TBS Says They're Ready For Their Second Attempt At Postseason Baseball

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


I wouldn't say that TBS entirely failed during their first attempt at the MLB Playoff, but you could definitely tell they weren't entirely ready last year. There were problems with the graphics, the announcing teams weren't familiar with each other and some fans sensed bias among those assigned to National League teams. Not all of the problems were their fault though. There were a trio of first round sweeps, and after both the big market National League teams (Phillies and Cubs) were eliminated, they were left with a ratings downer of the Diamondbacks and Rockies for the NLCS (which also ended in sweep).

With last year's attempt, and a full season of Sunday games under their belt, TBS says they're ready for a second try. They'll get no breaks though as they have all four opening round series. Via the AJC....

Turner Sports executive producer Jeff Behnke said he was pleased with last year’s show: It did well in the ratings and got the network’s name and face out there. This year, he said, the analysts need to keep covering the stories that are on the field and make sure viewers know who the players are.

“We came in to a white-hot scenario: All of the lights were on, and all of the attention was on TBS,” Behnke said. “We thought we were very ready last year, but we’re enormously ready this year.”

The pregame and postgame shows’ producers are hoping to build on last year’s momentum. They are also taking advantage of the network’s Sunday games to become more familiar with teams other than the Atlanta Braves — the longtime Turner staple before this year — and their opponents, said Tim Kiely, coordinating producer.

Kiely’s strategy is simple: find people who can talk about baseball and can forget that a TV camera is following them.

“You have to take chances on guys and hope some of them have the personalities to do it,” Kiely said. “Your rocks have to be the guys who can handle themselves in front of the camera.”

For TBS, that rock last year was Ripken, Kiely said. He also placed veteran announcer Johnson, who won two Emmys on TNT’s NBA studio show, as the show’s host. Eckersley was added this year because he blended well with Ripken, Kiely said.

“I push them to remember those kinds of stories and those kinds of ways of personalizing it: what did it smell like, what did it taste like. And then you have the right person to deliver it, without putting the person to sleep.”
I think that last sentence is definitely the key. Growing up in and around Baltimore, I had been trained to listen to every word that Cal Ripken says, but last year he just didn't seem ready to go. If I felt that way as a native Marylander, I can't imagine how awkward it was for the rest of you. With that said, I still think he's right for the job. Ernie Johnson is the best studio host out there, and with Eck filling in the gaps instead of Tony Gwynn or Frank Thomas, I think they've set themselves up with the right people for a solid pregame show.

As far as the announcers, they seem to have some of the right people on board, but they just don't know where to place them. I think Brian Anderson is fine, but you just can't put a guy in a series which features the damn team he works for in the regular season! Phillies fans have already begun groaning about that choice and it's just going to get worse if A) Anderson shows any bias and/or B) Philly goes down in the series. Other than that, the additions of Harold Reynolds and John Smoltz should help their teams, Dick Stockton will be his normal old self and Chip Caray will continue to be polarizing. In the end, the key is to not distract people from the action on the field, and I think that's exactly what happened last year.

I'll be keeping track of each of the teams throughout the first round, and we'll see how it works out starting with the Brewers and Phillies this afternoon.

TBS readies for year two of postseason-baseball deal (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
A Look At TBS' Pairings For The Opening Round Of The MLB Playoffs (Awful Announcing)

Posted by Awful Announcing- at 11:40 AM

33 Comments:

Ernie Johnson is the best studio host out there.

I think you are forgetting a Mr. Christopher Berman!

GMoney said...
Oct 1, 2008, 12:13:00 PM  

You forgot to mentioned how biased toward the Yankees Chip Caray was, and how amazed that Gwynn and Caray looked when AL teams actually made attempts to bunt and steal bases.

Anonymous said...
Oct 1, 2008, 12:31:00 PM  

To Harold Reynolds...Everything is "Interesting". Keep that one in mind.

Anonymous said...
Oct 1, 2008, 12:46:00 PM  

Stockton got off to a great start last night, fumbling names and saying Brian Anderson was in to pinch-hit for Griffey (after Griffey doubled).

Anonymous said...
Oct 1, 2008, 12:54:00 PM  

Eck is fantastic...I love watching him on NESN for Sox games. He's basically the only NESN guy that calls out the Sox when they play poorly or make a bad decision.

Sean O said...
Oct 1, 2008, 12:55:00 PM  

How is it possible that TBS assigned the Brewers play by play man to the Phillies-Brewers series? I was under the impression they usually try to avoid the homerism in the booth. They have Orsillo only doing non Red Sox series.

Anonymous said...
Oct 1, 2008, 1:17:00 PM  

i thought chip caray was terribly biased against the yankees. he was donwright giddy everytime cleveland did anything, epsecially all those damn two out runs they got; and i, unfortunately, will never forget him yelling cleveland rocks!
the bright spot of the yankees not making the playoffs is i don't have to listen to him.
maybe chip is just downright putrid and no one likes him.

Anonymous said...
Oct 1, 2008, 1:22:00 PM  

AA,

Check out David Aldridge from yesterday's PTI when he said at the very end of the "Five Good Minutes" segment "I don't know baseball". He is supposed to be reporting on the field in Philly for TBS.

I understand that most people that are great at baseball are hired by ESPN, but can't TBS get a beat writer or somebody who has expertise in the sport other than former players?

I still think Harold Reynolds would be better in the studio. This isn't the Little League World Series.

Taylor said...
Oct 1, 2008, 1:43:00 PM  

TBS really needs to get better PBP announcers though. Chip Caray makes Michael Kay and John Sterling seem sedate by comparison. Dick Stockton may or may not be a zombie. It's impossible to have credibility as a broadcaster when you stumble over names like he does, even despite your past. Don Orsillo...I mean, he's alright, but nothing great. And I've never really heard Brian Anderson.

