Welcome to Rounding the Bases, a weekly column where writers Ryan Topp and Steve Garczynski participate in a discussion on one baseball topic. This week, what do we expect from our play-by-play team on FS Wisconsin?. You can follow @RyanTopp and @SteveGarczynskion Twitter.
Late in the game last Saturday against the Diamondbacks, FS Wisconsin threw to their E-mail the Booth segment so Bill Schroeder and Brian Anderson would have something to talk about. The fan question had something to do with Wins Above Replacement, something basic like “what is it?” BA took the question in stride, treating it about as seriously as the rest of the broadcast for that blowout. He gave a brief, generic description and then threw to Rock who glumly said, “I don’t even know what it is.”
I don’t know why, but the smug answer just rankled me. It’s 2013 and most people have dug in their heels on one side or the other of the stats vs. scouts debate, and we clearly know which side a former player like Bill Schroeder tends to land, and I’m fine with him brushing off advanced analytics for the way he watches and breaks down a game.
What I find off putting is the way Rock wanted to ignore that advanced stats are even a part of the game. It’s a disservice to the viewer at home. Whether he likes it or not, fans do follow that sort of stuff, and front offices have certainly embraced and pushed forward with new ways to evaluate players.
Ryan, am I justified in thinking Rock (and other former ballplayers) need to get over themselves and quit being so dismissive of the way many people now follow baseball?
Wow, so we’re not going to talk about John Axford? That’s just fine by me.
Fortunately, I missed the exchange you’re talking about, because those things always tend to make me a little irritated. I understand that Rock is a former player and that the main value he brings to broadcasts is using his experience from the field to illuminate for viewers some things they’re seeing. Like you, I don’t expect him to be spouting off numbers from Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus. Honestly, that wouldn’t make a broadcast any more compelling for me anyway.
Ultimately, I think you’re right here that the main issue is that a guy who spends a lot of time talking to people about what is going on in MLB games would be so un eager to learn anything about this aspect of the game. Whether he likes it or not, this is going on in baseball now. It’s informing the decisions made by virtually every front office out there (sorry Phillies fans) and it would seem that someone who seeks to understand the inner workings of the game would at least have some curiosity about these things.
Keith Law from ESPN.com has been hammering on the idea for years now, especially as it pertains to sportswriters, that if you’re going to cover the game, you should understand how it’s actually being run these days. Now Schroeder isn’t a reporter working a beat, so I guess the level of expectations are different. In his capacity as an employee of the team, he’s generally done an OK job of explaining to the audience the rationale behind team moves, and I suspect that’s all they really care about at the end of the day. Still, it’s disappointing nonetheless.
When a rainout on Wednesday is the best thing to happen to the Brewers this week, it’s best to find a less depressing topic to talk about, right?
I’ll try to avoid ranting too much, but former ballplayers as analysts are the worst. We have to sit through clubhouse chemistry and grit debates because these guys with a mic need to find some way to justify their careers. I could deal with that if it didn’t include the dismissive attitude.
Anyway, I don’t need to see WAR in a broadcast because its a boring number without context. When I check out WAR, it’s a starting point. And it should be a starting point for an analyst to talk about offense, defense, base running and how those elements mixed together create value for a player in different ways.
Baseball Prospectus says Jonathan Lucroy is really good at framing pitches. Rock, as a former catcher, should eat that up. Carlos Gomez’s plus centerfield defense may be enough to justify the value of his extension. It gives a reason why the Brewers may have extended him on more that one breakout season. That’s the stuff that informs topics over 162 games.
The again, there might be enough DL talk to cover the lean months for the 2013 Brewers. Other than injury info, do have any ideas on how to make the banter a little more illuminating?
Before giving suggestions to professional broadcasters, I should probably throw out there that I understand how hard it is to do. I did a few games on the radio in college, and I found it hard not to repeat myself within a single broadcast over and over. I can only imagine how hard it is to avoid that over 162 games.
That being said, I didn’t have the resources of a major league team behind me, to feed me interesting and relevant info when it came up. I think maybe that is where the answer lies: more prompting. I have to wonder if anyone has ever taken the time to show some broadcasters this stuff and explain where it comes from and then push them to integrate it more into the show? Maybe that is the place to start?
Like you were saying, some of this stuff would be right in the wheelhouse of a former catcher like Rock. I would like to think that if it was approached correctly with him, that he might see some value in it and become more receptive to the ideas being put forth.
It is arrogant of us to give suggestions to professional broadcasters. On the other hand, the dynamic between the two hasn’t changed much over the decades. If anything, the advances in the broadcast with info like the Fox Box always on screen has freed them up to skip the tedious score, innings, count and outs details, so they should do something more.
A lot of this comes down to chemistry between the two guys in the booth, and I can’t really complain about Rock and BA. They get along on air well, they naturally toss back and forth in conversation and they do more than just repeat the points the other makes. They’re a good duo to have calling Brewers games, though that won’t stop me from wanting a little more sometimes.