Streaming with the Enemy | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

We'd like to go to the Playoffs, that would be cool.

Streaming with the Enemy

By on August 23, 2013

Wednesday was a fateful day for Brewers fans not at Miller Park. FS Wisconsin did not broadcast the finale of the Brewers-Cardinals series. While Rock and BA enjoyed a day off, Ueker and Joe Block were still there to paint a picture for the radio audience. Yet fans not in the park that wanted to watch the game where out of luck. That is, unless they had MLB.TV. If so, there was an option to watch the game through FS Midwest, the Cardinals team feed.

Living in Los Angeles, I’m privileged enough to listen to the legendary Vin Scully call Dodgers games. For those unfamiliar with his work, let me explain him this way. When the Brewers are in town to play the Dodgers, I listen to Scully’s call. Even if I’ve watched every Brewers game that season, Scully will spin stories and spew out stats about Brewers players that I have never heard. Scully effortlessly floats from a player’s personal story to his stats to an almost poetic description of the game. All without missing a beat. For instance, I’ll never forget his turn of phrase to describe a Ryan Braun broken bat single up the middle, “it sounded like he hit it with the morning paper but it got the job done”.

In 2009, David Biderman of The Wall Street Journal picked a day and listened to the first inning call of each team’s TV play-by-play announcer. Not surprisingly, Vin Scully averaged 143.51 words per minutes, which was by far the most. Of course, Scully is a lone wolf in the booth and doesn’t have a color commentator to cut into his word count. Scully not only does both jobs, he does both jobs better than almost anyone else.

In the same study, the Brewers’ Brian Anderson ranked seventh by spouting 96.06 words per second. Narrowly missing the Royals’ Ryan Lefebvre’s 96.71 words per second. The play-by-play announcer who came closest to Scully’s crown was the Cardinals’ Dan McLaughlin, who averaged 109.93 words per minute. So even with FS Wisconsin off the air on Wednesday, baseball’s second most talkative play-by-play announcer was calling the game for the Cardinals.

Maybe by streaming the enemy’s feed, Dan McLaughlin would provide me with a few interesting insights and stats into the Brewers. Maybe Al Hrabosky would add just the right amount of color to the action. And maybe by boldly doing what no Brewers’ fan in their right mind would do, I would expose myself to some cold hard truths and surprising facts about the Brewers’s 2013 campaign.

At least, that’s what I told myself as I settled in for the game with a notebook in hand. Below is an inning-by-inning breakdown of Wednesday’s clash between the Brewers and Cardinals, as called by Dan McLaughlin (play-by-play) and Al Hrabosky aka the “Mad Hungarian” (color commentator) of FS Midwest. May God have mercy on my soul…

Pre-Game

McLaughlin sets the scene at Miller Park. The series rubber match will see Tom Gorzelanny battle Jake Westbrook. Hrabosky stresses that the Cardinals need to beat the sub-.500 Brewers before their upcoming battles against teams in the playoff hunt. Both McLaughlin and Hrabosky stress that this is an important start for Westbrook, who has struggled recently. A graphic shows that Westbook pitches better at Miller Park (a career .250 ERA) than at any other stadium. I cross my fingers and hope that Mark Attanasio isn’t watching the FS Midwest feed too.

A box shows up titled “Keys to the Game” and has this written under it — “Right setting to change the tone”. Ok, first that’s one point so it should be “Key” not “Keys to the Game”. Second that seems more like a personal, or season, goal. Not so much an insight on how to win today. The “Mad Hungarian” expands on his thought saying this is the perfect game for Westbrook to turn his season around. He adds that Westbrook should focus on pitching a scoreless first inning since he’s been getting hurt early in games. Finally, a usefully bit of information!

Top of 1st

As the Wall Street Journal study indicated, McLaughlin and Hrabosky are both Chatty Cathy’s in the top of the first. McLaughlin notes that there is a good crowd is at Miller Park for a Wednesday afternoon game. They also blow through a bunch of their research and bring up some interesting points –

  • Including Tuesday’s loss to the Brewers, the Cardinals have lost the last three games not started by Matt Carpenter. He’s hitting first on Wednesday.
  • Matt Holliday is 1 for 19 on the road trip.
  • Holliday also leads the Cardinals with 6 stolen bases. Before Wednesday’s game, the entire Cardinals team has 33 stolen bases. Jean Segura has the entire Cardinals team beat with 37 stolen bases.
  • Allen Craig is only 2-14 on the road trip.

