Despite the team's decade-long mediocrity (well, awful-ocrity), Seattle Mariners followers have had it pretty darned good in one regard: The games are broadcast for free on TV — free, that is, if you ignore cable/satellite rates and the inflated costs of goods and services passed along to consumers to pay for advertising.
All this 'gratis" baseball, alas, does not come annoyance-free. One grants that M's officials and personnel themselves no doubt would find among their followers a lot to annoy them. But perhaps now, at mid-season, it's an apt chance to pause to consider some of the irksome aspects viewers find about M's TV broadcasts.
In no particular order, then, are a few Irkies:
The family-friendly double standard: M's officials take pride in having created a Disneyland-like environment at Safeco Field — much easier to do, evidently, than creating a perennial pennant competitor.
To stress the family-friendliness, prior to games a recording at the stadium warns of so many behavior no-nos that it's like having someone read you the Revised Code of Washington. Virtually every rule seems intended to keep from offending the easily offended.
On television, however, broadcasts feature promo commercials for a spectacle known as ultimate fighting, the object of which apparently is for combatants to punch and kick one another (for our amusement), presumably until both are bloody clumps at death's door.
A non-fan of the "sport," John McCain, has called it "human cockfighting."
The commercials, of course, are under the purview of the TV station (Fox Sports Northwest). But baseball execs, if they ever watch the broadcasts (and maybe they don't), might wonder how to square the Roman-circus aspect of ultimate-fighting face-maiming with the good-clean-fun tastes of the Cleaver families they're trying to appease.
The Pat O’Day buzz-kill: Many are glad Pat O'Day took the cure. Many more, perhaps, wish that sobriety had made him stop shaking while he slurs his words.
O"Day obviously is welcome to shill for Schick Shadel, the treatments from which many claim to have benefited. Maybe viewers would be better served, though, if the self-satisfied former DJ also told how much the supposedly simple program costs and leveled about the "cure" rate.
The frequent salute: Judging from team p.r., about all the Mariners ever do when they go out of town is visit military installations. Why not? For generations managers of pro-sports teams have strained to insinuate their minions into the glow of goodwill deserved by military troops.
The better question might be: Why do this? What does a professional sports team have to do with the military?
Maybe M's management ought to trim the shameless military photo-op visits down to one per season rather than have players and coaches chill with the troops whenever the powers that be seem to feel a losing team needs to be ingratiated to fans by having players shown visiting those other uniformed personnel.
The “R” torture: Regarding Rick Rizzs, Rizzer's Rainman-reminiscent repetitious recitations really, really rankle. Rizzs routinely repeats, reiterates, rehashes, recalling respected Reds, Royals, Rangers, Rockies. Rizzs refuses refocusing, readily recounting roster rolls, reasons regardless.
July 1 presented a classic example of the R Man unable to stifle. He made an off-handed mention of retired jersey numbers of New York Yankees players. Then, unable to stop himself, he proceeded to recite every last one of them — this while, as always, routinely telling listeners three times (thrice, a trio, trips, trifecta, etc.) — the name of the batter coming to the plate.
Rest it, Rizzer.
The remedial high-school Spanish: Dave Sims provides a light touch and impressive background knowledge, though much of the latter is about football and other sports. He's become dubiously distinguished among the many M's announcers, reporters and experts, however, in his insistence on attempting to pronounce Spanish names in such a way as to earn at least a B-plus in second-year Spanish.
One fears that his ongoing guttural rendering of “Gutierrez” (gee—oo—tee—yare—yyyyllyyyyess) may eventually cause the poor man to swallow his tongue.
The inexplicable pluralization: Mike Blowers knows his baseball, or, his baseball, his baseball. Why, though, does he always, always, say “anyways,” anyways?
The eyes don’t have it: Dave Niehaus is a Hall of Fame announcer. Because team officials bring it up at every opportunity, this admirable achievement is known now to every living being and possibly even some yet to be born.
But the affable man who has been in the booth since opening night, April 6, 1977, lately has had trouble locating the direction or distance of a hit ball. Just the other night, for example, he described as a shot to "straight-away left" a ball that barely landed inside the left-field foul line.
Many of us with eyesight not quite what it was that April night in '77 may wonder, then: Why not, for the sake of accuracy, leave these calls to Blowers, anyways?
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