Baseball announcers and other incurable diseases


If Google says so, it must be true.

I just Googled the phrase “Joe Buck is a terrible announcer” and there were 273,000 results. It’s not enough, people. Not nearly enough.

I grew up in Los Angeles, and the two sports broadcasters that I heard the most were Chick Hearn for the Lakers and Vin Scully for the Dodgers. I guess I’ve been a bit spoiled since they are two of the all-time greatest in the history of sports broadcasting.

Vin (as most players, coaches and fans call him) has been announcing Dodgers games since 1950 — yes, 1950! And he keeps coming back year after year. I don’t know why he does it — most men his age have long since retired. But he still sounds like he enjoys the game of baseball, and he enjoys telling the listeners at home about the game in front of him.

Joe Buck also keeps coming back year after year. But in that bad way — in that Black Eyed Peas sort of way.

He’s the son of Jack Buck, another great announcer, and he showed up on our televisions a few years back and we didn’t think much of it. Next thing you know he’s everywhere: announcing football games and baseball games and doing stupid commercials. And all the while, he really just doesn’t seem to actually like sports that much. Now, he just won’t go away. Joe Buck is like herpes.

Look, nobody wants herpes. Okay, maybe some people do — it sounds crazy, but have you seen the Internet lately? Anyway, when you get herpes, you can’t get rid of it and you can only hope to manage the outbreaks and limit the effects. When Joe Buck is announcing a game I usually just turn the sound off — the mute button is my Valtrex.

I don’t want you to think that I’m singling out Joe Buck here. He is just one of the many modern baseball announcers who sound like they just don’t give a crap and would really rather be doing something else, but they’ll do this for now because it’s a paying gig and times are tight and you don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth.

What a wonderful world it would be ...

Accompanying the Joe Buck outbreak at baseball games is Tim McCarver. I suppose that makes him gonorrhea. I don’t know who it was that decided baseball games needed commentary from former players who are not very interesting, but there’s a corner office in hell for the corporate executive who inflicted this idea upon us.

Just because you played a sport, does not mean you are qualified to speak about that sport — and it certainly does not mean that you are interesting enough to listen to. Similarly, you wouldn’t expect the golden-voiced Giants announcer Jon Miller to be able to pick up a bat and hit a fastball.

Hey, I get the reasoning here. Former players played the game and they have an insight into the game that we fans don’t. Tim McCarver is 70 years old and hasn’t played baseball in over 30 years. So, into what game does he have insight? Check out www.ShutUpTimMcCarver.com for some of his valuable observations.

Another example of this horrible announcer problem is Joe Morgan. Joe was one of the greatest players in the history of baseball, and he went out of his way to remind you of this in every game he announced. His narrow-minded and thoroughly biased opinions left no room for “facts” or “statistics” — so much so that the website www.FireJoeMorgan.com was dedicated to ridiculing his commentary and other similar narrow-mindedness.

Baseball broadcasts tend to come across looking like a lot of really not-that-bright, non-baseball fans got together and came up with ideas that would guarantee more viewers — or at least to try not to lose too many viewers.

Last year, I was watching a Lakers game on TV, and it was listed on the Directv program listing as being on two channels. Oops, someone made a mistake. Or did they? One of the channels was the game as usual — usual camera angles, usual announcers, usual scoreboard. The other channel was the same game but with no announcers and with new camera angles — it felt kind of like I was just at the game.

I’m not saying I want to watch every game like this, but don’t we have the technology to have this as an option? I can watch a movie on my phone at Starbucks, for crying out loud!

These baseball broadcasts need to modernize. I’m not talking about highlighting flaming fastballs or animated robots celebrating home runs. Just use modern technology to bring the game to people in a way that features the game.

This nonsense with the “sideline reporters” is getting out of hand. Baseball is just following football and basketball here, but come on! Nobody cares. I just tune out these “sideline reports” now. It’s usually some way-too-pretty girl standing in the crowd with creepy fans leering at her as she tells us all about how some player from one of the teams helped some little kid named Petey with brain cancer. I don’t care.

Now if Lisa Lampanelli was in the broadcast booth, we'd be listening!

I mean, it’s sad that the kid has cancer. But you are just harshing my mellow with that stuff. Tell me about the game. Or get Lisa Lampanelli out there to talk trash with the fans. “These Cubs fans smell like they showered at a bratwurst factory.” “CC Sabathia struck out eight players in this game — and he ate two.” “Vernon Wells is on the disabled list after an unfortunate incident with the Rally Monkey.”

I would watch this. This would be interesting.

Another thorn in my side is this interview they do with the team’s manager between innings. These guys can’t tell you what their strategy is or what they really think about anything going on. The next time one of them says something even vaguely interesting during the game will be the absolute first time ever. Stop it. You’re embarrassing them and the game.

I don’t know what the solution is here. To be honest, I really liked the Dennis Miller idea on Monday Night Football. Okay, not the actual Dennis Miller part, but the idea of having a comedian in the booth. You know, someone with an actual sense of humor.

Most former players that do announcing think that they have a sense of humor and that they are very charming. I’ve got some bad news for those guys: People laugh at your jokes because you’re rich and they also aren’t that funny, and girls think you’re charming because you’re rich and moderately famous. Well, that’s not really bad news for those guys — not like little Petey and his brain tumor.

I don’t blame Joe Buck and Tim McCarver for their awfulness. I blame the corporate pinheads who keep writing these guys paychecks. If someone paid me a lot of money for me to do something I wasn’t very good at, I would probably accept it gladly — unless it involved talking to people — yuck.

