Aren't you glad I started blogging again so I could engage in the determined pursuit of the obvious?
Baseball is the greatest sport ever invented that you can play in front of people. It's just that it gets ruined by jocks in the booth who ran out of things to say in about 1980. Such is Mr. Morgan, the long-time partner of Jon Miller, the best baseball announcer under 80 (or however old Vin Scully is). Their broadcasts are worth watching and listening to for several reasons:
1) To appreciate Miller's erudition. (Which I appreciate all the more after strolling through a used book store while on a business trip to Milwaukee and bumping into him in the basement of an antiquarian book store as he whiled away an afternoon before broadcasting a night game.)
2) To listen to Miller make sport of Morgan's cultural ignorance.
3) To wait for Morgan to realize that he has been made a fool of all these years without knowing it and to grind his partner into powder.
What is not worth it is listening to Morgan quickly run through his list of 27 cliches by the third inning. Worst among them is the use of "sitting on daid raid"
This is among antiquarian baseball jargon that was passe with the release of "Bull Durham," which to my embarrassment taught me that all these years announcers were describing "thigh-high fastballs" they were really talking about the "cock-high fastball." Whatever you call them, they are usually hit for home runs.
Which is where "daid raid" comes in. What "Mahrgan" is trying to get across is actually "dead red," an ancient description of a fastball down the middle of the plate, which is either an "out pitch" for the pitcher or a mistake if the batter was "sitting" on it.
Joe, how about the word "fastball" just once?
Morgan has succeeded because he is "old school," landed on ESPN early, gets a halo effect from working with Miller and is squeaky clean. And, from what I can discern, is like a number of prominent sports announcers -- Republicans. Or at least sycophants to Republican presidents, "old-fashioned patriotism," "supporting our troops" and sneering at unconventional thought in sports.
Jim Nance of CBS and Al Michaels of NBC are open about their partisanship. But since announcers are nothing if not highly paid corporate interlocutors of conventional wisdom, probably most play their politics from right field.
A couple of exceptions on the jocks-in-the-booth syndrome. Jim Palmer with the Orioles and Tom Paciorek, now with the Nationals, are pretty smart and funny. They actually admit to having read books while they were active major leaguers. I guess you have to be entertaining when the team you are announcing sucks.
Jon Miller was never so good as when he chronicled, with poetry at times, (Poe, I believe) the Orioles' 21-game losing streak to start the 1988 season.
One final thought now that baseball is in its glory season. Two of the following eight teams will wind up in the World Series: NY Yankees, NY Mets, San Diego Padres, LA Dodgers, Minnesota Twins, Detroit Tigers, St. Louis Cardinals, Oakland A's.
Fox will be televising the Series, a highly expensive proposition. While everyone (that is everyone east of the Hudson) wants a subway series between the Yankees and Mets, don't bet on it. Only Noo Yawkers will watch. What Fox prays for is a New York team against the Dodgers. And for that Series to go all seven games. Otherwise, they don't make as much money.
It used to be that players got a cut of Series money only from the receipts of the first four games, to make sure they wouldn't conspire to lose on purpose and extend the payday. Where are the rules to ensure that networks don't call all the shots?
Prediction: Yankees vs. Dodgers. And Fox wins.