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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
Weekend Update, Without Tina Fey
(But with Lotsa Coach/JR Stuff) 
October 14, 2005

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

You know that thing where I hate FOX's production of baseball, and go to great lengths to compliment ESPN's?
  
Well, for the past two days or so, BOTH of them can suck it. Maybe this is just my first recent exposure to the retarded world of what Sportstalk Radio must be like, if only I was pathetic enough to listen to it (and oh, honey pie, the people who listen to it and CALL IN to verbalize their idiocy for an audience of morons really just need to be shot, since we don't need them passing along

those defective genes to future generations). Because I can take no more of idiots arguing about the finish to Wednesday's Angels/White Sox game, all in the name of advancing Bad Controversy (and presumably RATINGS~!) instead of just settling down and explaining Good Baseball to the masses.

The simple fact of this Nontroversy is that the Angels lost that game because their third-string catcher screwed up. Actually: a runner got to first base because the Angels' third-string catcher screwed up. The Angels LOST the game because -- in an unrelated event -- a White Sox player hit a line-drive RBI double.

Despite TV Network Attempts to spin this as some massive screw-job that should have people buzzing and arguing and watching addle minded "pundits" doing the same on shitty TV shows, this is actually a play that is absolutely routine and which happens with some frequency over the course of a year. It's just that normally, the catcher isn't a third-string man-bimbo who fails to execute properly. 

Distilled down: in my vast experience as an umpire and a catcher (demonstrably excellent at the former, and respectably decent at the latter), the proper move on that play is for the catcher to just reach up, tag the batter, and THEN flip the ball to the mound to take the uncertainty out of the play. Even 7th grade catchers know to do this. Why didn't Josh Paul? It's an un-see-able play for the home plate umpire, who in that position is SUPPOSED TO do exactly what Eddings did: leave the play open, call "Strike Three" (but not "Batter Out"), and go from there. In 99% of cases, the catcher slaps the tag on really quick and that's that; in half of the other cases where the catcher fucks up, the batter is also a dunce, and just walks back to the dug-out and gets called out the second he leaves the field of play. But on Wednesday, we got the one-half of one percent where the batter was the opposing catcher, who knew what the ump's "out" call sounded like, didn't hear it, and decided to try for a base for which he might be eligible.

Did the ump miss the call? Probably. But it didn't matter. The "letter of the law" might say that a cleanly caught third strike should be an out, and the ump is the bad guy here. But the "spirit of the law," and the Actual Everyday Practices Of The Game, tell a different story, because the ump did what umps do in that situation every time. And the Angel's third-string catcher is the one who failed to execute an absolutely routine play to cost his team the game.

I could go on and one about this and explain my point (and my personal experience) in greater detail. But I shan't bore you here and now. If you want more Tales of Umpiring (or my additional thoughts on why this incident proved, once again, that Tim McCarver is a Fucking Idiot), you can go check out my lengthy post in this thread of the OO Forums. It's good reading, if you want the definitive explanation for why you shouldn't have to listen to another single twit like Mike Greenberg try to twist this into a Grand Controversy and Proof Positive That Baseball Needs Instant Replay or Anything Else.

This isn't a big deal. It's a close call by an umpire (of which there are hundreds in any season), and then a baseball player who fucked up royally (which happens less frequently, but which is also the only realy story here). Do not allow FOX or ESPN or your local Sportstalk station to trick you into thinking otherwise in their quest for ill-gotten ratings, instead of being sensible and level-headed.

Since I know baseball rambling isn't what drives MY ratings, I'll also just wrap this up now, and get on to the rasslin': 

  • It's gonna be a short day here, folks, as there's not a whole lot fresh to talk about. And what there is to talk about? It's not exactly the Happy Terrific Jolly Time Fun Hour...
     
    The Jim Ross Saga took another twist yesterday, and it's a worrisome one. WWE.com has revealed that JR is in need of surgery to remove some manner of growth in his lower intestines. The growth was apparently discovered during a procedure on Wednesday, and surgery is scheduled for next week. According to WWE.com (who is not a doctor, and who doesn't play one on TV), JR is expected to be out of commission for about 3-5 days as a result.
     
    Although people are now saying that JR hasn't been feeling well for a few weeks, what I can piece together suggests he basically Molly Holly'd most people on this issue -- hell, JR himself didn't know how ill he was until after the initial procedure -- and as such it is NOT related to WWE's decision to write him out. Again: people didn't make up the story about WWE pursuing Mike Goldberg, and people didn't make up the fact that WWE offered him a fairly fat 3-year contract, which means he wasn't exactly coming in to pinch-hit for JR during a 2-week medical lay-off that everybody knew about.
     
