I, Claudia’s: A Thorne in No One’s Side

Say bonjour to another episode of “I, Claudia’s,” America’s first and foremost experiment in baseball reporting and self-congratulation.

Tuesday, April 13
One of my great interests as Baseballing Enthusiast — an interest that I’m sure is largely shared by the wide readership — is the art and science of baseball broadcasting. Just as a great college professor can make almost subject interesting, so too can a great broadcaster greatly enhance the experience of the game upon which he’s commenting.

I’ve already had occasion to sing Bob Uecker’s praises in this space. I’d like now to add to the list of FanGraphs-approved broadcasters.

I had the opportunity to watch MASN’s coverage of tonight’s Tampa Bay/Baltimore game. Their broadcast team — color guy Mike Flanagan and play-by-play man Gary Thorne — is the very picture of competence. Thorne, in particular, distinguished himself, both for his Official Man Voice, and also for his unusual commitment to the faculty of reason.

Here are three comments right from that particular horse’s mouth:

1. “I do not favor public money for stadiums.” (While discussing the stadium situation in Tampa Bay.)

2. “Someone asked me, ‘Is it bush league to attempt a bunt during a no-hitter?’ No. You’ll hear guys on the opposing bench — the guys for the pitching team — hear’em saying ‘Swing the bat!’ You’ll hear’em saying some other things, too. But, no, it’s not.” (While discussing Ricky Romero‘s no-hitter, which was in its fifth or sixth inning at the time.)

3. “They have the best run differential in the Majors.” (While discussing the Philadelphia Phillies, their excellence through the first week and half of the season.)

Comment number one represents (a) the only sane view on stadium financing and (b) a stance that I’m guessing very few broadcasters are willing to make publicly, on account of their job security is often tied to ownership, and ownership — for obvious reasons — totally hearts public money. The second statement is also a commendably sane one — and slightly daring, if only because there are a number of Real Baseball Men who feel differently. Finally, the third comment there — one echoed immediately by Flanagan — demonstrates at least a cursory understanding of Pythagorean Wins, a surefire way for one to endear himself to the baseballing nerdbone community.

A very little bit of interweb-ing reveals this unexpected, yet not wholly surprising, information from Thorne’s bio:

Thorne is a 1970 graduate of the University of Maine with a bachelor of science in business. He graduated from the University of Maine School of Law in 1973 and received a doctorate in law in 1976 from the Georgetown University Law Center. He is a former assistant district attorney in Bangor, Maine, and was admitted to the Bar of the United States Supreme Court in March 1977.

Wednesday, April 14
Colby Lewis struck out 10 of the 24 Cleveland Indians he faced. Moreover, he induced 15 swings-and-misses — on about 13% of the pitches he threw, in other words. By comparison, last year’s strikeout leaders, Justin Verlander and Tim Lincecum, each had swinging-strike rates of about 11%.

Wanna hear about a PCL game I went to this evening? Well, you’re about to. The scene: a sparsely attended PGE Park in Portland. The players: the Sky Sox of Colorado Springs (Triple-A affiliate of the Rockies) and the Beavers of Portland. This is why I was excited to go: Rockies prospect and right-handed starter Samuel Deduno. No, Deduno’s not a household name, but he possesses some of the requisite skillz to pay the proverbial billz.

If one were to own the most recent edition of Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook, one would almost definitely read that Deduno has a 92-93 mph fastball with sink, as well as a power curveball, a less exciting changeup, and some control problems (to the tune of 5.2 BB/9 for his minor league career). If one were to read FanGraphs regularly, one would’ve noted how Marc Hulet ranked Deduno as the number ten prospect in the Colorado system. Finally, if one were to point his internet browser over to Minor League Splits, he would definitely see that Samuel Deduno has posted a groundball rate of 57.8% in the minors.

