To start off, let's make this very clear. Most, if not all broadcasters for the team they cover, are going to have bias towards their employer. The difference is, most broadcasters attempt to at least try and play it down the middle. This can't be said for Cincinnati Reds play-by-play man, Thom Brennaman.
While living in New York, I am lucky enough to subscribe to an online service which offers me the opportunity to watch every broadcast of every MLB team. It's great knowing i have the option of watching Pirates broadcasts as well as other team's local broadcasts around the league.
The MLB Network picked up the Pirates vs. Reds game on Saturday night. I figured I'd watch the game on the big screen TV rather than my computer laptop.The MLB Network also decided to broadcast the Reds' TV feed (Fox Sports Ohio); I should have known that my Saturday night was ruined right then and there.
For many of you reading this article, you probably aren't aware that Reds play-by-play man, Thom Brennaman, was not only pro Reds, but very anti Pirates. MLB Network aired an alternate game in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. As I stated earlier, I don't mind a team's announcing crew to lean a bit towards the home team. They do travel and follow them on a regular basis, and most importantly, they get paid by the organization. What I don't like is when the pom poms come out for the home team.
Brennaman was teamed with former pitcher Chris Welsh. Welsh is not even an issue. I must say that he was fair and played it that way from the first inning until the final pitch. Brennaman, well that's another story.
Here are a few of Thom Thom's comments and analysis during Saturday night's game:
1. When the game began, Brennaman stated the Chapman pitch that hit McCutchen was not a purpose pitch. I have no problem with that if you state it as an opinion, but Thom Thom was stating it as a fact. I guess he know for certain. A 3-0 lead. Two outs. Nobody on. Ninth inning. Pirates best player and possible league MVP at the plate. Playing the team right behind you in the division. Two more games left in the series. It can at least make one think that the Reds were trying to make a statement. Not according to Brennaman. No way. The pitch just rode in on McCutchen. I guess Thom's father Marty told him that was a fact.
2. When Josh Harrison got hit by a pitch during the game, Harrison looked at out the mound and not only glared at Mike Leake, words were exchanged. The next words to come out of Brennaman's microphone were, "Give me a break." Right after that comment was made, it's important to note that there was silence for a good five seconds.
One could think that either Welsh or somebody in the truck reminded Brennaman that the game was being carried nationally. He must of wanted to appear he had no bias. Nice try though. Once again, no mention was made about Leake walking towards Harrison and Leake mouthing off as well. No way, it wasn't intentional. Right? Oh yeah. Thom Thom knows for a fact.
3. When Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was ejected for arguing the fact the Pirates were given a warning as well as the Reds, even though the Pirates didn't throw at anyone up to this point, Brennaman was of the opinion that umpire Brian Gorman was doing his job. He stated that he didn't want the game to get out of control. (The same Brian Gorman who made another horrible call Sunday at third base when Starling Marte was called out after after a tag wasn't even close to being made).
I guess the Reds broadcaster had no issues with the Pirates James McDonald not being able to throw inside during the rest of the game. If McDonald hit a Reds batter, he'd be ejected. The Reds wouldn't have to worry about any redemption either. That works for Brennaman though.
4. The most phony comment of the night came during Harrison's next at-bat. Welsh was talking about Harrison playing back home in Cincinnati. He's a local product who plays well every time he comes back to Great American Ball Park. Welsh went on to say that Harrison is, "a great kid and a fine young man." Brennaman responded, "Yes he is. Absolutely."
Really Thom? During Harrison's prior at bat, we got a "give me a break" comment from the Reds' play-by-man man, referring to that same "great kid and fine young man." I guess perception tends to change after things go the way you want them to. Brennaman also possibly forgot that Harrison was a local product and he didn't want any backlash.
5. In the eighth inning, an obviously frustrated Jared Hughes fielded a ground ball and gave Dioner Navarro a shove during his tag as Navarro was running to first. Hughes just gave up the go-ahead run and was not surprisingly in a bad mood. When commenting on the play, you would think Hughes tackled Navarro to the ground. Brennaman said, "What was that? If Hughes wants to blame somebody, he can blame himself for giving up the go ahead run."
According to Mr. Brennaman, that play was a bit classless. Never once did he mention the Pirates had a right to be frustrated. The Reds can throw at Pittsburgh batters, and then the umpires say that the Pirates can't respond. I guess that would be trying to be open minded. That's not something that comes into play.
Thom's father Marty lost a bet and shaved his head this week after the Reds won 10 games in a row. Maybe his son will lose a bet too. How about if the Reds lose five in a row, the younger Brennaman has be more partial for a week? That's not too much to ask. Right? Then again, maybe it is.