We know that for years now, baseball fans have wondered to themselves, “gosh, this ESPN baseball coverage is so close to perfect, but it’s missing something.” It’s certainly what we tell ourselves.
Fortunately, ESPN thinks they may have stumbled onto the answer. For tonight’s game between the Dodgers and Cardinals game, they’re taking Orel Hershiser and Steve Phillips out of the booth and putting them next to the field. Why? Because it will blow your mind.
The USA TODAY has the story of what could be the greatest innovation in sports television history (oh yeah, Fox’s dancing football robot, your days are numbered):
ESPN will keep play-by-play announcer Dan Shulman in the booth, but analysts Orel Hershiser and Steve Phillips will be stationed in the camera wells beside each dugout.
Matt Sandulli, ESPN senior coordinating producer, says the Cardinals preferred ESPN use the camera well on the outfield side, rather than home plate side, of its dugout to reduce chances its analysts might somehow interact with players. Sandulli says that won’t happen anyway — “we’re not supposed to talk to players and wouldn’t do it” — and hopes to get the Dodgers to allow access to the well on its dugout’s home plate side.
Sandulli says its possible that ESPN could send more baseball announcers out of the booth on future games, depending partly on whether Monday night’s experiment delivers a “wow factor.”
A “wow factor?” You guys are worried about a “wow factor?” There’s literally one instance and only one in which fans could get a wow factor from this experiment - if something grievously wrong happens to either announcer:
Shulman: Orel, what’d you think about that foul ball?
Hershiser: Well Tim, I’ll tell you as soon as they extract it from my forehead. I’m bleeding pretty heavily here. Can I come back up to the booth?
Shulman: One ball, one strike to Loney.
Obviously, the more schadenfreudian fans will be rooting for Phillips on account of his laughable stint as the Mets’ GM and his general incompetence in the booth. Disaster isn’t fickle, though, it just craves blood.
And so really, being that what fans really want is the spectacle of serious injury to somebody who’s physically incapable of defending himself. Like putting Joe Morgan in the regular suit and tie, no protective gear, handing him a microphone, then plopping him five feet away from the pitcher and expecting him to do his job. Is it cruel and unusual? Yes on both counts. Would you not watch intently as every single batter tried to ricochet a line drive off his chest plate? Liar, yes you would.
But this, putting the analysts in the camera wells where they’re semi-protected? Such a tease.
*Unrelated note, but doesn’t the chalk job at home plate look like a penis on Atari? No? Just me?