April 9, 2013

Baseball Broadcaster Impressions: Changes

Last year I completed my Baseball Broadcasters Impressions project. It was long. It was epic. And I'm glad I'm not doing it this year. I will though tell you about some of the changes in the baseball broadcasting world and whether or not there have been improvements or mistakes made by these changes.

Out: Daron Sutton, Mark Grace
In: Steve Berthiaume, Bob Brenly
Impressions: How Berthiaume and Brenly received the Arizona jobs still cracks me up. Arizona had to fired Mark Grace because he refuses to call a taxi while he's drunk and fired Daron Sutton because he wanted to wear suits on air instead of a team issued golf shirt.

So in comes Berthiaume the former ESPN anchor and Brenly who previously called Cubs games and was the world series winning manager for the Diamondbacks back in the day. I listened to these two call that 16 inning game against St. Louis last week and I don't know if Brenly was just tired but he didn't sound really enthusiastic calling a game next to Berthiaume. I'm sure though Brenly will develop a chemistry with Berthiaume shortly. As for Bethiaume himself, I thought he was a fine announcer. He was always one of the more likeable ESPN personalities and I'm sure that won't change in Arizona. Plus he knows his baseball.

Out: Jim DeShaies, Milo Hamilton, Brett Dolan, Dave Raymond
In: Alan Ashby, Geoff Blum, Robert Ford, Steve Sparks
Impressions: The Astros have not only cleaned house on the field and in the scouting department, but they have also cleaned house in the broadcasting booth. The only broadcaster remaining from last season is Bill Brown and he'll only work about 100 games this season. Jim Deshaies left for Chicago. Milo Hamilton finally retired. And Dave Raymond and Brett Dolan were shockingly shown the door.

In comes Alan Ashby, who called Astros games until 2006, from Toronto. I've always enjoyed listening to Ashby despite his Yu/English language gaffe last week. He's an easy listen, doesn't get too high or too low during a big moment, and doesn't overshadow the game. He'll call games when Bill Brown takes time off. Joining Brown and Ashby in the booth is Geoff Blum who was surprisingly kinda good in the booth. He also never overshadowed the game. My only complaint about Blum is that he talks just a little too much.

The radio booth has also completely changed. When Robert Ford was hired to be the new radio voice of the Astros a lot of people said, "who?". Ford had been the pre-and-post game broadcaster for Royals broadcasts. I have to say I've liked Ford so far in the booth. Informative and spot on broadcaster. I've never been a big fan of former baseball players doing the play-by-play in a radio booth but Steve Sparks is passable. He's like the majority of former baseball players turned radio announcers (including Duane Kuiper) in that he just calls the game and doesn't give you much information between pitches. Thankfully Ford is right there with him to pass along information. All this being said I have to say I enjoyed the Astros new broadcasters.

Out: A rotating cast of broadcasting partners for Rick Rizzs
In: Aaron Goldsmith
Impressions: The Mariners were using a rotation of partners for Rizzs in the radio booth and none of them were all that great. The Mariners finally did the right thing and hired a young broadcaster to be Rizzs partner. Goldsmith comes from the Pawtucket Red Sox who have already produced the likes of Dave Flemming and Gary Cohen. From what I've heard so far Goldsmith has added a little diversity to the Mariners booth offsetting the overly enthusiastic Rizzs. Now if only Rick would quit treating Goldsmith like he's his long lost son.

Out: Alan Ashby
In: Jack Morris
Impressions: The Blue Jays took a step back with the loss of Ashby and the hiring of Morris. Ashby knew what he was saying and was one of the rare former players turned play-by-play broadcasters. While Morris doesn't call balls and strikes he is there for "analysis" and let's just say he's not very good. And that's fine if Morris isn't very good, Larry Anderson calling Phillies games isn't very good, but someone like Anderson is at least entertaining. Morris isn't entertaining and quite frankly sounds like an old grump. I hate this hiring and wish the Blue Jays would have gone the Mariners route and hired a young broadcaster.

Out: Bob Brenly
In: Jim Deshaies
Impressions: This was a lateral move for the Cubs. They lost a good broadcaster only to hire another good broadcaster. Deshaies isn't as funny or charming as Brenly, but he's more respectable to advance stats which is probably why Len Kasper pushed for his hiring. Cubs fans will like Deshaies.


  1. As you know, I also saw a lot of that 16 inning D-Backs/Cards game and my thought was Berthiaume is that guy that sprints the first few miles of a marathon, only to be completely gassed by the end. Just completely excited & thrilled. It'll be interesting if he's still like that in August.

    1. Perfect analogy. He sounds a little too geeked right now and we'll see what he's like if Arizona is losing or at the end of the year.

  2. I still can't believe Rick Rizzs is broadcasting. He's like the annoying Gus Johnson.