Just as they discuss Craig’s recent struggles, he rips a double down the right field line that scores a run. Craig advances to third on a throwing error by Juan Francisco. McLaughlin notes that it’s Francisco’s 17th error on the season. Hrabosky tells McLaughlin to “quit being nitpicky” then brings up his favorite stat of the day – Juan Francisco has 13 strikeouts in his last 17 at-bats.

As Yadier Molina steps to the plate, McLaughlin launches into his favorite talking point of the day – he’s surprised that Molina is catching a day game following a night game and is worried about Molina’s workload coming off his knee injury.

Brewers 0 – 1 Cardinals

Bottom of 1st

The Cardinals TV booth is feeling good after Craig’s RBI in the top of the 1st. Coming out of the break, they flash a graphic proclaiming Craig a “Difference Maker”. When Craig has 1 RBI or more the Cardinals are 41-16. They are 29-34 in games when Craig doesn’t knock in a run.

To start, McLaughlin does a classy thing and wishes Ron Roenicke a happy birthday. Technically, Roenicke’s birthday was Monday but, hey, better late than never. Then the breakdown of Jake Westbrook begins. After repeating that Westbrook has a 2.50 ERA at Miller Park, it’s noted that a loss today would be his fifth in a row. The last time Westbrook lost five consecutive games was eight years ago.

In August, Westbrook sports an 11.02 ERA. He’s having problems commanding his sinker, which has him throwing more change-ups and splitters. On cue, Jonathan Lucroy rips a sinker down the right field line for a triple. Aramis Ramirez steps to the plate 7 for 12 in his career against Westbrook. Noting this, McLaughlin and Hrabosky aren’t surprised to see Westbrook work around Ramirez and walk him. Kris Davis follows, swings at the first pitch, and grounds into the final out.

Brewers 0 – 1 Cardinals

Top of 2nd

McLaughlin starts the 2nd inning by, again, noting that it’s surprising to see Molina playing today. Hrabosky mentions that the ERA of Cardinals starting pitchers drops by one run when Molina is behind the plate. Cardinals coach Mike Matheny said before the game that the trainer didn’t think that Molina’s knee needs the rest. Will McLaughlin let it go? Don’t hold your breath.

With two on, no outs, and Pete Kozma at the plate, McLaughlin and Hrabosky reflect on Kozma’s struggles but still find a Cardinal silver lining. Kozma may only have 3 hits in all of August but he’s still hitting .317 on the season with RISP. Gozelanny proceeds to walk Kozma to load the bases. With Westbrook stepping to the plate, it turns out that he has one home run in his career and it was a grand slam at Miller Park on August 31, 2011. Westbrook doubles in two runs and a big inning is birthed.

Four more runs will come around to score. Carlos Betran and Allen Craig hit home runs. McLaughlin and Hrabosky enjoy the ride and argue over a recent USA Today article that listed Matt Carpenter as a possible MVP candidate. Hrabosky could get behind the idea. McLaughlin shoots it down with a quick “No”, not with the season that Molina is having. McLaughlin’s love for Molina knows no ends.

As the top of the 2nd mercifully comes to an end, Hrabosky makes on offhand comment that the “game has changed”. Back in his day, as a relief pitcher for the Cardinals in the ‘70s, an inning like this would usually lead the pitcher to throw a few high and tight. I’m beginning to see why Hrabosky earned the nickname the “Mad Hungarian”.

Brewers 0 – 7 Cardinals

Bottom of 2nd

After a busy top of the 2nd inning, most of the bottom half of the inning is spent talking about Yadier Molina, of course! A sideline reporter confirms that the trainer cleared Molina to play. He also talks about a conversation he had with Kyle Lohse, who called Molina one of the smartest catchers in the game.

Sean Halton reaches on a hit by pitch and Logan Schafer singles. But there’s no time to talk about it since Molina is catching a day game following a night game.

Brewers 0 – 7 Cardinals

Top of 3rd

McLaughlin comments on the warm and beautiful day in Milwaukee. With David Freese at bat, the obvious is noted – outside of Busch Stadium, Freese has the most success hitting in Miller Park. Sigh….

After Freese singles on a ball to Juan Francisco, Hrabosky talks about the play of “Betancourt” at first base. Even with the camera squarely catching Francisco’s name on the back of his jersey, the “Mad Hungarian” continues his analysis before, I assume, someone jabs him with a pencil. Hrabosky quickly corrects himself then come to a conclusion most Brewers fans made a while ago – Francisco or Betancourt, it doesn’t make a difference. Both are third basemen who have never played first before.

Brewers 0 – 7 Cardinals

Bottom of 3rd

If you thought FS Wisconsin Twitter polls where bad, get a load of Wednesday’s FS Midwest poll –

What’s your favorite food at the ballpark?

