On Defense, Collins and Profitable Lies

I love glove. I love infield defense. It's why I'm still obsessed with the double play combo of Cesar Izturis and Alex Cora from ten years ago. It's why I'm growing frustrated with some of these lineups Don Mattingly has been putting out lately.

The greatest double-play combo in LA Dodgers history on photo day at the ballpark.
This picture may or may not be framed and on my nightstand.
Twitter / @ThkBleu
Take today's game in Cincinnati, for example. Zack Greinke is one of the top starters in the league this year, but the defense backing him up today is suspect, at best. Instead of Juan Uribe and Mark
Ellis, we have Michael Young and Skip Schumaker holding down third base and second base, respectively.

Why would you not want your best defense behind one of your best pitchers? Uribe and MEllis aren't tired, they've had plenty of days off recently. This isn't a time to go with the Sunday afternoon utility lineup and hope for the best, this is Cincinnati. The Reds are a playoff-caliber team and one of the last we'll see in the regular season.

Opportunities for experimentation and rest are ahead in series against the Giants, Rockies and Padres. Probably even the Diamondbacks, too, before too long. Hell, the last three games of the season are against the Rockies, then there will be an extra day off because of the Wild Card games. Put Dee Gordon in at catcher for all I care.

This is an opportunity, right now, to tune up your proper playoff lineup behind an elite starting pitcher, and we've got the iron gloves of Young and Schu in the lineup. Sure, they can contribute with their bats as well as Uribe and MEllis, but they can't field worth a damn.

Good luck, Zack, and I'm sorry in advance. We can only pray Donnie will go with the varsity lineup in October.

Veteran Midwestern college sports announcer Eric Collins.
Eric Collins is finished calling Dodgers games on TV this season. Hopefully, he's done for good. For five full seasons, he's demonstrated an utter lack of interest in improving his performance or even studying up on the Dodgers and Los Angeles in order to offer relevant facts and conversation.

His game calls are childish, amateurish, and unworthy of the Dodgers brand. He's sloppy, inattentive to game action, gets excited too easily, and engages Steve Lyons in a buffoonish and trivial way that doesn't allow Lyons to offer his expertise as a player.

We'll find out this offseason what the plans are with Collins, but I'm not holding my breath. The real issue here is if the Dodgers, and their new broadcast partners in Time Warner Cable, are motivated to make a change.

That motivation simply might not be there. Collins is cheap and available. He's not a high-dollar guy with a name and a demo reel that commands top dollar in unbreakable multi-year contracts. He's just not. Unfortunately, you're not going to get a top play-by-play guys to call only 50-60 games per year, because they can probably get a full 162-game schedules with other teams.

Face it, we're a captive audience. Other than Vin Scully, there are few announcers today you can honestly say will draw more viewers or listeners to a game. To be fair, Collins isn't bad enough to make you stop watching games, he's just bad enough to make you complain and leave the TV on mute. Works just fine for ratings.

By the way, because I never seem to let things go, I noticed that the Arizona Republic and Gannett are still profiting off a stunningly inaccurate piece of garbage "reporting" earlier this summer.

I'm referring, of course, to the thoroughly discredited account of an interaction between Yasiel Puig and Luis Gonzalez at Chase Field. Columnist Dan Bickley opened the article with a hammy, overbearing, rush to judgment against Puig, then followed it up with such gems as "except Puig wouldn’t even look up or acknowledge his visitor."

All of the catch phrases you'd expect to find in a poorly-sourced report are there. Words like "allegedly" and "sources confirm" are thrown into this copy rather awkwardly. They don't serve to inform, they serve as a cynical journalistic shield to hide under and fend off proper complaints about bogus reporting. I've written and edited a lot of news copy in my professional career, and I can spot a poorly disguised agenda a mile away.

What he found was a juicy little piece of gossip. He filled in some gaps later to make it work out. He admitted in the column that Gonzo didn't talk about the details. We know he didn't interview Puig or Mark McGwire, who offered completely different accounts to other interviewers, so his blatant admission reveals everything you need to know. He flat out admitted he spoke to nobody about the specifics, yet offered them anyway and judged Puig on them. Oops.

Being a "columnist" does allow more freedom as a writer. You can offer unqualified opinions, analysis, really anything you want. But it doesn't allow you to disregard the common principles of fairness and accuracy. Get the facts right, then say whatever you want.

Notice the story is still active and the ads are still loading. The pennies are still trickling in for Gannett, which also has a version on USA Today. Well played.

I wonder if somewhere deep in the online underbelly of Gannett and its many platforms, there's a story titled "Romney Defeats Obama" or "Dewey Defeats Kershaw." The accuracy would be the same.


Jon Soo Hoo

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