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“There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in” was Leonard Cohen’s cheeky way of saying every baseball team no matter its record will have their posterior handed to them at least once during a season. Teams try to hide behind their records and attempt to insist, pointing while chuckling at their position player pitching, this it’s all in good fun and actually this is fine, yet the whoopings do not abate.

The team’s broadcasters know all of this. They are also all human. As the metaphorical clocks are cleaned on the field, the literal clocks up in the booth do not stop. Particularly on the radio there is nowhere to hide, no opportunity to let the visuals of the ballpark fill the space and time.

I went back and found each MLB team’s biggest margin of defeat in 2020 and listened in to their local radio broadcast from the start of the eighth inning until its welcomed conclusion. For teams that lost by the same wide margin more than once, I picked the bludgeoning closest to the middle of their year, since early losses could go down too smoothly, and late losses are easily assuaged with the upcoming offseason in a warmer locale. Technically the Milwaukee Brewers’ biggest shellacking was a no-hitter, so I went with their second-worst defeat, since no doubt the announcers would have focused on a still not boring feat.

The exchanges and soliloquies into the void were edited a little bit for clarity’s sake. Pitch and ball in play descriptions were begrudgingly, yet dutifully, preserved when they did not completely derail from the conversation for a long time, since it is part of the music of this unique forced small talk. Different broadcasts are divided by ***; as always the string of three stars does not indicate a rating of any kind. The same convo picked up again by the same announcers in the same broadcast is notably spaced out. Anonymity is granted, but is not guaranteed.

The following is from National League broadcasts only. We covered the American League last week. The 2019 installments can be found here and here.

It was the end of a very long day.

At Least We’re Not in Texas, Part II

“Nothing like outdoors in Texas hahaha ahh. It was Ameriquest they called it Amerisweat. Ameriquest Amerisweat Park here…It was fascinating, you stand by the batting cage during batting practice, and it felt like was blowing in in your face, but it wasn’t, because the play showed later that it’s actually blowing out to right. The home run heaven, now gone.”

Did Carson Fulmer Run Over All of the Dogs Owned By Atlanta’s Broadcast Team?

“Markakis 0 for 3…way inside, to the backstop -”

“Jeez…”

“…off the bricks, and right back to Sisco, but alertly advancing is Dansby.”

“Maybe now we’re beginning to figure out why they actually did not get him from Detroit. The Pirates had claimed him, off waivers from Detroit, and never pitched for the Pirates, and Baltimore got him off waivers from Pittsburgh. If you get someone off waivers from Pittsburgh…”

“We just talked about the Pirate record a little while ago.”

“Yeah.”

“Dansby advances on another wild pitch by Fulmer. Fulmer was also a first round draft pick. He was taken by the White Sox as the 8th pick in that draft.”

“That didn’t work out too well.”

“His nickname is ‘Filthy Fulmer.’”

“Outside for a ball.”

“That’s not what his manager and catcher are calling him right now.”

“No. I think filthy is the baseballs after they go through the dirt on their way to the bricks.”

“Fulmer wearing sports goggles. Sweating profusely on a cool night.”

Perspective

“Alright I mentioned the highest scoring record in modern baseball history. The Rangers beat the Orioles 30-3, August 20th, 2007, Oriole Park in Camden Yards. If you want to feel better Dave about our plight tonight, as Chad Wallach swings and misses, think about this: you could have been the voice of the Orioles calling the 30-3 loss to the Texas Rangers? That was game one of a doubleheader. Let’s do it again!” *laughs*

***

“But it’s all over but the crying right now.”

“Well I think the crying ended some time ago.”

“I think it did.”

“I do think that about games where the score is as lopsided as this —”

“Well the Yankees beat Toronto 20-6, on our Dobbs Tire & Auto Centers Scoreboard.”

“Mm Ouch. We feel Toronto’s pain.”

***

“11-2. Not pretty, thank God not too many of these. Just thinking of those years, slaving over a hot microphone with all the guys…I had a lot of these. A lot of these. But every baseball team has some. Even the great ones.”

It Could Happen!

“The Braves will not match the modern major league record for runs scored in a game, unless the Marlins have a big top of the 9th, you never know!”

***

“It’s gonna be two straight defeats for the first time since August 21st and 22nd, barring a rather historic rally in the 9th inning.”

“Could happen!”

“It could.”

“Absolutely could happen.”

“You know me…”

“It’s happened before…but…the odds are long.”

“And it’s now 13-1.”

“Yeah that comeback that we were talking about is uh, *sigh* not happening.”

“Yeah.”

“It’s gonna have to be really historic.”

***

“They haven’t given up. You gotta get 27 outs.”

“They’ve seen crazier things before, Dave.”

“This one, I don’t know. What would be crazier? Coming back from 11-0 or coming back from 10-4 in the 9th? Right now you got six outs left, to bat. But you gotta score 12.”

