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John Smoltz and other analysts making MLB broadcasts intolerable

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Not too long ago it was a simple, steady source of pleasure. You turned on a ballgame, sat back and enjoyed.

Now? Between what baseball has become and how it’s televised, it’s too often a case of alienation of affection.

John Smoltz has been afflicting Fox’s telecasts since he was hired in 2014, soon to become its lead MLB analyst. Yet through several top production executives, none reached the obvious and painful conclusion that Smoltz blunts viewers’ senses with his detailed post-mortem forensic examination of every *&$#+@! pitch.

Why and how can Fox possibly think we enjoy this? You tell me. I don’t get it. Why does a foul ball — all foul balls — serve as the foreword to a seminar on why, when we’re not being schooled on “spin rates”?

Even with the pitch clock serving to shorten his excesses, Smoltz did his usual to wreck the Yankees-Dodgers telecast Saturday. That’s telecast, as in on TV, which was turned on in order to watch the game. That’s why all the TV cameras were there.

The shame of it all is that Smoltz says things worth hearing, considering and applying. But by the third inning, you no longer hear him as he becomes uninvited and certainly unwelcome background noise.

John Smoltz’s incessant analysis after every pitch has damaged FOX national baseball broadcasts, Phil Mushnick writes.
Getty Images

Saturday, we knew all was lost early when he advised that we “divide the strike zone into four quadrants.” I wasn’t going to do that. Silly me, I just wanted to watch the game.

And I eyed the mute button for salvation only to realize that was the coward’s way out and a dereliction of assigned duty. Thus I was again reminded of Groucho Marx’s crack to 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.”

And so I again invite any and all of Fox’s top sports bosses to sit with me during a Smoltz telecast then tell me they enjoyed his work, that they think that is what baseball fans prefer, that is what we enjoy and favor as opposed to anything else, including silence.

Locally, the strain to enjoy baseball telecasts last week was again maximized by those who asked us to ignore what we saw in favor of what we were told.

Sunday on SNY, slumping Met Francisco Lindor jogged to first on a fly to right-center that was trapped by the Blue Jays’ Daulton Varsho. With the Mets down, 4-1, Lindor stood on first when, had he run on contact, he likely would have been on second.

Keith Hernandez then lamely explained and excused Lindor with the modern substitute for fundamental failure: “He thought.”

“He thought that was going to be caught,” said Hernandez.

Well, no fooling. But that’s not a legit defense for the indefensible. And for those who know the difference it was insulting.

SNY’s stadium rover Steve Gelbs filled in over the weekend for Gary Cohen. From the start, he seemed to dismiss the audience as baseball know-nothings when he described Toronto leadoff batter George Springer as “a hit machine.”

Keith Hernandez, talking with Buck Showalter during spring training, excused Francisco Lindor's lack of hustle during a recent game.
Keith Hernandez, talking with Buck Showalter during spring training, excused Francisco Lindor’s lack of hustle during a recent game.
Corey Sipkin for the NY Post

Well, this “hit machine” has struck out 100 or more times in each of his seven full or nearly full seasons, including 178 times in 2016. Astute fans know Springer as another all-or-nothing swinger.

And Gelbs is another who can’t speak plain baseball English, thus players don’t “score,” they “plate a run.”

And now SNY is stuck on these artistic “look what we can do” blurry split-screen shots simultaneously displaying the pitcher and the batter. But they’re equal parts fancy and worthless.

And who any longer knows where the Yankees game can be found or whether they’ll be able to watch it and for how much more money?

We used to be allowed to just watch the game. Imagine that.

PGA Tour threw away its honor for Saudi sawbucks

To think that golf used to be proudly known as “A Game of Honor.”

The PGA now seems to be working off a copy of the Vichy French Capitulation Manual, selling out to the enemy, surrendering after a brief fight. PGA boss Jay Monahan, meet Marshal Philippe Petain.

So what if the Saudis were behind the planning and funding of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. So what if 3,000 were murdered on American soil. As deep-thinking LIV Golf sellout Bryson DeChambeau told CNN, “Nobody’s perfect.”

As for big mouth, tough guy Brooks Koepka, who sold out to LIV for Saudi money, here’s his challenge:

His model wife chooses to parade in revealing, hubba-hubba outfits. Have her try doing that in public in, say, Riyadh or Mecca. Put your moolah where your Mullahs are. See how well that goes over with your bosses.

And now professional golf has become so greed-driven, so ignominiously compromised that discriminate fans will need to shower before and after watching — should they choose to remain fans.

Several readers have asked what Vin Scully’s response would be if he were assigned to call a Dodgers game at which a group of Catholic-trashing, fringe-lunatic, cross-dressing, face-painted men in nuns’ outfits were invited and honored as part of a Pride Night.

That’s Vin Scully, 67 years the Voice of the Dodgers, a Catholic and proud son of Jesuit order Fordham University.

I knew him well enough to say he’d be disgusted, appalled and not the least bit shy to let everyone know why. He’d refuse to work that game.

Both the Dodgers and MLB commissioner Rob Manfred should be relieved that Scully is gone. He’d have been heard on this.

To that end, I wonder if the Dodgers would have tried this and MLB would have allowed it had Scully still been on the job.

Hey MLB, exorcise ghost runners

Reader Walt Rondesko has one for MLB commissioner Rob Manfred: With the pitch clock shortening the lengths of games, why not return some baseball to baseball by losing that artificial softball league additive that calls for an automatic runner at second come the 10th inning?

And why not do so immediately before it determines another game while further damaging pitchers’ and batters’ career numbers?

Not for nothing, but I’ve yet to run into anyone who gives a rat’s retina about what’s going on between Fox Sports 1’s Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe.

Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe
Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe
Getty Images

Bad baseball played faster: The Twins, against five Guardians’ pitchers on Sunday, struck out 16 times — 60 percent of their outs. Designated hitter Royce Lewis struck out three times. On the same day, the Tigers and White Sox totaled 26 whiffs with the teams’ designated hitters striking out seven times.

Does TNT actually think that during power plays in the Panthers-Golden Knights Stanley Cup Finals, viewers are going to look away from live play to read a scroll along the bottom of the screen giving the names of the players on the ice?

So Braves’ manager Brian Snitker yanked Marcell Ozuna after Ozuna had stood and watched his 415-foot blast result in a single. Ozuna’s self-smitten, backfired insouciance still made him eligible for MLB Network’s “How to Attract Young Fans Player of the Week.”

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