Baseball’s announcers say nothing worthwhile

By Dave Fultz

The baseball playoffs are well underway and one thing is clear: There is utterly nothing to be gained by listening to the postseason announcers on either TBS or FOX.

I can’t believe that even after lifetimes spent in and around baseball, guys like Chip Caray, Buck Martinez, Tim McCarver, Dick Stockton and whoever else we have had to listen to this October can possibly say so little when given the opportunity to reach so many.

In lieu of any actual analysis, baseball fans have been forced to sit through countless corny catchphrases and tired national story lines from the play-by-play guys, while “color” analysts either sit on their hands or tell inane stories from when they played the game way back when.

The color guys can be let off the hook, at least a little, because it is a part of their job to help fill airtime and provide a lighter side to the commentary, but their partners have no excuse. Play-by-play announcers are supposed to guide the broadcast and coax the most pertinent information and analysis out of the former players that now reside with them in the booth.

But this has rarely been the case since the playoffs started because of the bland, superficial silliness that has come out of the mouths of Caray, Stockton and others over the last two weeks. As I write this, the Rays are shellacking the Red Sox by a score of 5-0 in the fifth inning, and I have yet to hear one substantive piece of analysis from anyone in the booth.

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    Caray and his cronies discussed the merits of the Rays’ Carl Crawford, calling him “one of the best left fielders left in the American League playoffs.” As there are only two starting left fielders – Crawford and Boston’s Jason Bay – left in the AL playoffs, I think it’s a safe bet that Crawford might be “one of the best.”

    It is just this kind of pointless, unnecessary statement that I’m talking about. These guys have the opportunity to reach millions of baseball fans that may not know much about the game, to teach people a little something and to make their words count.

    And even when they try their hand at actual analysis, there’s a chance they are just downright wrong.

    In a post on my favorite blog, FireJoeMorgan.com, Caray is taken to task on something he said during game two of the ALCS. I don’t mean to keep picking on him, but ‘ole Chip has not had a good couple of games as the lead announcer in this series.

    During game two, a graphic comes up on the screen stating that the team who won game one of the ALCS has gone on to win the series 12 of 22 times (55 percent). Caray follows that up by saying, “As you can see, winning game one … very important.” FJM writer Ken Tremendous responds with “or the minimum amount of ‘important’ a thing can be and still be considered ‘important’ in any way.”

    Gaffes like these aren’t something to crucify someone over, but they run rampant through baseball commentary – on TV and in print – and are easily noticeable to the fan who pays even the slightest amount of attention. And it doesn’t get my goat that mistakes are made, but that those responsible have no mainstream accountability whatsoever.

    Web sites like FJM and AwfulAnnouncing.com are trying to bring credibility back to sports journalism, and I urge you to check them out next time you have a free minute. Not only might you get educated a bit, but you’ll probably get a laugh out of it too.

    And if that is too much, just do me a favor next time you turn on a game during the ’08 playoffs. Get a pen and paper and mark down a tally anytime you hear an announcer or analysts make a comment that is absolutely meaningless or just downright wrong.

    Better yet, you can get your buddies together and turn it into a drinking game, at least then you’ll be far enough gone by the third inning or so that you won’t be paying enough attention to the announcers to remember how bad they are.

    Dave Fultz is a senior in Media. He can be reached at [email protected].