MLB Network has a near-perfect night
Armando Galarraga's near-perfect game turned into a near-perfect night for the MLB Network. Of course, the network benefited from having one of the the most sensational baseball stories in recent history, but it made the most it, handling the news almost flawlessly with excellent analysis and timely reporting. It was mesmerizing television that one couldn't turn away from, even though there were things to turn to, such as Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals and, locally, the Rays' comeback against the Blue Jays.
MLB Network began picking up the Detroit feed to the Tigers-Indians game and fans were able to watch the ninth inning. The net then stayed with the Tigers' post-game coverage for a few moments after the game and then went into fifth gear. It showed post-game interviews with Galarraga, Tigers catcher Alex Avila and Tigers' manager Jim Leyland. Analysts Harold Reynolds and Dave Valle dissected all sides of umpire Jim Joyce's blown call in measured voices, both pointing out the respect that major-league players have for Joyce.
Reynolds also made an interesting case that Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera wandered too far to make the play. Had he covered first, Reynolds said, and let the second baseman handle the grounder, perhaps it would have been an easier play and, perhaps, an easier call for Joyce.
ESPN's SportsCenter and Baseball Tonight also reacted well, especially a neat package showing what announcers calling other games from around the league had to say as they saw the replays. That included a small clip of Sun Sports' Dewayne Staats and Brian Anderson. But, the MLB Network won the night.
If Wednesday night's story pointed out one hole in MLBN's and ESPN's coverage it's the lack of an umpire's voice. Maybe it would be smart for both networks to hire former umpires to add occasional analysis, especially considering all the controversies involving umpires these days.