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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The Astros play Game 1 of the ALDS Tuesday. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

With a nod to Charles Dickens, October is the best of times (Astros) and the worst of times (Texans and Rockets) for Houston sports fans. At least this October.

October is the one month when all three of Houston’s major sports teams are guaranteed to be in full swing at the same time. It’s possible, if the Astros make the World Series that November will have all three teams in action, too. But let’s not jinx things.

The Astros start their playoff run Tuesday on TBS. Since the Yankees also play that day, also on TBS, we can assume the Astros will get the daytime slot, the Yankees in prime time. Now before Astros fans start screaming east coast bias, it really only applies to TV. Fun fact: no New York Met has ever won an MVP Award, and only one Yankee has won it in the past 37 years – Alex Rodriguez in 2005 and 2007. How’d that work out for him? Most important, a New York team has won the World Series only once in the past two decades – the Yankees in 2009.

The Astros could play as many as 15 more games in October, five in the Division Series, seven in the League Championship Series and three in the World Series before the calendar flips to November.

Meanwhile, the Texans plod on with three more games in October, and the Rockets have 11.

The winless Texans are at home against the Titans at NRG Stadium, on the road against the Jaguars and Raiders.

The Rockets, coming off the worst record in the NBA last season, have three games at home at Toyota Center and eight on the road.

This presents a problem of abundance, an embarrassment of riches, for Houston sports junkies. Who are you going to watch on TV? Which team will you pay to watch in person? Who are you rooting for the most? Whose jersey will you buy?

David Puddy is right, you “gotta support the team,” but who will own Houston this month?

What to do? If it’s true that nothing succeeds like success, and everybody loves a winner – it’s an obvious choice.

The Astros.

The Astros just completed their regular season with 106 wins, second most in franchise history, another American League West title, the best record in the American League and will have home field advantage throughout the AL playoffs. Even though fans had high hopes for the Astros entering 2022, the team smashed everybody’s expectations. Vegas put the Astros over/under wins at 92 games. The Astros seemingly flew by that number during spring training.

They are the first team in American League history to win 100 games in four of their last five full seasons. Not even Babe Ruth’s Yankees of the 1920s and 1930s did that. This core of Astros has won five of the last six American League West titles. They’ve played in three of the last five World Series. This is a dynasty right before our eyes. We’re witness to greatness. How ‘bout them Astros?

What a season it was. Who could have figured that 39-year-old Justin Verlander, out of action for two seasons after Tommy John surgery, would have a career year, a ridiculously skinny earned run average and the overwhelming pick for the Cy Young Award? Jose Altuve would return to a .300 batting average, Cristian Javier would lead the team in strikeouts, Yordan Alvarez would finish No. 2 between Aaron Judge and Mike Trout in OPS, and rookie Jeremy Pena would slug 22 home runs, the same number as Carlos Correa? Remember last offseason and cries of “pay the man!” Some of a team’s best deals are the ones they don’t make.

Strap yourself in for an October to remember. The storylines are endless. There’s bad blood between the Astros and the Yankees, between the Astros and Dodgers, between the Astros and boo birds in every stadium not named Minute Maid Park.

It’s going to be fun.

As for the Texans, Deshaun Watson returns to action Nov. 4 against the Texans here at NRG Stadium. And we’ll catch up with the Rockets when the NBA season starts for real on Christmas Day. But until then … play ball!

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