The Best -- And Worst -- Of Baseball Broadcasting


Finally we have a reason behind Dan's struggles in life.
  • Finally we have a reason behind Dan's struggles in life.
The noted sabermetric site Fangraphs recently did something a little unusual for such a hardcore stat-oriented website. They ranked baseball's television broadcasting teams. And while I might have expected them to come up with a statistic or formula to express the quality -- or lack thereof -- of any given broadcasting team (I'm thinking something like WAR, only with spitball anecdotes and annoying home run calls as the component stats), they actually went much less scientific. They just took a poll. 

Actually, it's a very interesting survey, giving some insight into what obsessive, hyper-nerdified baseball fans value in their broadcasting. And it turns out said obsessive, hyper-nerdified fans value, well, pretty much the same things everybody else does. 

So what about the really important question, I can hear you asking your computer screen. How did our own local team do? 

About like you would expect, actually. 

At the top of the heap is the incomparable Vin Scully on the home broadcasts for the LA Dodgers. I'm not actually a huge fan of Scully, at least not to the extent many others are -- I grew up with the more excitable Jack Buck and have always found Scully to be a bit too laconic for my tastes. Even so, the man is a national treasure and one of the few truly great broadcasters left. 

The New York Mets' team comes in second, and I completely agree with it. As much as I still despise the pond scum from Queens (I am a child of the 80s, after all), I have to admit Ron Darling, Keith Hernandez, and Gary Cohen is as good as it gets. They know their stuff, there's no catchphrase foolishness, and the interaction between them is pitch-perfect. Most three-man booths seem crowded, with the members constantly talking over each other, but the Mets' team absolutely make it work. Fantastic. 

The Giants come in third, Astros fourth (funny side note: the Astros received roughly one-third as many votes as most of the other top teams; Houston apathy for the win), and the Red Sox round out the top five. What's that, you say? You can't believe the Cardinals' team hasn't been mentioned yet? Well, you may not want to hold your breath if you're starting from the top. 

The Cardinals' broadcast team of Dan McLaughlin, Al Hrabosky, and Ricky F. Horton ranks 29th of the 31 teams in major league baseball. Only the Dodgers' away team and the apocalyptically awful Hawk Harrelson-led White Sox team ranked below Dan 'n' Al 'n' Rick. 

Key quotes about the Cardinals' team: 

"I shouldn't feel like sleeping when my favorite team is on TV." 

"Whenever possible, I try to play some sort of alternate broadcast while the regular TV broadcast is on mute." 

I can absolutely agree with both of those sentiments. Between the inane banter putting me nearly to sleep and the moronic anti-stat rants we regularly have to listen to out of Al Hrabosky, I tend to mute the television and just throw on a record. (Leonard Cohen goes surprisingly well with baseball.) They further note Dan McLaughlin is a passable play-by-play guy, but the other two bring him down into the depths. I also agree with that assessment.The booth of Horton and Hrabosky is just a cataclysm of crapitude. 

My favorite quote of all, though: 

"Al the reason I'm an alcoholic." 

Is everybody else as certain as I am that last quote came from McLaughlin? It would certainly explain his drinking troubles over the past couple years. 

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