Rogers Sportsnet picks up the MLB International feed for the Series, giving Canadian-based Seamheads an option to avoid Fox's nearly unwatchable coverage.
The graphics and replays are just as good, but it evokes an earlier, simpler time. A major element of this is that there's always a feeling that the colour guy, Rick Sutcliffe, might be half-ripped on the air, à la Dizzy Dean on the NBC Game of the Week way back when. (Hey, like Ol' Diz, Sutcliffe did pitch for the Cardinals and the Cubs.) Since Fox's broadcasts are really for people who hate baseball, the MLB International feed is sanctuary from Jeanne Zelasko, Tim McCarver taking several hours to explain the difference between a fair and a foul ball and Joe Buck coming across like he's just waiting for a late-night talk show to be named later instead of doing a job every sports geek in North America would give his left ball to have.
The rest of the time, you can train yourself to go into a slow mental glaze and let Buck and McCarver go in one ear and out the other. Thankfully, Fire Joe Morgan is there to catch the major gaffes and rapped Buck but good for comparing Red Sox leadoff man Dustin Pedroia to the Cardinals monochromed media darling David Eckstein during the last playoff round, saying "He makes the most out of what he's got."
That might be... but FJM noted that Pedroia's rate stats (batting average, on-base percentage and slugging) as a 23-year-old rookie were all better than Eckstein's career highs. To add to that, when Eckstein was 23, he was playing in the Florida State League, not at Fenway Park. Regardless, to Joe Buck this comparison was next to godliness since David Eckstein oozes all the qualities straight out a 1950s Republican's stump speech.
So what happened to spoil that feeling of sanctuary? Last night, Pedroia hit a leadoff home run off Rockies left-hander Jeff Francis to start Boston toward their 13-1 rout. During the replay, Sutcliffe chimed in, "People say, how can you highlight that little guy? Well, if you remember the World Series last year, it was another little guy, David Eckstein, who was the MVP."
Guhhhhhhh. For once and for all, here's Pedroia's rate stats in these playoffs, compared to what Eckstein put up last fall in the first two rounds and Game 1 of the World Series:
Pedroia, 2007: .277 / .346 /.511
Eckstein, 2006: .174/.240/.261
Yes, they're both short (Pedroia is listed at 5-foot-9, Eckstein charitably so at 5-8), Causasian and hit leadoff. That's where it ends.
Last but not least, the Rockies wore the black sleeveless jersey last night. That means the World Series patch most teams usually have on the shoulder was on the front of their jerseys. Was that done just in case anyone tuning in couldn't believe the Colorado Rockies were actually playing on Oct. 24?