I've spent a lot of time complaining about certain broadcasters (*ahem* looking at you, Ted Robinson). It occurred to me this year that I've seen a lot of broadcasters, courtesy of the DirecTV baseball package. Just how many don't I like? What does it take to be a broadcaster I like (besides being named Gary Cohen)? Well, I've compiled a list, and here's what I've come up with (grades are based on my opinion of the broadcasters, and broadcast quality):
(American League today, National League Thursday)
ANA (For the rest of this season, they're Anaheim to me...if the "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim" thing sticks past this season, I'll transfer the Angels to LAA): Steve Physioc and Rex Hudler on Fox Sports West.
These guys annoy me. They're both seemingly more concerned about how they sound than in what's happening in the game. I watch a lot of Angels games - they tend to be my team of choice when the West Coast time slot hits (10pm), and so this opinion doesn't come from a small sample size. Hudler doesn't offer much in terms of analysis, he just likes hearing himself talk. Physioc has good pipes, but he seems conceited to me. I don't know if this works for the Los Angeles market (it probably does), but it gets in the way of the game for me. GRADE: D
BAL: Fred Manfra and Buck Martinez on Comcast (sometimes it's Jim Hunter and Martinez).
I don't have a problem with the Baltimore guys, but I don't love them. I think I prefer Manfra to Hunter, but I admit that I haven't watched enough of these games to tell the difference. I think I like the way Manfra sounds more. But I really like Buck Martinez. He's better than most analysts...and he has the experience of having managed, which really adds to a broadcast. GRADE: B-
BOS: Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy on NESN.
This is a relatively good broadcast team. My standard, obviously, is the Mets' broadcasters, and back in the Sean McDonough/Jerry Remy days, the Red Sox were as fun to watch as Mets games (they would surpass certain Mets tandems....dare I get into the Ted Robinson years....?). But Orsillo is a step down from McDonough, and I don't think many Red Sox fans would argue with that. He's still a lot better than the play-by-play guys employed in most broadcast booths around the league, and he has come a long way from his early days as a Major League broadcaster (Orsillo was killed around here, when in his second big-league game, he couldn't find the right excitement level to broadcast Hideo Nomo's no-hitter....he has since found that level). I have also met Orsillo, and he's a decent guy, which goes a long way. I have also met Remy, he wasn't as nice. But he's up there among the best analysts in the game. GRADE: A-
CHI: Ken "Hawk" Harrelson and Darrin Jackson on Comcast.
I rarely get the White Sox on the DirecTV package, and since I watch all of my games on the baseball package, I usually forget to put WGN in the rotation, so I rarely catch White Sox games. But when I do, I generally enjoy Harrelson and Jackson. Harrelson is renowned for being a homer, and it's the type of thing where I expect it, so it doesn't bother me....although maybe if I watched every game, it would bother me. He is also apparently a nickname-giver, which I read somewhere, and is responsible for nicknames such as "The Big Hurt". So he's got that going for him, too. I can't tell you much about Jackson. GRADE: B-
CLE: John Sanders and Mike Hegan on SportsTime Ohio.
I don't watch enough of these games to make an intelligent comment. I will say that I like SportsTime Ohio's graphics. GRADE: INCOMPLETE
DET: Mario Impemba and Rod Allen on FSN Detroit.
I don't watch many Tigers games anymore, mostly because I've grown tired of these two. Last year, the way things fell, the Tigers were on a lot when I was home with nothing else to watch, and I spent a lot of time watching Tigers games (maybe I had a lot of Tigers on my fantasy teams...or more likely, I was watching a lot of Mike Maroth starts). Impemba is just OK - there's nothing special about him. But I really don't like Allen. I don't like his voice, and he doesn't offer much in the way of insight. I don't know how a guy like that ends up as a color analyst....there's got to be a ton of former players better than him who could get this analyst job. GRADE: D
KC: Bob Davis and Paul Splittorff on RSTN.
