought of it a while ago and has been working on how to best present what he hopes will sound like an "off-hand" and clever comment. ... His description of a player's "slide-in double" (which no one has ever said either before or after) is one example.

There was also a moment when Sale easily struck someone out and he said something like "He sure is rusty." Remy was silent and so O'Brien starting explaining what he was being sarcastic about without sounding like he was explaining his joke. "Sale ... rusty .. because of all the strikeouts ..."

Jim said...

I watched about 6 innings of last Sunday's broadcast of the Sox/Twins game. Only Remy and Twins announcer Gladden were in the booth. Two ex-players. To use a favourite O'Brien phrase--"it was delightful". They talked about baseball. There seemed to be an unspoken assumption that "hey, only people that actually care about baseball are probably watching this, so lets not dumb this shit down". I can recall no promos read by either (although in fairness, my brain is programmed to ignore this crap and shuts down automatically at the first hint of one coming). It was informative, natural, conversational. I enjoyed being treated like I actually knew what was going on. NESN is a sports channel with a baseball exclusive. It's subscribers during the summer months sign up to watch Red Sox baseball. The vast majority already have a clue about what baseball is about.
If the suits at NESN ever admitted this, O'Brien would be long gone.

Benjamin said...

First things first: I want to thank NESN for not starting the 2018 season with the garbage that cluttered our screens during the second half of last season.

Alas, you probably shouldn't get used to it. O'Brien acknowledged on air in the 8th inning that NESN was having technical problems, which prevented them from putting up pitch speeds. It wouldn't surprise me if the same technical problems were preventing them from covering the screen with other crap.

allan said...

my brain is programmed to ignore this crap and shuts down automatically at the first hint of one coming

I am the exact opposite. All that crap makes a beeline directly into my ear. It's horrible!

O'Brien acknowledged on air in the 8th inning that NESN was having technical problems, which prevented them from putting up pitch speeds.

I did hear him say that. The strike zone graphic was out most of the game, as well. Which, honestly, is just as well. It is not really accurate (NESN's zone is somewhat smaller than the zone at Brooks, so I assume NESN is wrong) and it just gets me pissed off (even if I know that what looks like a ball is actually probably a strike). During Kelly's meltdown, Remy was quite annoyed at several calls. I looked at Brooks after the game and the ump did blow a few, at least one of which might have gotten Kelly out of the inning and given the Red Sox a win. ... So Fuck You, Jeff Nelson.