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Open Thread: Cubs vs. White Sox, Saturday 5/20, 12:20 CT (Or, Your Place To Bitch About Fox TV)

Today, Fox starts its annual Saturday afternoon "Game of the Week" series, which means that many of you won't get to see the Cubs.

Given the state of the team, some of you may think that's a blessing. Fox's national coverage today is as follows:

Yankees-Mets: 56% of the country
Cubs-White Sox: 21% of the country
Angels-Dodgers: 13% of the country
Giants-A's: 10% of the country

For those of you who can see the Cub game (and want to), consider yourselves lucky. You could have had Lou Piniella as the color commentator, but he's under the weather:

Lou Piniella, Fox's newest hire who was a guest commentator on last year's American League championship series between the Angels and Chicago White Sox, was set to make his regular-season debut Saturday. He was supposed to be in Chicago with Thom Brennaman for the Cubs and White Sox but has been sidelined by an eye infection.

Piniella will be replaced on Saturday's telecast by former White Sox outfielder Darrin Jackson.

Piniella, also on this week's conference call, said he didn't miss managing and was taking his new venture seriously, seeking advice and studying various broadcasters.

"I'm a little nervous," he said, "and rightfully so."

Note he says that he doesn't miss managing. So give it up, folks -- I don't want him as Cub manager anyway, and he's not coming here. He ought to just retire -- he's terrible in the booth, as you know if you heard him during last year's playoffs. And to replace him with a Sox broadcaster? Gee, how neutral. With Brennaman on play-by-play, the telecast might be completely unlistenable.

Fox is pulling the same stunt in the Bay Area, where Giants announcer Mike Krukow will be the color analyst on the Giants-A's game. Gee, think A's fans might be a bit miffed?

This state of affairs may be in its death throes. This South Carolina newspaper article notes that this is the last year of Fox's TV deal, and they might not renew it in its present form:

The network's $2.5 billion contract with Major League Baseball expires after the World Series in October.

Earlier this year in a Media Week article, FOX said it had no interest in renewing the contract at an expected 20 percent increase on the price tag. FOX has said it might be willing to share the package with another network, as it did with NBC from 1996 to 2000. As of now, no deal is in place for 2007 and beyond.

[And] now many people wonder if the ?Game of the Week? has outlived its usefulness because of the number of games televised daily by ESPN, TBS, WGN and other cable outlets. That will be determined sometime this summer when TV contract talks heat up.

Note, that article is from a paper in a non-major league market. I think those of us who live in a major league city, would likely prefer to see the Saturday ?Game of the Week? vanish.

Oh. There's a game today, too.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Rich Hill
R. Hill
vs. Freddy Garcia
F. Garcia
White Sox
0-3 W-L 6-1
7.63 ERA 4.56
9 SO 28
10 BB 16
3 HR 5
vs. Sox -- vs. Cubs

Not only does this appear to be a mismatch based on these pitchers' 2006 records, but Garcia has been nearly perfect against the Cubs in his career: 3 starts, 3-0, 22 IP, 18 K, 0.88 ERA. Hill, meanwhile, has sucked against pretty much everyone.

I am, however, reminded of a similar matchup two years ago at the Cell, where Carlos Zambrano came in at 8-2, facing Felix Diaz, who was making his third major league start with an ERA of 11.42.

You can guess what happened even if you didn't follow the link above. Diaz threw the game of his life, allowing three ER in 6 IP, and Z sucked, giving up five walks, two homers, and five earned runs.

Is something similar LIKELY to happen today? Of course not.

But that's why they play the games.

Discuss amongst yourselves.