Enough with the pitch count! It was 88 last pitch—and even with my limited mathematical ability I can figure out that the next must be 89. Keep quiet about on-base percentages against away-team lefties. I don’t care if you met the pitcher in the clubhouse. Stop pestering us with details and get on with the game!
Whew. I feel a little better. Now that I’ve calmed down…
Whether it’s wise or folly, I am a fan of the Detroit Tigers.
I listen to them on MLB’s Gameday audio—an exceptional bargain, by the way; only $15 a year and you can listen to any game from either team’s home radio station. The old games are archived.
If the Tigers aren’t playing, I’ll tune in to any game that is on. Usually this is the Damn Yankees or the Mets, since I live in Manhattan. But sometimes I play scout and try other teams.
I have heard the home-team announcers from almost every team, and am therefore something of a radio connoisseur. This ability has allowed me to note that a depressing trend in sportscasting is gaining momentum: Announcers who do everything but call the game.
The ratio of inane chatter to play-by-play is increasing at an alarming rate. Soon, there will be nothing left but “in-depth, hard-hitting” analysis. All sentences will begin with, “You know, Bob…”
These guys must figure that nobody needs to actually listen to the action. Not when there’s important words to be said about how the guy who is playing third base now played second in the past. Analysis is what wins broadcasting awards. Anybody can keep track of the score.
Dan Dickerson and Jim Price (sadly both tenors) who call the Tigers’ games are typical. They frequently forget they are on the radio. Somehow it slips their mind that listeners cannot see the game as they can.
Last night, I heard comments like “Look at that,” which got the response “Wow.”
Look at what? Wow what?
A new batter comes to the plate—we are not told he did, but he must have because the last one got out—and all the while the announcers are chattering and we never learn who it is.
After an anecdote about a clubhouse tour we suddenly hear, “That’s 2 and Oh, on so-and-so.” 2-0? What happened to the first pitch?
Never mind, because it’s back to a story of how the color man once saw a game somewhere. During this fascinating saga, I could just make out the crack of the bat, cheers in the stadium. Dickerson reluctantly breaks away from his partner’s gripping tale to say—long after it has happened—that so-and-so was thrown out at first.
Action in baseball can be slow, methodical. It takes an expert radioman to keep his voice interesting. I fairly long to hear Ernie Harwell again. Harwell was a master and knew when to shut up. He understood that you let the ballpark fill in the gaps. How comforting it was to hear “Beer here!” and the murmur of the crowd.
But because the job is tough, it’s no excuse to clog the silence between pitches with mundane stories about what the announcers did the day before, who they spoke with, how they feel about today’s game, blah blah blah.
Silence must terrify sportscasters. They must figure that if they’re not spewing out a stream of words that people will forget what they’re listening to and tune out.
So they start babbling, usually falling back on the safe bet, “analysis.” That’s the real meat, the serious stuff. This is where they can show off their intricate and arcane baseball knowledge.
During the game, call it. Tell us everything that is happening. Keep quiet about everything else. If we were bored of the game and didn’t want to hear about each pitch, we’d read about it in the paper and not tune in. For God’s sake, Mr Announcer, remember you are on radio. Hard as it is to believe, we cannot see what you can see.
No more analysis during an inning. Wait until it’s over. Shut up once in a while.
In fact, shut up a lot more than once in a while.