Game: Oakland A’s at Chicago White Sox
Date: July 4
Network: Comcast SportsNet
Play-by-Play: Ken “Hawk” Harrelson
Color Commentator: Darrin Jackson
This should be fun. Harrelson is almost universally despised by baseball fans and considered the biggest “homer” broadcaster in any sport. You’ve surely heard his “You can put it on the board, YES!” home run calls or his repeated references to the White Sox as “the good guys”. For years, he shared the booth with Tom “Wimpy” Paciorek – another unabashed cheerleader – who was replaced in 2001 with former Southsider, Darrin “DJ” Jackson – the laziest nickname in sports.
Chemistry: Well, I guess it’s unavoidable. There are actually some aspects of a baseball broadcast in which Harrelson and Jackson excel. Hawk is almost all schtick and Jackson plays a great, understated straight man. I say this even accounting for a sixth inning sidebar into their respective golf games and DJ literally shrieking like a vulture during a discussion on relief pitchers who sometimes back into wins. DJ is several notches beneath Paciorek in his interaction with Harrelson, but the current broadcast team is definitely on the same page. Grade: 8/10
Knowledge: Harrelson spent some time discussing how well a few A’s had hit Sox starter Mark Buehrle and making it seem like Kurt Suzuki’s lifetime 4 for 6 meant something. Sample size, Hawk, sample size. As the A’s extended their lead throughout the game, both broadcasters stopped breaking the game down (which they hadn’t been doing much of) and started whining about the umpiring. DJ did have some insightful words on how outfielders track a flyball, but hurt his own point by using the phrase “…long, gaping [sic] strides…” to describe a player running. Grade: 4/10
Enthusiasm: In an A’s blowout win, Hawk and DJ kept a sock in it, for the most part. I hadn’t listened to them all season, but I was surprised by how much dead air there is between them during a game. On more than one occasion, a couple of pitches would pass before either one said a word. By the last out, it seemed like no one was taking the loss worse than them. I’m torn here. I know that these guys are a “10” in this department during a Sox win. Let’s split the difference. Grade: 5/10
Bar Stool Q: Jackson’s playing career ran concurrently with my first stretch of baseball infatuation (starting in the late 1980s). The fact that he didn’t play in the bigs from 1995-96 (during my waning interest in the game, post 1994 strike) further endears him to me. As for the Hawk, he seems like the type that would have us thrown out after grabbing the server’s ass on the heels of six Scotch bender. Then, he’d feel bad and buy us all lap dances down the street, before getting us thrown out of there, too. What can I say? I’ve got friends like that, now. Grade: 8/10
Camera/Production: It might’ve been due to the holiday, but there were a TON of crowd shots of fans decked out in patriotic gear. A little too many for my taste and almost always without any reaction from the broadcasters. Someone on the production team also left a mic open that was close to home plate, thereby picking up a bunch of inane heckling from someone who had to have paid $200 for his seat. Douche. Grade: 3/10
Homerism: Umm, yeah. Seriously, I counted…Hawk dropped his first reference to “we” as it relates to the White Sox at four seconds into the broadcast. DJ followed with an “our”. Repeat, to varying degrees of annoyance, over nine innings. Grade: -10
Commerciality: The good people at White Castle offer up a “sack of 10″ giveaway, which sounds awesome enough for even me to enter. The Sox have an in-house ad campaign that’s harmlessly amusing.
AFLAC Trivia Question: Damn it. I watched the whole game, but don’t have anything in my notes on the question. And, I know that there was one and that I got it right. So, in interest of fairness to me, I’ll come up with my own question: “Before the Nick Swisher deal, who was involved in the last trade between the A’s and the White Sox”? Honestly, I’m just guessing here, but I’ll say Ray Durham (and others) in 2002. After a quick check, I see that I had the year right, but I was a few months off. It was Keith Foulke (to the A’s) for Billy Koch. I’ll give myself half a point here. 5.5 for 13
Final Grade: 18
Aaron Cameron blogs about baseball, music, movies, food, MFWNTAKs and the whole damn Bootleg Family over at That Bootleg Guy.