Broadcasting Booth Rant Part 2

Instead of having it buried in the comment section, I thought I would add a couple of things to what wrote about Hawk Harrelson, before my baseball blogging license is revoked. (I especially say this considering that Baseball Primer has decided to link my piece. Since the writers there have ignored me in the past like hot women do them at parties, I’m sure they finally chose this piece of mine since they knew that many of their readers would savor having me as their new favorite whipping boy. Considering I make most of my living in a profession where I deal with drunk hecklers on a regular basis, I can take it. Thank you Sir, can I have another?)

I used to listen to Hawk a lot, when he and Wimpy Paciorek were doing the games because they had a really fun banter together. Paciorek’s silly sense of humor kept Hawk in check sometimes and he would call Harrelson on something when he disagreed. I didn’t mention Darrin Jackson in the review, because he reminds me of so many other ex-jocks in the booth. Forgettable. I also didn’t mention Ed Farmer’s new partner, Chris Singleton, as he is much the same.

I’ve discussed broadcaster’s before and what thoroughly pisses me off is that everyone in the comments section is willing to bash away, but no one mentions anyone as being good, except for the Pope of Vero Beach. I’ve mentioned that I’ve enjoy announcers like Steve Stone, Orel Hershiser, and Rick Sutcliffe before, as they are guys who have strong opinions, plus good senses of humor. I was attacked in the comments section for liking them as well. Fine, if you feel that way, but I think you need to list what makes a good broadcaster to you to truly refute them and it would be nice to mention who you do like. Sorry, but I grade all professions on a curve. If they all suck, then it must be the toughest job on the planet.

I’ve listened to every major league radio broadcast team on XM Satellite and it’s amazing how so many of them are carbon copies of each other. I realize that unless their Daddy was a all-time great, they probably had a tough road to get into the booth, so being distinct scares them. “Let’s just try to do everything to stay under the radar, so no one in upper management decides to replace us.”

I don’t remember ever saying I thought Harrelson was a good announcer. I just think he’s better than most of the cookie cutter robots that a majority of MLB teams have hired. If you like that…REALLY PHUCKING GREAT FOR YOU, as they will only grow in the ranks. Look at what happened a couple of seasons ago with the Cubs. The players didn’t like Steve Stone being critical (honest) about some of their efforts, so the Front Office decided they would support the players and not their long-time broadcaster. Hey, I can see where that might seem like a good business decision, but the results since then have shown the Cubs to be the most disappointing team in the National League. Hmm, maybe Steve Stone should be the one putting the team together?

Let me repeat, I don’t think Hawk Harrelson is a premier type broadcaster. I don’t even listen to him that much, as I listen to Ed Farmer on radio, whenever I can. I will agree that if I wasn’t a White Sox fan, I would probably dislike the guy. Having said this, I appreciate some of his unique traits and don’t think he at the bottom of his field.

I would be interested on who you think are the Top 5 broadcasters in the game. I realize that most people never hear anyone besides their local guys and the ESPN or Fox announcers. I think people have a general bias towards their own team, so try to include people who aren’t part of this group.

Oh and if I wasn’t taking a shellacking enough, I see where Bob Dylan is on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. Oy!

(Let me also mention that my friend, Ken Schultz has a good piece which discusses my favorite topic, Scott Long. Well, to be more specific he calls me out for not bashing Hawk. Check it out at his myspace blog. Taking shots from a Cub’s fan and still linking them on my blog. I must be a masochist.

14 thoughts on “Broadcasting Booth Rant Part 2

  1. 1.  Great read again Scott Long, i pretty much like you’re choices Orel Hershiser, Steve Stone i think is really really good, Chip Carey is another one I like, Erik Karros dose a good job.

    ps of course my boy Vinnie goes with out saying, & i tell you why, he keeps the game simple & knows he dons’t know everything, he also has a really inocent good natured sense of humer.

  2. 2.  Enjoyed the post as well as Ken Schultz’s post. Typically when I watch the White Sox it’s because they’re playing the Angels, so his ‘he gone’. the home run call, etc get on my nerves more than I can describe. I feel his job isn’t to entertain the opposition though, so I don’t really have a problem with it. If the White Sox fans enjoy him, consider it a home TV advantage.

