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 HoustonChronicle, 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.

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Coming off one of the worst performances of the year, Lovie Smith met with the media and addressed some questions about if the Texans would make any changes to the team or coaching staff this week. Here are some quick observations.

1. Washington was just better. Before taking the first question, Lovie said after watching the film it was clear Washington was the better team on Sunday. The team didn't play well upfront (on offense) and didn't have much of a chance to win the game. He believed the team did some good things on defense and played the run better, but were unable to take the ball away.

2. Lovie made it seem like changes are definitely coming at QB. When asked if any changes would be made this week to the QB or the coaching staff, he basically said he would talk to the players before the media if changes were in the works. Smith said the players were off today and not in the building. He followed that up by saying, “We're not pleased with where we are. Do we need to do some things differently? Yes, and we will.”

3. Hitting that “rookie wall.” Coach Smith was asked if hitting the “rookie wall” could be causing some of the team's struggles. He brought up Kenyon Green's challenges at guard, admitting that taking a “pounding every time” can be tough. But if they have hit the rookie wall, he hasn't “noticed it.”

4. Sometimes you need a spark. When asked if football teams sometimes require a spark, he said yes. “Especially when you've lost as many games as we have.” Davis Mills and Kenyon Green have to be the first names that come to mind, and making a change on the o-line probably doesn't qualify as a spark.

5. At a certain point, you are who you are. Lovie didn't dance around it, he said “What's been put on video is probably who we are now, I acknowledge that.” This is the type of statement the fans really needed to hear. Owning up to what everyone can clearly see and addressing this head on matters. Most fans fully understand the team is in a rebuild, just be as honest as you can with everybody. Not doing this in the postgame press conference on Sunday, had to be a big part of why the media was coming at him with more conviction.

6. Expect Kenyon Green to keep playing despite Sunday's performance. This is why I believe a change will be made at QB this week, and not offensive guard. Lovie talked about if a player is struggling and he's still your best option, they'll have to get their “nose bloodied” and get better. No argument here. Green is a first round pick at guard, he's only going to get better if he plays. Give him some help if he needs it, but has to be out there. And let's face it, he is the best option at left guard.

7. Coaches decide who will play if there's going to be a change. When asked, Smith said the coaches decide who's playing. GM Nick Caserio and CEO Cal McNair will be in the loop, but coaches make the call on who starts.

8. “Kyle Allen can make all the throws.” Lovie was asked his thoughts on the Texans backup QB and said, “He (Allen) has a history of good play in the NFL.” When asked about Mills, he said he's seen some growth from the second-year QB, but it's hard to talk about how much someone has grown after yesterday. Yikes, that says it all right there.

Final thoughts

You really get a sense of the tone by watching the full presser above, so I do recommend it. I came away also feeling this possible switch to Kyle Allen may only last a week or so. But at this point in the season, everything has to be evaluated. Including OC Pep Hamilton. If Kyle Allen plays a game or two and the offense still stinks, some of the blame must fall on Pep. But if Allen plays well and long enough to where it doesn't look like the offense is the problem, you have your answer on Davis Mills. At least this season, anyway.

Of course, many fans want the Texans to finish the season with the worst record, so they get the first pick in the draft. If Kyle Allen does get to play and ends up winning a few games, it could be bittersweet. The Texans do have some cushion in the standings for the first pick. Hopefully, the team can get all their answers at QB and OC while still locking up the first pick in the draft. Alabama QB Bryce Young would be a nice Christmas present for Texans fans after a tough year.

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