Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sports Analysts-The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Baseball Edition

Now that I have hopefully cleared the air and calmed my Blackhawk fan readers, I can get back to my favorite and hated sports broadcasters.  Maybe some of you agreed with my choices for the football world, or maybe some of you are part of Craig James' campaign team for Texan senator.  Either way, make sure to leave your opinion in the comments section.  I'd really love to get a good back and forth going with you kids, since I know you are knowledgeable sports fans.

I'll move onto the world of baseball. This is my favorite sport and involves my favorite team.  Baseball is the only sport I was ever respectable in playing-wise, and even that is debatable.  I did, however, pick up quite a bit of baseball acumen over the years of playing and watching the sport.  Because of this, I hold baseball analysts to the highest standard, since I know exactly when they are spewing B.S.

To be fair, you may spot some Cubs bias in my analysis. But this is my list, so I get to be biased.  I'd like to think that my hometown announcers are as good as a think, so you'll just have to tell me if I'm way off base.

MLB - The Best
Pat and Ron were the perfect pair for
the Cubs
  • Pat Hughes: To me, this is the voice of baseball.  Pat is the WGN radio play-by-play man for the Cubs, and one of the top broadcasters in the game.  He has an uncanny ability to paint a clear picture of what is happening and brings the perfect amount of excitement to the game without going over the top.    He also had the task of babysitting working alongside late Cubs legend Ron Santo.  Ron was basically the biggest Cubs fan watching the game, and he just happened to be mic'ed.  Pat did a great job of setting Ron up for some analysis or another one of Ron's stories.  I rarely say it is a joy to listen to someone call a game, but with Pat Hughes it truly is.
  • Steve Stone: Stone is probably knows the most about Chicago baseball than any other analyst. Not only did he pitch for both the Cubs and the White Sox in the 1970's, but he has spent the past 29 years in the booth for one of the Windy City's teams.  He does an incredible job of predicting plays before they happen, using a deep understanding of baseball strategy to explain his predictions.  He also isn't afraid to criticize mistakes made by the team, which actually got him fired from the Cubs booth in 2004.  He made this extremely accurate statement that year, which ultimately led to his dismissal- "The truth of this situation is [this is] an extremely talented bunch of guys who want to look at all directions except where they should really look, and kind of make excuses for what happened."  He joined the Sox booth in 2007, which makes the games somewhat bearable to listen to.
  • Vin Scully: The legendary Dodgers radio man truly deserves his place among the baseball immortals.   He is now 84 years old and has been calling games for 62 (!) years, starting back when the Dodgers were still in Brooklyn.  Not only has he called the games for 6 decades, but calls the games by himself, using his skill as an analyst to breakdown the play as he calls it.  He is well known for getting to games 3 hours before game time to prepare. I have gotten MLB Radio for the past few seasons and sometimes I will tune in to his broadcasts just to listen to a master at work.  
  • Bob Brenley: Brenley is one of the most underrated color guys in the league.  The former Diamondbacks manager has developed quite a rapport with Len Kasper, and the two are probably the best booth in any of the Chicago sports.  Like Steve Stone, Brenley has great insight on the game, especially since he played catcher in the bigs.  He balances his praise and criticism very well, and is not afraid to admit a mistake.  He actually has been my top choice to be the Cubs manager since Lou Piniella stepped down.  He has shown in the booth that he knows baseball well, and more importantly, he understands what it would take for the Cubs to win it all.
    "Juuuust a bit outside"
  • Bob Uecker: Uecker is probably best known for his work in Major League, when he played announcer Harry Doyle and delivered some memorable lines that are still quoted today.  You may not know that he has been the Milwaukee Brewers radio play-by-play since 1978 and that he is just as hilarious in the booth as he was on-screen.  He keeps his calls light, but doesn't let his joking take away from the game.  He has plenty of great self-deprecating quotes about his time as a player, but this is one of my favorites- "The highlight of my career? In ’67 with St. Louis, I walked with the bases loaded to drive in the winning run in an intersquad game in spring training."