    Anyone suggesting this whole thing is a massive "work" that was concocted ahead of time are either jumping at shadows or have access to way better information than I do. I grant that there are now "work-y" elements to it -- WWE's website coverage of JR's dismissal now features a "feedback" section in which they are posting a shitload of angry fan mail that supports JR, which can only be their inelegant way of trying to jumpstart a "grassroots" Bring Back JR Campaign -- but it didn't start out that way. Once the Mike Goldberg option was off the table, maybe things changed. But up till then, Vince really wanted JR off TV.
     
    And again, WWE's handling of the situation is -- as far as I know -- completely independent of JR's medical situation. Because few knew that JR was feeling unwell to begin with and nobody knew the extent of his illness until Wednesday; finding out something on Wednesday cannot, by temporal law, affect what happens on the preceding Monday.
     
    At this point, mostly one just has to wish JR all the best. I'm not a doctor, either, but just from WWE.com's reports (and cross-referencing with scenarios I know a few of my family's friends have dealt with), this sounds like a not-insignificant situation. Here's hoping that next week's surgery is successful and that JR is back to his old self as soon as possible. I'm sure I speak for OO Nation when I say we're all gonna be trying to think some happy thoughts JR's way the next few days....
     
  • Whether JR's removal from TV was a "shoot" or a "shoot that became a work" or whatever doesn't really matter in the short term. Hopefully it is a silly little "shoot that became a work," and once JR's healthy, he'll be back on TV... but till then, we've got a problem on our hands.
     
    Namely: Jerry Lawler and Jonathan Coachman are RAW's announce team. And more pre-annoyed I cannot be. 
     
    Look: I think I mentioned this in the last few days, but we rarely register Good Announcing (be it in wrestling or any televised sporting event). Why? Because a good announcer is just telling you what your eyeballs have already seen. And in many cases, a good announcers digressions and garnishes to that explanation will only be a mirroring of what you're thinking about yourself in your Inner Monologue. I know this happens a shitload to me, and doubly so during wrestling. I have friends who think I'm some kind of witch because of how, just in sitting around enjoying a wrestling show, I'm going on a full decade of pre-making calls (usually only by split-seconds, but still pre-making them) by good announcers like Joey Styles and JR. Good announcing USUALLY doesn't add anything to an initial viewing that you, yourself, aren't seeing or mentally adding in yourself. [Note: when announcing does have value is usually historically, when layers of emotion and drama are so well delivered that a match goes from "good" to "re-watchable."]
     
    But Bad Announcing sticks out like a sore thumb. It can do so in two ways: (1) by flat-out doing a crap job explaining what your eyeballs are seeing (like not knowing the names of wrestling moves, or by Being Tim McCarver), or (2) by going off on digressions that completely deviate from the Inner Monologues of most sensible viewers.
     
    A Coach/King team? Seems likely to do a lot of Bad Announcing. Lawler is already only there for comic relief, and possibly to be a voice for the Horny 13-year-old Demographic. You can't expect him to suddenly change. That leaves a lot on Coach... and in however many years he's been with the company, he's been excellent in skits and sporadic appearances, but has given me NO faith that he's ready to put his character/gimmick aside long enough to be a competent play-by-play man for 2 and 3 hours at a stretch.
     
    Or at least: not by my standards. But if Vince McMahon kept himself on TV for so long as a commentator despite not being very good at it, I guess maybe Coach is a "good announcer" by WWE's standards. If nothing else: he's pretty. But I still think that Coach's long-term prospects are better if you use him as a color commentator who chimes in periodically, instead of the guy who viewers need to believe is capable of telling them the story of a match. Coach, to put it bluntly, doesn't have that sort of legitimacy, and any situation in which WWE tries to act like he does will instantly be lacking in gravitas as a result.
     
    Again, the best case scenario is that this whole mess sorts out with WWE bringing a healthy Jim Ross back. But that won't help us out much come Monday....
     
    Is it possible WWE would go with a three-man booth, and bring somebody else in to shoulder the load? Maybe, but with their pick (Goldberg) out of the running and with no major buzz in terms of being in negotiations with another outside party, the in-house options are limited. Todd Grisham is about the only alternative. Kinda makes you wish Kevin Kelly was still around..... oh, wait: not "TV Pretty" enough. Goddammit, Vince...
     
