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.
It’s easy to explain what Ernie Harwell meant to the everyday working man.
Ernie Harwell was the everyday working man.
He was also the guy who’d pull over and help you change your tire.
The type of gentleman you’d want to have stand up at your wedding… for those of you who get married and stuff like that.
Ernie Harwell was many things to many people, but no one can deny that Ernie Harwell was baseball.
Rest in peace, brother. Rest in peace.
My venerable colleague and longtime friend, Allen Krause, has been alive for thirty years now (as of today); I just put myself in his shoes and realized how miserable he must be having not seen his precious Tigers win a championship for a quarter of a century.
So this one’s for you, Al.
Just pretend Ernie Harwell is saying “Happy Birthday” while Gibby circles the bases.
Happy friggin’ birthday, pal!
Jeffy & RSBS Dear Readers Galore
Wait. So who won the Home Run Derby? The only participants I even heard about were Chase Utley (for his expressions of love toward New Yorkers and Yankee fans) and Josh Hamilton (who apparently smoked super crack that allows him to destroy baseballs). Oh right. Justin Morneau. Oh well. Nothing to talk about there.
But there’s plenty to talk about when it comes to Josh Hamilton. Or at least that’s what I gather from watching Joe Buck’s play-by-play at the All-Star Game the other night. From Hamilton’s inability to brush his teeth by himself the morning after the Derby (I’m still not sure what Buck was trying to say) to a sloppy and drawn out True Hollywood Story rendition of Hamilton’s life, Mr. Buck managed to alienate most viewers within 15 minutes of the game’s first pitch. And that’s only if you were lucky enough to tune in late and miss the pre-game festivities.
However, none of this should really come as a surprise. Joe even recently admitted that he’s been phoning it in for awhile now. I mean, his on-air performance is about as thrilling as a Hilary Clinton stump speech and almost as inspiring as John McCain’s control of important health care issues.
It’s just sad that this is what Jack Buck’s kid has come to.
Anyway, it could be worse I suppose. He could make odd drunken sounding noises like his broadcast partner, Tim McCarver. Makes me wish for the old days, with guys who could really call a game. Guys like Ernie Harwell. And that’s all I’m gonna say because otherwise I’m going to come across as an old codger. At least it’s better than auditorily fellating an almost Home Run Derby champ.