Cumberland Times-News

May 2, 2014

Upon further review ... well, sort of

Mike Burke
Cumberland Times-News

I deplore the act of interleague baseball because it completely bastardizes the integrity of a championship major league schedule. So, naturally, there is now at least one interleague game every day of the season.



However, other than in a World Series setting (for two obvious reasons), I have always enjoyed when the Orioles and the Pirates play each other. It’s too bad weather crammed both games of the series in Baltimore into a doubleheader, but when the Orioles and the Pirates play each other it’s as though the games were made and ordered just for everybody here in Two Hours From Everywhere. Almost everybody has a rooting interest because most everybody has an emotional stake.



On top of that, the O’s and the Bucs play in the two most beautiful ballparks in baseball in two very similar cities whose fans are only too happy to carry over their civic pride from that Ravens-Steelers thing. Although I have found each respective fanbase, while in the other guy’s ballpark, is extended courtesies by the home fans that, frankly, would never be extended during football season.



The Orioles and the Pirates play two more May 20-21 in Pittsburgh.



As for Orioles-Nationals, even though it has produced some memorable moments, it just doesn’t generate the same feelings that Orioles-Pirates does, at least not in our area. Of course, now that MASN has decided not to go with a split broadcast booth, both the Orioles and Nationals broadcast teams will stay together, business as usual, which will make things much more comfortable and bearable for both fanbases (although you couldn’t go wrong when the Nats had the likes of Mel Proctor, Don Sutton and Ron Darling calling their games).



Having said that, I have backtracked somewhat on my taste, or lack thereof, for the Nats MASN team, or at least half of it. Often times, listening to play-by-by man Bob Carpenter is not unlike trying to stay awake through 10thgrade Latin class during the period right after lunch. Still, Carpenter is a proven and professional major league play-by-play man. He just has to work through, as my cousin Steve once so eloquently put it, too many (bleeping) interruptions.



It would be one thing if the Nats analyst were Howard Cosell or Stephen A. Smith, for whether or not we could understand what the hell either one of them were saying, agreed or disagreed, it would still be entertaining. Not so much with Nats MASN analyst F.P. Santangelo, who, over the course of three nonstop hours, simply can’t stop. Or won’t stop. He has to comment on everything with such a Teen Town-like exuberance that you feel as though you should grab yourself a malted instead of a nice cold beer. And for having had such a good big league career, his baseball insights don’t seem to tell us anything either.



During a Nats-Yankees spring training game, F.P. offered this Captain Obvious nugget on the season Yankees free-agent signee Jacoby Ellsbury might have: “He could be a 40-40 man in that ballpark. If he has a good year.”



Forty homers and 40 steals? Yeah, he could do that. But not if he has a bad year.
Oy!



In the same spring training game, Nationals pitchers were shown getting their running in, going from foul pole to foul pole along the warning track, a common sight during spring training games, when F.P. gee-whizzed, “It looks as though they’re ready to run a marathon.”



To which Carpenter chimed, “A 162-game marathon?”



Ack! That’s Frasier Crane Christmas Parade banter.



The Nats broadcasts can be so camp, not unlike the 1960’s TV series “Batman”, that you sometimes wonder if MASN isn’t doing it on purpose. It’s like listening to Bruce Wayne (Carpenter) and Dick Grayson (F.P.). So if you like bad TV, have at it. If you want to watch the ballgame without falling asleep turn the sound down. You could listen to the Nationals’ excellent radio team of Dave Jageler and Charlie Slowes, but then you’d have to fight through the four-second delay between radio and television.



Just to point out that this isn’t just me, there is a website, www.awfulannouncing.com, that recently rated the 30 MLB broadcast TV teams, and Carp and F.P. came in at No. 27 (ahead of the Cardinals at 28, the Rockies at 29 and the White Sox at 30). The Orioles broadcasters, most notably Gary Thorne and Jim Palmer, came in at No. 3, behind only the No. 2 Dodgers (most notably Vin Scully) and the No. 1 Giants.



The Pirates broadcasters came in at No. 14, with the Jolly Roger raised high by Pirates fans for lead play-byplay man Greg Brown. I also like No. 2 play-by-play man Tim Neverett, who comes through with a smooth Skip Caray-type delivery (not nearly as ornery as Skip, though), with analysts Bob Walk, Steve Blass and John Wehner always making Bucs fans feel right at home.



Which, after all, as the great George Carlin once observed, is the point of life and of baseball.



Mike Burke is sports editor of the Cumberland Times-News. Write to him at