Column: George Brett says he’s no aspiring ‘Brockmire’

Baseball Hall of Famer George Brett, right, is confronted in a stadium cafeteria by Jim Brockmire (portrayed by Hank Azaria) in the upcoming episode of “Brockmire” on IFC.
(Courtesy IFC)

Spoiler alert: The upcoming episode of “Brockmire” (IFC, Wednesday at 10 p.m.) exquisitely captures Bob Costas spewing a few choice expletives.

Inexplicably, not a single curse word comes out of George Brett. Apparently, we’ve been too spoiled at this point of Season 3, Episode 2, conditioned by the plight of the recovering alcoholic play-by-play man played loud and proud by Hank Azaria. Now a side story centers on Brett angling for the MLB Network to hire him to do a show with Costas.

Jim Brockmire (Azaria) can’t deal with the issue of his longtime friend and “emergency contact” Brett now dating his ex-girlfriend (played by Amanda Peet). Brockmire struggles trying to help broker the TV partnership, especially when he admits to Costas that he was responsible for giving him pinkeye at the Sochi Winter Olympics, then watches the multi-Emmy winning broadcaster erupt in a fairly foul response.

In real life, Brett, married nearly 30 years with three teenage boys, has no interest in TV baseball work.


“I tried it in 1998 and ’99 — eight games for the game of the week (on Fox), the ones that went to Des Moines or Albuquerque, and I just didn’t like the travel,” said Brett, whose Hall of Fame playing career started at El Segundo High.

Brett, the longtime Kansas City Royals star who’s now the team’s vice president of baseball operations, says that friendships he has with players would affect his honesty, “and I know if I was on TV, I’d be protective of them at all costs. You can’t be afraid to tell is like it is if you want to be successful in that business.

“You can always be, ‘Well, you know, hey, that was a really tough play, but …’ But you know you should be saying, ‘Hey, that guy just … booted it.’”

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There’s another reason he avoids live TV. Brett watched how his older brother, the late Ken Brett, put in eight seasons as the Angels’ analyst from 1987 through 1996. He warned him it’s not easy to break obscenity habits that could curse a career in the media.

“I know I would also be, ‘Oh, my God, please don’t let me blurt out the f-word,” Brett said with a laugh.

Josh Lewin, who worked on the air with both Brett brothers, recalls George was “a natural” at broadcasting.

“I loved how he was throwing himself into it and taking direction,” Lewin said.

Brett also took direction playing himself in an episode of ABC’s “Modern Family,” but it doesn’t mean he’s heading into show business. Especially if his wife, Leslie, continues to think he enjoys playing someone else’s boyfriend.

“I have to keep telling her, ‘It’s just television. It’s a comedy,’” Brett said, laughing.

Mastering the obvious

CBS’ Jim Nantz, who this week transitions from play by play of Monday’s NCAA championship game in Minneapolis to the Masters at Augusta National, insists the narrative about how golf’s most hallowed event wouldn’t allow TV cameras on the front nine of the course until the last decade “just wasn’t true.”


Nantz recalls 21-year-old Tiger Woods’ pursuit of his historic first major victory in 1997 included CBS coming on the air for Sunday’s final round and finding him with Costantino Rocca on the fifth fairway.

“We always picked up the leaders wherever they were and showed it all,” said Nantz, doing his 34th Masters. “It just wasn’t advertised as ‘full coverage’ until 2000.”

In CBS’ 64th year of Masters coverage, sports chairman Sean McManus says the network has worked with Augusta National in not only extending the live TV window, but also the use of live video streaming on many platforms.

“Big screen TV is still the way most do it, but it’s a lot different than when I first started doing this (also in 1997) when the priority was just the big screen,” McManus said. “As sports and entertainment properties are produced now, you have to make sure there are every opportunity to the consumers however they want it.”

The development of Masters Live, coverage, featured groups on the DirecTV Masters Mosaic and specific cameras on Amen Corner, as well as the 15th and 16th holes, are a result of Augusta “making their digital properties more complete,” McManus said. “People may think coverage from Augusta is just so ‘traditional,’ but we have pushed each other to figure out the best use of technology and innovation while keeping the feel and look of the Masters’ telecast as it has been.”

Tune it in

* Credit NBCSN’s horse racing studio trio of Ahmed Fareed, Randy Moss and Jerry Bailey for deftly handling an intelligent discussion on the horse racing deaths at Santa Anita, where they were covering it live Saturday afternoon at the top of their two-hour program that fed into the Santa Anita Derby. It included showing protesters outside the park. “We’re not here to be cheerleaders or apologists for the sport or to sugar coat anything,” Moss said. “There have been misconceptions. ‘What kind of sinister stuff is going on?’ That’s not the case. The reality is bad enough.” Also noted: NBC said it asked Santa Anita ownership — specifically, Stronach Group chairman and president Belinda Stronach — to do a live interview, but she declined after initially agreeing.

* Basketball Hall of Fame-bound Ralph Lawler calls his final regular-season game, reconnecting with longtime partner Bill Walton, on Prime Ticket’s Wednesday Clippers-Jazz telecast. Through the first two rounds of the playoffs, Lawler remains on the local cable feed. Lawler spent his final season paired up with analysts from his past 40 years, yet it’s a shame nothing could have been arranged in the four Clippers-Lakers meetings for him to reunite with Stu Lantz, Lawler’s first partner back in the San Diego days in 1978. It also would have been nice to add into the rotation Rich Marotta, who had four seasons with Lawler (1990-94).


* USC expects an announcement soon about its future radio rights for football and basketball since the expiration of its latest extension with KSPN-AM (710), the local ESPN Radio affiliate. The two have been partners since 2006. Live game date conflicts have occurred with the Lakers and Rams in recent years.

Tune it out

* Perfect call by CBS rules official Gene Steratore for pointing out the missed double-dribble violation in the closing moments of the Virginia-Auburn NCAA semifinal Saturday. But the impact was lost since it came minutes after the game ended and a post-game coach interview. CBS somehow painted itself into a corner by dropping in two commercial breaks in the last 1.5 seconds for some bizarre reason, not only interrupting the drama unfolding but also eliminating a window for a replay. Why neither CBS analyst Bill Raftery nor Grant Hill spotted it live, as many TV viewers did, is another unforced error.

* Darrell Waltrip already was considering retiring from Fox’s NASCAR coverage, according to a Sports Business Daily report in late March, but a column from the Associated Press’ Jenna Fryer might have pushed a decision to come official last Thursday. In a piece headlined “Boogity! Boogity! Boogity! Fox Sports needs a change,” Fryer correctly stated that “the carnival-like yukfest is stale.” The 72-year-old Waltrip, part of Fox’s NASCAR launch in 2001, was doing too much old-time story-swapping and preventing new hire Jeff Gordon from doing much truth telling. Meanwhile, NBC edged ahead with fresh coverage by hiring Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Waltrip’s last race will be June 23 in Sonoma. “Darrell has been the heart and soul of the Fox NASCAR booth since day one, so it’s incredibly bittersweet to know this is his final season,” said Fox Sports executive producer Eric Shanks.

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