Is It Too Much to Ask That Studio Analysts Watch the Sport They're Analyzing?

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Gary Sheffield was a TBS studio analyst for the network's baseball coverage from 2013-2020. That's baseball, a sport he now admits he didn't watch while serving in the role. And still doesn't watch.

“I don’t watch baseball at all,” Sheffield told Tiki & Tierney last week. “I was kind of forced to watch baseball, because I was working with TBS. And so I had to remember, really find out who were these players.

“I’ll tell you the secret now: I never watched the games during the season. I would get educated on it when I got there. It’s not something that I could watch, based on what I’m seeing, because I’ll be a complainer. … This is the first time I’ve ever said that out loud, but I’m just truly disappointed with what I watch.”

Though this isn't entirely surprising, one can't help but wonder how low the bar has fallen or how distorted the priorities have become so that a person could spend a better part of a decade in a marquee spot like that while displaying complete indifference to the job. And look, let me load up the front end here with caveats.

Sheffield was perfectly fine on that show, which did not necessarily require a deep dive into anything that happened in the regular season. His role is to be interesting and give viewers a reason to hang on through the bridge programming until the next game. There's no real reason to get the pitchforks out because this is certainly a low-stake gambit with few real-world implications.

On the other hand, what are we doing here? Shouldn't Turner be embarrassed that of all the options to fill a baseball expert role on television, they settled and stayed with one who didn't care to do the homework? At a baseline level, shouldn't the people on our televisions opining on the sport they are covering actually watch the game?

Is that really too much to ask?

And if it is, then what type of message is that sending to viewers? Please watch our studio show breaking down the next game with someone who doesn't watch the games. Can that be a winning strategy?

One need look no further than Turner/CBS' coverage of the NCAA Tournament, where Charles Barkley is the main star. Or notice the neverending success of Inside the NBA, which regularly benefits from the public perception that the panel isn't as informed about the current machinations of the league as the regular viewer.

Candidly speaking, I have no idea what the prevailing public sentiment is on this. It's very possible no one cares about this or feels slighted. It just seems a bit odd that this is where we've arrived.