The Peacock streaming channel is owned by NBC Universal/Comcast. NBC has decades of experience televising baseball and other sports. They used a well-respected play-by-play announcer, Jason Benetti, and had one other booth announcer tied to each team, John Kruk (Phillies) and Ryan Sweeney (Cubs), though Sweeney’s connection with the Cubs is somewhat more tenuous than Kruk’s with Philadelphia.
So I thought I might see a more professionally produced sports broadcast Sunday morning.
Unfortunately, I was wrong. NBC and Peacock have apparently decided, as have some other national baseball broadcast outlets, that the broadcast needs to be stuffed with irrelevant chatter and stuff we really don’t need.
The first such thing was mic’ing up Phillies outfielder Nick Castellanos. The choice of Castellanos was probably made some time ago, but suddenly it became a bit controversial because of these postgame comments he made Saturday:
Things got a bit contentious in the #Phillies clubhouse tonight during and after Nick Castellanos' media availability and our @6abc cameras were there. Thoughts on this exchange? pic.twitter.com/DcqmbIpz2e— Jamie Apody (@JamieApody) July 24, 2022
Castellanos is having a bad year in Philadelphia, likely caused in part by a wrist injury he suffered in May from which he’s probably still not 100 percent. If you watched any of the Cubs/Phillies games this weekend, you could probably hear the Philly boo-birds out to get Nick, who might live to regret that five-year deal he signed. (He won’t regret the money, though.)
So. You know, I liked listening to the mic’d up players during the All-Star Game, because that game is for fun only. But when I’m watching a regular season game, especially one involving my team, I want to watch the game. It was particularly annoying to have the mic’d up inning be the top of the first, because the broadcast team spent the entire inning yakking with Castellanos and didn’t note who any of the Cubs hitters were or call most of the action.
I mean, this is funny, I guess, but in the end, who cares?
Here’s another problem with this sort of thing:
First dumb question of the Nick Castellanos mic'd up: "Nick, what are you trying to do when you are warming up in the outfield?"— Jeremy Tiermini, MSS, LAT, ATC (@JeremyTiermini) July 24, 2022
Inane. Better would have been this:
There are such things as stupid questions. If you are going to mic a guy up, ask good questions. "Nick, how does your routine differ when you play a 12 PM game like this?"— Jeremy Tiermini, MSS, LAT, ATC (@JeremyTiermini) July 24, 2022
Right. Now, that would have given some useful insight. Instead, all we got was yakking.
In fact, that’s pretty much all we got for the entire game. Huge chunks of the action weren’t called at all, because Benetti, Kruk and Sweeney were just talking as if having one second of dead air was a mortal sin. As I have previously written:
... it feels like I’m being constantly talked at without any of the folks in the booth taking a pause or letting the game breathe even for a second. Sometimes a bit of dead air, just hearing the crowd and crack of the bat or baseball smacking into a catcher’s mitt is good for providing atmosphere. Sometimes the best thing about a sports broadcaster is that he (or she) knows when to shut up.
That’s something I wrote about Marquee Sports Network’s presentation in June (and FWIW, it hasn’t changed), and it was true about Peacock today, again, I had the feeling I was watching a podcast and oh, yes, there’s a baseball game going on in the background. Which, incidentally, was a pretty good game, with some key home runs, good and bad defensive plays, and a tense ninth inning. I’ve watched enough White Sox games to know that Benetti knows how to call such a game correctly, so the answer has to be that Peacock executives think this is the way to present baseball on television.
Hint: It’s not. This was almost unwatchable. Peacock also, in my view, made a mistake by not doing what Apple did, giving away the first year for free. By forcing folks to pay a subscription fee to watch these games when streaming is new to baseball, they turned a lot of fans off. That’s a big whiff on NBC’s part.
And can these national channels please get their guys out of suits and ties? Especially when it’s 100 degrees outside.
Sunday’s game was the only appearance for the Cubs on Peacock for 2022. Hopefully they’ll get their act together better for next year.
Grade Peacock’s broadcast of Sunday’s Cubs/Phillies game.
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