Game: Milwaukee Brewers at St. Louis Cardinals
Date: July 24
Play-by-Play: Brian Anderson
Color Commentator: Bill Schroeder
Long name. Not a natural blonde.: Trenni Kusnierek
Studio Hosts? For the Brewers?!: Jeff Grayson & Jeff Cirillo
I work with someone who is the biggest Brewers fan this side of all those still-burning Brett Favre shrines in Wisconsin. Along with my African-American wife from Utah, I think it’s safe to say that I’m well ahead of the rest of you in the obscure scavenger hunt of life. I’m actually glad to see the Brewers enjoying a long overdue renaissance as their early 80s Harvey’s Wallbangers teams were some of the best than no one remembers. Of course, I’m as guilty of selective memory as anyone. For me, the Brew Crew will always be about Gary Sheffield and Beckett Baseball Card Monthly’s “Cold List” and Greg Vaughn, ummm…”somehow” turning fat into muscle – hitting 40-50 home runs per season after leaving Milwaukee.
Chemistry: Anderson is practically invisible. He’s calls an alright game, I guess, but the only time he shows a lick of personality in his interactions with Schroeder is when he’s forcing out a fake laugh at one of Schroeder’s simplistic attempts at humor. In this game, Schroeder kept repeating that new Brewer 2B Ray Durham had to break out the “rust remover” for his swing after being inactive for a week and a half. Anderson finally gave him a giggle just to shut him up. The Brewers are a fun team to watch, so it’s not like the announcers need to be the show. Grade: 5/10
Knowledge: With a runner on and Cards’ CF Rick Ankiel at the plate, FSN showed a graphic outlining how the Brewers had shut down the heart of the St. Louis order for the first three games of this series. Schroeder immediately jumped on that and warned viewers that the Cardinals were too good for their struggles to continue. On the next pitch, Ankiel rapped an RBI single. He mentioned that the Brewers had been getting Ankiel out up in the zone, but this mistake from SP Ben Sheets was down and away. Schroeder was even sharper when he wondered aloud why Cardinals RF Ryan Ludwick was playing Sheets so deep on a bloop from the Brewers pitcher that almost fell in. Schroeder used the words “increased confidence” about 200 times too many to explain away achievement, but that’s to be expected from an ex-player. If only Anderson had uttered anything worth remembering. Grade: 6/10
Enthusiasm: Both guys are graduates from that Midwestern Broadcasting School of Leisurely Pacing and Dairy Farming. In a taut, back-and-forth game, it was hard to tell that these weren’t still the bumbling Brewers of the last 15 years. If anything, I would’ve thought that calling a game in arguably the best baseball town in America (with Milwaukee taking the first three of four) would add a spark to their call. However, only with occasional exception did Anderson and Schroeder capture the drama inherent in the journey of a team that’s approaching the precipice of something special. Grade: 4/10
Bar Stool Q: Schroeder has the gruff, husky sound of a man who’s embraced the Wisconsin existence wholeheartedly. There’s no telling what could be on his breath at any time and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to learn that he can polish off a plate of sausages in just one inning. Anderson, on the other hand, reminds me of those guys who are all too eager to be the designated driver just so they have someone to hang out with for the evening. Grade: 5/10
Camera/Production: Throughout the game, Schroeder’s microphone seemed to drift in and out with pockets of audible static coming through. This was just a minor annoyance, but I was surprised that it went unacknowledged by the broadcasters during the entire game. On the plus side, FSN-Wisconsin uses the same slightly elevated centerfield camera shot as NESN, which I dig tremendously. But, back to the minus side, the entire fourth inning turned into a bizarre career achievement celebration for Brewers coach and former All-Star Ted Simmons – hosted by Trenni Kusnierek. Sorry, but a man approaching 60 should never be referred to as “Simba”. Grade: 5/10
Homerism: What Anderson and Schroeder lack in enthusiasm, they make up for in cockiness. They talked about all the problems Brewers manager Ned Yost had with having “too many good players” and not enough spots to play everyone. I’ll give them credit for correctly mocking the Cards for carrying (at the time) 13 pitchers, but they beat that horse to death in just half an inning and framed it to make it look like the Brewers would never do that, because they know what they’re doing. Grade: -6.5
Commerciality: Piggly Wiggly has poured some insane sponsorship dollars into the broadcast. Their “Tailgate Tip” featured a portabella-gorgonzola stuffed sirloin that should ensure Wisconsin’s place on America’s… fittest cities?! Piggly Wiggly also owns the scouting report feature or, as Schroeder put it, “The Pig wants to remind us…” Lots of Miller Beer spots, including the ones with that jive-talking beer delivery guy who “punishes” white folk by taking their Miller High Life. Potawatomi Casino’s tagline (“We’ve doubled down on your chances…for excitement!“) made my night. And, hey, guess who the Kentucky Fried Chicken “Who’s Hot” player was? Yep, Ray Durham. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Halle-loo! Halle-loo! Halle-loo-YAH!
AFLAC Trivia Question: “How old was Ted Simmons when he debuted for the Cardinals in 1968?” (My answer: 23; Correct answer: 19) 5 for 11
Final Grade: 18.5
Aaron Cameron blogs about baseball, music, movies, food, MFWNTAKs and the whole damn Bootleg Family over at That Bootleg Guy.