“Six an inning, here’s the pitch, and this one is low, in the dirt, ball one.”

“I’ve never known you to be so optimistic.”

David Hess righthander is up in the Orioles bullpen.”

“You must have had a good night’s sleep last night or something.”

*chuckles* “Early to bed, early to rise, something like that.”

***

“A rocket into right center and it is going to be…caught. By Demeritte. Looked like it had a shot for a moment. If they get 11 they’re right back in it! Are we asking for too much? No! I don’t think so. Never give up!”

“What’s wrong with an 11-run inning?”

“I can’t find too much wrong with it actually.”

“Not me. I’m in. Nothing to do tonight.”

Meta

“See if we have time, never start a story with two outs. Now you probably know this story already. I was just thinking of it, pitch is low and away. Many moons ago Dave I interviewed for a job, it was basketball play-by-play. They asked, ‘How would you handle things if the game gets out of hand?’ And I said, ‘Well, how much out of hand?’ ‘You know, a blowout, like 30, 35 points.’ I said, ‘Well every time you give the score, people pretty much know it’s a bad night.’ Here’s the pitch and it’s low and inside.”

“Apparently they liked your answer.”

“Yes.”

“And you had a few of those games to call.”

“Well when you give the score enough, it’s like that line you always use: ‘That’s all you needed to know.’”

“Not everybody can contribute to the 19-hit attack, Dave. There are nights when the Nationals win big, and all the good stuff happens in your innings. But I’m still here. Here’s the 0-2: low, a breaking ball in the dirt.”

“It’s the old broadcaster +/- ratings, like hockey?”

“Let’s see, I’m -3 tonight, you’re…you’re -8.”

“I really suck tonight! Bad night for me. Not gonna go home.”

So Far Away

“Back to back hits, Marlins at first and second, the comeback is under way.”

“And the tying run is in Macon.” *laughs* “Not quite the on-deck circle but, in Macon.”

Lewis Brinson the batter. I saw that coming but I thought you were going to say Augusta.”

Position Players Throw Real Slow

“Well what a treat this is going to be for The Toddfather. Todd Frazier taking the mound in the top of the 9th inning. A position player pitching alert, and it’s Frazier, who even takes the mound to Frank Sinatra, pitching in the top of the 9th inning as the Mets are down 15-2. Brad Brach got one out, walked two guys, struck out one and now he gives way to Frazier. Will pitch in the major leagues for the first time. His first pitch: a floater, it’s in the dirt ball one. They called it a 59 mph curveball, Frazier turning on the speed brought to you by Optimum: connect faster than ever with internet speeds of up to one GB. Frazier winds up and deals,the 1-0: that’s low, two balls and no strikes. You know Frazier said he worked at a carnival for awhile. He was a carny, in Jersey. 2-0: fastball hit in the air towards center, as Swanson is going to be 0-for-6 , Marisnick on the warning track hauls it in. Swanson can’t even get a hit against Todd Frazier. It’s one out here in the 9th inning as the Braves are ahead 15-2, but Frazier’s fastball I’m not sure would even win the big teddy bear on the pitch speed at the carnival. 59 miles an hour, what is that?!”

***

“There’s a swinging strike. Was that a curveball?”

“I think it was a gravity ball.”

***

“I think Orlando Arcia is enjoying himself.”

“I think that that’s accurate, yes.”

“I know he’ll be talking about this for a long time. Swing and a rocket to left center and deep, warning track, and it is gone. He won’t be talking about that one.”

Why Can’t You Be More Like Your Brother, Who is Made of Cardboard?

“I noticed they have a lot of cardboard cutouts up in the upper deck in Milwaukee.”

“Those cutouts don’t want to get hurt.”

“I guess not. Safety first.”

***

“They said there are more cardboard cutouts for this game than there were for the Friday game. A bigger cardboard cutout crowd.”

“Was it a walkup?”

“I don’t know if that’s possible. There’s a swing a drive down the left field line slicing toward the corner and it is foul. Right toward the 339 marker but just went foul. I mean, how do the cardboard cutouts actually get to the ballpark?”

“That’s a really good question.”

“So we’re moving to the 9th inning now, and let me tell ya: all of the cardboard cutouts, they’re still here.”

“They’re so loyal.”

“None, none have left. Hours after this game, they’ll still be there. Talk about loyalty.”

2020, Amirite?

“Phillies and Mets will meet next week, not this coming week, the week after, at Citizens Bank Park. Three game set.”

“Next week but 14 games later?”

“Yeah.”

“It somehow finds its way through Bohm and Didi Gregorius there on the left side.”

*5 seconds later* “Yeah it did.” *laughs*

“Alright. Cool. Sometimes the camera switching…we’re at the mercy of somebody’s else eyes here.”