    The Angels TV crew is not very good, although I do like their radio guys. Scully is great, if only because I feel like he’s the last of a dying breed. Jon Miller’s smooth voice is a pure joy to listen to. Bremer and Blyleven do an OK job for the Twins, although the ‘circle me Bert’ gimic is pretty lame.

    Overall, I’m not sure I hate any announcing crew. As long as I’m watching baseball, I’m pretty easy to please.

  3. 3.  With being out-of-market and watching most of my team (the A’s) games on MLB.tv, I catch a lot of ‘away’ announcers.

    There’s two announcers that I’ve switched to the radio broadcast on – Hawk Harrelson and Rex Hudler. It’s just less fun to watch when these guys are going. They have almost no appreciation for anyone on the other team. One can argue the value of cheerleaders vs. analysts, but with an ever expanding reach of broadcasts, and the inability of the audience to choose between broadcasters, I think the cheerleaders are a hostile choice for the broadcasters.

    If MLB.tv let me choose home or away broadcasts for video, like they do for audio, my complaint becomes purely aesthetics, and I wouldn’t waste the time typing it out.

  4. 4.  i don’t want to get graphic here, but rex hudler needs a pair of knee pads for his waxing poetically of the angels

  5. 5.  Honestly, I when I was watching A’s games on MLBTV while I was in school in Los Angeles, I found the White Sox announcers quite humurous. I thought it was funny how they got so mad when one of the WHite Sox players got plunked by leaning into a pitch, and the Ump called him back to the box. Instead of arguing that it was an arcane rule that is never enforced, they made it seem like whomever got plunked (Joe Crede I think?) got blistered by a 100mph fastball in the head, when it was ridiculously obvious that he had leaned it (a la Jason Kendall, just to let you all know I’m not a homer). And I think they WANT you to not like them hating on their team, shoot, they call the other team “the bad guys”. Lol, its like trying to get mad that Snakes on a Plane was an unrealistic movie.

    Scott, I think you hit it on the head. As an announcer, you can be an analyst, and get respect from other “analysts” (whomever they are) in the industry, or be a cheerleader, and make your fans have every reason to watch and cheer for your team. I think its pretty interesting that if fans were polled to name a broadcast crew that they knew other than their hometown team by, the white sox guys would almost assuredly be top 3. That says something, doesn’t it?

    As for top 5, well, I rarely watch Giants games, but when I get stuck with them, Im pretty amazed how good the announcers know their own players. I do remember the Twins broadcasters being pretty good when I had to listen to them on MLB.tv. Thats really all I can remember as far as broadcasting crews.

    Orel Hershiser was one of my favorite pitchers, so maybe Im biased, but I think he has been great (however, I liked John Kruk as a player, but I don’t think he adds much to baseball tonite, and actually says some things that are pretty ridiculous)

  6. 6.  All I have to say is that I eagerly await the day when all this extra hi-def digi-bandwidth at our disposable will lead the folks who produce baseball broadcasts to offer multiple audio feeds — English, Spanish, youth-oriented, SABR-tastic, old skool, announcerless, etc. — for the games. Then we can all sorta listen to who we like.

    Me, I’ll be listening to the Hawk and wishing DJ would add something of interest now and then.

  7. 7.  I grew up in the 70s/80s listening to Rizzuto and White. Them, I liked. To me, Scooter had the right attitude, you sit and talk with friends about things (where to get a good canoli) and oh by the way, there’s a ballgame going on too. Yeah, he’s partial to the Yankees, but he’d get on their tails especially when they screwed up a bunt.

  8. 8.  What makes a good announcer (to me):
    1) Not being a homer. “We” shouldn’t be part of their vocabulary.

    2) Keep it simple. No more that two guys in the booth. And one is probably enough.

    3) Don’t give me meaningless stats. You insult my intelligence when you say a guy is 3 for 10 in day games after night games this season. It is informative for me to know if a batter has never faced a pitcher before, but the sample size of hitter vs reliever is well below statistically significant.

