Is there too much Georgia on TBS announcers’ minds?
What’s next for the TBS announcers? Will they start chanting “Beat L.A.”? If TBS cameras panned the broadcast booth, would they catch the announcers doing the tomahawk chop?
Talk about Southern cooking. As far as a lot of fans are concerned, the Dodgers are getting sauced in TBS’ coverage.
“The TBS announcers favored Atlanta more than Scarlett O’Hara,” grumbled Dodgers fan Patrick Caneday after Friday night’s telecast. “And not a mint julep in sight.”
Charges of favoritism are always subjective — sports fans can be sensitive sorts when it comes to how their home team is portrayed by out-of-towners.
And the fact that TBS is based in Atlanta, and that play-by-play man Ernie Johnson Jr. has a long history with the Braves, might make Dodgers fans suspicious of their allegiances (Johnson’s father was the Braves’ play-by-play announcer for four decades).
But tonally — in what the announcers say, how they say it, with the level of detail they provide — the TBS crew of Johnson, Ron Darling and Cal Ripken seems by many to have had a decidedly pro-Braves bent. And that has Dodgers fans a little bent as well.
“The ‘East Coast bias’ is alive and well,” says Lolly Hellman, who’s been following the Dodgers for more than 50 years. “You hear it every time they open their mouths. It’s all Braves talk, and you can practically hear the announcers thinking ‘Beat the Dodgers!’”
TBS officials did not want to comment on any perceived favoritism.
Of note in Friday’s telecast:
•A lack of story lines for the Dodger players, while unloading mounds of material on the Braves.
•Comments early in the game about ball and strike calls all going the Dodgers’ way.
•The gushing over Braves pitcher Mike Minor’s performance, even as Zack Greinke is matching him nearly pitch for pitch. “Mike is really in a rhythm right now,” Ripken said in the sixth inning.
•In talking about pitchers as generally poor hitters, never acknowledging that Greinke, who is on the mound as they’re discussing this, hit .328 in the regular season.
•Talk of how Greinke is “struggling,” as they flash a graphic in the fourth inning showing he’s given up no walks and four hits against a lineup that won 96 games in the regular season.
•Their easy acceptance of Dee Gordon being called out on his pivotal steal attempt in the ninth, though at least some replays seemed to show he beat the tag.
Overall, the TBS visual storytelling has been sufficient, sometimes extraordinary, as when they picked up Braves catcher Brian McCann chalking his fingers so the pitcher could get a better read. And, thankfully, TBS seems to forsake the ultra-close-ups of ballplayers spitting or fiddling with their noses, which seems to be a Fox trademark.
Otherwise, the telecasts have been largely uninspired. Oddly, TV directors across the board still fail to catch where fielders are positioning themselves with runners in scoring position at key points in a game.
Largely colorless as well, the only light moment in TBS Friday coverage came when correspondent Craig Sager, he of the dollar-store sport coats, flubbed the number of years Tom Lasorda had been with the Dodgers. Baseball’s grandpa-emeritus quickly corrected him, making you wonder if at 86, Lasorda is still quicker than most TV types.
Meanwhile, what’s a Dodgers fan to do? TBS says the same announcers will also do the NL Championship Series.
Perhaps the telecasts will balance out, now that the next two are set in L.A., though the venue should really have nothing to do with fairness in coverage.
“I muted the TV and listened to our beloved Vin announce part of it on radio,” said fan Catherine Domier Canamar.
That solution goes back decades, though the radio action frequently is out of sync with the network video.
At the end of the day, the extraordinary Scully, who has done Dodgers games since the dawn of time, has never been a “homer.” To have him consigned to radio while this team does network telecasts is almost beyond comprehension.
And, you know, the birth of a dynasty is difficult to diagnose, but these Dodgers figure to be winners for a while to come — dynastic or not. Just in case, maybe those from back East could study up a bit.
Get our high school sports newsletter
Prep Rally is devoted to the SoCal high school sports experience, bringing you scores, stories and a behind-the-scenes look at what makes prep sports so popular.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.