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Are we looking at a MLB announcer problem?

“Back in my day...”

Minnesota Twins v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

When it comes to sports announcers, I feel like I grew up in a privileged age. While watching NFL contests, I was fortunate to experience the glorious pairing that was John Madden and Pat Summerall, as well as consummate professional Al Michaels in prime time.

On the baseball side of things, I distinctly remember Bob Costas and Joe Morgan calling many playoff games, and Joe Buck being a great “baseball-only” guy (before he got overexposed in the NFL). Locally, Bremer & Blyleven are a solid duo—especially in their early years together—on TV, while Herb Carneal & John Gordon basically constituted the dream radio pairing.

Over the past 20-or-so years, however, I feel as if baseball and football have significantly diverged in the realm of broadcasting.

Despite potentially having quite a bit to gripe about (concussions, flags, major sport changes, etc.), NFL broadcasts typically are high-energy and exciting. Michaels is still around and seemingly having a great time with Chris Collinsworth, Tony Romo bubbles over with an almost adolescent-like energy, and even in the joke of a broadcast that Monday Night Football has turned into, Joe Tessitore gives it his all.

Overlooking the diamond, though? On a national level, the league’s “A-Team” (so this includes the biggest game each week, the All-Star Game, and many playoff contests) includes John Smoltz, who while undoubtedly a great former pitcher, is known in his on-air career as a “back in my day...” grump.

Here in Minnesota, that sentiment is only amplified. With the exception of Roy Smalley, all the color commentators paired with The Duke seem to turn up their nose at the current product. Jack Morris is far and away the worst in this regard, Circle Me Bert isn’t far behind these days, and Jim Kaat does it too, albeit in a much more elegant fashion. Surprisingly, even the “young guns” like Torii Hunter, LaTroy Hawkins, & Justin Morneau have a high amount of “in my day” moments...and their day was only 5-10 years ago!

On the airwaves it gets no better, what with Corey Provus & Dan Gladden often seeming to outright dislike each other.

For seasoned baseball fans, the bodies behind the microphones may not matter all that much in the long run. They’ll take the best they can get, but let’s be honest—they’ll be watching/listening either way.

But what about the young fans—the ones that MLB so desperately wants to court? If I were watching a sport where its narrator was constantly belittling the action on the field and griping about this or that, I feel like I’d walk away from the experience with a bit of a sour taste. Sort of “if the people who do this for a living don’t seem to be enjoying themselves, what hope is there for me?!”.

Despite being in a relatively stable situation (at least in the short term), Major League Baseball has many issues it will face in the years to come. In comparing their ambassadors (the broadcasters) to those of the NFL, I would pronounce the national pastime significantly behind the ones suspended atop the gridiron.


Which sport has the best broadcasters?

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  • 29%
    (257 votes)
  • 37%
    (326 votes)
  • 20%
    (180 votes)
  • 11%
    I watch on mute, so who cares
    (103 votes)
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