AWFUL ANNOUNCING

Ken Hoffman on why Astros fans deserve a better broadcast team

Composite photo by Brandon Strange

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

David Barron, TV-sports columnist for the Houston Chronicle, explained it to me. "The national networks pay a lot of money for broadcast rights, and they want a telecast that appeals to the largest possible audience. Partisan broadcasters aren't paid to appeal to the largest possible audience.

They're paid to telecast a game from the standpoint of the team that pays them and of the viewers watching them. Why would a Rays fan want to hear a broadcast from the standpoint of an announcer paid by the Astros, and vice-versa?"

That's why we're stuck with the Fox broadcast team of Kenny Albert, Joe Girardi, A.J. Pierzynski, and J.P. Morosi for the Astros' American League Divisional Series against the Tampa Bay Rays. I'm not saying the Fox team is biased against Houston, or unfair in any way. I don't like when Houston fans constantly scream that. I am saying the Fox team is lame. And Houston fans, also Tampa Bay fans, deserve better.

Also not saying that Fox should have hired the Astros broadcast team of Todd Kalas, Geoff Blum, and Julia Morales to do the ALDS nationally. But technology exists for Fox to have a separate audio channel just for Kalas and Co. in the Houston market. And vice-versa for the Rays announcers in Tampa.

The Fox announce team comes up short for interest, analysis, entertainment, and just plain fun. They're making the games boring. Definitely for Houston fans, probably for the rest of the country.

Kenny Albert is so singularly focused on the Astros-Rays series that he did play-by-play for the Texans-Falcons NFL game on Sunday. Girardi is so focused on the Astros-Rays series that more than once his partners made him swear he'd be around for Game 3 and 4 and 5 if necessary.

Girardi is rumored to be a candidate for several baseball managers jobs. Pierzynski is a lightweight. Earlier this season, Fox did an Astros-Yankees game where Aaron Judge was awarded first base due to catcher's interference. Pierzynski, thinking that Judge would be charged an at bat, said he hoped Judge didn't wind up with a .299 batting average, which would be .300 if not for the catcher's interference.

Uh, anybody who ever flipped a baseball card into a trash can knows that players don't get charged an at bat due to catcher's interference. Pierzynski was a catcher for 19 years in the big leagues … and didn't know the rule about catcher's interference.

J.P. Morosi interviewed Alex Bregman after he hit a critical home run in Game 2 of the ALDS and asked Bregman what advice he had for young players. Nine innings to think that up? What is this, high school career day? Flyweight.

Continue on CultureMap for Ken Hoffman's thoughts on how they should improve the broadcast.

Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

In what was expected to be a fierce pitcher's duel, Game 1 of the 2019 World Series saw some big offensive moments in the early innings as the Nationals erased an early 2-0 deficit with five unanswered runs to take a 5-2 lead against Gerrit Cole. They would hold on to that lead and take Game 1 against the Astros, 5-4. Washington's star of the night was Juan Soto, who went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, including a solo home run to fuel the Nationals to a 1-0 series lead. Here is a recap of the game:

Final Score: Nationals 5, Astros 4.

Series: Nationals lead 1-0.

Winning Pitcher: Max Scherzer.

Losing Pitcher: Gerrit Cole.

Astros take an early lead

Although the Nationals would record the first hit of the night on a leadoff single in the top of the inning, it would be the Astros who would get the first runs of the night in the bottom of the first inning. George Springer worked a leadoff walk to start the frame, followed by Jose Altuve, who drilled a single to put two on base. Both would advance a base after a wild pitch to move Springer to third, followed by a steal by Altuve, then Yuli Gurriel drove them in on a two-RBI double off the left-center field wall to give Houston the quick 2-0 lead.

The Nationals immediately cut the lead in half in the top of the second, getting a solo home run by Ryan Zimmerman off of Gerrit Cole to straightaway center-field to make it a 2-1 game. The Astros threatened to extend their lead in the bottom of the third after getting runners on second and third with two outs on a bloop single that fell in by Gurriel, but a strikeout by Carlos Correa would end the inning.

Nationals roar back with five unanswered runs

The Nationals were able to fully erase the 2-0 deficit in the top of the fourth. It came on the second solo home run allowed by Gerrit Cole on the night, this one a leadoff homer to Juan Soto to tie the game. Yordan Alvarez recorded a much-needed hit considering his playoff slump to lead off the bottom of the fourth and should have moved to second after a missed catcher's interference against Josh Reddick instead resulted in Reddick recording the second out of the inning.

George Springer worked a walk next as Houston continued to work Max Scherzer into lengthy at-bats, but both runners would be left stranded as Scherzer got out of another jam. Cole encountered jam of his own in the top of the fifth, issuing his first walk to start the inning followed by a single to put two runners on. After getting an out, Cole would allow an RBI-single as Washington took their first lead at 3-2. With two outs in the inning, Juan Soto would strike again, this time a two-RBI double to extend the Nationals' lead to 5-2 before the inning was over.

Washington goes to their bullpen in the sixth while Cole finishes seven

After a scoreless top of the sixth by Cole, the Nationals moved to another pitcher, bringing in Patrick Corbin to try and hold on to Washington's lead. Corbin was as a potential Game 3 starter, but with the Nationals bullpen having notable struggles, they opted instead to go to his strong arm to try and hold on to get a Game 1 road win, potentially keeping him available for a Game 4 start. He would record a scoreless frame, erasing a one-out single by Yordan Alvarez to keep it a 5-2 deficit for Houston heading to the seventh.

Gerrit Cole would throw one more inning before he was done for the night, getting a 1-2-3 top of the seventh. His final line was not what many expected would it would be, recording his worst start of the postseason: 7.0 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 2 HR.

Nationals hold on for Game 1 win

Tanner Rainey was the next reliever for the Nationals, but George Springer welcomed him with a solo home run to lead off the bottom of the seventh to trim the lead to 5-3. Rainey would then allow back-to-back one-out walks, prompting the move to another reliever for Washington. It would be Daniel Hudson who would come in and get the second out before an infield single loaded the bases for Yordan Alvarez, who would strikeout to end the threat.

First out of Houston's bullpen was Will Harris in the top of the eighth, and he would erase a one-out single by Soto to keep it a two-run game. Kyle Tucker led off the bottom of the eighth with a pinch-hit single against Hudson, who remained in the game for Washington. Tucker would move to second by tagging on a long flyout, then score on an RBI-double by Springer that was mere feet from being a game-tying home run, but instead left the tying run on second base with one out and the score now 5-4. After a flyout by Altuve, the Nationals moved to Sean Doolittle to face Michael Brantley, and Doolittle would win that battle to keep it a one-run game.

Joe Smith would come in for the top of the ninth to try and keep it a one-run game and give Houston a chance to tie or walk it off in the bottom half of the inning. Smith did his job, keeping the Nationals off the board. Doolittle would face the middle of Houston's order in the bottom of the ninth and retired the Astros in order to finish off Houston's Game 1 loss.

Up Next: Game 2 of the 2019 World Series will start at 7:07 PM Central on Wednesday from Minute Maid Park in Houston. It offers another terrific pitching matchup on paper with Justin Verlander for the Astros going up against Stephen Strasburg for the Nationals.

The Astros playoff report is presented by APG&E.

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