MLB - The Worst
  • Tim McCarver:  This is actually the guy who inspired this post.  It really is a shame that he is still involved with baseball, especially as the color man for Fox's so-called #1 MLB broadcast team alongside Captain Monotone, Joe Buck.  More people spend the World Series discussing how awful it is to listen to McCarver than the teams actually playing.  Fox should be embarrassed that they put this moron on the national stage every week and during the World Series. I can point to so many stupid calls by Tim over the years, but here is one that I caught while during the 2011 All-Star game.
Buck: "Where does Scott Rolen rank all-time as a defensive 3rd baseman?"
McCarver: "Well he's a great baserunner."
I can haz competent analyzt?
That is just the perfect excerpt from McCarver.  He often has no idea what is actually happening in the game, spending his time talking about what he thinks is correct.  He is almost never on mark, and I fear for the casual baseball fan who thinks that listening to him is making them more baseball savvy.  I know it has become the cool thing to hate on McCarver, but it is the most deserved hate all of sports.  I can say that in the history of my involvement in sports, he is the worst broadcaster I have ever heard. 
  • Joe Morgan: Thankfully, Joe Morgan is no longer on the air after being let go from Sunday Night Baseball in 2010.  I think what I hated most about Morgan is that he carried over his playing career into the booth (not that I was alive to see it).  He really was a great second baseman and was large cog in the Big Red Machine. However, he spent all his time reminding us of it, trying to prove how much he knew about baseball. Instead, he spent a ton of time arguing with Jon Miller over insignificant things and often times came off as a big time jerk.  He was usually unprepared for games, which caused him to either get things wrong or say very obvious things, such as, "He thought that pitch was outside...that's why he didn't swing".  Thanks Joe. Now you bring up why baseball was much better when you were a player.
  • John Sterling: Sterling is the radio play-by-play guy for the MLB's flagship franchise, the New York Yankees.  He is a prime example of an announcer who may have been good at one time, but now gets by on gimmicks and catchphrases.  You'll see more of this in later posts when I get to ESPN.  He gets so excited to use phrases he is well known for that he misses what is happening in the game, and instead comes off as arrogant.  I have spent very little time actually listening to his broadcasts, but each time I do it is painful.  He is at his most annoying point at the end of the game if the Yankees win.  If you have never heard it, take a listen below and tell me you don't hate the Yanks more than you already did.

  • Hawk Harrelson/Ed Farmer:  Ah, yes.  You didn't think a White Sox broadcaster or 2 would escape my most hated list, did you? I'll start with the Hawk.  This man is easily the biggest homer for the team he calls in all of baseball.  While I support letting you allegiance for a team leak into the call, Harrelson  takes it too far.  He often misses plays because he is spewing his feeling on the Sox play all over the place. Like Sterling, he relies on mannerisms to cover up his poor ability to describe what is happening on the field (aka do his job).  His "He Gone" and "Stretch!" calls are plain obnoxious.  I will say that I do like one of his catchphrases- "You can put it on the board, Yes!"- which my dad uses during Indians games on many occasions.  Ed Farmer is the Sox radio man and is the opposite of Hawk.  He has absolutely zero emotion and sucks all the energy out of his broadcasts.  It's hard to tell who is winning when he is calling the game, and he makes you not want to listen because he makes you sad, even if your team is winning.
That takes care of my baseball list.  Did I miss anyone?  Do you completely disagree? Leave your thoughts here.  (Disclaimer: White Sox fans will never win an argument against me concerning the Hawk-he blows).

Next list to come will be my mixed bag, which covers NCAA b-ball, the NHL, and Chicago analysts.


  1. For someone who lived in the Detroit broadcast area, the lack of Rod Allen on this list surprises me

    1. Even though Rod Allen is mediocre at best and makes everyone out to be Babe Ruth, the video of him chasing the Japanese pitcher into centerfield makes me smile every time I watch it. For that reason, I can't put him on my hated list.

    2. Oh come on. With phrases like "That boy is country-strong" (usually referring to Marcus Thames) or "get on witcha bad self" (Craig Monroe) or "padnuh" (Mario) or "special" (everyone) how could you possibly not love Rod?

  2. Also, the picture at the top of this blog http://rodallen.blogspot.com/2009/06/memorable-allen-isms-rod-allen-quotes.html