Bob Brenly has a lot of natural talent as a broadcaster. He was born with the gift of intelligence. There are times, however, when Brenly loses focus when he covers Starlin Castro.
A good example was in his first AB when Brenly incessantly talked about how the Cubs are a team that works counts — except for Castro. Yet, Castro was in the middle of a full count, 8-pitch AB (in fact, Castro is 26th in the NL in pitchers per plate appearance this year). Had Brenly been focusing on the game in front of him instead of losing himself in extraneous thought, he may not have missed that AB. It was undoubtedly a frustrating misplay from an announcer who has the talent to do better.
But Brenly’s struggles didn’t end there. The next mental error occurred when Junior Lake came up to bat. Brenly didn’t really have a play there, but he forced the issue anyway, saying that Lake was “yet another player” who was moved off of SS because of Castro — except that is completely false. Lake was moved off of shortstop because he didn’t have the hands or feel for the position — or the infield in general. Not only was Lake not able to stick at SS, he was also unable to stick at 3B. The only player blocking third when Lake was in the minors was Ian Stewart, who was just a short term fix — and not a good one at that.
Why an intelligent broadcaster like Bob Brenly did not know that is surprising. Perhaps it was a lack of preparation when studying the game notes. It’s too bad such a naturally talented announcer should make an error on such a routine call — a call that any analyst should have been able to handle.
Later, Brenly was talking about how many full counts Diamondbacks starter Josh Collementer was getting into early in the game, but as Castro stepped up to the plate, Brenly remarked that he doesn’t have to worry about that with Castro. This was especially puzzling after already missing the full count AB in his first plate appearance. It’s one thing to make an error — that happens to everyone, but to make the same error twice within a few innings, you really have to question why he reverted to old habits instead of learning from his mistakes. That’s not the kind of attitude you want to see out of an analyst.
If it was just a one time thing with one player, we could probably forgive him, but Brenly has fallen into similar habits in the past. Some may remember he struggled analyzing Aramis Ramirez. He also had issues with Alfonso Soriano, questioning his work ethic and “grit” — that is, until he learned how much preparation and hard work he had to do everyday to play with a lot of pain in his knees. Soriano answered the bell and was out there everyday. He played the OF, and was productive late into his career. Brenly eventually made the adjustment late in Soriano’s tenure and even praised him at times. but it was just too little, too late.
Perhaps it’s still not too late for Brenly when it comes to Castro. Today is another day. Perhaps the next time Castro comes to the plate, Brenly won’t have such an aggressive approach and announce the at-bat with better focus and a less negative attitude.
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