Point being, I wish they'd dump Stockton and Caray.

Anonymous said...
Oct 1, 2008, 1:52:00 PM  

Let's give Anderson a chance. He's pretty, pretty good. I think Aldridge is a Philly guy, and Smoltz and Simpson know the Phillies real well. I'm ready to criticize, after tomorrow.

Anonymous said...
Oct 1, 2008, 1:53:00 PM  

You mean this video, taylor? Aldridge said "Baseball's not my first sport" right before suggesting that Brad Lidge should get NL Cy Young consideration.

Oct 1, 2008, 1:56:00 PM  

You're all spot on. Stockton kept calling AJ Pierzynski, "AG" and I just started to shake my head. He still has his moments though, unlike say Dick Enberg who just can't get it going anymore. It's sad, but at some point you have to go in a different direction.

I think another huge problems is that almost every single person they hired was recently or still is working for one particular team.

Oct 1, 2008, 2:29:00 PM  

I'm going to give Anderson a chance, never said I wouldn't. I don't mind them keeping Orsillo either because he doesn't detract from the game.

Stockton and Chip Caray though need to go.

Anonymous said...
Oct 1, 2008, 2:44:00 PM  

It's a good pregame. Granderson and Eck have made this show highly watchable. And Smoltz, if you saw him, will be a very good analyst at the game.

Anonymous said...
Oct 1, 2008, 2:54:00 PM  

I've never really heard of Brian Anderson before, so even though I know he's the Brewers PbP guy, I'm willing to give him a chance. And David Aldridge is in fact a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

JFein said...
Oct 1, 2008, 2:58:00 PM  

Ripken was absolutely awful last year. I was really hoping he wouldn't be back.

Anonymous said...
Oct 1, 2008, 3:29:00 PM  

Only caught about three minutes of the pre-game (damn you tequila), and still managed to hear Ripken say "....and if Minnesota beats Philly then.....", and was almost instantly corrected by Ernie. I had a good laugh.

Anonymous said...
Oct 1, 2008, 3:38:00 PM  

"To say this is a huge game would be an understudy" - Dick Stockton

Understatement, Dick. Not understudy. Just like saying that Dick Stockton is an awful announcer is an understatement.

JFein said...
Oct 1, 2008, 6:32:00 PM  

Already Dick Stockton is proving why he should be no where near a microphone, "to say there is a lot at stake would be an understudy". They way both Darling and Gwynn looked at him was priceless.

Anonymous said...
Oct 1, 2008, 6:32:00 PM  

Dick Stockton's off to a poor start with the Cubs-Dodgers. Lots of pauses, unsure statements, and he said something along the lines of "to say this is a big series would be an understudy".

Anonymous said...
Oct 1, 2008, 6:32:00 PM  

Beat out by jfein by a matter of seconds, damn.

Anonymous said...
Oct 1, 2008, 6:33:00 PM  

Wow, three consecutive comments about the "understudy" line...it was that glaring huh?

Anonymous said...
Oct 1, 2008, 6:33:00 PM  

Yes, yes it was really that glaring.

Anonymous said...
Oct 1, 2008, 6:35:00 PM  

John Smoltz was sensational today. He was calling pitches by Hamels before they happened. And I thought Brian Anderson was good. I'm a Phillies fan, and you could not tell he's the Brewers announcer.

Anonymous said...
Oct 1, 2008, 6:51:00 PM  

Stockton completely botched the call of DeRosa's 2nd inning homer. It wasn't blatantly bad, but what he said really didn't make much sense. He said something like "fly ball to right, Ethier watches it go fair!"

Jay said...
Oct 1, 2008, 7:12:00 PM  

i thought the announcers of the phillies and brewers did a good job.

smoltzy in particular did an excellent job.

Anonymous said...
Oct 1, 2008, 7:46:00 PM  

Jay, the DeRosa call was pretty good. He was better last night on the White Sox game, must be tired. I shudder what 3 games in a row will bring tomorrow.

Anonymous said...
Oct 1, 2008, 7:53:00 PM  

I'm with you guys. Smoltzy had a few hiccups, but his insight more than made up for those.

Dick Stockton has just lost it.

Oct 1, 2008, 7:55:00 PM  

And it looks like The Dick Stockton Curse lives on for the Cubbies.

JFein said...
Oct 1, 2008, 9:51:00 PM  

I just got a phone call from the 1970s, they want Craig Sager's jacket back.

JFein said...
Oct 1, 2008, 10:37:00 PM  

Dick Stockton was absolutely brutal tonight. As a Cubs fan he was really starting to piss me off.

Let the game breathe for crying out loud. He felt the need to speak all the damn time. And I don't know how many times he repeated himself over and over and over and over...well, you get the idea.

He is horrific as a baseball pXp'er. Stick to football, Dick.

Also, please somebody go back and look at the Manny homerun in the 6th and tell me how many times over the next two innings TBS showed the replay...I do not exaggerate here in saying they probably showed it 7-9 times.

Ugh.

therod said...
Oct 1, 2008, 11:07:00 PM  

Ron Darling is my favorite analyst. Too bad he's not with Gary Cohen. And it's agonizing for me to watch Ron the last two nights announcing the Chicago teams. I hate being a Mets fan.

Anonymous said...
Oct 1, 2008, 11:35:00 PM  

The guys on the Angels/Red Sox series are nearly insufferable. Buck Martinez just makes crazy-ass assumption after crazy-ass assumption. It's amazing. Either he does more background than any announcer in the history of broadcasting or he just makes shit up on the spot.

I'm going with (b).

Joshua said...
Oct 2, 2008, 8:13:00 PM  

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