“It’s Time For Dodger Baseball”

In about two hours, that will be the first sentence uttered by a broadcasting legend, and I will swoon through another season of watching the home and divisional games of a team I loathe.

I have previously stated and re-affirmed my man crush on Vin Scully on this here blog, and when he does either decide to retire completely or shuffle off the mortal coil, it will be a great loss to baseball and sport. He has garnered a 95% approval rating in Deadspin’s Media Approval Ratings, and if you don’t like Vin Scully calling a baseball game all by his lonesome, serving as PBP-er and color man at the same time, you also dislike apple pie and America, you filthy pinko Commie.

How much do I love Vin Scully calling baseball games? Here’s how much — if it turned out he needed a soul or two for another hundred years of life or so, I’d consider volunteering.

Enjoy the season, everyone. Stealing Signals recaps will return soon, and I’ll finish the other two division previews soon too.

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In Gus We Trust

Given that the internet love for the man who quickly became my favorite play-by-play presence on college basketball broadcasts (Bill Raftery occupies the color spot) is spreading so much that it’s begun infiltrating L.A. Daily News columns, I should articulate why every game Gus Johnson calls for CBS this March is always a must-watch game for me, personally.

  1. I like someone who gives a shit about the game on the floor, honestly. You want someone to be impartial, but also enjoying the game — and he loves it when he sees awesome plays no matter which team’s making them.
  2. He’s Gary Thorne with a dimmer dial rather than an on-off switch. I’ve loved Thorne in certain arenas, but others seem inappropriate. Gus always knows when to dial down and when to ramp it up.
  3. He makes the most dull of color guys look good. This may throw a bit of a hole in my “pair him with Raf” theory, because both might need the space — but Clark Kellogg and Len Elmore are not exactly exciting folks.

Johnson’s calling the Pac-10 Tournament final on Saturday, and I’ll be watching, of course — and it’s nice to read that his bosses at CBS are encouraging him to do what he does.

One time, Johnson tried to artificially rein it in was when calling a San Diego Chargers game on CBS a few years ago. LaDainian Tomlinson broke off a long touchdown run, and “instead of being myself, I was like Chris Schenkel,” Johnson said, referring to the late ABC broadcaster who had a far more subdued personality on the air.

“I hear a voice in my ear right away, ‘What was that?’ ” Johnson said. “My boss had called the production truck (and said) ‘Tell Gus to stop messing around. Be himself.’ ”

That boss was executive producer Tony Petitti.

For more evidence, I’ll link to a CBS-compiled YouTube clip of calls from 2007’s tourney (and fuck you right in the ear, Eye, for disabling embedding.)

Embrace the “Gus Factor” [LA Daily News]

Cheap Shots #111

Another Useless Hearing: It’s amazing how huffy Congresscritters can get over drugs in sports, spending another day in an office building with commishes, union heads, and USADA types this morning. Wake me when they show as much concern for more important issues — I could swear there’s a war going on and a housing downturn to deal with. Careful what you wish for with a bill that takes drug testing out of the hands of the individual sports, Rep. Bobby Rush — you want a handle on the testing, you may have to take control of more aspects of the leagues.

Olympic HGH Testing: I believe WADA will have an effective test in time for the Olympics just as much as I believe Olympic athletes who say they aren’t doping. Let’s call it very specious. Someone will be ahead of the test. [AP/SI]

Investigating the Rocket: Reps. Waxman and Davis recommend the Justice Department check further into the story of Roger Clemens. Will it lead to perjury indictments? Don’t know at this point. Clemens is politically connected, and as the past hearing with McNamee went, has too many people on his side to go too quietly. [AP/ESPN]

Apparently The Lessons Post-Josh Hancock Didn’t Take: The fuzz in Irvine has a warrant out of various DUI and hit and run related charges for Cardinals’ utility man Scott Spiezio (who was in rehab during last season, too.)  If St. Louis’ baseball team was a college team, there would certainly be a question about “lack of institutional control.” [TMZ]

R.I.P., Myron Cope: The radio voice of the Steelers passed away; TSW has a nice compilation of links of what made him special. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Black and Gold Tchtchkes]

Randy Johnson Is Not Very Green: The D-backs pitcher zipped in and out of NYC in order to catch one of the three nights at MSG of Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton. Overheard: a band calling itself “JD and the Straight Shot” wanted to open, but the headliners had enough pull to say no. [Sports by Brooks]

Not Too Much Shock About The Vols: Five minutes at the top after Vandy, and some people aren’t particularly shocked. [The Legend of Cecilio Guante]

Why You Don’t Talk Politics While Still Playing: Remember that Jeff Pearlman Page 2 piece on Rangers reliever C.J. Wilson and baseball players not caring much about the election? Well, I wrote last week that there’s a reason athletes don’t do political talk until they’re retired — and Wilson is getting some blowback from the clubhouse. [Dallas Morning News]

Sam Zell Thinks Selling The Naming Rights To Wrigley Will Increase Value: I call this a stunt to get money out of the Wrigley family before selling the team. Certain franchises have so much value tapped into their stadiums and their names — we’re thinking Boston and Fenway, L.A. and Dodger Stadium, and the Yanks and their eponymous digs — that it’s actually counterproductive to re-name it. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Doesn’t Wilbon Have Better Things To Do: Threatening to beat down Dan Steinberg, even jokingly. Hopefully this eventual conflict gets live-streamed somewhere. [DC Sports Bog]

Carter For Salisbury Is An Upgrade

(Sean will have a lot more time on his hands to take bad webcam photos. At least he didn’t aim the camera lower this time.)

