Baseball According to Sports Radio

I can't tell you the last time I really listened to music for a sustained period of time. Every time I get into my car the radio is either on the local sports talk shows or MLB Network Radio on XM. I spend a lot of time in my car during the day and therefore listen to a lot of talk radio, and when it is the local stations I blow a gasket at least once per listen and just turn the radio off. I had one of those moments yesterday but it inspired me.

The main complaint of the host was that the Nats weren't scoring enough runs in their past twenty games. This was before last night's game so it only includes the Cardinals, Reds, Braves, Pirates, Tigers, and Cubs, but all those teams have something in common. Each and every one of them are in the top half of MLB in starting pitcher ERA, and if you've paid any attention to what the Cardinals are doing it is nothing short of amazing. The Nats over their last twenty games faced lots and lots of good starting pitching, and had issues for most of them in getting the offense going. They were also missing Ryan Zimmerman for most of those games and Bryce Harper has fallen into a mild May slump with a .255 wOBA for the month.

Combine all that together and of course it doesn't look like the offense is going well, but the big part of it was that by lumping it as 20 games they were able to ignore the fact that the Nationals offense has been playing better the last week or so. I wrote about that very thing yesterday, but listening to the way they talked about the game of baseball and the way I watch it; it was like they were talking about a different sport. The biggest thing I noticed is that while I mentioned the quality of the opponent the Nats faced they never once did. So tonight if the Nationals have trouble hitting Clayton Kershaw, like every hitter in baseball does, tomorrow they will mention how the offense is inconsistent following up a six run outing by being shutout.

If a person had never watched the sport of baseball all they would know about a pitcher is that only one team gets one and it is the team the local broadcast roots for. Since the offense can't hit or is inconsistent they are always facing a pitching machine or Robinson Cano's father throwing batting practice. Whenever a batter makes an out it isn't because there was an opposing pitcher it is simply because they aren't good hitters and often can't handle the pressure of the situation they have been placed in.  

It would be very hard for someone to learn the sport of baseball from talk radio because it is just a lot of yelling and complaining about how everything is going wrong. If we flip over to the national broadcast we learn that every team has this one player who stinks and carries around pictures of the GM and manager having a threesome with a goat. It is an awkward situation and the player always demands to be put into the game with runners on base. It is even worse when this player is from outside the organization and is owed a lot of money, because not only then is he blackmailing the front office but he is also holding the fan base hostage. Truly a frightening scenario and it would be nice if BJ Upton and Josh Hamilton would let those people go. At least Pedro Alveraz and Danny Espinosa just demand playing time for their goat photographs.   

The other important thing about these players is that wherever they bat in the line-up is the most important spot in the line-up. That creates extra confusion since Adam Dunn bats fifth, Alveraz sixth, Espinosa seventh, BJ Upton first, and Hamilton fourth. Someone who has never watched baseball would really be wondering how many most important spots in the line-up there are. The real important thing though is that the team’s fortunes revolve around these players. There may be 24 other players on the team, but the ones playing the worst are the guys that have to step it up, because if they don't the other members of the team will become too depressed to continue to play baseball and will just retire.  

While the other team has no starting pitcher and all your favorite team’s offense can do is fail constantly against a pitching machine your team also has a starting pitcher and most of the time he is average at best, but if he is doing really well then his day was ruined by someone else. Either the manager took him out to put in a diabolical reliever sent by the Russians to blow the game, or a defender missed a play he should have made. If however the starting pitcher is not have a good day then there are no fielders behind him and every bad thing that happens is because of him, and the relievers are angels sent from the heavens that can save the game. And in the same manner as the other team has no pitcher they also have no hitters. Everything negative that happens to your team is because someone made a mistake. They never get beat but they often lose, and win they do win it was because they were lucky.  

It would be a fascinating experiment to find someone who had never watched the sport of baseball, and had little knowledge of how it was played, have them listen to sports radio for an afternoon, and then ask them to write down the rules of baseball as they understood them through what they had hear. My bet would be that the sport they design would not resemble baseball at all, and may be closer to an obstacle course where the local team is moving from station to station taking on different situations and failing more often than not, and when they do succeed it is by sheer luck requiring no talent or ability at all. After all the third caller's grandma, who has been dead for 15 years, could put the ball in play and get the RBI better than the bum they had in there.  

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