Warning: Curmudgeon straight ahead.
With all the former baseball players, executives and hangers-on to choose from, how in the world did ESPN and *OX manage to come up with the announcers and color guys they did?
There’s Joe Buck and all his wooden sincerity. Gary Thorne tries hard, but he is a hockey guy at heart. Jon Miller’s humor is wearing thin though one suspects he needs a better straight man than Joe Morgan. The other announcers are so fungible I cannot even recall their names.
Color? Well, there’s the colorless Morgan for starters. Then, there is the ultimate insider Rick Suttcliffe, who one suspects wasn’t even an insider in the view of his former teammates. Worse, he sounds like he is whining not commenting. One can imagine why Steve Philips was fired as the Mets GM; he is all huckster, all the time. Always on; always grating. Tim McCarver is considered a baseball “intellectual”, not normally a compliment between the lines. If I want literary references I don’t normally turn on a baseball game to find them. Orel Hershiser makes Morgan sound like Bob Uecker. And then there is Boomer Berman. He is spreading himself very thin, and his act has worn accordingly.
I’ve been watching portions of the games and usually start with the sound on. That lasts for no more than five minutes, if that, and I finally throw up my hands and hit the mute button.
ESPN should stop auditioning studio announcers and find ones who can actually call a game.
Meanwhile, back at their studio, the current ballplayers ESPN has brought in to analyze the action have offered quite a contrast. There is Vernon Wells, soft-spoken, insightful and articulate, on one hand and Eric Byrnes, flamboyant, insightful and entertaining, on the other. Listening to Brynes one gets the impression he has played with virtually every active major league player. In fact, he is on his fourth team. No matter, he is fun. The question remains, however, could either one of these carry it off for an entire game as color analysts? Probably not.
Rocky Bridges once said There are three things the average man thinks he can do better than anyone else: build a fire, run a hotel and manage a baseball team. I don’t know about the hotel business, but you can probably add color analyst or announcer to that list. Nevertheless, ESPN and *OX are living proof that the even the experienced man isn’t any good in the broadcast booth.