One of the many reasons I started writing on Bleacher Report was because I got so tired of popular media giving its guiltiest members a free pass. I'm not telling tales of morality or legal trouble; I mean protecting the weakest of its herd
Men and women who are very bad at their chosen professions—whether lacking in knowledge, consistency, integrity, or simply the ability to form coherent sentences.
Sadly, Tim McCarver ensures the last is not exaggeration.
These parties exist in every sport, but I tend to focus on the diamond.
Baseball is my first and most enduring athletic love. There are many consequences to said love, but two are particularly illuminating with regards to my intolerance for stupidity and/or garbage from those narrating, opining about, or analyzing Major League Baseball.
One is that I feel most confident in my baseball knowledge. Another is that I straddle the line dividing healthy devotion and unhealthy obsession—territory populated by those who take the Show too seriously, too personally.
Hence, those who make their living off the game's media presence come under the heaviest fire.
In fairness, Rosenthal pumps out a lot of content, so I'm probably too harsh on the guy—based on percentages, he's almost certainly doing very well. And his inside information is top-notch, without a doubt.
That's why I've taken to ignoring the nonsense. Providing the insider's dope is Ken's primary role, and it requires the periodic kowtowing kiss-ass-ery.
More significantly, there are far worse offenders than Ol' Kenny—he's bringing something to the table, and it smells good. Others offer no such contribution.
Well, call down the trumpets. It's time to welcome another sucker to the group—Steve Phillips.
Like the rest of his notorious colleagues, Phillips may be a perfectly decent human being. He may be a really sweet, wouldn't-harm-a-soul gentleman—the allegation of sexual harassment and admission of multiple affairs don't really make for a strong supporting argument, but who knows where the truth was in that whole charade.
The point is I don't mean to attack Steve Phillips personally (although what follows can reasonably be interpreted as such).
Being a terrible baseball analyst is not going to doom you to an eternity of barbecue.
In truth, there is value to people like Steve Phillips. If being awful and ruining ESPN's Monday Night Baseball, Wednesday Night Baseball, and (rarely) Sunday Night Baseball telecasts is the worst thing he does for the rest of his life, the world will be a better place.
He'll create as much high comedy as he'll induce aneurysms.
It'd be unfortunate for me since I'd probably fall in the latter category, but like I said, that's my mini-psychosis to confront.
If you want an example, you could merely tune in to the next broadcast, and Phillips won't disappoint. But I'm happy to do the work for you—shockingly, I've got a perfect exemplar cocked, locked, and in the pipe.
On Monday night, the New York Yankees played the Cleveland Indians in Cleveland. Joba Chamberlain took the hill for the Bombers and was grooving. He had retired the first 11 batters of the game, whiffing four and allowing only a Victor Martinez fly ball to leave the infield.
Martinez would leave the infield a second time as the Tribe's 12th batter. He would also leave the yard with the Indians' first hit—a home run to tie the game at one.
It was a bad pitch, as ESPN's booth pointed out, not because of location or execution—more because of selection with Victor sitting in a 2-1 hitter's count.
Regardless, Martinez was the only Cleveland hitter managing to eke a ball out of the infield, let alone get a hit off Joba. The Yankee hurler was dealing, and it was obvious—12 batters, four Ks, and nothing out of the infield unless you wore No. 41.
So, with Chamberlain possibly a little rattled on an otherwise invincible night and the Pinstripes possibly back on their heels a bit, up stepped Shin-Soo Choo.
The South Korean flashed the baseball acumen that keeps propelling his country to the World Baseball Classic Finals by dropping down a good-not-great bunt on the first pitch for a clean single. Maybe he beats it out if New York were ready for it; I say not.
Phillips' reaction? "That's bad baseball."
According to Super Steve, Choo isn't a base stealer and he's hitting in the cleanup spot, so it's useless to just reach base. The Indians would still need two hits to drive him in, so what's the payout?
Now, forget Chamberlain was pitching a perfect game to Indian hitters not named Victor Martinez. Forget Joba the Hutt had fanned a third of the batters he'd faced before Choo. Forget simply reaching base was a victory of sorts.
You can even forget Choo—while not a base stealer thus far into his career—is only 26, is seeing his first full-time duty, and had already equaled his career-high in swipes with six (there are 100-plus games left on the calendar).
Hey, while you're at it, you can forget young, hard-throwing stallions are notoriously easy targets for thievery. Forget they typically don't learn to shorten their deliveries or hold runners on effectively until they get to the Bigs.
Forget all that because, after Shin-Soo proceeded to take second easily, Phillips proved none of it really mattered anyway. Neither did Choo manufacturing a scoring opportunity for free—"It's still bad baseball."
The Choo sequence was hardly the only offense.
Phillips confidently asserted Derek Jeter would reach 4,000 hits without mentioning the feat would require a 35-year-old Jeter to average 200 hits for the next seven years. Steve also failed to mention the Yankee Captain has only eclipsed the mark six times in his previous 14 campaigns (13 full).
So either Jeter is going to put together some career years of contact hitting in his late 30s/early 40s, or he's going to play into his mid-to-late 40s while still averaging about 140 hits a year.
Or how about Super Steve's proclamation that Chamberlain clearly belongs in the bullpen because he was such a special arm setting up Mariano Rivera? According to Phillips, Joba'd come "snorting" out of the 'pen throwing in the high 90s instead of slothing it up there in the low 90s during the early frames of a ball game.
You just don't find guys like that every day.
Where was Phillips when Joba was touching 97 on the gun in his eighth inning of work? Good question.
I guess 23-year-old studs who can run fine cheddar up to the plate for 24-27 outs don't rate for Phillips. Compared to the same kid who can do it for three outs. As the closer's opening act.
Again, well played.
Oh, and did I mention Shin-Soo Choo stole third off Chamberlain in the seventh before scoring on a ground ball out? Nope, and neither did Super Steve.
That's the thing about Steve Phillips—he's often pompous, condescending, dismissive, and WRONG without contrition. Usually without even acknowledging the fact.
You can survive two or three of those flaws, but suffering all four makes you bad at your job in my book.
Which is really unfortunate because his partners, Dan Shulman and Orel Hershiser, do a fantastic job. Somehow, they struggle successfully to make the experience watchable despite the anchor on the other mic.
Shulman's articulate and has a nice sense of timing as well as a knack for developing interesting/informative tangents. The Bulldog is insightful and candid, which makes him surprisingly entertaining.
And then there's Phillips—all bluster and ego, transparently trying to hide his justifiable insecurity.
I guess two out of three ain't bad...