Thursday, September 04, 2008

Tomahawks with DJ and Hawk

As the rain falls on the shores of Lake Michigan, it looks like a charter fishing trip out of the Milwaukee Marina may fall by the wayside (unless, as “Captain Mark” says, we would enjoy not catching any fish while soldiering through 4 to 6 foot whitecaps).
So, with some time suddenly on my hands, let’s release some t-hawks:
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One of the positives of having the Indians play the White Sox and the game being broadcast on WGN while one is out of town is that Tribe fans not able to sync up with STO are able to watch the Erie Warriors in live on TV. That being said, the fact that the game is on WGN just about destroys all positives that seemed possible.
How can this be, you ask, if you’re able to catch the Tribe on TV?
As out- of-towners (and particularly Chicagoans) are aware, the broadcasting team of “Hawk” (Ken Harrelson) and “DJ” (Darren Jackson) who occupy the WGN booth ruin any possibility of enjoying a baseball game with their inane comments that seem to be directed to “young players” on the “right way to play the game”, blatant ChiSox cheerleading, and general lack of knowledge concerning baseball.

Some snippets caught during Wednesday’s game from The Hawk and DJ:
Jeremy Sowers’ greatest attribute as a pitcher is his “courage” because he lacks any kind of talent and the fact that he was a 1st round draft pick baffled them. His 5 K were merely a result of Home Plate Umpire James Hoye giving Sowers’ the outside corner as every called strike was met with a “he thought it caught the outside corner…I guess.” No mention was made on the same strike zone helping Javier Vazquez, whose 5 K came from virtue of his allegedly overpowering Tribe hitters. They also decided that the radar gun in Progressive Field was wrong because there was no way that Sowers’ fastball was sitting at 91 MPH if the White Sox hitters couldn’t hit it. He also, according to them, doesn’t throw a change-up…a fact, of course, rebutted by FanGraphs, which tells us that nearly 14% of Sowers’ pitches this year have been change-ups.

On a related note, Vazquez has the 2nd best “stuff” for a pitcher with more than 100 career wins and 100 career losses in the history of MLB. In case you were wondering, Nolan Ryan had the best “stuff” in the category of 100-100 pitchers…and Nolan Ryan once hit Harrelson in the neck in Spring Training. That, by the by, was a three inning discussion, with little discourse not pertaining to Ryan, despite both Vazquez and Sowers being perfect through the first few innings.

The White Sox announcers feel that Sizemore is the best player on the Indians, with Shin-Soo Choo closing that gap VERY quickly, given that Choo is the most “dangerous” player on the Cleveland team and a reminder that they do “have some talent over there.”

Hawk followed up his call of Jhonny Peralta’s 2-run double with a “Damn!” No, seriously, I rewound the DVR four times and had two other people verify that I actually just heard the announcer scream an epithet after the opposing team scored runs.

Cleveland is, according to Harrelson, the world’s “largest fire hazard”…an apparent attempt to remind everyone that the Cuyahoga River caught fire a few decades ago.

Without getting too deep into the “good guys/bad guys” or “we/them/us” absurdity that peppers all of their comments because I know that this has been happening for years, the fact that neither refers to a White Sox player by his last name (and I do mean ever) is sickening. Hearing “A.J” and “Paulie” from time to time is one thing as it’s not uncommon for announcers to refer to established players in familiar terms (though it would be nice to mix in a last name now and then to attain some semblance of professionalism), but when the announcers are saying “Atta boy, Josh” when youngster Josh Fields gets a hit or hearing “Go get it, Brian” when a ball is struck towards Brian Anderson in CF is beyond annoying. Maybe people in Chicago like this or don’t mind it, but my brother-in-law watching the game with me (who lives in Denver and is more of a football/hockey guy than he is a baseball guy) sat there with me as our mouths hung agape, shocked at what we were hearing from the announcers, without even an attempt at even-handedness or impartiality.

