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MLB TV Announcer Report Cards
Posted by Ted Rossman at 5/30/2008 8:10:00 PM
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As fantasy baseball aficionados, many of us spend a lot of time watching games from all around the country. Here's my take on all of the MLB announcing crews, from best to worst. Feel free to chime in with your opinions.

1. Atlanta: Love Jon Sciambi, Joe Simpson is informative and underrated

2. Baltimore: Gary Thorne could make a Scrabble tournament interesting; Jim Palmer is a solid analyst

3. Texas: Josh Lewin is a rising star; Tom Grieve is a capable sidekick

4. L.A. Dodgers: Vin Scully is still a joy to listen to

5. N.Y. Yankees: Michael Kay can be schticky at times, but their analysts are among the best in the game; I especially like Ken Singleton

6. Cincinnati: Love George Grande and Jeff Brantley; Thom Brennaman is also good

7. Houston: A good announcer/ex-player combo

8. Pittsburgh: These guys are smooth and easy to listen to; I especially like the Greg Brown/Bob Walk tandem

9. Florida: I think these guys are underrated; Rich Waltz is smooth and Tommy Hutton knows his stuff

10. L.A. Angels: Wish we got more of Steve Physioc and Rex Hudler, but not much to complain about here

11. Philadelphia: Harry Kalas doesn't get excited about anything, however, he has a cool voice and his supporting cast is solid

12. Kansas City: I think these guys paint a relaxing, enjoyable picture

13. Minnesota: Solid, not exceptional

14. Cleveland: More of the same

15. Tampa Bay: DeWayne Staats is okay; Joe Magrane is underrated

16. Seattle: Dave Niehaus is great, Rick Rizzs is a pro, Dave Sims is better on football and Mike Blowers is kind of boring; too bad Niehaus and Rizzs mainly work on the radio side

17. St. Louis: Dan McLaughlin is a great young talent hampered by Al Hrabosky

18. San Diego: Matt Vasgersian would be great if he dropped the schtick; wish Tony Gwynn worked more games

19. Arizona: These guys sometimes make me laugh, but their schtick can get old in a hurry

20. Colorado: Not great, although their banter can be entertaining

21. Toronto: Pretty vanilla

22. Chicago Cubs: These guys are homers without the charm or history of their radio counterparts

23. Milwaukee: Like Brian Anderson more than Bill Schroeder; this pair isn't special

24. N.Y. Mets: I think they're smug and arrogant -- and I'm from New York

25. Detroit: These guys are a couple of cheerleaders

26. Washington: I miss Bob Carpenter

27. Boston: A little loud and homerish for my taste; Don Orsillo tries too hard to be Sean McDonough

28. San Francisco: I know a lot of people love "Kruk and Kuip;" I find them more irritating than entertaining

29. Oakland: Pretty dull

30. Chicago White Sox: There are homers, and then there are really annoying homers


I'm firmly against homerism in the booth but I don't think the Boston guys go there. I also think Jerry Remy is a very good analyst - he's constantly telling you stuff you can't see, or underscoring what's important about what you can see.

No one can make a Scrabble tournament interesting, but I'd listen to Vin Scully read the phone book.

The Pittsburgh guys put me to sleep.

Josh Lewin is outstanding.

Give the Mets booth another chance. Gary Cohen is excellent, and Ron Darling has turned into a solid analyst. I'm not really into Keith Hernandez, though.

I think the Milwaukee guys are underrated - the PBP man asks a lot of logical "think-along" questions and doesn't seem to accept conventional wisdom, at least from my limited listens.

I dislike Joe Morgan with the intensity of 1,000 suns.
Posted by spianow at 5/30/2008 9:23:00 PM
Jeff Brantley? Ugh...

