Last night's game was unexpectedly memorable for a plethora of different reasons, beginning with the devastating homer barrage and ending with a milestone night for Ian Kinsler ... but if you were listening closely enough to Dave Barnett and Tom Grieve in the Rangers' television broadcast booth, you heard something else that added to the memorability quotient of this game.
With nobody out in the top of the seventh inning, Mike Napoli cranked his second home run of the game -- a towering, majestic two-run shot to straightaway center field that put him at 28 homers on the season and put the Rangers up by a 10-2 margin. Barnett and Grieve made the obligatory call and divulged the relevant stats, just as they have done countless times before ... but then something odd began to unfold live on the air, as Barnett began to tear into Mike Scioscia for being "in favor" of letting Mike Napoli go, and Tom Grieve quickly demurred, replying that "generally managers aren't the ones that make the trades."
If you want to cut right to the (awkward) chase, skip ahead to 0:30 in the audio embedded below:
After Barnett proceeded to harp on the Napoli thing some more, the most awkward thing to come out of this vaguely unsettling exchange began to transpire: dead air. From the 0:45 mark to the end of the half-inning (around 6:00, in total), Grieve speaks once, piping in at the 3:40 mark to show a little love to Mitch Moreland for his opposite-field gapper but not using his microphone otherwise. For the other five minutes, Barnett carries on a one-man conversation with himself while setting up balls on the tee that Grieve never bothers to swing at. I, myself, found the whole thing unexpectedly tense, but the audio is there for you to judge for yourself.
The entire episode then proceeded to spill over into the bottom of the seventh inning, with Grieve's absence from the air being so noticeable that I fired off this tweet:
Now, I'm not sure exactly what is going on here. There have been some murmurings among the Rangers blogosphere commentariat about the wavering chemistry between Grieve and Barnett of late, which seems like rather shaky anecdotal evidence ... but I'm also getting word from a trusted source (I'm not certain whether he wants me to reveal his name or not; in any event, you can find him pretty easily if you dig around my Twitter feed from last night) that Grieve didn't want to be paired with Barnett in the first place. If that really and truly is the case, I wouldn't expect to see the Barnett/Grieve pairing carry over into the 2012 season.
And you know what the funny thing is? Barnett was very likely right. Grieve posits that Scioscia wasn't the driving force behind the ouster of Napoli because he's not the general manager, but the Angels' power structure is hardly that cut and dry. Back in July, Ken Rosenthal wrote that the "consensus in baseball is that the actual power with the Angels rests with manager Mike Scioscia and owner Arte Moreno."
Given that perception, and the fact that he's been with the organization a very long time in baseball terms, and the fact that he's under contract with the Angels from now until infinity, it seems possible, if not probable, that Scioscia's relationship with the front office is less akin to that of, say, Art Howe to Billy Beane, and more akin to that of Buck Showalter to John Hart -- or at least to the extent that the manager in the Angels' organization wields far more power and holds more sway than your average major league manager. To claim that Scioscia played no material role in Napoli's exit because he doesn't have "general manager" behind his name seems like an enormous, almost unbelievable stretch.
In any event, those of you who actually do enjoy the Grieve/Barnett pairing might want to enjoy that pairing even more vigorously than normal tonight ... because it could be the last time that we hear the two of them broadcasting from within the confines of the same broadcast booth.