Tuesday, September 6, 2011

September 5: Mets vs. Marlins

The Mets, like most teams, have several short, sponsored segments during the lead-up to the start of the game, one of which is "Tonight's Pitching Match-up." It's basically an excuse to run another commercial, and it should be the easiest part of any broadcaster's job. You've known for days who the starting pitchers will be, and you've been at the ballpark for several hours, so you've had plenty of time to prepare. "Tonight's Pitching Match-up" should be something you've scripted beforehand -- either on paper or at least in your head -- so you sound smart and smooth when you deliver it.

And then there's Wayne.

Chris Capuano was making the start for the Mets on Monday night, and here's how Wayne set the stage for us:

Capuano has one of the most [confused pause] important and maybe roughest, uh, assignments you can think of for a pitcher. He is making his 10th start over the last five, including tonight, five of the ten, exactly half of those, are against the Florida Marlins. So both sides know [long pause] he knows what they like, and they know what he pitches.

Read that out loud. Go on -- hear just how bad it really is.

Wayne's basic point here wasn't bad -- a pitcher facing the same team for the fifth time in ten starts is definitely unusual (it was no doubt in the game notes distributed to all the media before the game), and it probably does put the pitcher at a competitive disadvantage. But he garbled the point so badly that the casual listener might think that (a) this was a very important start for Capuano (there are no important starts for journeymen pitchers on also-ran teams in September) or (b) Capuano's familiarity with the Marlins' hitters would offset their familiarity with him (unlikely, and definitely not the point he meant to make).

The thing is, anyone can garble a point in the middle of a game, while live action is taking place. But it takes a very special talent to mess up something like "Tonight's Pitching Match-up" -- a segment that any junior high intern could have prepared for and delivered more effectively than Wayne did.

In a nation full of unemployed people, surely there's someone -- or many thousands of someones -- who could do this guy's job better than he does it. Fire Wayne Hagin already!

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