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make the bad man go away

For the First Time Since LAST October, You’ll Be Watching TBS

Of all the inconveniences heaped upon sports fans because of labyrinthine corporate peccadilloes, the most frustrating tend to involve television-broadcast rights. (Like, say, The NFL Network, the most prominent example of sports-fan market frustration: We would like to give you our money and buy your channel; why can we not give you our money and buy your channel?) During the baseball playoffs, we are faced with one of the more annoying ones: Hey, since when does TBS show baseball? Wait ... they're showing all the games?

Yes, the entire first round — and the entire National League Championship Series — will be shown exclusively on TBS, a station that has been showing one game per week all season, a fact you probably didn't even know. (They haven't shown Braves games for a few years now, though we suspect most of you didn't know that either. Why would you?) So, baseball fans who have been watching ESPN or Fox or SNY or (gasp) YES all season, suddenly, during the most important part of the year, have to switch to a station that clearly has no idea what it's doing.

Ignore, for a moment, their Web catastrophe and just look at the actual telecasts of the games. Chip Caray is an odd amalgam of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver — baseball-writer Jonah Keri had a grand time mocking him during the Twins-Tigers game yesterday — and he's the lead of the TBS team. (Wait until you hear Dick Stockton sleep and malaprop himself through four hours of a sport he clearly hasn't watched since last October.) They misspelled Craig Sager's name yesterday, and he's the only star that network has. And we don't know about you, but our Time Warner HD feed for TBS has had problems for weeks now, freezing at strange intervals, which is unforgivable come playoff time.

But the real reason everyone hates TBS — and the real reason you'll be throwing things at your television for the next week — is the incessant, inescapable promotion of awful TBS shows that you will never watch. In the past couple of years, the primary offender was "Frank TV," Frank Caliendo's "sketch" "comedy" program. "Frank TV" is gone now, but TBS has another infuriating personality ready to ram down your throat. No, not Dane Cook. (Good guess, though.) It's George Lopez in Lopez Tonight, which is "bringing the party back to late night," an ad line we somehow find unconvincing. You will see George Lopez more over the next week-and-a-half than you will see your own family. The things we do for baseball!

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Photo: TBS