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No fair! I have to listen! Or as Groucho Marx said to movie audiences in 1932’s “Horse Feathers”: “I’ve got to stay here, but there’s no reason why you folks shouldn’t go out into the lobby until this thing blows over.”
How do I put this politely, delicately, so as not to seem harsh or offend anyone, yet still make my point and maintain my dignity?
How’s about this: Shut up! Just shut up!
Or, better yet: Please, shut up!
There is rarely a televised American sports event that now escapes the epidemic of excess, starting with, and often ending with the verbal kind. That we can see what’s happening — TV’s primary mission and one most worth pursuing — is not enough.
As if we can’t handle it by ourselves, we now must be told, and by a coterie of people attached to microphones, what we’re watching and just saw. And explanations of the self-evident — a two senses redundancy — must be added.
Long before the first round of the U.S. Open concluded Thursday, NBC/Golf Channel’s coverage had tried and fried the nerves.
When Tommy Fleetwood tapped in to finish at 1-over, four off the lead, at the time, the most we needed to hear was, “Not a bad start.”
Instead, one of the many NBC commentators — so many it was difficult to distinguish one from another — felt compelled to decode it for us: “You always want to get something decent on the scorecard in a major championship, especially the U.S. Open.”
That’s not commentary, that’s vacant, but now standard, filler. If someone in the gallery said that to you, you’d look around for his escort from the insane asylum.
Shortly before that, with Brooks Koepka already identified at 3-under and about to putt for a birdie, Kay Cockerill “added” to that when not a word was needed:
“This is to get back to 4-under, a nice bounce-back birdie, a great opportunity in front of him.” The corner of Good and Grief.
After Koepka missed it right and long, this: “You can’t let the poa annua [grass] greens get into your head. You have to welcome them, and know that they’re not going to be that consistent, always.
“But if you start it on the right line, and get it rolling well, your percentage chance of making it will be good.” Sanctuary!
And then the obligatory “clarification” from two of the male commentators lest the USGA refuse to cash NBC’s check:
Male Voice 1) “And let me point out, the greens on the golf course are just in tremendous condition this week.”
Male Voice 2) “Oh, they are, and with the drier conditions — we haven’t had a lot of rain — these greens are very smooth” adding, “As Kay said, the little wiggles you get every so often can certainly get in a player’s head.”
Well, alrighty then. The greens are spectacular, inconsistent, bumpy and very smooth. And you need to get putts rolling on the right line to make them. Got it?
Then there was the usual suspicions of “plausibly live” coverage as per NBC’s Olympics coverage.
Why there’s Martin Laird. Hadn’t seen him earlier. Now he was about to hit a long putt for eagle. Why, he made it! If what we saw was presented live, the clairvoyance was uncanny, even spooky.
But we were led to believe it was live, thus who does NBC like in today’s the feature at Belmont?
Soon, we saw Xander Schauffele backing off a shot, apparently to gauge the wind.
“Smart play there to recalculate” we were told. “This is the U.S. Open, where every single stroke matters.”
As opposed to what, the Waste Management Open? The Yiddish Open? The C-flight qualifier at the Mosquito Run Golf ’N Gulp?
Bottom line: No bad idea is unworthy of duplication, then perpetuation. No network seems even mildly interested in distinguishing itself as better by doing it better. Thus telecasts, including the U.S. Open, are increasingly stuffed with untreated, unfiltered nonsense.
And that makes for a severe option: Watch on “mute” or turn it off. Wish I had that option.
Unhappy Le’Veon? Well, doesn’t that ring a Bell?
Interesting how fans know better — certainly before GMs.
When the Mets re-signed Yoenis Cespedes for $110 million, fans at his previous stops — Oakland, Boston and Detroit — already knew that he couldn’t be bothered to run to first or after balls in the outfield, and that he was a divisive, selfish presence, a rotten investment at a fraction of the price.
After all, why was such a talented player so often expendable?
When the Jets signed running back Le’Veon Bell, my pals in Pittsburgh, where Bell played for the Steelers, knew the Jets had bought expensive trouble, that Bell was a selfish, vulgar, boastful, whining, me-first guy, and an unreliable castoff “star.”
The Jets, either having done no due diligence or ignoring their own research, soon regretted signing Bell for a dime, let alone a four-year, $52 million contract.
But Bell didn’t depart without first providing some memorable comedy. He claimed to detest drug testing “because I don’t like needles” — despite an upper torso covered in tattoos, and not the wash-off kind.
Still, Bell caught a big break, signing a deal to join the defending champion Chiefs as a backup running back. He even started two games.
Last week, Bell ripped Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who regularly indulges bad-social-risk players, claiming “I’d retire” before again playing for him.
Brew crew swings through
Still plenty of good seats available!
The Brewers, against four Reds pitchers in a 2-1 loss Wednesday, struck out 17 times. Let’s see: 27 outs, 17 of them by strikeout, that’s 63 percent!
Four Brewers in the starting lineup (excluding the pitcher) were batting .160 or lower. And the Brewers were 38-30!
Despite the 2017, time-saving application of an intentional base on balls rule, the game still ran three hours — saving seconds per season.
That Yankees tickets promo, the one that appears 4-5 times per telecast since the start of the season? Enough! Change it!
Chris King, the Islanders’ radio voice, during games refers to the Isles’ pesky Finnish-Russian forward Leo Komarov simply as “Uncle Leo” — as per the persistently annoying, in-your-face character in “Seinfeld.”
The Rays’ Mike Zunino, who swings as hard as he can, has become the neoclassical MLB catcher. As of Friday, in 143 at-bats, he was batting .189 with 65 strikeouts. He had just 27 hits, but 13 of them were home runs. And in 2021, that makes him indispensable.
Class dismissed. I’ve finally figured it out. To publicly use the F-word is now the best way to express your sincerity, enthusiasm, conviction and Constitutional rights. Still, Steve Cohen can’t take Pete Alonso aside and tell him that for the sake of common decency — not to mention kids — lose the F? Or is it too late for that?
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