I know that some announcers come off as “homers” (and Tom Hamilton could certainly come off that way from time to time) and this is not a new topic as I know that plenty of comments (particularly from those currently residing in The Windy City) have been shared regarding everyone’s “favorite” Hawk/DJ stories, but it is appalling to go from watching a Brewers’ game on FSN Wisconsin, with their solid and insightful broadcasters who actually describe game action, to go to the WGN feed of a White Sox game that only seems to be lacking pom-poms. All told, I know I’m not revealing anything new here, but Wednesday served as a reminder to me what an embarrassment WGN broadcast is and how it has devolved into what almost sounds like a “Saturday Night Live” satire.
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Did anyone notice that reliever Jonathan Meloan, who was sometimes referred to as “Jon” while in LA, is suddenly being referred to as “John” as he was included in the September call-ups? I’m not sure why I find this fascinating, but I’m just not sure how an “H” appears out of nowhere, unless Meloan’s locker is next to a certain SS, who has already rubbed off on him.
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Want an infuriating fact to dwell upon?
Even if you don’t, here it comes:
AL Central Interleague Records (Overall Records)
Chicago: 12-6 (78-61)
Minnesota: 14-4 (77-62)
Cleveland: 6-12 (67-71)
Detroit: 13-5 (67-72)
Kansas City: 13-5 (58-79)

So while the rest of the AL Central got fat on Interleague play, the Indians lost the opportunity (and if you don’t remember, it came at the time that the season fell apart) to take advantage of a soft part of their schedule.
How soft?
Indians’ Interleague Opponents’ Overall Records
Cincinnati: 61-78
Los Angeles: 70-70
Colorado: 66-75
San Francisco: 60-79
San Diego: 53-86
So, against the dregs of the NL, the Indians’ dropped 12 of 18.

Turning that record into matching even the 2nd lowest record among AL Central compatriots in Interleague play (the White Sox are 12-6) is a 6 game turnaround that would put the Indians at 73-65, or 4.5 games back. I know that there are a lot of these things that can be played with “what-ifs” regarding certain games, but this Interleague one is the factor that just sticks in my craw and nauseates me as it shows how important each game is and how timing really is everything in baseball.
Remember this as Interleague play loomed?
Oh well.
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Spending Monday afternoon at Wrigley Field, in the midst of a playoff race, reminded me how fun it is to attend meaningful baseball games in September and just how badly I want the Indians to get back to playing for more than just being the “spoiler” next year.

The game also reminded me how fun Wrigleyville is and what gallons of Old Style does to one’s internal organs, even days after the fact.
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Finally, anyone else think this would be a good time for Jamey Carroll to address the team and bring some of that magic from the Rockies’ September of a year ago to the Tribe?

I know it’s too little, too late…but with the White Sox and Twins scuffling and 10 games against the Royals and Orioles on the horizon (and yes, I know about the Mariners series), a man can still dream can’t he?

10 comments:

Kevin said...

You know Paul, whenever I watch the Tribe play the Black Sox on MLB.tv and I get the Sox announcers, I shut down the tv and just listen to the WTAM guys and watch the Gameday pitch by pitch. I couldn't put my finger on why exactly I couldn't listen to them, but you have put it perfectly. Thank you for that.

joepopa said...

Paul,
As a Tribe fan living in Chicago for many years I have had to suffer through Hawk and DJ far more than any non-Sox fan ever should. Any baseball fan for that matter. And you sir, are right on the money.

Once, early last season, Hawk referred to Hafner as a "sphincter hitter" because "whenever he comes to the plate he makes my sphincter tighten up".

Cy Slapnicka said...

as I may have mentioned a time or a hundred, these guys are awful. But if it helps answer the "why's" and "how's" of these two idiots keeping their jobs, think about the white sox fans you've interacted with in your life.

yeah, exactly....the hawk and dj are right in average sox fan's wheelhouse.

joepapa, i'm with you...my favorite thing about the mlb cable package is, i can watch any game i want so i don't need national tv or sox games to get my tribe tv fix. there is no need to watch this one when i can listen to the sweet music of tom hamilton.

