BUT DID THE TBS ANNOUNCERS REALLY WANT IT THAT WAY?
By David Hopkins
First things first from the Culture Craze Studios on top of Old Smoky. Congratulations Big Time to the National League Champion Atlanta Braves for its poise and resiliency in taking down the mighty, and some said……..invincible….Los Angeles Dodgers which had won 106 games during the 202`1 regular season. Who really would have thunk it?? You can’t see it, but I’m raising my little hand here. Waving it around excitedly. Me. Me. ME. I saw it, and I put the prediction out online for public consumption in a number of places. In late July when Manager Brian Snitker and GM Alex Anthopoulos were able to tactfully maneuver and sign multiple players right before the trade deadline, I knew we had something promising going on and I told this to plenty of people, one in particular, my good longtime Friend, Tommy Thompson, in Manchester who, although a hardcore Braves fan like myself, remained full of pessimism for a playoff run. I urged him to reconsider. When we were able to resign Adam Duvall, one of my favorite players last season’s Braves team, I knew the Braves were serious about not only salvaging the season following Ron Acuna’s devastating injury, we were going to make a realistic hard push for the playoffs. His shrewd moves made me realize that Anthopoulos wasn’t giving up and throwing in the proverbial towel like he did that one year in Toronto; Something told me the Braves were going to make a serious run at the pennant.
And now it feels so good!
That out of the way, I think it’s time now to address something that annoyed me greatly during the National League Championship Series with the Dodgers, and it’s something clearly on the minds of fellow Braves fans, too.
Yep, you guessed it. The TBS team of announcers who broadcasted the Braves-Dodgers games. Normally, I don’t get all worked up by the antics of broadcasters in the booth in any sport unless they start badmouthing the Flag and country, but, for some reason this…..Team…..TBS put together for the Dodgers series was just overbearing with all the oozy-boozy bias toward the Dodgers.
There they were, Brian Anderson, the play-by-play guy, former MLB pitcher Ron Darling, and JEFF FRANCOEUR, an ex- Brave no less, acting at times like they had stock in the Hollywood Dodgers Production. Night after night, inning after inning, pitch after pitch, all we heard were lavish platitudes cast upon the Dodgers organization mixed in with plenty of excuses for its shortcomings against the “inferior” Braves. They continually reminded the listening audience how depleted the poor Dodgers were for the series, how tough it was for the Blue Boys to scrape together a team that could compete. I was beginning to wonder sometimes how the Dodgers even managed to find enough players to put on the field. And then there was always the barely-restrained expressions of hope that the Dodgers would rally and fulfill their Destiny. We heard it repeatedly that a team of this caliber is “Never out of it”. Darling continuously expressed excitement when the Dodgers started a rally (YES! YES!) but I never heard him or Anderson jumping up and down when the Braves put some runs on the board. He seemed so excited about the possibility that Dead Arm Max Scherzer was going to heroically crawl from the dugout and start Game 6 that I actually thought he might march down to the field and escort Max to the mound himself. To me, hearing all this ceaseless unctuous praise—– the echoes of hope and redundant excuses—— the tacit message to the audience was clear: If the Dodgers had all their players for the series, the Braves would be going home.
And, truthfully, I think that’s exactly what the TBS Team wanted.
I’ve followed Dandy Darling’s career for years, on the mound and in the booth, and I know the guy is prone to a lot of hype. Some notable emotional outbursts in the past for Ron. Darling’s ballast wasn’t completely unexpected. But Jeff Francoeur should know better. You would think he would anyway. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I realize he’s not working for the Braves now, but, I tell you, he didn’t sound overly excited about the Braves good play throughout the series. If we were going to have a Bad Cop in the booth, it would have been nice to have a Good Cop, too. You know, just to balance it out.
If the TBS Team had actually wanted to sound less biased, less in the corner of the Blue Meanies, they probably should have said from time time that the BRAVES were also a little depleted on the roster, too. “Depleted”, though, doesn’t even begin to accurately describe what the BRAVES were missing for this series with the Dodgers or the whole playoffs for that matter. The Braves were missing arguably baseball’s best player in Ronald Acuna. No roster moves are going to completely assuage the loss of a player like Acuna, irrespective if Eddie Rosario went crazy in the playoffs or Joc was slinging big lumber around like his string of pearls. It hurt to lose a player of Acuna’s stature, and I feel sorry for the guy because I’m sure he wanted to be a part of taking down the Dodgers. Losing Acuna is like the Twins losing Kirby Puckett in 1991 or the Yankees losing Reggie Jackson in 1977. The TBS Team could have reminded home viewers that the Braves had also lost who it considered the “Ace” of the pitching staff, Mike Soroka, and was also without slugger Marcel Ozuna. But TBS didn’t make much of a deal about these key loses for the Braves. Not as much as they should have, anyway.
So, we’re done with the Dodgers, thank goodness, and now it’s on to the World Series where we haven’t been since 1999. Me? I like our chances against the Astros. It’s pitching staff is reeling more than the Dodgers. Remember what the George Steinbrenner character said to Constanza in one episode of “Seinfeld”?
“I smell a pennant!!!!”
Broadcasting of the World Series will now shift to FOX, and maybe we’ll get a Team who’ll give the Braves some genuine love for a change. Joe Buck, who’ll be doing play-by-play, doesn’t much care for the Astros. (I know this by some past interviews following the 2017 cheating scandal.). And then there’s John Smoltz, who while great as a color man and sure to sound impartial, we all know which team he really wants to win the Series so I don’t expect any goofy commentary from him.
It’s good to have you back, Atlanta!