MLB, Masters coverage hit embarrassing new lows

I’ve been writing this column for a long time, 40 years. Well, not this column, but several thousand before it. Whatever, I was never witness to anything quite like what we were urged to endure this past weekend.

Let’s start with that exclusive Apple TV streamed production of the Mets’ second game of the season, Friday at the Nationals — a train wreck colliding with a ship wreck, a total betrayal of baseball and its increasingly disgusted, disenfranchised fans as per Rob Manfred’s eagerness to serve as MLB’s madam, its fans as Johns.

That this was a “first ones are free!” come-on made no difference as it was worth less than nothing. That Apple, with Manfred’s show-me-the-money, blind assent was so pitifully unprepared for such an important sell of its exclusivity — purchased from MLB on the quiet — can only be placed upon Manfred’s desk.

As a marketing slogan, this debut shouted, “And don’t come back!”

The three commentators selected for the curtain-raiser seemed to have been drawn from a hat on Bingo Night in the rectory basement.

One, Melanie Newman, who calls Orioles games, to put it indelicately, wouldn’t or couldn’t shut up. She talked about anything and everything for 3 hours and 43 minutes. She was the sister-in-law you’re stuck seated next to at Thanksgiving dinner.

When the audio was lost — at least twice from my transmission — it created a palpable sense of relief. The old, “The living will envy the dead” maxim.

Melanie Newman
Melanie Newman
MLB Photos via Getty Images

The video missed pitches, plays and so many opportunities to provide thoughtful, needed shots, it brought to mind local access cable TV coverage of high school field hockey. Jayvee.

A graphic throughout calculated the impossible to calculate outside of a test tube: the percentage of probability, pitch by pitch, of players getting a hit, solely reliant on circumstances regardless of the participants.

This endeavor was an exercise in the kind of TV progress that can’t be impeded? Or was it strictly a money grab, $85 million to further diminish the number of viewers and batter the better senses of those who tried to watch? Yet it was exploited as bait to sell subscriptions. To whom, village idiots?

It kept scrolling through my head: “Any retransmission or rebroadcast of this game without the expressed written consent of Major League Baseball is strictly prohibited.” No worries, Commissioner, it’s all yours. Besides, one couldn’t DVR the game.

There’s more exclusive Apple games Friday, Rays-White Sox and Reds-Dodgers. How can such a total dismemberment be corrected in a few days? And Yankees-Royals receive the Friday Apple treatment April 29.

Reader Chris Dellecese put it best: “If they don’t care about The Game, neither will I.”

Then there was the CBS/ESPN coverage of the Masters — the most insulting, dishonest and maudlin presentation ever applied to a televised golf major.

If you didn’t know better — and everyone attached to those telecasts did, but chose to treat us like drooling fools — you’d have thought Tiger Woods was a returning war hero, severely wounded in action.

Thus we were involuntarily participants in a religious retreat, a four-day worship service. “What a friend we have in Tiger!”

You wouldn’t know that “Tiger’s miraculous comeback” (Dottie Pepper several times) and “extraordinary courage” (everyone, all the time) was fully caused by his own rank negligence.

Tiger Woods plays a shot at the 2022 Masters.
Tiger Woods plays a shot at the 2022 Masters.
Getty Images

Or was it insignificant that this profile in courage was the result of Woods’ inability to stay awake while driving a car, once leading to his arrest for being wasted on opioids, the second time to police ignoring the first time by not investigating why he flipped his car at nearly twice the speed limit and was discovered unconscious?

Had a guy named Joe returned to his job as a welder or window washer after such episodes — forget that Woods had often previously been treated by a doctor flown in from Canada, one who’d be convicted of dispensing illegal and mislabeled drugs, though Woods denies any use — the CBS/ESPN crews would have admired Joe’s courage or shake their heads in disgust?

Yet, even as Scottie Scheffler putted out on 18 to win the Masters, Jim Nantz continued to chant his adulation of Woods, who’d finished 23 shots back (but was the leader among those tied for 47th place). The theme of the first two rounds — “Tiger can win this!” — had become, “He’s the bravest man on Earth!”

It kills me to write this, because I know Nantz to be a good man, but he has sacrificed his credibility at the Altar of Tiger Woods. And if he doesn’t know it, genuine golf fans, as opposed to “Tiger!” yahoos, su. And have for years.

Jim Nantz
Jim Nantz
Getty Images

There was no break from the obsequious, the cloying and gushing that caused the intelligent to cringe. What should have been poured on our pancakes was used to clog our senses.

As SJ Im putted to go 5-under Saturday, CBS’ Trevor Immelman could’ve allowed the scene to speak for itself. Instead, he told how Im was born “the year after Tiger won the Masters in 1997,” adding that Im “considers Tiger to be a god.” Not sure if he meant upper or lower case.

Good grief!

From Day 1, that this was a major was irrelevant. Countless noteworthy shots, many by the leaders, were relegated to dishonest “plausibly live” tape as CBS showed Woods, even after well out of it, walking a fairway, headed for the next hole, even waiting to hit while seated on a bench beside to tee box.

“Look! He’s smiling! You think he’s happy?”

“I hope so. He must be, he’s smiling.”

I wanted to see all of his shots, too, but wasn’t that the Masters being played in the background?

What a weekend. Two collectors’ items. Best left out for the garbage collectors.

WFAN duo fans their gutter stink

Apparently morons are now WFAN’s target audience.

Wednesday morning’s “Weekday” Boomer Esiason and Gregg Giannotti untreated-waste show included a lengthy, crude, childish, back-of-the-school-bus exchange about testicles, with an unprintable vagina reference tossed in. Not even slightly clever, they nonetheless cracked each other up. Pigs on public parade.

Boomer Esiason (left) and Gregg Giannotti (right).
Boomer Esiason (left) and Gregg Giannotti (right).
Getty Images

That journey to the center of the gutter was followed by Giannotti shilling DraftKings’ parlay bets, a special sucker bet or gambling operations wouldn’t be so eager to pitch them. Giannotti, so street-slick and bold, doesn’t know?

French is still missing

He hasn’t lost a step: As chronicled by the Twitter account @BackAftaThis, Mike Francesa — now an all-knowing, self-anointed genius podcast tout despite his extraordinary career-long ability to be not just always wrong, but colossally wrong — dismissed Scottie Scheffler’s chance to win the Masters. I have selected Brooks Koepka. Scheffler won by three. Koepka missed the cut.

An ESPN-worthy graphic, posted by MASN, the Nationals’ and Orioles’ network: “K. Ruiz 1st double of the season.” Must’ve tied a record as it came on Keibert Ruiz’s first at-bat in the first game of the season. (Thanks to reader Lou Charlip for the screen shot.)

This NBA play-in reeks of another made-for-TV-money gimmick, like MLB adding playoff teams.

The Boys of Slumber: Orioles 2-0 over the Brewers in 8 ¹/₂ innings, Monday. Game ran 3:24.

Breaking news: In Will Smith’s next film, he’ll portray the late comedian Slappy White.


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