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 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 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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