Bases empty, two outs, a 3-1 game, #8 hitter up. Nothing comes down to this.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A.J. Pierzynski Becomes First Player-Broadcaster

In a surprising move Sunday night, the Chicago White Sox and WCIU-TV jointly announced that in the 2011 season, catcher A.J. Pierzynski will be signed to a contract the likes of which has never been seen before in the Major Leagues: Pierzynski will serve as player-broadcaster, simultaneously calling the game from behind the plate and over the WCIU airwaves.

While the player-broadcaster is a first, baseball has seen this type of dual-occupation before. Player-managers were common in the early stages of baseball's history: players such as Cap Anson, Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker laced up their cleats while at the same time serving as their team's representative to the umpiring crew. The player-manager has been seen as recently as 1986, when Pete Rose played 72 games while managing the Cincinnati Reds.

A press release from the White Sox went into some details about this unique situation. Pierzynski will be fitted with special equipment designed to allow him to broadcast in any game situation. New catching and batting helmets will be manufactured with built-in high-quality microphones. For the pre-game show, during which time Pierzynski will be undergoing his regular pre-game routine, a tech crew will carefully follow his every move in order to allow his routine to continue uninterrupted while he participates in the pre-game broadcast, all the while doing such typical preparations as batting practice, squats, and showering.

A.J. Pierzynski will be the first player-broadcaster in history

Pierzynski will be the colour commentator to Ken "Hawk" Harrelson, play-by-play man for the White Sox since 1990. The White Sox believe this team will provide viewers with an entirely original perspective on the game, with Harrelson able to ask his partner, at any time, "what's the mood on the field right now, A.J.?" Answers to this question are expected to range from "tense" to "pressure-packed" to "basebally".

In order to audition for the job, Pierzynski called Chicago's recent series against the Los Angeles Angels. Several excerpts from Saturday's game detail the types of exchanges viewers can expect to hear over the next three years:

Bottom of the 4th, White Sox leading 2-0, Torii Hunter at bat for the Angels, one out, runner on first.
Harrelson: A.J., what can you tell me about this batter?
Pierzynski: He fucking sucks, dude. (shouting) Right Torii? You couldn't hit my big white ass mooning you from two feet away!
Muffled Voice in the Background: Shut up A.J., I'll tell you what big white ass I hit last night, your MOM's.
Harrelson: A.J., any thoughts on what (pitcher Gavin) Floyd is gonna throw here?
Pierzynski: (loudly) Well, Gavin likes to get the first-pitch fastball in there for a strike to get ahead of the hitter, so I'd be looking fastball here.
Harrelson: The pitch... a curveball in the dirt has Hunter WAY out in front, strike one.
Pierzynski: HAH, gotcha Hunter. I was callin' curve all the way man.
Muffled Voice in the Background: Fuck you, A.J.

Top of the 6th, White Sox leading 2-1, Pierzynski at the bat.
Harrelson: Okay A.J., take me through how you plan to attack this at bat.
Pierzynski: Well Hawk, (pitcher Jered) Weaver has nasty stuff, and I got no chance against him, so I plan to peek back at the catcher to see what he's gonna throw.
Harrelson: Is that something you commonly do?
Pierzynski: Oh, all the TIME dude, I couldn't hit for shit without it. He's goin' slider on the outside corner, just fyi.
Harrelson: The pitch... a slider is roped into the left-center gap by Pierzynski! Bourjos bobbles it, and A.J.'s rounding second...
Pierzynski: (puff) This is gonna be a close play Hawk (gasp) oh SHIT I'm gonna diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive
Harrelson: Pierzynski JUST beats the tag and is into third with a triple!

While WCIU will go with the Harrelson-Pierzynski duo for next year, they haven't ruled out shifting the broadcast even further into the dugout or on the playing field. "This is just the beginning," said WCIU Sports Director Don Trepanier, "we have a lot of ideas about player-player broadcast teams. Imagine a pitcher-catcher battery that could also call the game as it happened. Or a play-by-play man on the White Sox with a colour man on the opposing team for both perspectives. And of course we'd love to get Ozzie Guillen on the mic."

Guillen, the White Sox' manager, it turns out, was WCIU's first choice to be Hawk Harrelson's colour man in 2011, but MLB vetoed this idea based on Guillen's past controversial statements and stint in sensitivity training.

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