Less is More With MLB International

Sportsnet’s choice to use Major League Baseball’s international feed for select postseason games draws the ire of Canadians every year. Comments range from “the graphics suck”, to “the commentators suck”, to “I miss TBS”. While there is no doubt that it doesn’t have all the features that Fox and TBS have, MLB International offers a solid broadcast.

Even in baseball, where talk needs to fill plenty of dead air, three commentators in the booth is usually too many. This is one of the biggest problems with the TBS broadcasts. Ron Darling is a great analyst, but why does TBS need another pitcher, John Smoltz, in the booth? Gary Thorne, who is one of the best and most experienced baseball commentators, is able to convey the game to viewers better than both Joe Buck and Ernie Johnson Jr. Rick Sutcliffe, much like Tim McCarver, isn’t exactly a wordsmith, but he doesn’t back away from criticizing star players either. On more than one occasion during the ALCS he gave it to Alex Rodriguez for not being a team player. Yes, he’s old school. Is that necessarily a bad thing though?

MLB International’s graphics have actually moved into the 21st century in recent years. I wouldn’t mind a pitch count somewhere on the screen, but neither Fox nor TBS offer one either. TBS does have a pitchtrax, which I can take or leave to be honest. I don’t see the need for it all the time. And on replays it is usually fairly easy to tell balls/strikes just by following the ball. The international feed lacks an on-field reporter, but again it isn’t a huge loss. Ken Rosenthal is more useful before the trade deadline than he is after. And for some reason Fox sees the need for another reporter in Erin Andrews. Craig Sager tends to ask the obvious question on TBS. Going back to the ALDS he asked Raul Ibanez where he was all game before he pitch-hit in the 9th inning.

Those who don’t like the international feed won’t have to see another production of their’s until next October. The NLCS and World Series are both on Fox.

McCarver Moments… Just how bad is Tim McCarver? I decided to keep track of some of his best quotes from Monday’s NLCS game 2. Here they are:

  • “Foul splashdowns do not count in this park.” – after a ball was hit foul and landed in the pool
  • He criticized the Cardinals for pitching around Angel Pagan (who had earlier hit a home run) to face Marco Scuturo. It is questionable whether the Cards even pitched around Pagan, even more questionable why McCarver had a problem with it.
  • “Having it the bathroom is better than having it in the kitchen.” – referring to Chris Carpenter’s rib, which he kept in a jar in his house after surgery.
  • “Most players see the field from field level.”

de Guzman Playing for Canada… Sometimes the media puts the cart before the horse. There’s no better example than when Sportsnet broke the story that Jonathan de Guzman was considering playing for Canada if we drew with or beat Honduras and made the last round of World Cup qualifying (the hex). Part of the blame goes to Jonathan’s brother Julian for mentioning it to Sportsnet the day before the biggest Canadian soccer game in 25 years. The rest of the blame goes to Sportsnet for focusing on a player who would potentially play for Canada if the 18 guys currently on the team got a result later in the day. The story quickly became bigger news than the match itself in Canada. And as it turns out, Canada lost 8-1.

More Soviets… Haven’t had enough Russian/Soviet teams getting beat by North American teams this fall? CBC and TSN will have two more games over the next week. On Saturday CBC will likely show the Red Army vs. Philadelphia Flyers game from 1976. On Wednesday TSN will re-broadcast the final game of the 1991 World Junior Hockey Championships in Saskatoon. The tournament was decided by a round robin at the time; however, it came down to a final game winner take all between Canada and the Soviets. Pavel Bure and Eric Lindros were the star players for Canada.

Junior Hockey… Two QMJHL games are included in Sportsnet’s upcoming CHL schedule. They are: Moncton @ Blainville-Boisbard on October 26 and Halifax @ Gatineau on November 9. Sportsnet will also have the Canada-Russia Super Seires beginning on November 5.


  • EPL: It seems that if anyone are going to challenge the Manchester teams for the Premiership crown in 2012, it will be Chelsea (currently 1st on 19 points) or Spurs (currently tied for 4th on 14 points). The two meet at White Hart Lane in London on Saturday afternoon (7:30am, TSN). Spurs can go to second (for the time being at least), with a win.
  • Bundesliga: With Serie A and La Liga still on ice for Canadian fans, those looking for some non-English European action may want to look to Germany’s Bundesliga. The biggest top-flight matchup in Germany is the Revierderby between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke. The two meet for the first time this season on Saturday (2:30pm, GolTV).
  • NCAA: Saturday is another huge day in college football as several top teams face tests on the road. The biggest games include #6 LSU @ #18 Texas A&M (12pm, TSN2), #7 South Carolina @ #2 Florida (3:30pm, CBS) and #4 Kansas State @ #13 West Virginia (7pm, FOX). The top ranked team in the first BCS standings, Alabama, will also face their toughest test yet as they travel to Tennessee (7pm, theScore). The results of these games could drastically shake up the top 10 in the BCS rankings.
  • NFL: The biggest NFL game of the week features the 5-1 Ravens facing the 5-1 Texans in Houston (Sunday, 1pm, CTV/CBS). If that game isn’t available to you, watch for Packers @ Rams (1pm, TSN2), Redskins @ Giants (1pm, CTV/FOX) or Cardinals @ Vikings (1pm, CTV/FOX). Most will get at least 2 or 3 of those games, making the 1pm Sunday timeslot the best to watch NFL this weekend.
  • UEFA: In one of the biggest Champions League matches yet this season, the champions of Spain, Real Madrid, face the German champions, Borussia Dortmund (Wednesday, 2:30pm, Sportsnet). The Westfalenstadion, Dortmund’s 66, 000 seat home stadium, is known to be the loudest in Europe.