The only thing worse than trying to figure out where to watch the first round of the baseball playoffs is not being able to get them at all on L.A. radio.
The TV schedule is about as confusing as Fox Sports' lineup of channels--the Fox network, Fox Sports Net, Fox Sports Net West and West 2, FX, Fox Sports World Espanol, etc.
Today's baseball schedule is no problem. Atlanta-Houston at 1 p.m. on ESPN will be followed at 5 p.m. by Arizona-New York Mets on NBC.
But good luck solving the puzzle this weekend. We'll keep it as simple as possible: Games will be on ESPN, ESPN2 or Fox on Saturday, and ESPN, ESPN2 or NBC on Sunday.
Let's see, the choice at KXTA (1150) was Ben and Dave and the New Dawgs or live baseball playoff games. At XTRA (690), it was Jim Rome--on tape delay no less--and Lee Hamilton or playoff games.
These seem like no-brainers, baseball being the obvious choice. But not in the wacky world of sports radio.
The stations opted for sports talk and Body Shaper commercials over baseball. The reason basically is money. Isn't it always? The stations get only 12 local commercial spots a game and can make a lot more money with their own programming, no matter how bad it is.
Things will get better, however. XTRA plans to pick up one or two Game 5s on Sunday--provided there are some--carry the National League championship series and the World Series, and farm out the American League championship series to KSDO (1130).
In Los Angeles, KXTA will carry some weekend games, still unspecified, and both championship series and the Series.
THE ROME MOVE
San Diegans are getting the shaft with Clear Channel Communications' decision to delay Rome on San Diego's XTRA. They can't get Rome live on L.A.'s KXTA, so they get him on a four-hour delay.
Typical problem: Rome made a good point on his live show Thursday morning that the Boston Red Sox were done. By the time XTRA listeners heard that, the Red Sox were done. The Cleveland Indians had an 11-1 lead.
Rome's move to an afternoon delayed broadcast on XTRA was done to keep his show from going head to head in L.A., where KXTA and XTRA can both be heard. Rome had a say in the move and at first he opposed it.
"But then I came to the conclusion that overall it was a good thing for the company, and I'm a team player," he said. "I'm not happy about it and know it is not an ideal situation for San Diego, but, as I said, I'm a team player."
Attention, Chris Berman: The nicknames must go. They're fine for "SportsCenter," but not baseball play-by-play. Mentioning Met third base coach Cookie Rojas so you could say Cookie "Days of Wine and" Rojas was a reach. And Mike "Pepperoni" Piazza is downright corny. . . .
There is an information overload, and we're not just talking about overly talky announcers such as Berman, Ray Knight and Joe Morgan. The graphics people are going nuts. We don't need pitch speeds after every pitch and we really don't need bat speed at all. The score graphic with inning, outs and pitch count is great--Channel 5, are you listening?--but that's enough. . . .
And, ESPN, we don't need tennis results and other trivial news scrolled along the bottom of the screen. . . .
Where, oh where, is Vin Scully? For the best baseball announcer ever to not be involved in the playoffs is criminal. . . .
Joe Buck, Bob Costas and Jon Miller are good, but none is in Scully's class. Buck has the potential to get close. He's that good. And he works well with Tim McCarver. . . .
The job Buck and McCarver did Wednesday night, reporting Pedro Martinez's injury--the story of the playoffs so far--was excellent. Buck first noticed Red Sox pitching coach Joe Kerrigan was calling the bullpen. Wondering why, Buck said, "Maybe he's ordering mittens," referring to the game-time temperature in the low 40s. But he and McCarver knew right away it was a sign that Martinez might be done for the night. . . .
The Red Sox didn't cooperate in informing viewers that Martinez had strained a back muscle while pitching, but Buck, McCarver and reporter Tony Rizzo, who works for the Cleveland Fox affiliate, stayed on the story until they nailed it. . . .
One reason the Buck-McCarver team looks good is that the producer is Michael Weisman, former head of NBC Sports who ranks with the best baseball producers of all time. And director Bill Webb is also regarded as one of the best.