Pyroman said...

No way man. This is the kind of article I've been waiting for. Personally I'm a cubs fan, but nothing, not even ESPN referring to the Red Sox as "the nation", is more annoying than Hawk and DJ. When the Cubs play the Sox I make an effort to find the Cubs broadcast version, because listening to Hawk and DJ is really something I only do when I'm drunk and looking for a few giggles. Don't knock WGN for them though, they're the Sox broadcasters no matter what channel they're on, and they're worse than Joe Morgan, John Miller, and Ron Santo combined.

Les Savy Ferd said...

all I have to say is an enormous hand-clenching "Ugh!" for every time I've suffered through these two troglodytes' game-calling and thank you for giving non-Chicagoans some perspective on a broadcasting blight that left unchecked has the viral stupidity to destroy the entire world. Okay, so SLIGHT hyperbole.

And actually, I've been here for years now and never even took the time to learn their names, but the one's you provided certainly sound plausible.

My usual train of thought when the Tribe play the ChiSox is the inevitable "Woo-hoo! I get to watch my favorite team play today on real-live TV," to *stifles rising gorge* "Oh... Oh God, it's THOSE two calling the game," to "Well, maybe I'd be better off muting this, or maybe stabbing myself in the ears a half dozen times."

And very seriously, nobody whines more about Umps being 'unfair' or 'robbing' their team than those two. It's as if they assume two separate teams of umpires call the top and bottom of each inning with a purposeful intent to make it as hard for the White Sox to win as possible.

Anyone else get the feeling that whoever comes out of the Central this year (barring a miraculous Tribe ascension) is going to get run over by the Angels?

Paul Cousineau said...

Nice to see the Chicagoans let me know that I wasn't hearing things. I see exactly where LSF is coming from as the roller coaster ride (from "Yes...I can watch the Indians" to seriously considering watching the game on mute) has to be where any non-Sox fan falls on games with these two.

What they should do is move Steve Stone (the ChiSox radio man) back to TV to cover Sox games. Stone, a South Euclid native no less, knows his stuff and would bring some credibility to the booth.

Then again, I'd be interested to see how often he'd have to correct the seemingly-always-wrong Hawk or see how long that pairing would even last.

Ron Vallo said...

All of the above is quite true, including Paul's original post.

What is really hard ti imagine though is that someone once actually hired Hawk Harrelson to be the GM of the White Sox.

(you could look it up)

eric said...

i am a white sox fan, and i could not agree more about hawk and dj. they are an embarrassment to the team.

join the movement:

heavethehawk.com

Halifax said...

Most of this post is devoted to the Hawk, but regarding Paul's item on inter-league play ... it is really too bad they stunk it up so much at that time, because they really are playing well now and the top two teams are both scuffling badly. I could see reeling in both teams ahead of them if they were only 4.5 back.

And I, in my great prognostication skills, declared in the post entering NL action, that the Tribe would, indeed, win the division because their pitching was so solid ... little did I know. Yet, minus three starters later the pitching is still solid if nothing else.

I, for one, am glad CC was forced to be dealt because he was leaving anyway (but if they were in it and he stayed I'd be more than fine with that). But the Indians received a much-needed talent infusion. But getting Meloan, Santana and Reyes for Casey Blake and Perdona was nothing shy of brilliant!

elkrat said...

I read this blog all the time, but don't comment. This article really struck a nerve.

I am another ex Cleveander living in Chi-town. I pay for Extra Innings, but sadly, for those 19 games that the Sux play the Tribe, I either have the TV on mute or just go with the WTAM feed on my computer through mlb.com.

I have one friend who is a White Sox fan. He is quite knowledgeable and we can have good baseball discussions. BTW, he can't stand Hawk either. So they're not ALL bad.

You should go check out heavethehawk.com I think that's the address name. I just Google "heave the Hawk". It will make you feel better. It's not my website, though I wish I thoght of it. I think it's beter than firejoemorgan.com.