  1. 1 – Hot Dog
  2. 2 – Nachos
  3. 3 – Peanuts
  4. 4 – Pretzel

McLaughlin reads the copy then asks why Cracker Jacks didn’t make the list. I want to know the same thing.

With a comfy lead, some stats on the Brewers finally come out. This year, the Brewers are 13-28 in day games and 6-22 in “get away games”. When Ramirez steps to the plate with two on and no outs, he’s called a “Cardinal killer” then promptly hits a home run. It’s only the sixth home run allowed by Westbrook all season. Hrabosky stresses the importance of Westbrook earning a “W” today and getting back on track.

Brewers 3 – 7 Cardinals

Top of 4th

It’s noted that Carlos Beltran is 7 for 11 in the series. After a good defensive play by Segura, McLaughlin and Hrabosky spend a few minutes talking about how good Segura is as both a defender and batter. When Donovan Hand replaces Gorzelanny on the mound, Hrabosky looks at his notes and claims there must be a “misprint”. Hand is listed at 6’3” and 208 lbs. According to Hrabosky, Hand is a little bigger than that. I don’t think he meant “bigger” as in height-wise either.

Brewers 3 – 7 Cardinals

Bottom of 4th

It’s a quick 1-2-3 inning for Westbrook. McLaughlin briefly notes Scooter Gennett’s good range on a defensive play he made earlier and says that the Brewers are “high on him”.

Brewers 3 – 7 Cardinals

Top of 5th

Setting up Thursday’s game against the Braves, the boys in the booth discuss how good Joe Kelly has been recently. Since June 1st, Kelly’s 1.68 ERA is second best in the league. Hrabosky brings up that Rob Wooten is on “paternity leave” for the Brewers. He thinks the concept is nice. Back in his day, players didn’t dare to ask for a day off for the birth of their child.

McLaughlin notes that the Miller Park crowd gets a little restless when Hand walks Kozma then falls behind to Westbrook. Hand gets out of the inning but Hrabosky recognizes that, even with a four run lead, the Cardinals could use a few more runs. It’s looking like one of those games.

Brewers 3 – 7 Cardinals

Bottom of 5th

Hrabosky starts the 5th by, again, stating how important it would be for Westbrook to get through the fifth to qualify for the “W”. McLaughlin calls 2013 a “lost season” for the Brewers and brings up Ryan Braun’s suspension. McLaughlin talks about how the Brewers put a lot of eggs in the Braun basket and could be paying the price for years.  Hrabosky weights in with his thoughts but never really finishes them. He thinks it doesn’t “feel like justice” that Braun can just walk away from this season and be done with it. Continuing, he thinks that until contracts are taken away…. The rest of his thought disappears into the ether as the Brewers bang out a few two-out hits.

The Brewers are rallying. They score two runs and Hrabosky proclaims that we “unfortunately will have a ball game”. Westbrook is pulled and won’t qualify for the “W”. During the pitching change, the winner of the FS Midwest Twitter poll is revealed. What is Cardinal fans favorite food at the ball game?

  • Nachos – 39%
  • Hot Dogs – 35%
  • Peanuts – 13%
  • Pretzels – 13%

Nachos, really? WHAT IS WRONG WITH CARDINAL FANS????

With McLaughlin accessing the Brewers bench, and deeming Carlos Gomez as unlikely to pinch hit, Hrabosky provides his best and most insightful piece of color all day. He claims to have watched Gomez run the bases before the game. Gomez looked good and he wouldn’t be surprised to see him pinch hit, if needed. Gomez isn’t used but the Brewers close in –

Brewers 5 – 7 Cardinals

Top of 6th

It feels like a new game but McLaughlin notes that the Cardinals are 31-1 when they score seven runs in a game. Following that thought, the two spend the rest of the inning discussing Westbrook’s rough outing and how the team should handle his spot in the rotation.

Brewers 5 – 7 Cardinals

Bottom of 6th

The discussion about the Cardinals problems in the rotation continues. Segura’s double prompts them to speculate who might be available to pitch out of the bullpen. The silences between their speculations and commentary are growing longer and longer. McLaughlin’s words per minute are waaaaaaay down.

Brewers 5 – 7 Cardinals

Top of 7th

John Axford is on to pitch. The old stories of Axford being a bartender and cell phone salesman are spun. Nothing you haven’t heard before. McLaughlin notes that Axford has been struggling with his secondary pitches this season. Hrabosky provides a little color regarding the Brewers defensive shifts. From his perspective, the Brewers “defend a guy one way but pitch him the opposite”.