I don't watch many Royals games, I'll tell you that up front. So I can't make a comment on Davis and Splittorff....but they're pretty much what you'd expect for middle-America broadcasters. Bonus points for the Royals for developing their own television network - they were one of the first - actually, they might pre-date YES. But....they basically just throw their logo over the Fox Sports logo, using most of the same graphics. So I'm not sure what the point is, really. GRADE: D+
MIN: Dick Bremer and Bert Blyleven on FSN Midwest (I think).
The "Circle Me Bert" schtick was fun for one broadcast for me. It's pretty annoying now. I don't understand the fascination with it - I thought it was a one-time deal the first time I saw it, but I guess Blyleven uses the telestrator a lot....and then, get this, he circles fans!!! How hilarious is that?!! Not very. Blyleven reminds me too much of Rick Sutcliffe, and I don't particularly like Sutcliffe. I can't remember ever hearing Bremer during a broadcast...so I can't really comment on him. GRADE: D
NYY: Michael Kay and Jim Kaat, or Jim Kaat and Ken Singleton, with a rotation of former ballplayers as third analysts on the YES network.
I haven't given the YES broadcast crew a very big chance - but there's a good reason for that. First, I have no patience for Michael Kay. I think he's an awful broadcaster, more interested in airing his stupid opinions than in what is going on in the game. That's number one (but I formed that opinion years ago based on his radio work with John Sterling - maybe that's changed...I won't find out by watching Kay). Another reason is that Yankee games bore me to tears. So I don't watch them much. Truth be told, I kind of like Ken Singleton and Jim Kaat. But they don't make up for Michael Kay. I also don't mind Paul O'Neill as an analyst, and I love Al Leiter - but I don't watch enough to know exactly who is involved in YES' rotating third-analyst spot. GRADE: D
OAK: Tim Roye and Ray Fosse on FSN Bay Area.
I've only seen A's telecasts a few times, between the late starts and the amount of times they show us A's telecasts...but from what I've seen so far, there's not much to not like about Fosse and Roye. In other words, I think I may like them...but the sample size is very small. GRADE: B
SEATTLE: Dave Niehaus and Dave Henderson on FSN Northwest.
Sometimes when the Angels broadcasters are bothering me, I'll spend some of my late-night TV time with the Seattle Mariners. This might be only because of Dave Niehaus' voice. It's gravelly. Very gravelly. He sounds so old school...I like that. But Dave Henderson doesn't add much to the telecast. Bonus points for the fact that Dave Henderson's backup (or the person he splits time with - I'm not sure) is Dave Valle - the former Mariners catcher. We went to the same high school...so I'm a fan. GRADE: B-
TAMPA BAY: DeWayne Staats and Joe Magrane on FSN Southeast.
I like watching the Devil Rays every once in a while, and I especially like that DeWayne Staats does their games. I used to like watching the Yankees, once upon a time, and Staats, once upon a time, was the Yankees' TV play-by-play guy. So that brings back a bit of nostalgia for me. Other than that, this is just an ordinary team - nothing horrible, nothing great. GRADE: C+
TEXAS: Josh Lewin and Tom Grieve on Fox Sports Net Southwest.
I don't like Josh Lewin. Everything about him annoys me. I never really liked him too much - something about his voice - but he really lost me during the 2003 playoffs (I think), when he was doing post-game interviews (and the baseball equivalent of sideline reporting), and he would interview players (he must be short) looking UP at them, I mean, his chin was pointed straight up in the air, and he'd ask his question, then have this stupid little smile/smirk/twitch on his face while the player was answering. I couldn't take my eyes off him during the interview. It was very distracting. So I don't like Lewin, and that dooms this team. Grieve is OK...a little boring. But I never really focus on him during Rangers broadcasts. The Rangers games also tend to bore me, so there's a whole lot working against these guys. GRADE: D
TORONTO: I have yet to see a Toronto broadcast in a few years of owning the Extra Innings Baseball Packages...must be something about international broadcasting rights. GRADE: INCOMPLETE