Tuesday, September 15, 2015

I'm an Excellent Broadcaster

What an emotional and important victory tonight for the Yankees! A ninth inning home run by a September call up, Slade Heathcott, gave the Yanks an improbable late inning comeback victory.

But along with the glory comes a bit of agony. The lead TV Yankee announcer, Michael Kay, has been exhibiting behavior that might get him diagnosed as autistic if it continues, and I fear it will.

Ever since September 1st, Kay has been repeating ad nauseum his distaste for the annual expansion of MLB rosters. As of the first day of September, teams are allowed to bring up minor leaguers to the big club, and may carry a maximum of forty players, as opposed to the normal twenty four for the first five months of the season. This is not a new rule, this is not some scheme dreamed up to change the nature of baseball. It's they way things have been done for decades.

At the end of a grueling season, most teams are banged up, injured , tired, or out of contention. For teams in the race for post season play, the expanded rosters give the managers added flexibility, and more pitchers, in this era of high priced and scarce golden arms.  A few more position players gives teams more options in the field. It's a reward for players in the minors, and a welcome taste of "the big show" for players toiling on long bus rides and low minor league pay for a job well done.

For the also ran teams, it gives those clubs a chance to assess their coming talent at the major league level. Fans of the no shot teams get to dream about the future by seeing it on the field right now.

This is a system that has served MLB quite well for years. All the teams play under the same rules and are under no obligation to expand their rosters at all, but it's just the smart thing to do. Even the out of it teams put forth a competitive effort against teams in playoff contention, because all the players are playing for their next years' contract. Nobody rolls over, because spoiling a playoff bound teams' prospects is exactly what late season non-contenders take satisfaction in doing.

But, Michael Kay has other ideas. Based on an anecdote he has literally repeated every day this month, be it on the Yankees broadcasts, during his ESPN call in radio show, or pre and post game shows, Kay claims that the current system is somehow unfair because it is a "change of rules" in the game, and games played with expanded rosters are suspect because of the extra players available to each manager. He advocates, ON A DAILY BASIS, for some kind of arbitrary limit of twenty five names, culled from the expanded rosters that would be eligible on any given game day.

That might be fine and dandy, but baseball is not football, with no need for a practice squad. Is baseball in need of any more changes to accommodate the whims of announcers like Michael Kay, who is parroting an idea from Buck Showalter, manager of the Baltimore Orioles? According to Kay, Showalter came up with this idea because three years ago, by Showalter's reckoning, the expanded roster helped him beat out the Red Sox for a playoff spot. And, somehow, this was bad or unfair.

Unfair? No, all the teams play under the same set of rules. Expanded rosters, September call ups, are part of the game, and what makes baseball, baseball. Why change the game any more than it's been changed already?

We've already made umpires superfluous with instant replays. There's no pressure on an umpire to make the right call anymore, because all you have to do is challenge the call, get the replay, and reverse the call if need be. Who cares if the call is right to begin with? It doesn't matter anymore.

Don't get me started on sabremetrics or overshifts. Until the hitters learn how to hit to all fields, hit the ball where it's pitched, or heaven forbid, bunt, the boredom and stupidity of hitters grounding out to the outfield will continue to diminish the game. Hell, they've even outlawed plays at the plate, with catchers now prohibited from blocking the plate. It sure isn't you father's Oldsmobile.

Well, it's almost halfway through September, and I suppose that it will only be a few more weeks of watching Michael Kay doing his best impression of Rain Man as he continues his repetitive and unending quest for changing what need not be changed. I suppose I could just watch the games muted, or with the radio on.

And then there's John Sterling....

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