Expanding on our Sunday media column post, Brian Anderson, TBS’ play-by-play man on Dodgers’ games throughout the National League first two playoff series, understands some of your pain.
He saw the Dodgers play all six times this season when they were up against the Milwaukee Brewers, the team Anderson covers regularly for Fox Sports Wisconsin. That includes Clayton Kershaw’s seven-inning, 14-strikeout game on June 2 in Miller Park.
He’s watched the SportsNet L.A. feed of the Dodgers with Joe Davis and either Orel Hershiser or Normar Garciaparra since it was clear to him in early September that he’d be doing the Dodgers’ NLCS series. He’s followed the career of Yu Darvish since his MLB career began in Texas — specifically since Anderson’s brother of five years, Mike, who got a cup of coffee as a Cincinnati Reds pitcher, is a Pacific Rim scout with the Rangers who was involved in Darvish’s signing. Anderson also got to call a Dodgers’ game on TBS in September that Darvish pitched.
But no matter how much you see, and hear, and experience, it’s not always easy to glean information that satisfies everyone involved.
“I always try to do my prep work from a baseball perspective,” said Anderson, a former St. Mary’s of Texas in San Antonio college player. “I have my brother, a scout and a great reference. I love to get scouting material. I’ll talk to third-base coaches as part of my normal routine and find out what they’ll be doing if balls are hit to certain outfielders. That’s very important to know when you have so much information available.
“During the regular season you have a lot of time for storytelling. During the playoffs, things change. You try to tell a story, and all heck could break loose.”
From his iPad of information, Anderson pulls up his notes. But he thinks it may have backfired a few times on his during the Dodgers-Diamondbacks NLDS that he called with Joe Simpson and Dennis Eckersley.
“I think we got a lot of blow back on Twitter from what we said about Yasiel Puig,” said Anderson.
The reason is, Anderson made a comment about how Puig might not always be accurate with his throws to bases. It sounded odd, but Anderson had a reason for that tidbit.
“We know Puig has the great arm, but when we talked to third-bases coaches doing our advanced work, many of them said that if you get Puig to field a ground ball and he has to go either to his left or his right, you can take a chance of sending a runner on his arm,” said Anderson.
“So I said that on the broadcast, and (analyst Joe) Simpson chimed in — it was a situation where (Arizona’s Paul) Goldschmidt stopped at second on a single to right and didn’t try to go to third, even though Puig was playing deep. People got upset when we said that. But that’s the nuance you get if you see Puig play every day on the local broadcast. Sure, Dodgers fans have seen him make big plays all year, but we’re trying to present the opposition’s point of view, from what the scouting reports say. We are being told things and we try to set that up.”
Similar things happened during the NLDS when Dodgers manager Dave Roberts allowed things like Kenta Maeda to hit for himself in Game 2, which implied that he would probably be stretched out to pitch at least the next full inning. But as it turned out, Maeda came out after one batter. Or that Maeda might only pitch to right-handed batters, but Roberts left him in to pitch a full eighth inning in Game 3, a stretch that included a left-handed batter.
“Those are how nuanced things can change from the regular season to post season, and it’s fascinating to watch,” said Anderson. “We learn along with everyone else. So when you parachute into a series, you can never grasp something that someone who sees the team every single day.
“At one point in the series, talking to Roberts, I even said, ‘Dave, you’re making me look bad! I’m trying to think along with you.’ And then he’ll explain how maybe he didn’t want to burn a pinch hitter … Part of the fun is relaying conversations we have with Roberts and then watching like everyone else how things can change.”