The World Series Champion Chicago White Sox have signed Chris Singleton to join Ed Farmer in the radio booth. After a great off-season, the White Sox made their first bad move. Singleton was a protégé of current Sox TV announcer, Darrin Jackson, when he came up with the team and I’m guessing will be similar to Jackson in the booth, as well. This would be a huge step down in quality from what the team had for the past 13 years.
If you never heard Farmer do a game with play by play announcer John Rooney, I feel for you, as they were the best baseball radio broadcasting duo I’ve listened to. (Topping my TV broadcasting duo list, Bob Costas and Tony Kubek doing game of the weeks on NBC.) They both had the rare ability to be insightful about the game, while also being erudite in their thoughts on other subjects.
After working for the White Sox for the past 17 years, Rooney was not re-signed because he didn’t want to take a salary cut. During the final days of Michael Jordan’s Bulls, owner Jerry Reinsdorf had packaged his two teams together in a radio deal with ESPN 1000, which enabled the Sox to get more than they received for their latest contract. (NEWSFLASH: The Bulls haven’t been so good since his Airness left.)
Farmer, who would generally do 3 innings of play by play with Rooney, will be in that role full-time, now.
I know the baseball purists won’t care for this idea, but I heard Tony Kornheiser mention on his XM radio talk show that the Nationals should have hired him and Wilbon to do the games together. Now, considering that the guy has about 10 other jobs and makes officially between a million and gazillion dollars annually, I’m not sure he would be a good choice to fill this position, but the sentiment I agree with.
Earlier this year I made an effort to listen to all the radio announcer teams on XM, as I was planning to do a piece where I would rate them. The first thing you will notice, if you attempt to do this is how much all the play by play guy’s sound-alike. It’s truly maddening to me, as I’ve mentioned here before that I can’t stand the affected voice. Happily the affected voice style is being replaced at most stations in large radio markets by people who don’t sound like broadcasting school grads, but it would seem that baseball hasn’t gotten the memo.
Kornheiser’s point of view on the topic is that not that many people listen to radio broadcasts, so what needs to be done is have a more lively debate in the booth. Now I know there are a some old lady shut-in’s who need all the radio minutiae because they are keeping score of the game while listening, but baseball has to reach out to younger listeners. Since most people listen to the TV broadcasting teams, radio needs to present more lively dialogue. What they could use is someone like Jimmy Piersall who never worried about stirring the shit up. Of course, most broadcasters are company men, who are hired according to the team’s wishes.
What MLB needs is a renegade owner like Mark Cuban to take over a team like Tampa Bay or Kansas City. Knowing that the team’s radio ratings are minuscule, he would put together a crew that was not afraid of using incendiary comments to get people to tune in. I’m not saying this duo would have to be Opie and Anthony, but I do think bringing some edge to the radio broadcast would be an exciting new step in the evolution of baseball. Could it be worse than adding ex-jocks like Chris Singleton to the fold?
A final note on the American League’s radio broadcasting teams: Now that the clear stand-out team of Rooney and Farmer are no longer together and that long-time A’s announcer Bill King passed way, I would list the Cleveland Indians radio crew Number 1. What puts the Indians crew at the top is their dynamite play by play guy, Tom Hamilton. Hamilton has a strong voice and knows how to create excitement with it, bringing the energy of the game through the radiowaves. I also like crews in Baltimore and Detroit.
The one crew that is almost unlistenable to me is the Yankees duo of John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman. To be fair to Sterling, he’s an acquired taste, but Waldman shouldn’t have the gig. I have no problem with her as a reporter, but I just don’t think a woman should be in the booth as an analyst of a men’s sport. I might be able to get past this though, if she didn’t have such an annoying New Yawk voice. It’s like listening to the Fabulous Sports Babe, all over again. While I’m a fan of having non-jocks in the analyst’s role, I hate that someone like Waldman was giving one of the first chances at this position, as she isn’t exactly as Jackie Robinson-like ambassador.
Finally, I decided to only rate the AL broadcasting teams, as I didn’t want to have to discuss Vin Scully. If you want to wax poetic on Vinnie, I suggest you go to Dodger Thoughts and find other like minded individuals who cream their BVD’s just thinking about the guy.
After re-reading this piece a few hours later, I realized that the last line could be construed as me taking a shot at Jon Weisman. This was not the intention. While I don’t agree with the notion that Sir Scully is a baseball deity like so many do, it’s just a matter of an opinion, which I know I’m in the minority on. Also, I’m sure since most participants at Dodger Thoughts are from the SoCal region, they wear more stylish attire, like the Silk Extreme Thong from the International Male catalogue.