Tonight, that trend continued. Despite underwhelming command — three walks to just one strikeout — Deduno managed to induce groundballs on 10 of the 14 balls in play, good for 71.4%. In terms of pure stuff, Deduno was maybe less impressive. He snapped off maybe three or four well-shaped and -located curveballs on the night and, yes, featured that heavy fastball. It deserves to be said, however, that the Portland lineup was also righty-heavy this evening — a distinct advantage for Deduno, who has yet to develop the change.



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Carson Cistulli has just published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.


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velvetglove99
Guest
velvetglove99
6 years 5 months ago

I, Claudius.

Mitch
Guest
Mitch
6 years 5 months ago

This, clearly, is your first experience with Gary Thorne. High dosages cause much more severe reactions.

Mitch
Guest
Mitch
6 years 5 months ago

Here’s one particularly egregious example from 2008:
http://baltimorebirdsnest.blogspot.com/2008/08/gary-thorne-must-go.html

Pitcher wins? Check.
Unprepared? Check.
Bad play by play? Check.

I will NOT let you sucker people into thinking that O’s games are well announced.

Haze
Member
Haze
6 years 5 months ago

I have to agree, usually the only stats Thorne has any use for are wins for pitchers, and batting average and RBIs for hitters. He’s already criticized Nick Markakis several times this year for taking so many walks since he needs to (and I’m paraphrasing) “swing the bat and get some RBIs”.

Also, I believe the bunt discussion on this night referred to the fact that in the top of the 4th Zobrist got Tampa’s first hit off Matusz on a bunt single…

Tom
Guest
6 years 5 months ago

The other reason you can tell Thorne’s halfway bright: he moved out of Maine. Must have attended U Maine-Orono.

Jim
Guest
Jim
6 years 5 months ago

Thorne is the rare announcer who will actually say, “If the new park is such a great idea, why haven’t they lined up all the financing privately (and turned away some disappointed would-be investors)?”

Mitch
Guest
Mitch
6 years 5 months ago

To be fair, a lot of the supposed benefits of a new park accrue not to the stadium owner, but to the community at large (civic pride & neighborhood revitalization). I’m not saying those benefits are necessarily large enough to justify the public expenditure, but private investors are focused purely on the economics, which are surely against spending > $500m of unsubsidized funds on a building that is used less than 100 times per year and has enormous maintenance costs.

Bill
Guest
Bill
6 years 5 months ago

I watch a lot of O’s games and I agree that Thorne is exactly Bill James when it comes to Sabremetrics and he says dumb things from time to time, but I still think he is a decent play by play guy. If I want great analysis, I’ll read fangraphs. Thorne has a good voice for the role. He doesn’t distract from the game. I find he fades nicely into the background. I agree with Carson when he says he is the picture of competence. Thorne’s nothing spectacular, but he is decidedly above average.

Tim
Guest
6 years 5 months ago

Samuel Deduno rules. I mean, just take a look at this awesome Bowman card of his – the dude’s holding a paper cup!

Andrew
Guest
Andrew
6 years 5 months ago

Agreed. Thorne is one of the better play by play guys around. Great voice. Isn’t – for the most part – inane in his commentary. Much better than the other duo I have to deal with when watching Nats games.

TCQ
Guest
TCQ
6 years 5 months ago

Yeah, maybe the O’s guys are alright, but never, ever watch the Nats on MASN. Really.

Zach
Guest
Zach
6 years 5 months ago

Yeah, the Nats guys are terrible. I’m a Phillies fan who moved to Maryland recently and I was struck by how awful they were in the past two series. The color guy in particular sounds more like a(n ignorant) fan than a real announcer; I thought it was maybe because I grew up with Harry Kalas but it’s nice to see I’m not the only one who thinks they’re bad.

Casey Singleton
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Casey Singleton
6 years 5 months ago

I love Claudia’s. Captains’ chairs rule.

Jeanine Klinker
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5 years 8 months ago

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eric
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eric
5 years 8 months ago

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