The Following is a guest post by Jeff Caldwell, a lifelong Padres fan who lives on the East Coast.
I’ve heard the rumblings of dissatisfaction coming from Blogistan concerning this year’s San Diego Padres broadcast team; some would say it’s the inevitable product of a youth movement, that when 85-year old Jerry Coleman moves out for a brash upstart like 75-year old Dick Enberg, there are going to be some hiccups. I’m somewhat removed from the controversy, though, as a life-long Padres fan who lives on the East Coast and gets his coverage via mlb.tv and Extra Innings, which seem to show the other team’s broadcasters about 95% of the time. I’ve spent more time with Kruk, Kuip, Vin, Dibs and Gracie than Dick and Mark and, to be honest, I often have the sound down as I watch the games early the next morning Eastern time, my wife asleep and my dog staring at me, impatient for a walk.
I did, however, watch and listen as the Pads hosted the Mets for a tense and ultimately very satisfying series. Ron Darling and Gary Cohen provide the coverage for SNY, along with the obligatory cheeky lad named Kevin, who does the free-range mockery. He obsessed over the guy who leads the “Simon Says” games in the Petco sandbox (“very intense”) and the healthiness of the queso on the nachos in the Western Metal Supply Building (“absolute filth”—I guess the offerings at Citi Field are all macrobiotic). While I expect a certain amount of homerism in broadcasters, and supposedly a lack thereof is one of the problems with Enberg, the New York guys aren’t exactly that way—it’s more that they were openly derisive of the Padres’ players, park, city and culture.
Having lived in the New York metro area for over ten years, I’m used to the annoying “greatest city in the world” claptrap as well as the converse, the sneering “New York City?” hostility in the heartland. It’s all tiring and stupid. There are good and bad things about every locale. It was a little surprising, however, to hear Darling, Cohen and the Kid be so condescending. Two or three times in the first innings of Game 1 they laughed about the Padres outfield specifically and team generally being filled with “no-names,” no-names who would shortly drop an 18-spot on the “names.” I think we’re all aware of the budget constraints we’re dealing with which began with the Moores’ difficulties, but maybe when a team has the best record in the NL almost a third into a season, you might want to get off your overpaid hineys and do some research and learn the no-names’ names. Later, they focused on a shot of Tony Gwynn, Jr., in center field consulting a card which he pulled out of his back pocket which was presumably filled with tendencies of hitters or some such data. This crippled them with laughter. Apparently, the ban isn’t only on themselves, no one’s allowed to do research. Most tired-making, they managed to squeeze in the ultimate hackneyed dig at laid-back Southern Californians—“they call it the ‘marine layer’ because ‘clouds,’ well, that would just be too negative.” Get it? We’re all super-positive New-Agey doofuses! You spilled fish taco filling down the front of my shirt? Whatever’s clever, Bro!
To be fair, Darling does provide some interesting insights on pitching and, as the Mets found the going difficult even in the game they won, the SNY team was decidedly more subdued by Game 3 (“Simon says, ‘watch Adrian circle the bases’”). Still, it was a pretty startling display. Say what you will about Enberg’s fumbles, he’s professional enough to leave the locker-room, towel-snapping gags to the players.