Honestly, what is the standard for discussing sports on TV now? Owning a suit and no drooling? Have some pride and demand quality— Brandon McCarthy (@BMcCarthy32) October 9, 2015
McCarthy's ire was raised by the FS1 studio crew. and specifically Pete Rose, who twice went on rants about Josh Donaldson's coming out of the Rangers-Blue Jays game after being kneed in the head.
The Donaldson play itself -- I'm not going to waste a lot of sympathy on him. He went in late and high. He got a knee in the head from a leaping infielder because he was sliding to make hard contact. He got what he was looking for. Donaldson is a likely MVP, and I'm rooting for Toronto in this series, and if he is concussed it's going to hurt the Blue Jays, but it's his own fault.
But the FS1 broadcasters Thursday were pretty poor. There is a lot of overlap these days between the various Fox baseball productions and MLB TV, and I'm not sure who exactly deserves the blame or credit for various aspects, but Harold Reynolds is emphatically MLB TV's fault nowadays, and I find him unlistenable. The sound was off for my viewing by the second inning of the afternoon game.
One thing I will give FS1 credit for: the graphics to illustrate the infield shifts were good and informative: different colors for each of the infielders showing the traditional positioning and where the infielder was actually playing. I've not seen that used before, and it's particularly useful on those shifts in which the shortstop remains on on the left side but the third baseman has moved to the other side of second base.
But really, FS1 has to be able to find announcers who, if they want to criticize sabermetrics, at least know what it is they're ripping. A.J. Pierzynski and John Smoltz don't, and said so. Specifically, they were questioning the preseason predictions of the Royals. How can you predict a team with this rotation and this deep lineup to win 70-some games?
Well, because Kendrys Morales and Mike Moustakas drastically outperformed any reasonable expectation. Because the Royals rotation really is NOT good (by Baseball Reference's version of WAR, it was the third worst starting staff in the American League). Because when those predictions were made, Ben Zobrist was an Oakland Athletic, not a Kansas City Royal. Because while Alex Gordon was indeed hitting eighth Thursday night, that's because manager Ned Yost insists on hitting Alcedes Escobar and his sub-.300 on-base percentage leadoff, not because the Royals have a truly deep lineup.
Hey, Morales and Moustakas had really good years. But if Moustakas had hit at the .641 OPS he did in 2013-14 instead of the .817 he did this year -- and if Morales had hit at the .612 OPS he did last year after his sustained holdout -- the Royals lineup would be the freaking disaster the metrics predicted.
One problem with three-man booths is that there are too many voices. I had the sense that the play-by-play guy knew the rationale for the predictions, but he's got the action to call, and he's supposed to be directing traffic, not arguing with ignorants.
And later, we saw a problem with using current players (Pierzynski) in the booth. Late in the game there was cause for criticism of an umpire, and Pierzynski begged off because he didn't want to make any umpires unhappy.