AL Division Series: Awkward Moment

Color guys are in the television booth in order to give viewers insight and some entertaining insider stories about the game. Usually, they’re hilariously wrong.

Buck Martinez, for instance, just now during the American League Division Series between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Texas Rangers, describes what he admires about Darren Oliver, veteran left-handed pitcher with the Rangers. Apparently, Oliver is “reliable” and that’s why he’s made “so many trips to the postseason”. He never gets “flustered” or “rattled”. He “knows” how to get these “tough left-handed hitters out”.

Buck Martinez

Correlation? Causation? Wut?

Right after these assurances, bottom of the 7th, one out, Johnny Damon of the Rays comes up to bat, hits a ground ball to the first base side, but Darren Oliver fails to cover first because he hesitates and can’t beat Damon to the bag. Ben Zobrist hits a single up the middle and Casey Kotchman gets a hit to load the bases. Oliver is removed for Alexi Ogando. The loaded bases lead to a run…lead gets cut to 4-2. Now, this doesn’t mean that Oliver is remarkably bad or anything (it’s only a single inning) … it just means that the oft cited ability of some Major Leaguers to “not get rattled” is ridiculously overplayed.

This just goes to show you, that in sports as in politics, talking heads are most often just plain wrong. Oliver, over his career, has been somewhat below average, and lucky in his team choices for the past six seasons. Of course, we have to remember the poetry that color-guys bring to the game, like when Buck Martinez famously uttered:

Jonathan Papelbon, not wasting any time, going to his bread and butter there, and that’s the cheese.

I suppose we’ll just have to live with the inaccuracies.

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