Showing posts with label MLB Network. Show all posts
Showing posts with label MLB Network. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Strasburg's Performance Prompts Praise

Rookie pitcher Steven Strasburg struck out 14 Pittsburgh Pirates batter Tuesday night -- and struck a chord with former ballplayers as well as full-time broadcasters in the process.

Pick the network, venue and expert/host and the reaction to the right-handed pitcher's debut was unanimous. It was awesome, impressive, an overwhelming success. All those adjectives, praise and more, were heaped on the 14-strikeout effort.

Some of the praise, especially that from proven and trusted sources, sounded so over-the-top it would've been considered silly coming from anyone else.

But, when baseball voices such as Bob Costas, Orel Hershiser and Jayson Stark agree (and they represent just a small sampling of a unanimous chorus of praise), sports fans probably feel they should listen.

Costas, working with Jim Kaat and John Smoltz (two pitchers who amassed 496 victories during 46 years combined years in Major League Baseball), sounded almost reverential at times during the game broadcast on the MLB Network.

Afterward, as experts made the rounds on shows after the game and early Wednesday, Cy Young Award winner and former NLCS and World Series MVP Hershiser, who pitched a record 59 consecutive scoreless innings in 1988, offered some of the highest priase.

"It's going to be a possible Cy Young as soon as he pitches a full season," he said. "That's the kind of performance and talent that can go for innings without giving up runs."

Likewise, ESPN expert Stark, one of the best in the business covering baseball, said he changed his schedule to see Strasburg's debut -- something he never does. And he was happy he did, calling the effort more impressive than he expected.

Completing the sweep of praise was some from unusual sources, among them Colin Cowherd of ESPN Radio. Often an appropriate and reasoned critic of some things baseball, he admitted he was on the Strasburg bandwagon and encouraged Major League Baseball to promote the pitcher -- simply because: "It's so rare when the performance meets or exceeds the hype."

For Strasburg to meet the hype and praise that have been heaped on him in just the past 18 hours might be difficult, though.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Appropriate Talent for Strasburg Debut

With his apparent talent and the accompanying hefty contract, pitcher Steven Strasburg's debut with the Washington Nationals could only be a much-hyped event, but MLB Network might somehow be able to cut through that commotion and add some context Tuesday night.

With Bob Costas handling play-by-play duties and two former pitchers (Jim Kaat, John Smoltz) as analysts, the nuts and bolts of Strasburg's first start should be just part of the conversation. Veteran TV analyst Kaat and smart Smoltz should be able to discuss what the young pitcher does well and what he can do better.

That part should be informative and potentially interesting.

Beyond that, Kaat and Smoltz bring experience as players from different eras who have first-hand, maybe locker-next-door, experience with talented pitchers. Or pitchers who simply got a lot of attention.

As long as Strasburg does not struggle and get pulled from the game early -- and there's a reason he's making his debut against the Pirates if that's really a concern -- the two analysts could provide a good conversation about the youthful pitcher in terms of on-the-field performance as well as off-the-field adjustments. And, if Costas serves only as a proven traffic cop without interjecting himself much, it might result in a good broadcast.

If MLB Network and the folks in the booth can do that, it'll be a victory for them. (Of course, if Strasburg were to exit early and they someone produced a compelling broadcast between the Pirates and Nationals without the most-talked-about player in decades that would be an even more impressive feat.)