By Todd Vandenberg
To be clear, what a fantastic game that was last night. I’m not sure how the rest of the Series can live up to the drama of Game One – and of course it will, and will surpass it, because it was just the first game, after all. A game that started with Matt Harvey grooving a fastball to notorious first-ball hitter Alcides Escobar, who slammed it off the leg of the ultra-fast Yoenis Cespedes for a standup inside-the-park homer. First, the pitch: in case their scouts missed it, Royals manager Ned Yost is very publicly on record, telling everyone who has ears, that Escobar swings at the first pitch. Dude, Harvey, what were you thinking? Escobar is so locked into that first swing, you could have thrown to the dugout and gotten a strike. There were questions as to the wisdom of playing Cespedes in center, especially in the vast acreage of Kauffman Stadium. Despite his play on Escobar’s ball, where he clearly looked at LF Michael Conforto and then knew he had to make the play, Cespedes can’t be faulted on it. The statheads tell us his route efficiency (the path he took to the ball) was 95%. No, it wasn’t perfect, but he made a great effort; Escobar just found the perfect hole in left center.
There were so many extraordinary plays, and extraordinary players. Here are just two: For the Mets, we have Curtis Granderson. His game-saving catch in the 11th inning prevented what may well have been the second inside-the-park homer of the game; his own homer in the top of the fourth, when the game restarted after a seven minute delay due to a power outage, showed that Volquez could be hit. More on that power outage in a bit. For the winning Royals, it has to be Chris Young. One of the only guys on the Royals staff who can’t hit 97 on the gun (in fact, he never even hit 90 during the season), the scheduled Game Four starter came on in relief and pitched 3 innings of no hit ball for the win. Young, by the way, hit 90 on eight pitches; he hadn’t hit 90 since 2009. As Young said after the game, it isn’t about velocity, it’s about pitching. Young pitched like a hybrid clone of Randy Johnson and Greg Maddux last night; Mets batters faced the fun prospect of Maddux-like command coming from the angle of a 6”10” overhand delivery. No thanks.
While the game was great, the broadcast, not so much. As I mentioned earlier, there was that little matter of a power outage. Specifically, a loss of power to the production truck for Fox. This isn’t the lights going out at the entire stadium, like the Superdome in 2013; this is losing power to one truck. A power surge killed their generator.
So Fox, the multi-billion dollar corporation, isn’t smart enough to have a backup generator for their truck? And they are so unprepared, it took them several minutes to switch to the international feed of the MLB Network. They are so disorganized that while the Fox studio hosts hemmed and hawed, guessing as to what had happened, they were caught unaware when Fox finally did switch to MLB. “Uh, I think that music means were going back to the stadium?” Yep, top-notch broadcast, Fox.
And worst of all, the broadcast itself. Specifically the mega-null-talent, Joe Buck. You know, Joe “My Daddy is a Hall of Fame broadcaster so give me a job” Buck. There is no cliché he cannot trot out on a moment’s notice, and the next original thought that passes his lips will be his first. Well, that may be too harsh, because I’m quite certain no one, and I mean no one, ever in the history of the game since they played it in Hoboken and spelled it base-ball, or just called it the town game, no one ever said this;
“Baseball is at its best when the guy on the mound has a ball and the guy at the plate has a bat, and may the best man win.”
Seriously, that is verbatim. This easily trumps every ill-informed, half-witted, clinically moronic thing the man has ever said. Joe, that’s the definition of the game. Maybe you haven’t been paying attention – okay, you’ve proved you haven’t forever- but that is the basis of every single play in baseball. The best, the worst, and all the in-betweens. WHY does this fool still have a job? I’d say he’s much more qualified to call single A high school football games on a 500 watt radio station, but I know that besmirches the reputation of hundreds of actual professional broadcasters. Let me clarify: Joe Buck is beyond terrible. Please join my movement to preserve the National Pastime and our collective sanity: #ShutTheBuckUp.
Okay, enough about the human sausage casing. You can vote below on your choice for Mr. Buck. It was a fantastic game, and the Series only promises to get better as next up we get Johnny Cueto facing Jacob deGrom. Rumor has it this is indeed a Hair vs. Hair match. With luck, maybe Joe Buck will have a personal power outage and never speak again.