Yesterday afternoon’s match up between the Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers was everything you could ask for from a late afternoon game. It was a tense, tightly fought affair that needed extra innings to decide a winner. That winning decision was reached when Matt Kemp, the very same one who earlier kept his team in the game with an RBI single in the tenth, hit a walk off home run in the twelfth inning.
While the drama of an extra inning comeback and eventual victory in front of the hometown fans was exhilarating, it didn’t have to be that way.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, with two outs and the bases loaded, the left handed hitting James Loney came up to the plate for the Dodgers as a pinch hitter replacing the emotional Juan Uribe. For the Phillies, right handed reliever Michael Schwimer was on the mound, having just come into the game to pitch around the right handed hitting Jerry Hairston with the idea that he’d pitch to Uribe.
Presumably in case Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly went to Loney instead of Uribe, Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel had left handed reliever Jake Diekman warming up. But instead of going to Diekman after Mattingly made the switch, Manuel left Schwimer in the game. It was a gutsy call considering that in his brief Major League experience, left handers have crushed Schwimer to the tune of a . 377 wOBA. Meanwhile, Loney has considerable more success against right handed pitching with a career .343 wOBA compared to .295 versus southpaws.
Having such knowledge of the situation would’ve made the Schwimer/Loney mano e mano battle all the more dramatic. But instead of providing this type of enhanced context to the match up, the Comcast Sportsnet broadcast booth for Philadelphia decided to let us know that Loney has 85 RBIs with the bases loaded.
I don’t mean to suggest that RBIs are useless and television broadcasts should use only weighted on base averages. I’d like that, but that’s not the point of my complaint here. They could’ve shown other, more palatable numbers to compare the splits of the pitcher and hitter, like ERA, OPP AVG, AVG, OBP or OPS.
It’s just so completely lazy and unimaginative to put up the meaningless information that they did in an instance when they could’ve easily provided something that would’ve directly added to the experience of those viewing at home or on their computers. But that doesn’t seem to be the concern of very many broadcasters. No, they’d rather follow the status quo instead of bothering to offer viewers anything that might further engage an audience.
I’m sorry if this comes across as nitpicking, but I watch a lot of baseball through the year and the ongoing failures of sports broadcasters to provide proper context to dramatic moments adds up after a short while. Thank god there’s a Batman movie to see tonight.