I Expected Better

“I saw something today Dave that, being that it’s a lopsided game right now, determined that it was extremely useless information.”

“Okay well, we’re good with that.”

Austin Hays is hitting .146, 6 for 41, and there’s a stat called his expected average.”

“Okay.”

“I don’t know what they base it on, I don’t think I even want to know. Here’s the pitch: squibber out in front of the plate, Finnegan is going to have a tough play, tough angle, and he can’t throw him out, Hays is too fast. A chopper, in the air in front of the plate, Finnegan all he can do to get to it and then an off balance throw across his body basically throwing it on target, by the time Thames caught it Hays was through the bag because he’s really fast. Well if that’s a hit that’s gonna raise his expected average.”

“No I think it’s gonna lower it, because I didn’t expect him to get a hit on a ball that weakly.”

“You know if I’m on a golf course and I have a three-foot putt, I expect to make it, but I usually miss it. So should I just write down what my score is expected to be?”

*laughs*

“Right?”

“Because you missed the six-inch putt, and you expected to —”

“Right and I expected to make it, so I’m just gonna give myself a par, even though I missed the three-footer I expected to make it.”

“I don’t know Dave that people who in those important decision-making positions in the offseason will value that stat to make a decision on a player: Expected batting average. Pitch is low and away. I once called a play, an outfielder, it was Carl Crawford, for Tampa Bay, diving catch with the bases loaded that ended the inning, and I said ‘He would have been in the big trouble if he didn’t catch that ball”, and my partner said ‘But he did.’ Ground ball up the first base line, Thames fields in fair territory while stepping on the bag for the out.”

“Tough to argue with that logic, isn’t it?”

“I guess he expected a hit, but he made a diving catch.”

“Which was unexpected.”

“And back then, they didn’t have expected average.”

“That’s right. They had batting average.”

*laughs* “No runs, one hit —”

“So antiquated.”

Jokes Are Funnier If You Have to Explain Them

Michael Taylor takes over in right field. Wilmer Difo who had pinch hit for Howie Kendrick stays in the game at second base, so Starlin Castro is out, and Eric Thames takes over at first. Home plate umpire D.J. Reyburn did not indicate the batting order positions, so we appreciate that effort, and the Delta pitching change brings in Kyle Finnegan from the Nats bullpen. In with the play-by-play, here’s Charlie Slowes.”

“Alright -”

“Did you like my sarcasm there? I speak sarcasm.”

“Yes thank you —”

“‘Thanks for the effort D.J.’!

Mr. Smith Won’t Be Going Behind the Plate

“That’s why Luis Rojas didn’t go to the bench for Chirinos that early in the game, didn’t want to have just Ramos by himself in case of an injury, then he’d have to go to a stash of emergency catchers that he says includes Pete Alonso, and Todd Frazier, and Dominic Smith whose got that left-handed catcher’s glove stashed away somewhere in his locker. 1-1: fastball low and outside ball two. I will say if the Mets ever get into that position and Dom is not the guy, he might be the most disappointed man on Earth.”

“I think he’s going to be the most disappointed man on Earth because why on Earth would you put him back there?”

“Well he’s got the catcher’s glove.”

“Yes he does.”

“He wants to use it.”

Dear Hall of Fame Voters:

“And that is a 5-4-3 double play.”

“And that’s why Yadier Molina is such a professional hall of famer right there, speeding up the game. He was okay with grounding into the double play I’m sure.

“He’s got a big smile on his face so I don’t think he minds.

“Right.”

More Chance Sisco Content

“That is a…check swing and ruled a strike by D.J. Raeburn on the curve ball. I don’t think Sisco can believe it.”

“Well Chance it’s 11-0. We’re in the 9th inning. Swing the bat. Believe it.”

When is What

“Okay getting back to this date in baseball history. 2004: this pitcher won his 300th game. It was at SBC Park in San Francisco. It was a Saturday afternoon, and I was there to broadcast it.”

“Really…”

“2004. Victory #300. It was not a complete game.”

“Was it Greg Maddux?”

“It was Greg Maddux. It was in San Francisco, August…August 6th, 2004. Now I’m a little confused I got a note here on the August 6th sheet, and it says August 7th.”

“Mhm…”

“It was one of those two days.”

“Maybe the game ended, you know around 10 o’clock, 10:30 let’s say San Francisco time and it was actually the next day in Chicago.”

“It’s a very good theory, but it’s not gonna hold much water: it was a day gaaaaaaame.”

“Ooooooooooh.”

“It was about a noon start. But I like the way you’re thinking.”

***

“Well I don’t know what inning it is. We might be still in the bottom of the 8th. The Royals in this 11-0 game have elected to review whether Nick Heath would reach on catcher’s interference. His bat appeared to strike the bat on John Ryan Murphy.”

