Blogs by Bob Stockton
The View From My Recliner
10/3/2012 12:03:51 PM
A baseball fan's view of the current state of the baseball announcing booth game.
As a Phillies fan of more than sixty years beginning way back when Phillies Fans were always deemed to be "long suffering" I have always prided myself on my
composure during periods of Philadelphia baseball adversity, but the Phils - Nats contest of October 1st had me seething. There was my team standing on the
field of play waiting for the game to resume while the Nationals celebrated in the dugout and the broadcasters reveled in the moment.
Now I'm not saying that Rizzo and the front office haven't done their homework and that Davey Johnson is a bad manager, in fact the Nats have spent money in
all the right places and have put together a club with few if any weaknesses. I'm just hot about the way they let my team stand around while all the whoops and
shouts went on in the dugout. Save that for the locker room and let's get on with the game.
Now that my rant within a rant is done let me address my topic: Assessing the National League East cable broadcast teams. The score will be graded by the
number of "Remote Mute Buttons" awarded with no buttons being the quality broadcast standard and five buttons being the worst booth anywhere in the known
and charted universe.
Note: All of the teams in the East have a fifth wheel "roving reporter" running throughout the park reporting breathlessly on a subject that the viewers already
knew or didn't care about (left fielder's daughter is taking piano lessons) or are busily interviewing some chatty fund raiser while the play on the field goes
largely unreported. I despise them all.
The NL East Broadcasters
1. The Washington Nationals: Bob Carpenter and F.P. Santangelo
Remember the old Washington Senators' "first in war, first in peace and last in the American League" teams? They were so bad that two - count 'em two - copies
were run out of town to relocate elsewhere. Not so these Nationals. They are a very good baseball team. Too bad the boys in the booth don't measure up.
Carpenter ends every well structured sentence on a high note as if he were asking a question and is often prone to either wishing the next batter to hit one out or
making an excuse for the rare Washington miscue. Carpenter sounds like he goes home every night, folds his trousers neatly, lights a candle and prays that when
he wakes up he'll be Bob Costas. (I'm not sure which of the two should be more offended). I have dubbed him "Little Lord Fauntleroy." His analyst partner is F.P.
Santangelo and I have no gripe with him. He knows the game and is concise and to the point. Santangelo is a keeper, Carpenter not so much.
Grade: Three Remote Mute Buttons.
2. The Atlanta Braves: Chip Caray and Joe Simpson
The Braves are host to the least knowledgeable baseball fans in captivity. They are actually college football fans who have nothing better to do in the summer. I
actually overheard a fan ask "What time is bat-off?" while attending a game in the old Georgia Avenue Stadium. Braves fans have even borrowed (stolen) the
Florida State Seminoles tomahawk chop and happily begin chanting at the drop of a hat. Pitcher draws a walk? Tomahawk Chop. You get the idea.
Can Chip Caray actually be Skip Caray's kid and Harry's grandkid? I get the feeling that the Braves or whoever picks up the announcing tab has to hire someone to
stick a mirror under his nose from time to time to see if he is really breathing. Simpson isn't much better. He is dull and ridden with platitudes. He analyzes the
game much like he played it. Cautiously and inoffensively. To borrow a phrase from Joe Garagiola, "They spray the ballpark with ether."
Grade: Three Remote Mute Buttons. Four if you throw in the tomahawk chop.
3. The Philadelphia Phillies: Tom McCarthy, Chris Wheeler (six innings) and Gary (Sarge) Matthews (three innings).
The Phils are becoming a bit long in the tooth, and coupled with a recent spate of poor money management decisions and other walking wounded woes were
forced to stand around on their heels while the Nationals whooped it up in the dugout. McCarthy is a pitchman through and through. If you are dozing off between innings his McDonald's or W.B. Mason intro coming back in is guaranteed to bring you about three feet in the air. If you have a heart condition be advised. Wheeler is a knowledgeable fan who explains the game well for the most part but occasionally tends to run on a bit. Take a breath every now and then Chris. Sarge is funny, knows the game well and brings a player's view to the booth (I love his 'Cadillac Time' call) but I am getting a bit bored with all the booth chatter about shirts, hats and other apparel items. There is a game on, fellas. Try a bit harder to keep us in it.
Grade: Two Remote Mute Buttons (Disclaimer: I am a 'lifer' Phillies fan).
4. The New York Mets: Gary Cohen, Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez
What if you built a ballpark and no one came? The Mets financials are the Phils on steroids. I heard the other day that they are still paying Bobby Bonilla. Can that
be true? Cohen is the consummate play by play guy. He knows the game inside and out, is a Mets encyclopedia and works hard to keep some semblance of order in the
booth during broadcasts. You get the feeling that he loves the Mets as much as, say Jerry Seinfeld. And speaking of Seinfeld (clever segue) the boys of summer
that occupy the booth with Cohen are completely interchangeable. I can never tell which one is speaking without a camera shot. I have dubbed them Tweedledee
and Tweedledum. At the end of the day the booth does present a reasonably decent game, thanks mainly to Cohen's efforts to keep the game on track.
Grade: Two Remote Mute Buttons.
5. The Miami Marlins: Rich Waldz and Tommy Hutton
Salt water fishtanks, salsa music, a retractable roof and plenty of empty seats. There is a strong Latin flavor about the Marlins, from the field manager down to the
players. So strong in fact that one outfielder stopped calling himself Mike and is now Giancarlo. My guess is that is his given name but I'm not certain. I do know
that it takes four syllables to pronounce. Rich Waldz (or something like that) is a baby voiced kid who does a game like he's the backup guy for the Toledo Mud Hens (apologies to Toledo). Hutton is a former Philadelphia splinter gatherer whose only claim to Philly fame that I know of is that he is/was Dick Ruthven's brother-in-law. Hutton guffaws at his own sorry jokes as if to make sure that everyone knows that it really is one and the two natter constantly about this or that or cut to the roving fifth wheel member leaving the viewer wondering, a. who is the batter, b. what is the count and c. oy!
Grade: Five Remote Mute Buttons ( I was going to give six, but Stanton's first name IS four syllables)
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More Blogs by Bob Stockton
The View From My Recliner - Wednesday, October 03, 2012
Birdland - Saturday, September 29, 2012
Looking Back - Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Kipling's 'Tommy' - Tuesday, September 18, 2012
"Thank You For your Service" - Friday, March 23, 2012
'Fighting Bob Given 'Four Stars' - Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Listening to Ghosts Awarded Bronze Medal - Monday, December 26, 2011
'Cora Accepted For Publication - Monday, December 26, 2011
'Fighting Bob' Entered in Fla. Book Awards Competition - Monday, November 14, 2011
My Maynard Eulogy - Thursday, November 10, 2011