Would you just call the game already??!! I can’t tell you how many times that phrase has been uttered in this house (by me). Especially when the Red Sox are 1) on the West Coast or 2) not on NESN. If they are on the West Coast, the game runs too late, so we end up watching another game. If they aren’t on NESN, we have different, really bad announcers. Don’t let anyone tell you that any person who played a game or knows it well can be a good announcer. It’s a lie!
The Red Sox NESN announcers, Don Orsillo on the play-by-play and Jerry Remy on analysis, do a great job of balancing calling the game and giving stats and background info. That’s really the key, balance. They are obviously hoping the Red Sox win, but they don’t sound like such “homers” that you forget there are two teams playing.
They do one other thing that make them fun to listen to – they have fun and don’t make it sound like a matter of life and death. I think I enjoy listening to Don and the “Remdawg” for another reason. Jerry is from my generation. I always guessed that he was, based on the music and events he refers to from time to time. Then I found out the truth. I am two days older than Jerry Remy. Two November babies. No wonder I find him so funny. I could write more on the Remdawg, but that would take me away from my primary focus here.
Announcers. Especially television announcers. You are supposed to have two announcers with different job descriptions. You have the announcer whose responsibility is to do the “play-by-play,” to tell you what is happening during the game. Someone to tell you what the action is. Facts. The other announcer is supposed to do analysis or “color.” That includes statistics, players’ personal information and stories about the sport in general. This should not be difficult. Just call the game.
What you often get, in actuallity, are two guys (hardly ever a woman) who are really interested in one team more than the other. This is especially annoying when they are doing a national broadcast instead of a local station broadcast, and thus are supposed to be somewhat impartial. An example of this that sticks in my craw … I mean, in my mind … is when Fox did the Red Sox/Yankees games in Boston instead of the local crew. We had Joe Buck and Tim McCarver – or as we fondly call them, Joe S**k and Tim McYankee – to listen to. All they talked about was the Yankees and the their big players. You would never have known, if you weren’t told, that the game was actually in Fenway Park in Boston or that there was another team playing. We’ve listened to them do games in which the Yankees did not play and they still talk about the Yankees, who aren’t even in the game! Just call the game!
Another thing that gets tedious is the color man who won’t stop talking long enough for the play-by-play guy to call the game. We get to hear the color man’s experiences and thoughts and speculation about what could happen next. Often the analyst can also read players minds – at least that’s what I have to assume is happening when he keeps telling us what various players are thinking! Just analyze the play. Just call the game.
One more thing that drives me crazy is the quantity of statistics these guys are fed by “the truck”. Now I have nothing against some stats. They help you know whether the player or team being discussed has a prayer of winning. But do they really think the rest of us are going to remember or care about all those numbers. Folks who want stats can find them easily in these days of the internet. Don’t bore us to tears during the game. Just call the game.
I’ve written about baseball because that’s what’s in season right now. And let’s face it, the game can be slow and the announcers may have a bit more time to fill. My real love is hockey and I’m looking forward to hockey season with its action. But I am not looking forward to many of the hockey announcers, who are guilty of all the above transgressions. Frankly, I think it’s worse in hockey, because the action is so fast and so much can be missed while the analyst babbles on and on and on … There are only a few hockey announcers who do it right. They tell you what’s happening. My favorites are Mike Lange, who used to do play-by-play for the Pittsburgh Penguins on TV but is now relegated to radio (sometimes we mute the TV and deal with the few second radio delay on the internet so we can hear him), and Rick Jeanneret and Jim Lorentz who do the games for the Buffalo Sabres. The latter team is probably the best hockey team in broadcasting. Why? They just call the game.
I think I’m sensitive to the flaws of the majority of announcers because I often end up listening to the games instead of watching them. When I am on the computer, the TV has its back to me. So I listen. Sadly, there are many times when I can’t really follow what’s going on in the game. It makes me think about those who have poor eyesight and rely on the announcer for their understanding of the action. I also think about those who are not really familiar with a sport and their introduction to it is one of these sad excuses for announcers.
There ought to be a test: an announcer must call a game for which a blind person who knows the sports grades him. Pass or fail. No passing grade, no work on TV or radio. I suspect we’d have a lot of unemployed announcers.
But at least the ones left would do it right – they’d just call the game!!