“And the Royals complete the sweep of the Pirates, winning 11-0. Making sure that no one wants to challenge this for any reason before we head to break. Yup, Olivares caught it. I’m satisfied.”

“I’m satisfied.”

Red Assery?

“This is a game that is played with a hot temper.”

“No doubt.”

“Always has been.”

“Of course.”

“Players use another term but I can’t use that here’s a pitch right down the middle at 96 miles an hour.”

“You can tell me after we’re off the air. I can guess what it is.”

“Oh you know what it is.”

“Of course I do.”

Full Tilt

“The Milwaukee Brewers have left four men on. They’re 8 for 12 with runners in scoring position. Kind of like that old baseball pinball machine where you see the runners just going around the bases? Around and around and around that’s what this game reminds me of. Ding ding ding ding ding ding ding.”

“Well, I think the Brewers got the high score of the game.”

“Oh they did. 18-3?”

“They get a replay, right?”

“They probably get 10 replays.”

The Quar 15 is Real

“A cascade of showers falling. The 0-1 pitch, and Lorenzen takes up and in. It’s actually raining pretty good now.”

“Yeah.”

“It was a little heavier than we saw before.”

“Well so am I, so…”

Stupid Rules

“Tommy homered on an 0-2 slider from Julio Urias in the 1st inning to give the Padres a 1-0 lead. Eric Hosmer hit the next pitch out, that gave the Padres a 2-0 lead. Would have stopped the game then the Padres would be in great position, but that’s not how the rules of baseball are organized and the Dodgers have scored 11 times since all of that happened.”

Ah

“From McGee. Vin Scully always would see a guy like that with that name, referring back to the old radio show, Vin was from that time, before me, when radio was it, and no TV, and had Fibber McGee and…what was it? Uh oh, Fib McGee and, Molly wasn’t it? I shouldn’t have brought it up I never listened to it. It was Fibber McGee and somebody else. I think McGee was the guy. I think Molly was the woman, obviously. Vinny would always say ‘Ah McGee!’, because they said that on the radio show, ‘Ah there’s Jake McGee!”

I Can Have Friends!

“Who were some of your favorite managers to play for?”

Willie Randolph.”

“Really?”

“Yeah.”

“What did you like about it?”

“I played for Willie in New York, and he was just such a down-to-earth guy, always had your back. I was not very good —”

“I was going to say that wasn’t exactly a highlight of your career either.”

“No but he continued to believe in me and give me opportunities.”

“Strike to Aquino, two and two.”

“You know there was one point in that season that I was designated for assignment but he said ‘I promise you in a week when September rosters get expanded you’re gonna be back up here regardless of how good or bad you pitch down there.’

“Haha even though you were DFA’d?”

“Yeah I was DFA’d because someone was coming off the DL they needed a roster spot, so he said just go down there for 10 days because obviously nobody was gonna claim me…”

*laughs*

“So I went down for Triple-A for —”

“It was that bad huh?”

“Yeah…yeah..”

“”Aquino takes ball four, fastball low, he draws the walk and now the Reds have two on and two out for José García.”

“So he said I would come back no matter what, and I did, and I was terrible when I went down in Triple-A, and I came back and he said, ‘I told you I’d make sure you get back up here,’ so…”

“How did…You guys clearly hit it off.”

“Well, I’m a nice guy Tommy!”

“Well I…shouldn’t say I’m so surprised I guess.”

“I know! You’re shocked that I got along with somebody.”

“It seemed like you and Willie Randolph established a unique bond.”

“Yeah we did. It might have been because when I first got there I told him that I grew up watching him play second base for the Yankees…”

“Oh that’s why, okay.”

“I don’t know, I mean I don’t know. I hit it off with people sometimes, Tommy. I don’t know how to explain that.”

Jeez, Just Let Them Have It

“Shreve and Harper have kept in touch, used to golf together a lot in the offseason. Shreve misses outside. Shreve claims that ‘Yeah Harper can definitely hit it farther but I usually win.’ That’s what he said.”

“Yeah, I can see that happening. A reliever, not a lot to do other than practice your golf.”

***

“Nimmo’s sixth at-bat of the game. He got three hits, including a homer. But who doesn’t?”

Wiggle x5

“Did you guys ask him the other day about the shimmy?”

“We did. I said you’ve got to tell me about that, your wiggle, and he said it sort of developed over the years but what was at the heart of it was disguising what grip he was using.”

“Tipper.”

“1-1. And a breaking ball down low. What a nice guy, Blake Parker.”

“What if he said, ‘Do you like it?’ What would you have said?”

“Uh…I would have said, ‘You know Blake, it’s really unique.’”

*laughs*

“Two balls and one strike, and the pitch: swing and a miss. 2-2 the count…Realllly unique…”

Thank you for reading

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