So the news came out some time yesterday that Cris Carter, formerly of HBO’s Inside the NFL, picked up a new gig with ESPN (via Awful Announcing.) Natch, that added one more voice to an already overloaded cadre of former players as analysts, and something probably had to give. Thankfully, that something was Sean Salisbury, who will be looking for new employment, and will be very lucky if Fox Sports even gives him a sniff at one of the shows they banish to their cable “network” of sports stations late at night.

I’ll miss some things about the blowhard: the easy, cheap picture message dick jokes his one-week suspension got him, and the even easier shots he invited by his mere presence. However, all that shit is outweighed by his obvious blowhard quality, and the stupid argument segments the producers would put him in with NFL writer John Clayton, who clearly sat on the other side of the camera, exasperated about wasting his time with such idiocy. That plus Salisbury’s tendency to be wrong in the loudest ways possible were less than edearing — if a Deadspin contributor is naming an attempted mock column of frequently incorrect football convention wisdom “The Sean Salisbury Wisdom”, you know you’ve hit a bad path somewhere down the line as an analyst.

All we need is to talk Bil Dwyer out of the stand-up circuit and we’ve got ourselves a BattleBots reunion all set and ready to go, frankly.

(I loved BattleBots, by the way. Don’t you dare fucking judge me.)

Bring “Dream Job” Back, Bristol.

I’m not quite sure whom that is with Stu Scott up there — I think dude’s name was Mike Hill or something, but he won that reality show Dream Job that ESPN ran for a couple of seasons a few years back, and frankly, it needs to return right now, not because it was the most enjoyable of show or because the wanna-bes on it were highly compelling once they left the Box in Bristol (question for you: where is Zach Selwyn now?)  Here’s why: there was one season where the competition was between former NBA ballers for an analyst gig on the Association, and former Celtic Dee Brown won (and I think he’s still throwing down on Fastbreak from time to time.) He had to go through the grilling process with Al Jaffe (some exec with ESPN), Kit Hoover, and either Woody Paige or Tony Kornheiser on this show — and it was public evidence of how on your game you needed to be in order to do the analyst job.

That’s kinda slipping. Eduardo Perez is proof of this. He’s completely falling down on this World Series analysis, mispronouncing names, getting tongue twisted, and other things that scream lack of smoothness with the gig.

After watching him bungle so much of the World Series highlights and having observed Emmitt Smith and Keyshawn Johnson on NFL Countdown a couple of times (I try to limit my exposure; Chris Berman is harmful to your health in two-hour doses), I’m convinced the Lazy Eye and a motley judging crew need to be put together for every analyst position that opens up there, and it needs to be broadcast again, so we can make sure stupidity like Perez and the lack of prep that Emmitt and Keyshawn do aren’t allowed to go without a public vote.

C’mon, ESPN. You can get ratings by giving the fans another stake in which athlete should get the analyst position when someone leaves to coach. Dusty Baker’s got a managing gig next season — start this right now with your list of replacements for “old codgy managerial type.” Get Jim Tracy, Joe Girardi (if the Yanks don’t hire him), maybe Sam Perlozzo and a couple others in a room, and make the process very public.

Because clearly, y’all can’t be trusted with your own hiring decisions this year. Perez and Fernando Vina have contributed to make Baseball Tonight unwatchable (along with John Kruk’s hair), Emmitt’s always making the worst of on-air errors, and Keyshawn just conducted that shitty interview with Chad Johnson.

And if you want, you can even get Erin Andrews to help judge, draw some extra eyeballs. I won’t complain.

It’s Going To Be A Very Long MNF Season.

I thought firing Joe Theismann would be sufficient enough to mark a drastic improvement in Monday Night Football this year — the inconsistencies and idiocy passed off as expert analysis were painful; he was football’s equivalent of Joe Morgan. However, I was clearly disabused of this notion tonight while listening to SportsCenter while typing — the promo with Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski, and Tony Kornheiser for tomorrow’s Broncos-Niners pre-season game included Kornheiser spieling off about how he was going to focus on Mike Nolan’s suit. His fucking Reebok suit, folks. That’s what he’s spewing off about, and it’s only a 45-second, pre-taped promo. Oof.

Jesus Christ, this season’s going to be painful. It’s now clear that Kornheiser must be sacrificed and booted off the telecast if I’m going to survive another season. Thankfully, I have to be at work during MNF. I suppose that cuts the suffering down.

Pam Oliver Tells Her Producer Where To Shove It.

Courtesy of our Fearless Leader, Awful Announcing, we have one of my personal favorites, Pam Oliver (both in sports reporting skill and beauty), letting her producer know she doesn’t appreciate his repeated jabbing in her IFB:

Yowsa. Betcha that gets them both into a closed-door meeting with a supervisor. As a producer in another medium, this is the most annoying part of the job — talent that insists on dragging things out. However, at some point, you’ve got to account for it in a live telecast, and especially in live sporting events.

That said, AA is starting his series on announcing previews for the NFL season, and he’s kicked it off with Fox, whom he’s got plenty of good words for, despite the Buckbot Jr.