In more ways than one, the World Series is a tie. Detroit and kSan Diego aren't the only ones who are even.
NBC is too.
The broadcasters -- Joe Garagiola and Vin Scully -- are playing each other to a draw. Scully, metaphorical, resonant and rich as usual, has the best voice in baseball. He is a joy to listen to.
Garagiola is up to his old tricks, ahhh-ing and cliche-ing his way through the Series. He is as blatant as Scully is subtle.
It's Game 2, and they are talking -- again -- about their new super-duper slow motion camera. (More on that later.) A replay shows a pitch with the seams spinning. Scully: "Wouldn't you love once to see the ball that way?"
Garagiola, exuberantly: "In your lifetime."
All too often, Garagiola leads Scully down a trivial, cliche-ridden path, leaving Scully to try to get them back home in one piece. When Garagiola said of Detroit's Larry Herndon in Game 2, as he batted, "It's a tribute to him that he's there," Scully paused, then dived into an anecdote about Herndon leaving the clubhouse after Game 1 without changing clothes so he wouldn't have to talk to reporters.
Garagiola also put us through a longer-than-necessary routine on Ruppert Jones' batting stance, comparing it to a hula dance during a Don Ho record. And we got, again from Garagiola, the obligatory "franchise" remark about Detroit reliever Willie Hernandez. Ugh.
Tattered cliches aside, this really is quite a duo. They read lips. They steal signs. To Garagiola's credit, he came up with the "scoop" of the Series to date when he called the Padres' pitchout seconds before it happened in the sixth inning of Game 2.
"How did you know that?" asked Scully, proxy for 50 million viewers.
"The fist," Garagiola said. It seems the sign for a pitchout has not changed and Garagiola just picked it up. Later, NBC put a camera on the booth and Scully had Garagiola go through his old signs.
Fine. But Garagiola's old catcher routine seems never-ending and that gets tiring.
Scully, in his 10th Series, is the lip reader. He caught Tigers Manager Sparky Anderson praising the San Diego bullpen, which shut out his team for 8 1/3 innings in Game 2. It's nice to know Anderson feels the same way the rest of the country does.
Other Scullyisms: "A spider web of light over Jack Murphy," describing the stadium lights as picked up by the TV cameras; the Tigers' lead has "gone a-glimmering," in Game 2; and Terry Kennedy's sharp grounder "knocked the letters off (Lou Whitaker's) shirt" before Kurt Bevacqua's home run.
Scully gives immediate perspective. When Bevacqua made it from first to third on a hit after being thrown out the day before trying to stretch a double into a triple, Scully said, "It's an easy trip for him. He started from first instead of home."
But isn't someone missing in the booth? Where's the third man? When Garagiola and Tony Kubek hooked up for, say, a Cincinnati-Pittsburgh game on a Saturday afternoon in July, two seemed enough. But, thanks to Monday Night Football, the big event seems suited for three.
In 1982, NBC went with four in the booth -- Garagiola, Kubek, Dick Enberg and Tom Seaver. It was SRO and no one liked it. So NBC execs have bent over backward to avoid congestion in the booth and on the air waves.
No one is talking over anyone else. But wouldn't it be nice to have the perspective of another expert to go with Garagiola? Possibly a younger man, closer to the game, like Seaver?
NBC's "less is more" philosophy certainly has had its moments. By far the best was on Bevacqua's three-run home run in Game 2. As soon as the ball dropped into the seats, Scully and Garagiola fell silent. For one minute, as the replay showed Bevacqua turning around in a circle and jumping for joy, they didn't say a word. The San Diego celebration melted into a commercial. With absolutely nothing said.
Silence has been broken (again and again) with those nagging little promos of the new slow-motion camera. Okay, Okay. It's great. Especially the pictures of Jack Morris' split-fingered fast ball.
NBC decided it would display a graphic on the new camera (called the RCA CCD, which uses a shutter to create almost-still frames) only once in Game 1. NBC didn't like the constant graphics ABC used to promote its Sony Super Slo-Mo camera at the Olympics.
So, instead of words on the screen, we get noise from the booth. Like good salespeople, Garagiola and Scully should realize when the customer has been convinced -- and cut the hard sell.
While we're at it, NBC should cut The Wave. Give Detroit equal time and then show baseball.
Scully was anticipating the Detroit crowd as Game 2 ran its course. "Wait till we get to Tiger Stadium . . . ."
"Ahhh," said you-know-who.
Oh well. At least he knows the signs.