Wednesday, April 30, 2008

MLB EXTRA INNINGS

Let's just get this out of the way right now, MLB Extra Innings is the greatest invention in the history of man. NFL Sunday Ticket gets all of the love, but come on --- 17 Sundays per year versus 170 days per year? No contest. The best part about coming home for a visit (obligatory mention of seeing family and friends) is sitting my ass in front of the TV and indulging in an orgy of baseball. A few observations from the last few days....

* Max Scherzer....holy shit, dude. 4 1/3 perfect innings and seven strikeouts in his MLB debut. I have a feeling that even though I picked Arizona to win the NL West in my preseason preview, I may have underestimated the talent level on this team. And now if Scherzer comes into the rotation and is the real deal, well, the pennant is theirs. Maybe even the World Series. In the aforementioned preview, I noted how ironic it would be if the Tigers and Cubs met in the 100th anniversary of Chicago's last Series title, but wouldn't it be even more appropriate if the Cubs' 100th year of futility was marked by a team winning its second Series in its first decade of baseball?

* ESPN announcer Dave O'Brien does the best Vin Scully impression of all time. Even better than Harry Shearer's version on the Simpsons.

* Hawk Harrelson is well-known for being a homer announcer, but you really can't appreciate the Hawk experience until you hear it yourself. In today's White Sox-Twins game, he liberally referred to the Sox as 'we,' came back from an inning saying the score was 'Bad Guys 3, Good Guys 2,' and when Nick Swisher hit a close foul in the ninth inning, I thought Harrelson was just a hint away from dropping an f-bomb. Perhaps any longtime Sox fans could help me with this one --- has Hawk ever leapt out of the booth during a Chicago bench-clearing brawl? Like, he has a grappling hook he keeps in the booth for just such an occasion and swings down like Robin Hood, possibly while carrying a sword?

* I flicked away from this afternoon's Pirates-Mets game since it was a blowout win for the Bucs, which in hindsight was a mistake. Nothing is more perversely entertaining than hearing announcers kill time during a one-sided game. You could tell me that two announcers had a discussion involving UFOs, Barack Obama and lawn fertilizer, and I'd believe it. In this particular game, notably crazy Mets announcer Ralph Kiner stopped by the booth, so the comedy factor was off the charts. Damn my interest in watching competitive games.

* In all of the games I've seen, I've yet to see an announcer correctly get the AFLAC trivia question. This streak is all the more remarkable since the answer usually involves someone from the opposing team in some way. Like, if the question is 'who was the last pitcher to do so-and-so' and Greg Maddux is the opposing pitcher, the answer is probably going to be Greg Maddux. Unless 'so-and-so' is Mindy McCready, in which case the answer is Roger Clemens.

* And of course, the best part of Extra Innings is that I don't need to watch the Blue Jays. Words fail me. Roy Halladay is one more complete-game loss away from turning into Jack Nicholson in the Shining. Shannon Stewart will walk into the clubhouse one day and take an axe in the chest. Or Roy will stagger into the team cafeteria and see a ghostly Dave Stieb pouring shots of Gatorade.

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