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The Usual Suspects

Philly crowds wise to TBS puffery Add to ...

James Surowiecki penned a book called The Wisdom Of Crowds. The New Yorker contributor suggested that a large group of people with some knowledge is smarter than a small group of "experts."

Surowiecki's thesis was borne out Wednesday in Philadelphia when TBS announcer Ernie Johnson told a postgame throng at Citizens Bank Stadium that it had been TBS's pleasure to broadcast the National League Championship Series. The Major League Baseball suits on the dais with Johnson smiled, but the cascade of abuse for any mention of TBS was Philly's proxy for baseball fans everywhere.

Johnson sheepishly smiled and said, "Why, thank you," but the point was made. Granted, Philadelphia crowds once booed Santa Claus. But TBS's coverage of the postseason was mind-numbing - its addictive strike-zone tracker graphic notwithstanding. Chip Caray's miscalls, the somnambulant offerings of analysts Ron Darling and David Wells and the on-field musings of fatuous Craig Sager had Usual Suspects switching to Dan Shulman doing ESPN's radio calls of the games.

How bad was TBS? It made Fox's crews sound almost acceptable. Scary. Perhaps TBS was simply channelling the ineptitude on the field - from umpires struck blind at inopportune moments, to dimwitted players running themselves into outs, to managers going FUBAR in tight situations, it has so far been a postseason to forget for baseball. Certainly TBS wishes it could forget.

Just A Little Outside

TV viewers appreciate the onscreen strike-zone tracker - especially seeing how distorted the strike zone gets with some umpires. (The zone is not where the catcher sets up, it's where the plate is, boys.) Which means that baseball traditionalists hate the FoxTrax and PitchTrax.

"I think it's bad for the umpire, the PitchTrax," Hall of Fame pitcher Dennis Eckersley opined. "It's not fair to them. I think that's haywire, that PitchTrax. To me, I'm going by my eyeballs. I want to get on the umpires like anyone else, but I have to cut them a break."

The obvious question for Eck would be, "Why?" As the Los Angeles Times noted, if the National Collegiate Athletic Association gasses an entire football refereeing crew for blowing calls, why wouldn't MLB punt umpire Tim McClelland, who booted not one but two major calls at third base in a single New York Yankees-Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim game? Just give us one good reason, Eck.

D-I-V-O-R-C-E

Where's the late, lamented Sports Night TV show when we need it? The seminal TV series would have known how to deal with Jim Nantz's divorce. The CBS Sports bingo caller teared up in front of a judge this week while describing how his 26-year marriage tanked thanks to ex-wife Lorrie's "lack of support for his career and [her]excessive spending."

Sniffled Nantz, who makes $7-million (all currency U.S.) a year, "In 2004, I got the man-of-the-year award from the New York Athletic Club. … It really meant a lot to me. My mother flew in from Houston, but Lorrie wasn't there."

Nantz then complained Lorrie wouldn't let him hang the oil portrait of himself bestowed at the dinner in their home. "It ended up in a warehouse," he told the judge. Nantz also cited a $12,000 piece of jewellery his wife had bought but could only remember as "some sort of stone."

Oh, we almost forgot. … The 50-year-old Nantz also told the judge he has a 29-year-old girlfriend, whom he met while promoting his last book, Always By My Side, a sentimental tribute to his late father. But that has nothing to do with the breakdown of the marriage. Nothing whatsoever. Lorrie Nantz is seeking alimony in excess of $1.5-million a year.

We've Got A Crush On You

Just in from CBC's breathless hype division: "Beloved former Leaf Lanny McDonald to guest judge on CBC-TV's Battle Of The Blades." This Lanny is not to be confused with beloved former Flame Lanny McDonald, whose name is on Calgary's 1989 Stanley Cup, for whom he played more seasons (eight in Calgary, seven in Toronto) and where he makes his home. Usual Suspects factoid: Toronto has not won the Stanley Cup since McDonald was 14 years old in Hanna, Alta. Bet he gives Tie Domi a 5.7, though.

dowbboy@shaw.ca

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