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.


Astros rough offseason continues

Cole's deal with Yankees changes the AL landscape

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

In what came as a surprise to no one, former Astro Gerrit Cole is now a New York Yankee. Cole signed a record nine-year, $324 million deal with the Yankees.

While the Astros were never in the running to re-sign Cole, his signing with New York comes as a double whammy. The Yankees were only four wins behind the Astros during the regular season and pushed them to six games in the ALCS. Poaching Cole, who was 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA and 326 strikeouts, easily flip flops the two teams. The Astros have no one to replace Cole's production, no matter what they do. The Yankees just added a legitimate ace, and stamped themselves as the new favorites in the AL.

For the Astros, it was an expected blow, and just the latest in what has been a rough off-season filled with scandal and now rumors that Carlos Correa may be on the block.

What's next for Astros?

Part of the price of success is your players have to get paid. Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve are locked down, but Correa and George Springer are due for big deals, and the Astros have expressed a desire to keep the payroll under control. That is not good news for the 2020 Astros and beyond.

The Astros have an easy solution for Correa; moving Alex Bregman to short and Yuli Gurriel to third, and look for a cheaper option at first base. Correa's injury history has limited his production, so that's a loss they could stomach.

The losses mount

But there is no ready solution for Cole. Lance McCullers is expected back, and Jose Urquidy will get likely get a chance. They will also look for a bargain basement, Wade Miley type. But in general, the Astros - with or without Correa - will not be as good next season. While they will still be title contenders and there is plenty of time to fill some holes (they did, after all, trade for Cole two seasons ago), they won't be the favorites in the AL.

That honor now belongs to the Yankees.

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