Networks need to stop hiring former players who are not interesting and bring in some comedians who know baseball (and probably who aren’t quite so Dennis Miller-y).  And somehow we need to get some guys to announce games who actually love the game and want to share the game with people at home.

Until then, I’ll keep my finger on the mute button and manage my outbreaks and try to live a normal, productive life.

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19 Comments

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  1. Sutcliffe is horrible. I actually do an AMAZING impression of him. I just do a Southern version of Harry Carey and then just ramble on about nonsense, occasionally dropping the word “baseball” in every now and then and repeating myself over and over.

  2. You can’t argue with Buck/McCarver being horrible but my absolute least favorite announcer is Rick Sutcliffe. He literally makes stuff up and acts like he knows nothing about the players. He constantly rains superlatives down on someone who’s been awful and then talk poorly about a player dominating. I couldn’t possibly express all his downfalls but the guy must be stopped. If only ESPN would pull a TBS when they got rid of Chip. There are 7 freaking billion people on earth and somehow FOX found 2 of the worst to announce the World Series/Superbowl which are arguably the top 2 sports events of the year. Let me ask you this….have you ever known someone who liked or didn’t like Buck/McCarver?

  3. The technical problems with broadcasts is a whole “nuther” problem. The hours-old game breaks are hilarious — they should start them with “For those of you who don’t know about the Internet or cable news outlets…”

  4. I don’t hate Buck and McCarver the way I hated Joe Morgan. My unhappiness is more just the way that Fox covers baseball. Game breaks that happened hours ago, interviews with the managers (or worse, the star of a new Fox program), and the fact that on my TV I can’t see the complete score (not everyone owns a widescreen TV). Buck and McCarver aren’t great, but there just aren’t that many Vin Scully’s or Bob Costas’.

    Oh, and if you think I dislike the way Fox covers baseball, you should hear what I think about the way they cover the news!

  5. Kiner is definitely in that Ernest Borgnine zone where pretty much everyone just assumes he’s passed away. I really like when they wheel out old dudes for an inning. It’s the only sport that can do that because of the pace. Of course it’s always funny when it’s a 1-2-3 inning and then “thanks for stopping by for three minutes.”

  6. On the positive side, every once in a while you get the random guest in the booth that makes it all worthwhile. A couple weeks ago I happened to turn on the Mets broadcast when they had Ralph Kiner back in for an inning.
    First thing – I would have bet my baseball card collection Kiner had been dead for a few years now. Second thing – even in the best of times Kiner was known as much for his malapropisms as he was for his home runs. They are discussing batting coaches who were poor hitters as players. Kiner says “Walt Hriniak couldn’t have hit his fanny with both hands.”

    Old people with microphones are awesome.

  7. It amazes me how much those two guys are disliked and yet Fox just keeps putting them out there.

  8. It is hard to top Scully. But I’ll take Don Sutton and Joe Simpson for the Braves any day over what the other networks have to offer.

  9. I’ve long though that Fox should fire Buck and McCarver and offer Vin a blank check to announce the World Series.

  10. Touche! I missed that since I was pretending it wasn’t happening. So I’m going to guess that he was probably just annoyed at anyone being successful anywhere doing anything that wasn’t him… Or maybe he just missed Troy.

  11. Really?! Sorry, I’m not seeing it. Buck has no enthusiasm for any team and certainly not the Yankees. When he called the final out of the 2009 World Series I thought someone should have checked him for a pulse.

  12. He definitely would have preferred for the Yanks to win that series and he was taking the loss a little bit too hard for someone who really has no affiliation with the Yankees except for the fact that they are more famous… Just to prove I’m not a horrible person, I completely left out his live HBO show that was among the worst things ever aired.

  13. Marlins fans have a particular distaste for Buck due to his obvious disdain for the Marlins during the call of the 2003 WS against the Yankees. Give credit where credit is due and call the game with enthusiasm, which is something he doesn’t have an ounce of. Josh Beckett’s masterful performance in Game 6 should have been a much bigger deal during the broadcast. Buck sounded like he’d rather be somewhere else. And on the final out, I coulda swore I heard him yawn. As much as he sounds like he tolerates McCarver, I swear the dude eyes Troy Aikman lovingly during football broadcasts. Troy is sporting wood for Aaron Rodgers all season long and Buck obviously has an unrequited, crush on Troy. Probably has a shrine for Aikman in a secret room of his house. You can be impartial and spirited in the broadcast booth. Wish Buck knew that and cared enough to be more than a self-loving celeb.

  14. I think that if they’re going to have former players on, their focus should just be on anecdotes. I don’t care if they think the manager should change the pitcher, but I DO CARE about the time the former player saw David Wells eat 14 cheeseburgers in one sitting.

  15. I would have loved to see the pitch meeting where they came up with the talking Citgo sign. The southern accent is GENIUS! That way people all over the country can relate. I’m guessing at least three dislocated shoulders from all the high-fives.

  16. McCarver is the Madden of baseball. His commentary is juvenile-at best and condescending. There was a time when Madden’s commentary was insightful because it broke down the game into being understandable. The problem is now that we all pretty much understand the rules and do not require the booth to constantly point out easy things to us. I can’t stand Joe Buck either, I have a problem with announcers that commentate too many sports and spend a ton of time mentioning the same things over-and-over again or glorifying “star” players like they are the best player in all of baseball, or even just that game.

  17. There are times when I’m not even sure Joe Buck has a pulse. Listening to him and McCarver make me want to stick hot pokers in my ears. And ESPN’s Sunday night baseball is totally unwatchable. They had a whole montage where the Citgo sign in Boston was talking… and if that wasn’t bad enough it had a southern (and I don’t mean Southie) accent for some inexplicable reason.

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