Pro’s disappearing from booth

One of the most disappointing things about sports broadcasts for this long-time sports fan has been watching and listening to the decline of quality in the sports booth. Some of my favorite sports memories have been listening to a game on the radio, closing my eyes and watching the game through the eyes of the man calling the game.

Vin Scully with the Dodgers and my personal favorite, Dave Neihaus with the Seattle Mariners are among the few remaining game announcers who can paint a picture of what is going on the field and make you feel like you are there. Bob Costas does a decent job of it, but in his attempt to emulate Vin Scully, he doesn’t have the sense of pace. He is so busy trying to cram in every bit of his research that he talks incessantly and never shuts up long enough to let the flow of the game show through..

Why is quality sportscasting going the way of the 8-tracks and Beta tapes?

It is because the athletes who play the game have convinced the owners and networks that nobody can paint a good picture of the game unless they’ve played the game – “been there.” Tell me, what is the point of having a sporting event called by someone who played the game if he doesn’t have the verbal skills to tell you where he’s been? Some of these guys sound like they played the game without a helmet. They are either working so hard and so focused on learning the trade that their personality disappears, or all they have is a “jock in the locker room” personality.  Merlin Olson was a fine announcer when he started.  He had a great sense of humor and didn’t overwhelm you with details.  But within a couple of years he had worked so hard to learn the trade and become professional that the sense of humor had disappeared in a hail of prepared notes.

So now we have booths full of jocks. These are guys (nice guys, I’m sure) who either don’t know or don’t use proper English. A lot of the NFL broadcasts have a jock doing the color, but at least they generally have a professional doing the play-by-play and keeping the broadcast on point.

Baseball is not following that model. More and more, as the Red Barbers, Ernie Harwells and Jack Bucks die off, baseball teams are allowing their broadcasters to have two or three ex-players in the booth. Among the worst cases I have heard in the last few years are the Minnesota Twins, Chicago Cubs and White Sox. John Gordon forgets to tell you what happened to the ball (fair or foul, in or out) until summarizing after the play is over and Dan Gladden is a nice guy, but in my opinion he doesn’t belong in the booth. The Cubs and White Sox combine poor language with what I consider one of the worst sins in a broadcaster- being a homer and over-doing it. Sportscasters should love the team they cover, and they should rave about the great plays and bemoan the bonehead ones by their teams. However, they should still respect and report what the other team does, and admire a great play. A great play is a great play and a bonehead play is a bonehead play, no matter what color the uniform.


2 Responses to “Pro’s disappearing from booth”

  1. 1 Aaron December 16, 2008 at 8:50 am

    Welcome to the blogosphere Callen! I have to agree with you on Bob Costas and John Gordon is the most painful radio sportscaster to listen to ever! Besides forgetting the details of the game, he rarely tells what the score of the game is, for those of us who haven’t been listening to the entire game, which is extremely frustrating. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to listen to 2 or 3 innings before getting a score, usually just as I drive in the driveway and would have gotten it soon anyway. Isn’t it mandatory to report the score after each inning at least!?!

    Anyway, I enjoyed the rant… and now for a shameless plug: I started a blog recently too, mainly just to share fun things that are going on in my life. Check it out at

  2. 2 ytram December 22, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    But it would be hard for sports fans to be deprived of experiencing
    the fine diction and elocution skills of Drew Pearson and Dan Jiggets.

    I love Vin Sculley, too; doing the Dodgers, he weaves a narrative;
    makes the game into a story. My only criticism of him is that when he does a game on national TV, he can get too carried away with the literary references: “This game reminds me of Charles Dickens: ‘It
    was the best of times,it was the worst of times!’”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: