In this case I'm talking about Gary Cohen, Ron Darling, and Keith Hernandez of SNY, the New York Mets' baseball network. The star in question is Johan Santana.
Johan is widely regarded as one of the best pitchers in baseball, and many consider him the premier left-hander in the game. This is played up to no end on SNY. Earlier in the season, it could be bases loaded in the seventh inning with Bobby Parnell on the hill, and they'd find a way to talk about Santana even though Livan Hernandez started the game. The point is, they are Santana-obsessed.
Of late, Santana's been struggling. His ERA was under 2.00 through his first ten starts of the season, and now it's up to 3.29. This coming after a three inning, nine run performance in the series-deciding game against the hometown rival Yankees. That disaster followed 7 IP 5 ER against the Phillies, 6 IP 3 ER against the Pirates, and 6 IP 3 ER against the lowly Nationals.
And now, all of a sudden, here's Gary, Keith, and Ron as a conglomerate:
"Oh, something's not right with Johan. He's only throwing 89-92; that's not him. Maybe he's hurt. He's definitely hurt."
What's the problem with that?
Well, they weren't making excuses for him when he was throwing 89-92 and winning every game earlier in the season. Johan's stuff hasn't changed at all. He's been throwing this way all year, and yet Keith would say things like, "Wow, Johan's throwin' hard tonight" and the radar would say 90. They'd ignore the numbers and simply go by feel, and now they're all about the radar gun. It's driving me nuts.
The reality of it is that Santana is hittable. He's still one of the best pitchers in the game because his approach is consistent, he works fast, attacks the strikezone, and boasts a devastating change-up. But his fastball isn't lights out. It works because of the variation from the change, but if a hitter ignores the change and looks fastball, he'll get one from Johan. He's basically fastball-change (doesn't use the sub-par slider much), which means you'll probably get a little of each in a given at bat.
Just look one way or the other against Johan, and you'll eventually get it. That's exactly what the Yankees and Phillies have done in his last two starts, and it's no coincidence that they're two of the better offensive teams in baseball.
The point of it all is, this is bad journalism on the part of Gary, Keith, Ron, and the SNY network. And they are not alone. Whether it's national television or regional broadcasts, announcers are making excuses for star players everywhere.
With Santana, it's simple. He's great, but he's not untouchable. Better teams will hit him hard if the take the correct approach to the dish. Mediocre and lesser teams will struggle because Johan psyches them out and has mental command of the match-ups.
There's no need to make excuses, Gary, Keith, and Ron. All I'm asking for is a little honesty.
But I guess that's too much to ask.
(The Red Sox are the new Yankees. How did they make the transition? "JFro," aka John Frascella, is the author of "Theo-logy: How a Boy Wonder Led the Red Sox to the Promised Land."
It's the first full-length book centered on Boston Red Sox's popular
general manager Theo Epstein. Preview or purchase it online at Amazon.com, Barnes
and Noble or Borders. It's currently stocked in Barnes and Noble stores
throughout the U.S. Also, check out John on Twitter.)