Brewers 5 – 7 Cardinals

Bottom of 7th

Kris Davis leads off with a single. It’s noted that the Brewers now have the same amount of hits as the Cardinals – 11. Over the last four innings, the Cardinals have only managed two hits. It’s starting to get awfully quiet in the booth. There’s little being added to what’s on screen.

Brewers 5 – 7 Cardinals

Top of 8th

Burke Badenhop is on and pitches a 1-2-3 inning. There’s little chatter from the booth. Hrabosky must be reading his notes on Badenhop and only speaking when he absolutely must. The color he provides includes, “Lots of appearances outta the pen for Milwaukee” and that Badenhap graduated from Bowling Green State with an economics degree. No further insight. Just thought you might like to know.

Brewers 5 – 7 Cardinals

Bottom of 8th

McLaughlin finally shares some numbers. The Brewers bullpen has pitched 4 & 1/3 innings and allowed only one hit and no runs. When Gennett singles to start the inning, McLaughlin calls him Segura and never goes back to correct himself. Just keeps plowing forward.

When the Brewers load the bases, the Cardinal broadcasters wonder if the long season has taken its toll on the young relief pitcher Trevor Rosenthal. He’s not pitching like he did earlier in the season. Hrabosky re-emphasizes how important it is to win this game. When Francisco strikes out with the bases loaded, the Mad Hungarian giddily repeats his favorite stat – that Francisco had struck out 13 times in 17 at-bats prior to this game.

Brewers 5 – 7 Cardinals

Top of 9th

With Michael Gonzalez on to pitch, McLaughlin and Hrabosky talk about him for a bit. A little energy comes back to the booth when Holliday homers to extend the lead. Looking at the line-up for the bottom of the 9th, McLaughlin notes that Halton, Schafer, and Betancourt are scheduled to bat. Guess Betancourt took over at first for Francisco. They just decided not to make note of it for the home audience.

Allen Craig is named “Player of the Game” after going 2-3 and hitting a home run. Now silences stretch to what feels like, at least, half a minute. After a particularly long one, in which Craig works a full count, Hrabosky chimes in to say, “Full count”. That’s it. Then a brand new, long silence begins.

Brewers 5 – 8 Cardinals

Bottom of 9th

McLaughlin expresses concern about Edward Mujica being over used recently. Mujica normally hits 92 or 93 MPH but has only reached 89 MPH so far today. Logan Schager crushes the next pitch for a home run. Mujica reaches 93 MPH on a pitch to Yuniesky Betancourt but he rips it into the right field gap for a double. Mujica holds on for the save though the Cardinals broadcasters still have a feeling that “something is not right” with him.

I feel the same way after the game is done. While it was an interesting experiment to watch the game through the eyes of an enemy’s booth, I’ve never been more excited to hear the return of Rock and BA on Friday.

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Comments

Tell us what do you think.

  1. MrBialy says: August 23, 2013

    I know some people are critical of Rock and BA, but I think they do a great job. I enjoy listening to them and oddly, when the season is over, I feel like I’m saying goodbye to some friends that I know I won’t hear from in awhile. They do a good job of cracking jokes at one another’s expense and their insight is usually helpful and accurate.

    I have to admit though, Rock loves Molina too. He gushes all over the guy every time they show him. If I had a dollar for every time Rock mentions that Molina is like having a pitching coach out on the field….

  2. Jason says: August 23, 2013

    The Cardinals radio guys are even worse.

  3. Beep says: August 23, 2013

    Thoroughly entertaining read, and better than having to listen to it. I think BA and Rock do a better job than most other booths. I bet BA picks up a bigger market soon like Sutton and Vasgersian.

  4. Philboyd says: August 23, 2013

    You’re absolutely right about Vin Scully. The guy is a sublime pleasure to listen to. And he’s not a homer in the least, which I also appreciate. Man, I’m going to miss him when he retires.

  5. Kansas Gman says: August 24, 2013

    Vin Scully is the worst announcer in sports. He rambles on and on about things that he says are interesting but are NOT INTERESTING. Let’s face, the guy just reads through media guides about stuff that has nothing to do with the game. I DO NOT CARE if Jean Segura has a pet dog named after his third grade teacher or if Scooter Gennett likes to eat applesauce mixed with cottage cheese. Good grief. It’s a good thing that Prince Fielder went to the American League because the city of Los Angeles thinks his name is Cecil thanks to Scully.

    I am sure that Vin Scully is a fine and decent man. But someone needs to buy him a truckload of Depends and send him off to an Assisted Living facility.

  6. Brenden says: August 29, 2013

    1st paragraph – Ueker or Uecker?

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