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MLB playoffs already going off the rails

The dye was cast early, as in the first inning of the season’s first playoff game, Tuesday’s Astros-Twins.

ESPN’s Karl Ravech delivered the news: “Sara Lang, who is doing research for us today, tells us that the ball that [Twins center fielder Byron] Buxton just hit was .78 feet off the ground, which is the second-lowest pitch Buxton has ever got a hit on.”

And away we go!

That soon was followed by analyst Eduardo Perez reporting that Houston starter Zack Greinke, “is averaging between 1.7 and 1.78 to home plate.”

And then the modern analytical strategies set in, the kind that leave traditionalists mocked and ridiculed for wondering whatever became of common sense.

Perez and co-analyst Tim Kurkjian wondered for the first of several times if Greinke was on a pitch count, that he might be pulled after about 60. Why 60? It’s a best-of-three. Justin Verlander is done for the year. Why would any sane manager predetermine how many pitches he would throw, even if Greinke is 37?

Then Minnesota’s Eddie Rosario hit a line-drive out to first, quickly gauged and reported by ESPN to have had a 104 mph exit velocity. Gosh, it was hit so hard ESPN treated us to the sight of two replays — both in slow-motion.

The first inning’s final out was made by muscular Miguel Sano, who hit a weak grounder, but all things considered not bad as this season he struck out 90 times in 180 at-bats and hit .204.

Zack Greinke
Zack Greinke walks off the mound in Game 1 for the Astros.AP

In the fifth, after the Twins pulled starter Kenta Maeda with a 1-0 lead and having allowed just two hits — apparently he’s being saved for next season — Kurkjian began to unravel. He’d seen and heard enough. And he’s beautiful when he’s angry!

Greinke was yanked after allowing two hits in four innings when Kurkjian said, “Look, I’m sorry fellas, but he’s a borderline Hall of Famer, Greinke. He’s gotta go more than 79 pitches in Game 1 of a three-game series like this, when you have uncertainty in the bullpen — beyond uncertainty.”

But the beyond belief insanity was still a day away — that colossally inept, 13-inning, 37-strikeout, 14-pitcher, 4-hour-40-minute, 1-0 Braves win over the Reds.

And inserted several times was a hip-hop MLB promo celebrating The Game as action-packed and, better yet, loaded with showboats!

Even ESPN’s No. 1 crew, Matt Vasgersian and Alex Rodriguez — the latter having recently declared MLB “has never been more fun to watch!” — were left to declare big-league baseball fundamentally “dead,” from the inability to bat the ball into play or to disconnect the shift in a scoreless game with a bunt hit.

Vasgersian declared the strikeout epidemic, “a sad reality.”

Where have they been the last, oh, 5, 10 years?

That night Rodriguez returned to insulting even the moderately intelligent, anointing Gary Sanchez a “great hitter” no matter what he’s batting. Well, he was batting .147, which is why Rodriguez’s ex-ESPN partner Aaron Boone benched him in Game 1.

Yesterday as the Reds and Braves totaled 26 strikeouts in Atlanta’s 5-0, 8 ½-inning win, say-anything Rodriguez remained in the Land of Huh? — stating, “Strikeouts don’t matter, it’s just an out, as long as you hit with enough power.”

Moments later he did what he does best: He contradicted himself, saying that putting the ball in play is essential, strikeouts don’t create scoring opportunities.

But Tuesday, with 60 percent of the Reds’ runs scored via home runs, what else could another home run-or-strikeout team do but co-star in such a farce posed as highest-paid championship baseball?

Regardless, Tom Hart who called Cardinals-Padres for ESPN, called that Reds-Braves fiasco “a thriller.”

Best of three? But there is no best.

Which of these were your favorite graphic?

1) During Yankees-Indians Game 1, ESPN posted a full-screen job noting that the Texas Rangers/Washington Senators and Milwaukee Brewers/Seattle Pilots have never, ever played in a World Series — “Never,” as Vasgersian tritely stressed, “been to the Fall Classic.”

But both have. The Brewers in 1982, the Rangers in 2010 and 2011.

2) An ESPN graphic noted that, “Four AL teams face elimination tomorrow.” In a best-of-three? All teams that lost their openers face elimination in their next game!

Metcalf gaffe on par for Carroll teams

They’ll never learn. Sunday, Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf, slowed then held the ball with one hand preparing to celebrate himself as he crossed the goal line — only to have the ball swatted away for a touchback.

But such is a hallmark of Pete Carroll teams — from Marshawn Lynch grabbing his crotch while scoring, photos of one was sold in NFL Stores, to WR Doug Baldwin miming a defecation with the ball after scoring in the Super Bowl.

And all college men!

Almost as stunning was that rather than show that as a from-the-studio game “highlight” in Seattle-Dallas, Fox showed Ezekiel Elliott scoring on a 1-yard dive!

Competition for Mike Francesa?

Late in Saturday’s Kansas State at Oklahoma, KSU, a 28-point dog, trailed, 35-28, when Fox lead college football analyst Joel Klatt authoritatively said that KSU had only one hope: “This is a team that is going to have to do it all through the air.”

On the next play KSU ran for a 32-yard touchdown, and would win, 38-35.

Is ESPN analyst Jessica Mendoza still unaware that the games she works are on television? That we don’t need detailed descriptions or guesswork and comparative analysis on every pitch and swing? Or does ESPN think we enjoy that?

Her Game 1 chat with White Sox manager Rick Renteria, with his club up, 3-0, on home runs, ended with her asking him to explain his team’s batting “approach.” Renteria’s microphone suddenly went dead — presumably.

Can’t tell who is who anymore

For years, Pitt football was instantly identifiable for its dark blue and gold uniforms. Saturday, for ESPN, the team wore Nike gray, the players’ names in black so they were barely legible. Oh, and the Lakers now often wear Nike black.

Pitt Football
Pittsburgh’s Jordan AddisonAP

Want a stat worthy of your consideration? Five of this year’s MLB postseason teams entered with record-low batting averages for playoff teams.

TBS’ Rich Waltz, during Blue Jays-Rays, described Toronto as “just learning how to play defense.” What? Why? They all arrived directly from T-ball? What was taught in the minors? And now MLB is greedily defunding Minor League Baseball.

At 0-0 in the first inning of Game 2 of White Sox-A’s, Oakland having lost the first, ESPN’s Dave Flemming said, “The A’s would love to get the lead.” Who knew?

Reggie Bushed: Via tape Saturday, Fox showed college football studio analyst Reggie Bush fast asleep on the set.

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