Vin Scully #4 is sacriledge.
Posted by vtadave at 5/30/2008 9:39:00 PM
When I read the intro, I looked for two things. 1 - Vin has to be in the top 5. Good work. 2 - Hawk "He gone" Harelson needs to be in the bottom three. Again, good work.
Posted by iceguy at 5/30/2008 9:40:00 PM
No way in hell Darren Sutton with Zona is better than Anderson with the Brewers right now.....Sutton is annoying as hell.....I liked Vasgarsain when he was in Milwaukee more than now in San Diego....must be to much sun and not enough beer.....Vin Scully #1, White Sox Putz's last for me.....
Posted by Zenguerrilla at 5/30/2008 10:17:00 PM
Kay and Singleton are atrocious, and STILL so much better than their radio counterparts. Keith Hernandez is smug at times, but he brings REAL color to the games and Gary Cohen and Ron Darling are both excellent. I hated Keith when he started, but once you give him a few innings or games his insight and entertaining really shine.

Problem with a list like this is how much time can one really devote to listening to any of these guys at length and objectively? It really becomes a day in and day out thing. You get a bad game and well...

That all said, ANYONE is better than those turds McCarver and Buck. Yes, even the airhead Joe Morgan- at least he has a good voice. McCarver and Buck should be banned from the booth!
Posted by bigolbart at 5/30/2008 10:49:00 PM
I think you are much, much too kind on most of these guys. Jeff Brantley lacks perspective (understatement of the year). Rex Hudler is fun to listen to, but his up-with-people routine wears thin after about a week. And for Physioc, a guy could go 0-for-5 and make three errors and he'd comment on how the player never stops trying. I've heard the KC announcers on more than one occasion use the term "we" -- an automatic DQ for me. Ditto Tom Grieve in Texas. In Seattle, Rick Rizzs was so bad he's not allowed to do TV anymore. And listening to Blowers, it's hard to believe he actually played major league baseball. On the flip side, Matt Vasgersian is rated way too low for my taste. He really knows his stuff, I think, and is easy on the ears. All that said, as long as you have the White Sox dead last, I think it's a great list.
Posted by Jason Thornbury at 5/30/2008 11:19:00 PM
San Francisco: The most professional booth in todays game; hands down. I find myself watching the SF telecast just to hear these guys. If you are sick of all the homers and cheese, check these guys out. But they are like a fine wine, its an acquired taste. Give them more than 1 game before you judge them.

NY Yankees: Since I hate them so much its hard to admit, but they have the best overall telecast. Their camera angles and replays are out of this world! Its like watching a baseball movie.

Chicago Sox/Cubs: Say Cheeeeese.
Posted by erikthrom at 5/31/2008 8:12:00 AM
Listening to the Toronto team is like watching paint dry on growing grass. Beige paint.

There's no way they are better than nine other broadcast teams.
Posted by ESiegrist at 5/31/2008 9:49:00 AM
Nothing worse than the Washington Announcers... rather listen to fingers on a chalkboard...
Posted by cjcrater at 5/31/2008 10:09:00 AM
Glad I'm not the only one who can't stand watching the White Sox because of Hawk.
Posted by dvr9484 at 5/31/2008 10:50:00 AM
Mike Francesca would take issue with your treatment of the Mets booth- He ranks them as the best in the game. Im a big Hernandez fan- guys funny and insightful- He contrasts the ivy leaguer (Darling) well.
Posted by djm1144 at 5/31/2008 8:04:00 PM
I am a Cubs fan and I hate those two, especially Brenley. I was always a big Steve Stone fan, I enjoyed his knowledge and sarcasm. I really like the Red Sox announcers and I agree that the Brewers announcers are better than they were rated.
Posted by bryon711 at 6/1/2008 12:42:00 AM
I watch mostly AL games but you have a lot of good calls here.

NYY: I'd have to rate Kay at the top even though I hope they lose every game.

KC: (my home team) I have always liked Lefebvre and now he's on all the TV games; listen for Frank White next time Splittorf is off; he's got some interesting insights and he coached a lot of the young players in the minors.