    One name that has popped in in e-mails the past few days: Chris Jericho. Interesting... Jericho's clearly still under the WWE umbrella, despite his "firing," as witnessed by his involvement in the RAW Greatest Moments special. But I also think he's frequently off the continent for the next 3 weeks or so, touring with Fozzy. So that kinda works against him being a short-term fill in. Although, I gotta admit that in limited appearances Jericho has ALWAYS been a top-shelf commentary guy. You might think he'd work best as a color commentator, but what I remember most fondly is his cheesy, over-the-top impersonation of a knowledgeable play-by-play man. Perhaps not sustainable for years on end, but for a few weeks? It'd be high-fricking larious.
     
    But like I said: it's also not likely to happen unless Jericho bails on his band. Coach and King might be it. And losers will be the all of us.
     
  • Speaking of Coach...
     
    A few folks have mailed in saying that Coach is starting a flame-war of sorts with Dave Scherer (of pwinsider.com), and wanted to know what I think.
     
    Well: what I think is, "Why won't Coach pick on ME? Cuz I'd love the publicity!"... I mean, from what I gather not visiting pwinsider.com (because of its crippling and malicious advertising rendering it un-surf-able) and not watching Byte This (because it usually blows and that's why I try to have a guy recapping it so I can just get the highlights), I *think* Coach is mad at Dave because Dave says pretty much the same things about Coach as I do. No love for The Rick? Maybe it's just because I have a tricky-to-pronounce last name, and Coach is intimidated?
     
    Anyway, I guess Coach called Dave out by name on Byte This this week, and essentially dared Dave to call in. Dave did not, and Coach gloated that this proves Coach is the manlier man. To the best of my knowledge, Dave hasn't really responded to this, even though I think the logical and ZING-tastic comeback would be, "Umm, I didn't call in because I don't see any defensible reason to ever watch Byte This. Although I'm flattered that *you* are apparently reading *my* website religiously, Coach."
     
    I mention it mainly because this seems like kind of a new thing WWE is doing, trying to marginalize the "internet fans" and/or claim them as their own. It doesn't matter if Coach is calling out the webmaster of one of the handful of big wrestling sites by name, or if Steph is subtly directing a promo at "all you internet fans".... it seems like a conscious decision to tell their viewing audience that the "internet fans" are somehow misguided, so you better not listen to them.
     
    And if that read is right? Well chalk up another one for "WWE misplacing their priorities." Because instead of "trying to reduce the credibility of internet pundits," you SHOULD be working on "improving the product so that internet pundits will have nothing to complain about." Frankly, WWE should consider us a resource, not a pariah... in the 12 years since I found the internet, I may have gotten sick of some of the workrate-worshipping, indie-embracing, puroresu-loving idiosyncrasies of certain types. But if you look at the internet fans in the macro, you'll lose all those fetishists and realize that we've been ahead of the curve so many times it's not even funny. That's because we're the fans paying the closest attention, and who care the most about the product...
     
    And yes, I recognize the irony of me claiming to pay "the closest attention" when I admit that I watch SD! on FF in an hour-flat most weeks, rarely check out B-shows, and couldn't be paid enough to pay attention to Byte This. But trust me: when I DO watch, I pay close attention, and with so many years of wrestling-watching under my belt, I think I'm as qualified as anyone to recognize what is and isn't working.
     
    Also: Coach, if you have to pick on someone for being an assclownish "wrestling journalist," pick on some dillhole hole like the one who runs another site that starts with "pw" in the URL. I've met pretty most of the other guys who have decent-sized wrestling sites at various events/functions, and of them all, Dave is the one normal, decent guy who acts like he's a fan first, and a guy-who-got-lucky-and-found-an-audience-for-his-material second. Which is how it should be. 
     
  • I actually think that's about all I got for today, newswise.
     
    Can't really talk about SmackDown!, because the show hasn't, technically, aired yet. But if you want, you can check out The Hosehead's SD! Recap, which is (to the best of my knowledge) the only SD! Recap on the web that gets published before the show airs. And no, the Hosehead is not a time traveler. He's merely Canadian, which means he still gets to see the show on Thursday nights.
     
    And which means I can publish a SD! Recap on Friday, instead of having to wait till Monday to do it. You folks should take advantage.
     
    Without SD!, pickings are slim. Already talked plenty about RAW this week. TNA, too. And I refuse to "report" piddling things like Stacy Keibler showing up in tabloids or what new action figures WWE is releasing, because neither of those are in any way interesting to anybody with their head screwed on right. Nope, OO only discusses things that will contribute to your wrestling fandom, or which I deem entertaining.
     
    Thus: a relatively brief column today, in which my most passionate passage had to do with baseball. Oh well. I'll be better Monday, folks. Enjoy your weekend, and see you then....


  
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PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28

 
 
E-MAIL RICK SCAIA

BROWSE THE OO ARCHIVES

Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.

 

 

 


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