    4) Tell me something I don’t know. Historical anecdotes are good (Scully is great at these). Pitchers in the booth can often give nuances.

    5) Catchphrases are okay, as long as they aren’t overused. Signature home run calls are okay.

    6) Don’t butcher the names. This is your job. If you can’t pronounce one, call the PR guy for the other team and practice it. If the pronunciation is unusual, let us know you got it from the PR guy and you aren’t just butchering it.

    That’s good for now. I wish I had an opportunity to listen to more announcers for other teams, but most of them I don’t like.

  9. 9.  For the radio guys, I want a homer. I want to listen to someone who is going through the exact same thing as the fans. Nothing is worse than an impartial, disinterested radio guy. I grew up with Denny Mathews in KC and while I’ll always welcome his voice, he’s become boring to listen to the last several years.

    My Top 5:
    Giants – Radio and TV. Jon Miller, free from the idiocy of Joe Morgan is an absolute joy to listen to on the radio. Kuiper and Krukow are great as well.

    Brewers – Bob Uecker I think is doing it all himself these days. People get wrapped up in his comedic persona and forget that he’s really good at what he does.

    Cubs – I always enjoyed listening to Chip Carey and Steve Stone when they were on WGN. Their replacements, especially Bob Brenley are just brutal.

    NBC Game Of The Week – Growing up in the ’70s Joe Garigola and Tony Kubek were like gods to me.

    Red Sox – I’ve kind of been drawn to Trupiano and Castiglione the last couple of years.

    In Another World:
    Dodgers – Duh.

    And One For The Bottom:
    Padres – If I had to listen to Ted Leitner I would puncture both my eardrums with a railroad spike.

  10. 10.  My own top 5 current broadcasters, in no particular order:

    Vin Scully (duh)
    Jon Miller when NOT on ESPN
    Bob Uecker
    Jerry Remy (and I’m a Yankees fan!)
    Ken Singleton

    I think 8 lays out the essentials of what makes a good broadcaster, and these guys all fit the bill. To that I would add, a broadcaster should know when to shut up. Most don’t, but the 5 I listed above do, IMHO.

  11. 11.  Guys I like.

    PBP Division:

    Scully
    Miller
    Uecker (I was amazed at how good he was when I first heard him on radio having only heard him as a color guy on TV)
    Josh Lewin (Rangers)
    The Angels radio crew

    Color Division:

    Stone
    ummmm…..

  12. 12.  As one other poster mentioned, the Giants somehow managed to get 3 great broadcasters – in fact, the actual Giants players are often pathetic to watch, but the anouncers keep my interest. Kruk(ow) and Kuip are a great tandem (kuip’s not so good with anyone else I think) – a bit on the goofy/leisurely side. Jon Miller is GOD (with apologies to the Vin) – noone else could make Joe Morgan tolerable. Jon Carrol of the Chron aptly decsribed his style as a hard-to-find combo of “whimsy and gravitas” – to which I’d add highly articulate.

    Having been exposed to informative/funny/homers-but-in-a-fair-way broadcasters like the above, you can understand why one would find the WSox crew intolerable.

    Ray Fosse (for Oakland) is ok/tolerable, but he’s usually paired up with someone bad/boring.

    I actually find Sutcliffe interesting at times – kinda have to be careful who is paired with, he seems to like to go on long slow rants.

    Orel has great potential, seems to impart knowledge; not sure yet if all that’s another version of cliche-spouting or not.

    I wish I could hear Vin more – I’ve only heard him on a few youtube clips (including a classic 49ers game), and I understand why he is revered. Manages to convey dignity and sense of history unfolding, without sounding pompous.

  13. 13.  Another one out of LF from a Yankee fan – the radio duo (since broken up) of Gary Cohen and Howie Rose was fantastic. Very easy to listen to, very little to complain about. Cohen remains great on TV, and Rose great on radio, even with different partners.

  14. 14.  I like Joe Morgan and Steve Phillips. I think they are the best in the business and I wish they would share the booth more often rather than have to listen to that amature Jon Miller.

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