It's hard to believe TBS has been broadcasting part of MLB's postseason since 2007. In the years since their debut on the big stage, TBS has gone through some major growing pains. Gone (thankfully) is Chip Caray as the main play-by-play voice. Gone are some of the production snafus that plagued TBS in some of its early broadcasts as a national baseball broadcaster. And hey, at least they don't have Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. However, as this 2011 postseason has taught us, TBS still has some way to go to be a completely respected source for baseball's postseason, even if they have improved since 2007. So with another playoffs under their belts, let's examine the good, bad, and ugly of TBS's postseason coverage.
-Although none of the announcers TBS employed have a one-way ticket to the Hall of Fame, their stable of announcers showed a remarkable amount of quality depth. Brian Anderson, who broadcasts Brewers games during the season, stepped in quite admirably for the network's normal #1 Ernie Johnson. It was unfortunate that Johnson couldn't broadcast the postseason due to a family health issue, but Anderson stepped in and showed there are some up-and-coming young announcers in the game. Behind Anderson, Victor Rojas (of the Angels) also scored plaudits for his work in the NLDS between Arizona and Milwaukee. TBS also showcased a great stable of analysts led by John Smoltz, Bob Brenly, and Joe Simpson among others.
John Smoltz especially showed improvement in the booth with his prescient analysis, such as when he predicted Delmon Young would be swinging at the first pitch in Game 3 of the ALDS before the Tigers OF hit a first pitch home run. In the future, Smoltz could truly develop into one of the game's best analysts without being handcuffed by fellow pitcher Ron Darling, who was often redundant in a three man booth. The studio crew led by Matt Winer was also tolerable, although Cal Ripken, Dennis Eckersley, and Mitch Williams David Wells won't be pushing Inside the NBA for an Emmy anytime soon.
-Give credit to TBS for continuing to push the technology envelope during their postseason broadcasts with PitchTrax, which charts balls and strikes during every at-bat. Fans seem polarized on the annoyance of the added graphic, and the PitchTrax doesn't exactly seem to have the best accuracy either. But, it is enjoyable to see it chart the trends of a pitcher during a single at-bat. There was graphical evidence there for analysts to use to show if a pitcher was trying to paint the corners or was staying away from a dangerous hitter. Sure, it might need to have the bugs worked out, but the graphic is more informative and less distracting than ESPN's K Zone, which has begun to be superimposed over home plate during at-bats. While some may disagree with PitchTrax, I'll bet there were some who didn't like the 1st and 10 line either.