September 10, 2012

Baseball Broadcaster Impressions: ESPN

I continue the Baseball Broadcaster Impressions project today with a look at the ESPN broadcasting crews. 

TV Broadcasters: Dan Shulman, Orel Hershiser, Terry Francona

This isn't so much of a critique or a review as it's more of a overall question. Do national broadcasts purposely dumb down broadcasts for the audience?

I ask this question because Shulman, Hershiser, and Francona are all smart broadcasters. I think we can agree on this. But when I've watched them call Giants games the past few weeks I was surprised at what I perceive to be a dumb down broadcast. 

During last night's Giants game all of them kept the broadcast simple and their analysis was pretty sub par. It's still a much better broadcast than the Joe Morgan-Steve Phillips disaster, but still I expected much more from these three. I listened to Francona last year when he filled in for McCarver and he was really good. Francona was still good at predicting that Zito would shift his weight down the first base line during an AB and was great at breaking down Buster Posey's home run, but still he used very simple language during the broadcast.

Shulman I know is a great broadcaster, but he's another one who kept the broadcast very simple along with Hershiser who I know is a good analyst.

Maybe I ask too much out of these three, but the overall broadcast was very simple. Which begs the question, do these three keep the broadcast simple because they're broadcasting to a larger crowd? I understand that they're broadcasting to a larger audience so maybe they're told to keep the broadcast simple to draw in viewers who might not watch baseball everyday?


If that's the case I think it's the wrong direction for these broadcasts. Fewer people are watching baseball these days and these broadcasts are pretty much a small community of people who are watching simply because their team is playing in that game. What's the point of keeping the broadcast simple when there's only a small audience watching?

I don't know whether the Sunday night crew is purposely keeping the broadcast simple or not. I will say I do enjoy these three. They don't talk over each other and while they use simple language, they're still a smart broadcasting trio.

How much I do enjoy the Sunday night crew is how much I don't like the Monday and Wednesday night crews. I enjoy Sean McDonough, but Rick Sutcliffe and Aaron Boone are terrible. I've never enjoyed Dave O'Brien or the Nomar/Mark Mulder combination. ESPN saves themselves with a good Sunday night crew.

Radio Broadcasters: Jon Sciambi, Chris Singleton

Boog Sciambi is one of the smartest broadcasters in the business. He's well aware of advance stats and will even use them during a broadcast. Sciambi though isn't just some drone who spouts off OPS or UZR during broadcasts. He's actually a damn good broadcaster who makes the game flow by.

It's amazing that once upon a time Sciambi was the Atlanta Braves broadcaster. Going from Sciambi to Chip Carray is like going from Kate Upton to some trailer park trash stripper. Braves fans should weep every time they hear Sciambi on a national broadcast.

I constantly find myself surprised at how much I enjoy listening to Chris Singleton. Even when he's on Baseball Tonight he's one of the better broadcasters. What makes him special though is that he can easily breakdown what is happening in the game on the radio and he stays out of Sciambi's way when he starts talking advance stats. ESPN really hit a winner with this duo on their national broadcasts. Now watch ESPN break them up and place John Kruk in the radio booth with Boog.

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  1. Worst thing that happened to the Braves was losing Boog.

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