ENFORCED ERRORS

Ken Hoffman calls a strike on Fox Sports' coverage of the Astros

Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

Note to Fox Sports: Next time you cover an Astros game, leave your announcers at home. They're awful. Just let the Astros broadcast crew handle the game. We've got it covered.

On June 22, the Astros were in New York to face the Yankees. It was a national game on Fox Sports (Channel 26 here), and the Fox announcers were Aaron Goldsmith, who normally does Seattle Mariners games on radio, A.J. Pierzynski, who played 19 years in the big leagues, and Ken Rosenthal, who wears a bowtie.

It was like they had never seen a baseball game before. Truly amazing and painful and annoying all at once. And I'm not one of those homers who thinks announcers and umpires are against Houston teams.

Kemp, not Sipp

For example: They announced that Tony Sipp was coming to the plate to bat for Jake Marisnick. Tony Sipp, while a former Astro, is now a pitcher with the Washington Nationals. They meant to say Tony Kemp. But I guess any Tony would do in a pinch … hit.

At one point, Astros catcher Max Stassi interfered with Aaron Judge's swing and Judge was awarded first base. The announcers went on for several minutes how Stassi would get an error for the play and poor Judge would be assessed an at bat, which would hurt his batting average. They said how unlucky it would be if Judge hit .299 for the season. If not for Stassi's interference, he would have hit .300.

Wrong! Judge was not assessed an at bat — his batting average would not be affected, now or the end of the season. The weird part, Pierzynski was a catcher for all those years in Major League Baseball. He didn't know the rule about catcher's interference?

Bad math

The Fox announcers said the Astros were leading their division by 4 1/2 games. No, try 7 1/2 games.

Then, the cruelest cut of all. Because the Yankees would be playing the Red Sox next week in England, the announcers brought Henry the Eighth into the conversation. That was a reach. I guess they were stretching for some English references. How about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Brexit, England's undefeated women's soccer team in the World Cup, Mick Jagger back on tour, or fish 'n' chips next time? England's fish 'n' chips are incredible. It's because they fry the fish in beef fat. Disgusting and dangerous, yet delicious.

One of the Fox announcers said that Big Hank No. 8 was beheaded, and they went on and on about the 16th-century monarch who gave Larry King a run for his money on number of wives. According to lore, Henry had six wives. King has been married eight times, though he's had only seven wives. He married one of them twice. I'll let Elias Sports Bureau decide King's total.

An F in history

The point is, Henry the Eighth was not…

Continue reading on CultureMap to hear Ken Hoffman's advice for Fox announcers.


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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF O'BRIEN'S COACHING

Not my job: Texans outmatched when it counts against Steelers

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Another game, another loss for the Texans. This time it was only a seven point loss to the Steelers as they fell 28-21 in Pittsburgh. This time around, Bill O'Brien looked to be on his game as far as decision-making was concerned. However, there is still room for improvement.

One thing that I did appreciate that O'Brien did was have trust in the offensive line. The Steelers pass rush could be problematic, but their defense overall is very stout. That's how they were able to nearly make the playoffs last year with a Duck at quarterback. While the Texans did give up five sacks, they weren't all due to poor offensive line play. The Texans lost 33 yards on those five sacks. Tytus Howard and Zach Fulton handled themselves fairly well after looking like turnstiles the first two games. O'Brien called longer developing pass plays and play action in spite of this and it paid off with Deshaun Watson and his receivers putting up 264 yards in the air.

There also wasn't an instance of Bumbling Bill this game. At the end of the first half, there was a minute and fourteen seconds left. The Texans were down 17-14 and had all three timeouts with the ball on their 25-yard line. Classic Bumbling Bill situation right? Wrong! Not only was the play-calling on point, but the players executed and the timeout situation was handled perfectly. First timeout was used after getting to midfield with 47 seconds left. Timeout number two was used after a 20 yard gain after the previous play. A 15 yard gain later to the Steeler 14-yard line and timeout number three was used with 28 seconds left. This set up perfectly for them to call a multitude of plays. They only needed one as Watson found Will Fuller in the end zone on a jump ball in which Fuller rose up and was physical enough to grab the ball over the defender. They went up 21-17 at the half.

Bill O'Brien's teams were 37-3 when leading at halftime. I say "were" because they lost this one after not scoring a single point in the second half. This was more on the defense not being able to fight its way out of a wet paper bag, and a lack of execution by the offense. Specifically, the run defense has been atrocious and Watson either needs quicker reads or to stop holding onto the ball so long by making quicker decisions. That's on coaching to put players in positions to succeed, but also the players to execute.

Ultimately, this was on O'Brien the general manager more than O'Brien the coach. This roster is woefully outmatched. The only time an outmatched roster can compete consistently is in college football with a wacky offense. It just doesn't happen in the NFL. Hey, at least Bumbling Bill didn't rear his butt chin today. Today's Culture Map play call menu was brought to you by Pour Behavior. I suggest getting over there and checking out their daily specials.

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