CWS: Annoying is too nice a word. I nominate "the Hawk" for the Mute Award -- good team to watch but who wants to listen?
Posted by rjohns50 at 6/1/2008 4:43:00 AM
Kansas City is still trying to get better on the field, which makes their announcers less likely to rate high on a list like this, but the Royal's have a very, very good broadcast crew. Although they were probably better yet before Fred White retired.
Harrelson is absolutely the worst, although McCarver and Buck are awful. I hope that I live long enough to leave the sound up on the TV during the World Series. (This will only happen after McCarver is removed from the booth)
Scully is still a fine broadcaster, but listening to Steiner will offset any warm and fuzzy feeling from listening to Vin.
I can also do without Brantley. Someone brought up smug and arrogant-- shouldn't that come with a picture of Brantley?
Posted by thepearl-673 at 6/1/2008 7:35:00 PM
Has anyone ever seen a closed captioning of Steiner's broadcast? Do they include all the uuuuuhhhhhsss and stammering while he thinks of what he wants to say next?
Posted by thepearl-673 at 6/1/2008 7:42:00 PM
Count me as one of the non-Sox fans that actually likes Hawk. I don't mind when local tv or radio announcers are homers from a rooting perspective. They're for local audiences mostly. It bugs me when they are homers from an analysis perspective. As a Twins fan, Hawk hasn't been a homer on analysis during Sox-Twins games.
Posted by schoenke at 6/2/2008 8:14:00 AM
I'm with Pete on this one. What's wrong with being a homer from a rooting perspective? Isn't that what they're supposed to be? While Hawk often finds a way that the umps are working the Sox over, he's always very fair to the opposing team and gives credit where credit is due. This could also just be the point of view of someone from Chicago, but if you don't find Hawk entertaining/humorous with some of the things he says I think you're crazy. And I'm a Cubs fan.

As for Len Kasper and Bob Brenly, they're fine. Len is the cheesiest announcer this side of Chip Caray and Bob loves talking about his playing days, but I find them very easy to listen to. Brenly's no dummy either; he knows what he's talking about.
Posted by uwmichael at 6/2/2008 8:32:00 AM
No, that's not what they're supposed to do. An announcer is supposed to present a dispassionate report, period. It speaks to his credibility.

It also is condescending to the audience -- as if the audience can't handle anything but a gushing report. It's unprofessional -- the reporters job, paid by the team or not, is to report, not root. And it's childish. When an announcer justifies a bad play he is telling the audience that what it just saw really didn't happen -- like an irrational child.

I think it's a reflection of our culture -- don't tell me anything bad, just smile. Teachers tell parents their dumb-ass kid is a genius; preachers tell parishioners they're all going to heaven; home-town announcers tell fans the .230 player is a "professional hitter" when he bloops a single.

As time goes by, I am more and more convinced that Chick Hearn was the absolute best. Was Chicky a Lakers fan? You bet, 100 percent. But he never let that impact his call of the game one way or the other. He called the game he saw -- good, bad, whatever -- with the view of a dispassionate observer. The way it should be done.

Posted by Jason Thornbury at 6/2/2008 9:56:00 AM
An impartial announcer is supposed to present a dispassionate report. A team's announcer who is speaking to a local audience should be rooting for his team. Like Pete said, as long as they're not homers from an analysis standpoint, then they're doing their jobs. I think more often than not, announcers are fair with their analysis. To use a Cubs example, since that's the announce team I'm most familiar with, they are huge homers from a rooting standpoint. But just last week after Soriano lost that ball in the sun against the Pirates, Brenly said they should be taking him out late in games because he can be a defensive liability. He even said (and I'm paraphrasing), "You can throw a dart in the Cubs dugout and it will hit someone who's a better outfielder." That's how an announcer should be in my opinion. Cheering for the team but being honest with his analysis.
Posted by uwmichael at 6/2/2008 10:39:00 AM
And I also don't get why people get so hot and bothered about announcers. A good announcer (i.e. Steve Stone) can absolutely make a game more enjoyable, but does a bad one really take that much away from it? You're watching the game for the game, not to hear what the announcers have to say.

It's also much harder than a lot of people want to give them credit for, and by and large the vast majority of them do a good job.
Posted by uwmichael at 6/2/2008 10:42:00 AM
Why does an announcer need to cheer? Why does the local audience need to listen to a cheerleader? Is it not enough just to call the action?

I agree, though, that people get much too worked up about announcers. Even when the criticisms are valid (and most often they aren't) it's hard to see, to me at least, why that provokes so much anger. That said, I still think Joe Morgan should find a new career.
Posted by Jason Thornbury at 6/2/2008 2:54:00 PM

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