May 22, 2003

To liven up its Wednesday night baseball telecasts, ESPN will be giving viewers a blast from the past by having some of the game's legendary play-by-play voices, past and present, serve as guest announcers throughout the summer. Curt Gowdy worked last night's Yanks/Red Sox game for the network, and among the other greats slated to appear in upcoming games are the Reds' Marty Brennaman, the Phillies' Harry Kalas, the Tigers' now-retired Ernie Harwell, and ABC's Keith Jackson (bet you forgot he used to do baseball too, didn'tcha?).

posted by Motown Mike to baseball at 10:51 PM - 19 comments

Classic, shmassic, this would still require watching baseball and I will do that one week after they cancel Aussie Rules Football and Rugby on FSW! Fling the poop on baseball!

posted by billsaysthis at 11:35 PM on May 22, 2003

I didn't get a chance to hear Gowdy, but I love this idea. Too bad there are so few of the legends still around.

posted by rcade at 07:57 AM on May 23, 2003

Gowdy could have been mixing the players' names up with those for the 70s for all I care, and he'd still be better than Berman. Actually, he sounded quite good, if a little slow at times.

posted by trox at 08:35 AM on May 23, 2003

I didn't get to hear Gowdy. The game was carried locally by NESN. Generally, whenever the Red Sox are on ESPN, I cringe. I can't stand that Joe Morgan and his broadcast partner, "Ben Franklin"/Jon Miller.

posted by jerseygirl at 08:48 AM on May 23, 2003

Keith Jackson doing the Fiesta Bowl was one of the worst things I've ever heard in my life. I like Joe Morgan. And Jon Miller. Berman, not so much for baseball.

posted by Mookieproof at 10:41 AM on May 23, 2003

I like Miller and Morgan as well, guess it shows how subjective these things can be. Gowdy definitely showed some rust the other night, but considering that he's 83, hasn't worked the sport on a regular basis in two decades or more, and had to share air-time with self-promoting schtick merchant Berman, I thought he acquitted himself very well. And of course, he had some wonderful stories about the old days. I can't get that excited about Keith Jackson's appearance. Not only has his announcing declined in recent years, but he was really never that great on baseball to begin with. ESPN is planning to name additional guest announcers later in the season. Hopefully we'll see appearances from the likes of Vin Scully, Herb Carneal, Bob Murphy, Dave Niehaus, Bob Uecker, etc.

posted by Motown Mike at 11:19 AM on May 23, 2003

I'd like to hear Jack Buck and Harry Caray call a game. Alas...

posted by vito90 at 11:35 AM on May 23, 2003

Whoa, Jon Miller got his start doing Sox games on radio. Except the Sox ownership, like the Orioles after them, didn't know what they had. Anyone who can do impressions of various other broadcasters in foregin languages is good enough for me. Apparently Japan's most famous baseball broadcaster learned his trade by apeing Vin Scully; one night during the latter innings of a blowout, Miller did a minute or two of Scully in Japanese. You need a guy like that to make it through 162 game season as a fan. I'd envy Giants fans if Sox fans weren't lucky enough to have Jerry Remy and two terrific radio broadcasters. It might be the Miller-Morgan combo that bothers you jerseygirl: Morgan used to be a very informative teacher as a color man. Now he's just a snotty prick. Decline in age or not, I'll take Keith Jackson. Harry Kalas and Ernie Morgan as well. I'd take any name mentioned over Chris Berman. Personally, I think he turned into a caricature of himself years ago and I never liked him to begin with. He's awful, loud and garish on purpose. He's the prototypical Ugly American. billsaysthis, your dislike of baseball is well-documented. The idea of SportsFilter was to avoid people crapping on sports threads on MetaFilter.

posted by yerfatma at 11:40 AM on May 23, 2003

Jack Buck was terrific (I whiled away a summer job listening to CBS' "Game of the Week" on the radio and they'd always do a "hometown inning" halfway through the game where they'd switch over to the hometown broadcaster, which is where I got ot hear Buck, Brenneman, Kalas, et al). The one idiosyncracy of Buck's I would like to see catch on is the term "switch-batter". His explanation for it was that not all of them could do it and hit.

