Saturday, August 16, 2008

Baseball Tonight: Scrubs Edition

There's nothing like preseason football. Watching 4th, 5th, and 6th stringers play one another in a game that doesn't count is quite exciting--if you like meaningless games. I'd prefer the starters and backups on my favorite team not play at all during the preseason. (Actually, it would be even better if there were no such thing as preseason games, but the NFL likes the automatic revenue.)

But isn't it fun to watch scrubs for both teams play each other after the starters play the requisite quarter or two? I get that there are a lot of players fighting for jobs, but it isn't exactly the highest quality football.

So what does this have to do with ESPN's Baseball Tonight? Watching BBTN on Saturday night is like watching NFL preseason in that ESPN is down to its 4th or 5th-string hosts for the program.

Tonight's lineup: Mike Hill, Chris Singleton, and Buster Olney. Singleton and Olney appear pretty regularly on the show, but aren't used as much as John Kruk, Eduardo Perez, and Tim Kurkjian, for example. The Hill/Singleton/Olney lineup is comparable to the Colts having Jared Lorenzen playing QB with Anthony Gonzalez as the #1 WR and Dominic Rhodes as the #1 RB (important note: if the Lorenzen/Gonzalez/Rhodes scenario happens any time after August 28th, riots will ensue in Indianapolis).

Anyway, on tonight's episode of BBTN (10 p.m. EDT edition), Mike Hill was at his 4th-string best. Highlights:

1. In trying to highlight Roberto Clemente's volunteer efforts, Hill could not say the word "humanitarian." Instead of just going forward, he explained that he's "not a good orator."

There are many broadcasters who are probably not good orators. But they are broadcasters, which would indicate that they can handle the English language. At least partially, anyway.

2. In reading Clemente's bio, Hill tried to read the last line, which ended with something like, "humanitarian efforts that went along with his illustrious career." However, "illustrious" came out "ill-us-troy-us," with the accents on "ill" and "troy."

3. Little League World Series highlights: Mexico vs. Curacao. Hill couldn't pronounce Curacao. The sad part was that he tried to sound it out on the air. Chris Singleton said it for him, then preceded to do the highlights for Hill when he couldn't pronounce any of the names.

Look, foreign pronunciations are difficult. And people have off days. But you'd think the Worldwide Leader in Sports would have production meetings and pronunciation guides to help their anchors, not to mention producers whose job it is to get the information to the anchors. My guess is that the producers did their jobs, but Hill just didn't get it. And this isn't the first time Hill has butchered the English language on BBTN.

I think Hill's in trouble when the rosters get cut to 75 players.

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Blogger Zinglebert Bembledack said...

I don't expect all sports anchors to be able to say every athletes' names all the time. I have seen a few where you think, "I didn't know you could eight consanants together without a vowel and how the f*&$ do you pronounce it?"

Yet, I do expect an Emmy-winning nightly sports show anchor to either know or work with the producer to have some kind of phonetic pronunciation cheatsheet for some of the more complicated names. I agree that the ESPN producers have dropped the ball repeatedly this year on numerous occassions and it just keeps getting worse.

Not only are we on the 4th, 5th and 6th string anchors or hosts on many shows, it seems that producers do not want to care that these "scrubs" may need some additional production help. Yes, ESPN is the largest network, but the masses do have other outlets to get our sports information and highlights.

August 21, 2008 at 2:58 PM  

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