Monday, June 16, 2008

Somehow heard over cringeworthy Mulliniks and stumbling Barfield...

(He's back for post #2, and despite his new colleague's earlier prediction, the world has not imploded at this point. In tribute to that earlier postulation, it would've been appropriate to attach a similar British comedy quote. Instead, on account of laziness, I attach an unrelated picture of a giant hedgehog named Spiny Norman. Dinsdale!)

Did anyone else notice how surprisingly effective the CBC's Elliotte Friedman was on the Blue Jays broadcasts this past weekend? Filling in for an otherwise-occupied Jim Hughson, the HNIC stalwart did a fine job of narrating play and drawing bits of useful analysis from an otherwise undesirable broadcast team of the motor-mouthed Rance Mulliniks and the inexperienced Jesse Barfield.

Sure, this was nothing close to a flawless Shulmanesque performance. He occassionally misidentified upcoming players in the batting order or on the field, tended to exaggerate the home run potential of various fly balls (gotta look at the outfielder, not the ball), and fell into repetitive use of the word "correct?" to elicit analysis from his colour men ("Rance, I understand you played baseball, correct?"), but for a first shot at a major league broadcast this was a terrific fill-in for an experienced and talented Hughson.

This too coming from me, someone who has never been a fan of Friedman's work either on The Score or on HNIC, and who finds that he's become by far the most overrated broadcaster by the sports media critics in the various papers. The fact that he doesn't ask stupid questions has been exaggerated to imply his questions are brilliantly crafted, and overshadow his maddening sideways holding of his microphone, and bizarre gesticulation when talking to the camera. In the interests of full disclosure, I should note that as a Queen's broadcaster I am contractually obligated to nitpickingly despise and find fault with anyone associated with UWO's CHRW 94.9 FM.

But the broader implication of last weekend is that the stigma attached to inexperienced Canadian baseball broadcasters may be a false one. Often, we're brought to the conclusion that only an American like Tom Cheek or Jerry Howarth can properly narrate this inherently stateside game. The experience of fans with the likes of Rob Faulds, Rod Black, or Brian Williams, among others, hasn't helped to dispel that idea. But Friedman's more than passable work at the Skydome this past Saturday and Sunday bodes well for the future of baseball broadcasting in Canada in a way that only Mike Wilner had done to this point. Unfortunately, we'll need more games on the CBC, an unlikely concession from megalomaniacal death-corporation rights holders Rogers Communications, before it'll even matter.


Robert C. said...

I'll throw out my long-time nickname for Elliotte. "Mr. Excitement". Yes, it's slightly mean but I too don't understand all the media fans of his. Not horrible but I don't see anything to get overly excited about.

But glad to hear he did a good job on the Jays game. Can't be worse than Joe Carter was. :)

sager said...

"To hit the ball, you have to make contact."
— Joe Carter

Rob Pettapiece said...

Friedman was good for a last-minute thing, but as you noted, Tyler, the difference between him and an experienced baseball guy was obvious. Hopefully all the jamiecampbell haters noticed that.

Why did you leave Shulman out of the "good Canadian baseball broadcasters" category? Because he went to Western too?

Tyler King said...

I don't think I listed good Canadian broadcasters. I only listed good Americans (Cheek/Howarth) and bad Canadians (Faulds/Black/Williams). I did use the phrase "Shulmanesque" to describe a good performance, though.

But yeah - if I *had* made such a list, I would've omitted that Mustang bastard.

Western? Isn't that an omelette?

Tyler King said...

Oh, unless you meant my bit at the end about how Wilner was the only one who was a good sign for Canadian baseball broadcasting, and that was because Shulman's future is clearly stateside.