I admit it. I’m jealous, envious and more than a little resentful. It’s why I can’t have nice things.

Throughout this World Series you had the option to save your sanity by eliminating the sound of Fox’s John Smoltz’s relentless, sleep-inspiring pitching recipe recitals that reduced the Series to a late night curative for enjoyment.

I was, however, stuck with him, like a schnook assigned to cover the annual Diet Ginger Ale Festival in Lambertville, N.J.

As Groucho Marx, in the role of Professor Wagstaff, told the audience in the 1932 movie “Horse Feathers”: “I’ve got to stay here, but there’s no reason why you folks shouldn’t go out into the lobby until this thing blows over.”

As the insufferable comes with the annual understanding that it defies treatment and defines neglect, Fox again proved there is only one party that finds Smoltz both irreplaceable, unredeemable and irresistible: the head shot-caller at Fox.

Again, this Series, there wasn’t even evidence that Fox suggested to Smoltz that he take even one pitch off from being the guy no one wants to sit beside.

Reader Larry Trent suggests that MLB is instituting a pitch clock only to limit “Smoltz’s interminable dissection of every pitch and release point.” Hadn’t thought of that.

MLB
John Smoltz
Getty Images

And the four-seam spin rate is apparently directly proportionate to viewers’ audio exit velocities.

If the pitch is swung at and missed, Smoltz delivers a scientific, microscopic tribute to the pitcher. If it’s hit, an autopsy follows.

But to his credit, Smoltz doesn’t cause headaches; he causes brown-outs, make the lights dim. He saves us money on our electric bills.

Astros
Kyle Tucker flips his bat during Game 1.
AP

Surely, he must say something worth hearing over three-plus hours, but that has been drowned in his vat of dreary stew within minutes of the national anthem.

The sorriest part is that Smoltz is no better and no different from his first day in Fox’s booth in 2014. He still operates under the misconception that he should describe and examine every pitch until, somewhere in the second inning, we no longer pay attention.

But Fox’s overall productions were no easier on the better baseball senses. Crowd shots — endless, countless, redundant crowd shots — supplanted the logical design to televise World Series baseball.

Runners on base? Who cares where the defense is playing? The length of a runner’s lead? No extra charge for inattention to game circumstances.

Phillies
Phillies fans react during Game 5.
Getty Images

Fox, again, will scour the stands to find an overly wrought woman, her hands clasped in despair or prayer, awaiting the next pitch as if on the precipice of madness.

It’s part of all networks’ plan to best serve those least likely to be watching.

Of course, the one “play” Fox paid closest attention to wasa bat flip by Houston’s Kyle Tucker after he hit his second home run in Game 1. Fox made sure to show that several times, and at least once in slow-motion. Though Tucker’s team lost the game, that move is now the essence of televised baseball.

But why, in 2022, would we have expected better?

Unnecessary violence is perfectly legal in NFL

For all the NFL rules designed to protect players from needless injury, among the most indefensible and inexcusably dangerous “tackles” remains ignored — and technically legal.

You’ve seen it countless times, but let’s use the Patriots-Jets game last week on CBS as an example.

Pats QB Mac Jones was forced to run. He sprinted toward the far sideline. Heading out of bounds to avoid a hit, he couldn’t have stopped if he tried.

But as he was about to step out of bounds, defensive back D.J. Reed lowered his shoulder and blasted Jones. No flag — it was a legal hit, because Jones was still in-bounds by inches — but a sideline hassle, naturally, erupted as the Jets celebrated Reed’s brutal hit as if he’d done something special other than creamed canned corn.

All Reed needed to do was nudge, push or, at most, shove Jones, and he’d have been out of bounds.


After Bears wide receiver N’Keal Harry caught a short touchdown pass in man-to-man coverage against the Cowboys last Sunday, Fox’s Daryl “Moose” Johnston gave it the Moose Johnston replay treatment, meaning he spoke an endless stream of genuine gridiron gibberish:

Bears
Bears wide receiver N’Keal Harry (8) catches a pass for a touchdown as Dallas Cowboys cornerback Kelvin Joseph.
USA TODAY Sports

“Now here is [DB] Kelvin Joseph right here (Johnston circled him with his telestrator). Now, he has no help to the left. He is playing heavy outside leverage in their coverage.

“There is nobody to his left. He has no help on that side. Don’t know why he was playing such heavy leverage to the side of the field where he had some help.”

Got that?

The replay simply showed Harry making a quick, tight move to the outside, Joseph doing a pretty good job sticking with him, and QB Justin Fields hitting Harry with a nice, tight pass.

Heavy leverage? That was Harry’s first TD catch since 2020. Previously this season, he’d caught one pass. Was Johnston advocating double coverage? If so, who would he have left in single coverage or uncovered?

Or was Johnston just eager to use the term “heavy leverage,” whatever it meant?

But now in its 20th season of throwing Johnston at us, Fox surely knows what it’s doing.

In comes stream madness

So, The Eagles-Texans NFL game and the NHL’s Rangers-Bruins game on Thursday night were both the exclusive viewing property of streaming networks. Brilliant marketing.

Those who pay for the Rangers over MSG were given the cool breeze. More to come, a la the Yankees and Mets this past season.

This is known as teaching fans to live without — abandoning longtime detovees to cast bait among the young.

Look what pay-per-view did for boxing. Go ahead, try it: Name the current middleweight champion of the world. Choose from any of the six now listed. Last we knew was Bernard Hopkins, more than 10 years ago.


Reader Ed Grant claims there is no more redundantly stupid new-age expression in broadcast sports than football’s “positive gain.” Yeah, that one makes me perspire sweat.

Still, the kings of them all — the ones that makes me revert back to the past — are the triple-redundant, “bases-loaded, grand slam home run” and the “leadoff, solo home run to start the game.”


Nets
Kyrie Irving and Steve Nash
NBAE via Getty Images

Time for Kyrie Irving to make up his mind. Are Jews agents of Satan or is he letting them off the hook? Did the Holocaust occur or didn’t it? Are Jews going to hell or aren’t they? The world awaits.

In the meantime, Kyrie, what should Jews do with all those slaves they’re holding?

One last thing, Kyrie: Wanna buy some Nets tickets? I’ve got two down low for Fringe Lunatic Appreciation Night.


Reader Of The Week comes right out of Ripley’s Believe It or Get Lost:

Shortly after the Nets fired coach Steve Nash and were in the throes of Irving’s profoundly ignorant social media seminar on world and religious history, reader Ron Zajicek emailed that the team is so messed up it might now hire disgraced, suspended Celtics coach Ime Udoka.

This email, time coded, arrived roughly two hours before word was first delivered that the Nets had asked for and been granted permission to solicit Udoka!

“I was just joking!” Zajicek later wrote.

That’s the problem, the NBA has become bad joke-proof, drowning in its own bilge.



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Tyler Cowan