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Baseball and stale Chips

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff October 8, 2009 09:09 AM

Apparently, Orlando Cabrera has been to the postseason with Tampa Bay.

And the Yankees.

Sounds accurate, I guess.

I don't even know anymore. Chip Caray could tell me that he played a pivotal role on the 2004 Red Sox and I'd have doubt.

Welcome to the blazingly incompetent world of the Major League Baseball playoffs on TBS, the network that doesn't seem to care about gaffes or bad feeds, as long you get the message across about its middling cable comedies.

One night after Caray's now-classic "base hit…caught" call during Tuesday's play-in game between the Twins and Tigers, he really outdid himself while fawning over the Minnesota shortstop during Game 1 of the ALDS between the Twins and Yankees. Caray listed four teams with which Cabrera has been to the playoffs – the Red Sox, Yankees, Rays, and Angels. That's great information, Chip. Except that he hasn't even played for two of them, never mind take them to October.

Hey, look. Kate Hudson.

Following a commercial break, TBS brought us to the booth where Caray clarified his earlier statement, explaining that Cabrera has played against those four teams in the postseason, which makes a little more sense if only because it's based in some semblance of accuracy.

Well, while we're on a roll, here's another universal, precise statement: TBS is miserable.

Perhaps you think that's a bit harsh, considering this is only the network's third season of carrying baseball's postseason, and maybe that's true. But this is also the network that failed to bring you the beginning of a major league playoff game one year ago, leaving Red Sox and Rays fans with Steve Harvey as their modern day Heidi. They've been on double-not-so-secret probation ever since. The 2009 returns through just two days haven't been pretty.

Only TBS can make baseball fans yearn for a return to the game on Fox, which mercifully will carry this month's ALCS and World Series. You've got to be pretty awful to make fans pine for the return of Tim McCarver. And Caray is pretty awful.

Last night, Caray introduced a graphic listing the top AL on-base percentages by telling the audience, "If you're not particular with this particular statistic," and then proceeded to explain the in-depth complexities of it all. I mean, based on its programming, we understand that TBS doesn't exactly have the brightest audience, but it's as if SI For Kids has overtaken all postseason direction. I'd give anything for some wise guy TBS production assistant to put up a stat referencing VORP and watch Caray's head explode.

That's probably how partner Ron Darling felt for a bit last night. When the Yankee Stadium crowd was chanting "MVP" with Derek Jeter up at bat – and top candidate Joe Mauer behind the plate – you might have thought that opened the door for some valid debate about the AL award. Instead, Caray took it and nominated Jeter as one of three possible Yankee MVP's, including Mark Teixeira and…"maybe" Mariano Rivera.

Mariano. Rivera. Great pitcher, Chip. Fine season. But I think Mariano Duncan has about a good a shot at winning the MVP this season.

Hey, look. Kate Hudson.

But it isn't just Caray, the endless promos, and the bottom line ticker that somehow manages to appear every 45 seconds to repeatedly tell us nothing. TBS has even made Dennis Eckersley boring. Case in point, these are Eck's four Tweets from yesterday:

"Triple headers are great. I get to eat three times."

"Send me some early questions for this chat tomorrow. @TBSHotCornerabout."

"These games need to slow down."

"Jimenez got carried away with his change up."

Whoa, Eck. Slow down on the candid moments.

Now, compare that with the not-bad Twitter debut of David Wells, who spent his time online criticizing umpires and placing Derek Jeter above Reggie Jackson in October lore, and Eck's craving for a trio of dinners doesn't exactly carry the same weight. No pun intended.

This one comes from Mike Silva's New York Baseball Digest: "Another bad gaffe by TBS last night. When Mariano came into the game in the 9th inning, a graphic with the pictures of the all-time leaders in post-season ERA was brought up on the screen. Mariano of course was #1 on the list. Former Detroit Tigers pitcher Mickey Lolich was also listed. Unfortunately, the picture that TBS had up for Lolich was actually that of former Tigers catcher Mickey Cochrane."

The Biz of Baseball brings us this one:


Hey, look. Kate Hudson.

At least the network has somewhat apologized for tormenting Red Sox fans last October with Caray – not to mention, you know, that whole Steve Harvey debacle - by burdening Yankee fans with his presence, and giving the play-by-play duties for the Boston-Los Angeles series to Don Orsillo. Thanks for the memories, Chip, the only announcer we know who can turn a game-winning hit into a double play, just like that. El Caballito.


"Base hit! Caught out there." A classic call from a historically awful, hopeless network in way over its head.

The pitch box is cool though. Nice work, TBS.

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