posted by yerfatma at 11:43 AM on May 23, 2003

As good as Buck was on baseball, I still tend to associate him more with the radio side of "Monday Night Football". Those two sports are so widely disparate that you can't help but be impressed when an announcer can not only do both but do justice to both (like Buck, and Gowdy, and Al Michaels, and I suppose Buck's son Joe, although the latter has a considerable ways to go before he reaches the old man's stature, and may never get there if he has to keep working with a third-rate outfit like Fox). If you ever get the chance, try and hunt down a copy of Curt Smith's Voices of the Game. This out-of-print book is the definitive look at baseball broadcasting and makes for fascinating reading.

posted by Motown Mike at 12:35 PM on May 23, 2003

Ernie Harwell is still great. I'm convinced the only reason he retired was because he couldn't stand watching the Tigers any more. And I'd much rather hear Morgan/Miller than Berman, who's quickly becoming the Dick Enberg of ESPN. Miller has improved Giant's radio a mile - except sometimes they sneak in Joe Angel (I guess they were partners in Baltimore as well) who seems a bit of a boot licker.

posted by kloeprich at 12:55 PM on May 23, 2003

I really want to hear Uecker say "Juuuuust a bit outside!" in a real game.

posted by grum@work at 01:13 PM on May 23, 2003

fan1:"Its too high" fan2:"What do you mean, 'too high'?" uh-huh-huh, he said 'high'

posted by garfield at 01:40 PM on May 23, 2003

What do y'all think of McCarver? I find his need to over-explain every little detail annoying, but infinitely prefer him over, say, the faux-Maddens that do color for football these days. But some people absolutely hate him.

posted by Mookieproof at 02:18 PM on May 23, 2003

Mookie: I absolutely hate him. He's a smug, self-congratulating bastard who ruins his ability to see inside the game by constantly talking about himself. I'm glad he played with Bob Gibson. Too bad he wasn't as gifted, although you'd be hard-pressed to ascertain that from his stories. I grew up listening to Buck, and even when the old man was struggling a bit down the stretch, he still managed at least once a game to make me 1) think about some aspect of the game 2) laugh out loud. I miss him. For those outside the St. Louis market, the Cards have given about half the play-by-play duties to former Buck sidekick and Redbird third-sacker Mike Shannon. He used to be somewhat of a joke in the booth, the prime example of someone getting a mike because he wore a cup for a while. Over the past five years, though, it has become a distinct pleasure to listen to Shannon. St. Louis will always treasure an original over the helmethairs and the slicksters. Tune in to KMOX 1120-AM some night and enjoy.

posted by wfrazerjr at 02:48 PM on May 23, 2003

Yerfatma, so sorry, just was in a pre-coffe early morning poop flinging mood and got carried away. Will attempt to resist the urge the remainder of the summer.

posted by billsaysthis at 04:26 PM on May 23, 2003

I really want to hear Uecker say "Juuuuust a bit outside!" in a real game. Didn't he already do this when he was a World Series announcer (with Bob Costas) a couple of years ago?

posted by kirkaracha at 09:37 AM on May 24, 2003

In other baseball broadcasting news, SI's Fritz Quindt has a piece this week about an interesting experiment conducted recently by the Seattle Mariners' cable affiliate. The middle innings of a game were shown without graphic embellishment of any kind, and viewers were asked to voice their opinions. A solid majority responded that they preffered to retain the graphics. Now, if they'd only try giving us a few innings without incessant close-ups of players' faces during crucial game situations...

posted by Motown Mike at 02:26 PM on May 24, 2003

I'm still looking for a backer for my plan to provide an alternate audio feed that more closely matches hardcore fans' feelings. I doubt they'd let me use the SAP feature on peoples' teevees just so I could swear at a few thousand people everytime Todd Walker couldn't move six inches to his left for a batted ball.

posted by yerfatma at 11:04 AM on May 26, 2003

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