The Option of Silence

There are times when a team is inseparable from its broadcaster.  Think Jack Buck.  Ernie Harwell.  Phil Rizzuto.  Those golden voices had the rare ability to know when to shut up and when to comment, when to add something to the game and when to let the game be the game.

The truth is: baseball doesn’t need commentary.

Sure, it’s helpful at times and yes, I would be a liar if I didn’t admit getting a kick out of the “OUTTA HERE”s, the “JIMMY JACK”s and “OPPO TACO”s.  Baseball, at its root, is game of great sounds: PA announcers and bat cracks and balls slamming mitts.  But more often than not, I find myself at great odds with the voices who are currently mucking up my baseball game on television watching experiences.

The White Sox, in particular, harbor the most egregious of all audio-felons.  I mean, Hawk Harrelson’s commentary is almost entirely made up of stupid catchphrases that he donned eons ago.  And while they may have been cute back then, they are nothing short of annoying now.

Hawk is certainly not alone.  There are countless other offenders.  Michael Kay.  Rod Allen.  Bert Blyleven.  I have nothing against them, personally, but often the commentary they provide is as mindless as it is boring, and I would like the option to shut them up.

Because MUTE ain’t the answer.

I want to hear the ump’s calls.  I want to hear the beer guy in section 113.  I want to hear the crowd roar on a go-ahead RBI double.

Back in 2009, SNY — a station that, ironically, has one of the better broadcasting teams in baseball — experimented with something they called “The Silent Sixth”, where they did just that: they shut up.  Silence.  No talking.  But they cranked up the sound on the field mics and I can attest: it was a true thing of beauty.  Soon I found myself tuning into lots of Mets games come the sixth inning, enjoying the pure sounds of the game the way they were meant to be enjoyed before egocentric legacy hunters and no-limit-in-yer-face advertising began trashing the game (seriously, does every bullpen move have to be sponsored by Domino’s?).

In this era of technocracy, where I can watch every single baseball game on my television, my computer AND my phone, where I can choose which broadcast I want to listen to WHENEVER I want, one would think that providing the option for silence would not be asking too much.

Baseball titans (King Bud, Joe Torre, whoevs), do me a favor and git ‘er done.

And don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.




  1. Bryan Scrafford

    I agree. When Cal Ripken broke the consecutive games strike, I vividly remember the game stopping for about twenty minutes as he was honored by the fans. I think one of the best parts of that moments was that the broadcasters hardly spoke and just let viewers take in the scene. In my opinion, it was a great way to let folks view a moment of MLB history.

  2. Red State Blue State

    I remember that moment, for the same reasons you describe. I’ve seen it done with the best of broadcasters… I recall Jack Buck’s “Pardon me while I stand and applaud” when McGwire hit 62. It was pretty cool to let the game be the sound. Wish we could have that all of the time though… if we want.

  3. Michael David

    I’m in total agreement, Jeff. The Silent Sixth would be great, and should be adopted by every team. I also agree about some of the announcers…yikes. Rod Allen needs to be informed that Ryan Raburn is not a ‘special’ player, nor is he a future HOFer…
    The baseball sounds are sometimes the best parts of the game, and is how we really get caught up in it.
    ‘Minoring In Baseball’

  4. Red State Blue State

    Blue Jays Nest — Kay is awful. Almost as awful as Hawk. But the Yanks also have an AWFUL radio team in Sterling and Waldman. Talk about ear bleeding…
    Mike — Exactly… Rod Allen really gets under my skin sometimes. Sometimes I feel hijacked by the commentary!

  5. Emma

    Agree with Jane. Vin knows how to use the crowd. When Vin is done on the radio I switch to the Spanish announcers of Jaime Jarrin who has been doing the Dodger games for 52 years and to Pepe Yniguez who has been doing it for 12+ years. Jaime does innings 1-3, 7-9 and Pepe 4-6. When it goes into extra innings, they do an inning each. I am lucky and blessed to have great announcers in English and Spanish.
    p.s. Heading to New York tomorrow for 5 days there!

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