The Book of Mike

"This is no junior college. This is the notorious University of Miami.” -- Marlins starter Dontrelle Willis, after getting knocked around for six runs in 2 1/3 innings by the Canes.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Hurricanes Impress in Opening Game of College World Series; ESPN Announcers Do Not

An exciting weekend in baseball it was, with Ken Griffey hitting his 500th homer, the College World Series kicking off, and the Yankees playing the Dodgers for the first time in more than 20 years. Unfortunately, it wasn’t all Dontrelle Willis fun and excitement…

I was sincerely disappointed with ESPN’s preparation for Saturday night's Miami – Louisiana State game. Throughout the game, both broadcasters – Jeff Brantley and Mike Patrick – regularly mispronounced Miami pitcher Cesar Carillo’s name. Brantley regular referred to the sophomore as “Cay-czar Ca-ree-yo” and Patrick couldn’t seem to decide between “Ca-ree-yo” and “Cai-ro” and most strangely of all “Ko-rea.” Mr. Carillo pronounces his name “Ca-rill-o.” While this is probably a minor distinction to those of you in tv land who had never heard of Carillo before Saturday night, it’s a fairly basic thing which is easily avoided by simply consulting Miami’s weekly release (also known as game notes). Gone are the days when this information was only available after the fact or to media in attendance in the press box. This information is available on demand on the web. Go here and check it out for yourself. There’s a pronunciation guide for the Miami players right below the rosters (on page 10). I didn’t look it up, but I’m sure the announcers struggled with the names of some LSU players too (if the missed on Carillo, I’m guessing they missed on the Tigers’ Zeringue too).

Jeff Brantley also spouted off early in the contest about how Carillo was clearly nervous, as he wasn’t his typical, dominating self in the early going. Brantely evidenced Carillo’s season-long dominance with his undefeated record and sub-3.00 ERA. Eventually, Mike Patrick got around to pointing out that Carillo carried an ERA of more than 7 in the first inning for the entire year, and was much more stellar than that in the later innings. While it would be hard to expect Brantley to know such minutia (although it is in the game notes), had he been paying attention during the regionals and Super Regionals, he would have already known this. Carillo gave up four runs in the first inning against N.C. State in the regionals, and eventually settled down (a game which the Canes won 19 – 5). Carillo also had a rough start in the clinching game against Florida in the Super Regionals, but after the first inning he again settled down and pitched a complete game gem.

Brantley also went back and forth repeatedly on a number of issues. When LSU brought in Determan to relieve Bumstead in the 3rd inning, Brantley informed us that this was a good move for LSU as Determan pitched in last year’s CWS and thus would not experience the butterflies that both Bumstead (LSU) and Carillo (Miami) had to start the game. Later, when things got rough for Determan, we were fed lines like “he’s still a youngster and needs experience to know how to handle situations like this in big ballgames” and other such hokum. All in all, Brantley came off as under-informed and seemed to be searching for topics to fill air time with.

The regular mis-pronunciations of names, home towns, and twisting of storylines about how the players got to where they are, etc was further evidence that ESPN cares about little else than cross-promotion. In game interviews with columnists and plugs for ESPN the flavor Gatorade are always on spot. Where a player is from, how he got to college, or how his name is pronounced are merely details which get in the way of selling an extra magazine, generating more hits for the website, or for selling red Gatorade. ESPN would be better served by spending less time rehearsing bits with Jeff Brantley and Harold Reynolds educating viewers on the intricacies of catchers blocking balls in the dirt and spending more time learning about the teams and the players competing in the games that are going on in front of them.


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