What Makes A Good Baseball Broadcast?

"And I'll just aim this at Kay's head annnnnnnnd.....booyah!"

As someone who has a bit of experience with broadcasting, and by experience I'm totally talking about my basement Ustream broadcasts during Yankee games on occasion, I've been meaning to bring up this topic once the regular season got underway. Actually, by experience, I meant my job which lets me watch pretty much every team's broadcast throughout the entire year. Now I have an idea what type of broadcasts I like, because lord knows I am forced to listen to some of the worst. I'll always mention in the threads that I love listening to Hawk Harrelson of the White Sox, but that's simply because he is so god awful that I find it hilarious, and it's that hilarity that makes the broadcast that much more enjoyable. It's like intentionally watching a bad movie. Some movies are so bad that they transcend ratings and are good. That's how I, and pretty much everyone I work with, feel about the Hawk; god awful but hilarious if you're working. I imagine many a White Sox fan cannot stand him, especially considering there's a website called HeaveTheHawk.com which is devoted to his removal from the booth. My point is, just like with the Marlins HR abomination, sometimes people just embrace the awful.

This is what leads us into today's IGYARticle regarding Broadcast Booths. More after the jump...

In case you missed it, in February, FanGraphs had a Broadcaster Rankings system which tried to gauge what broadcast booths "might best reflect the sorts of inquiry and analysis performed here at the site." Here are the listings...

Broadcaster Rankings (Intro & #31)

Broadcaster Rankings (#30 - #21)

Broadcaster Rankings (#20 - #11)

Broadcaster Rankings (#10 - #1)

For me, there are three obvious choices on this list. Vin Scully as #1 isn't even a question, and the Hawk as #31 is also not even a question. The other obvious choice is the Mets broadcasters as #2, as they really are that enjoyable and know their stuff. Personally, I think the Marlins, Rays, and Mariners announcers are ranked way too high on the list. What I do like about this list is how it points out the Yankees major flaw with their broadcast booth, in that they have way too many broadcasters. While I don't think that Michael Kay is the worst announcer in the majors, I definitely do not think he's the best, especially considering that I think Ken Singleton is a far better play by play announcer. I've said many a time that I would love a permanent broadcast booth of Ken Singleton, David Cone, and Paul O'Neill, but I'm guessing the reason they have so many broadcasters is that some of them cannot commit to a full season. Sigh.

One of the main problems with Michael Kay is that he's primarily a radio announcer, not a TV announcer. With radio, you really do have to keep talking the entire game because it's radio and you cannot see what's going on. Gary Cohen was originally a radio broadcaster, but he made the transition to TV announcer much better than Kay did. Well that and he's pretty much a better announcer. A lot of people don't consider Gary Cohen a "homer" but he is actually a die-hard Mets fan. He manages to keep it out of the booth though (except when they're off air which is seriously some of the funniest shit you'll ever hear from a broadcast booth). The other problem with Michael Kay is that except for his HR call, one of the few things I do like about his broadcasts, he really has no identity of his own and sometimes quite shamefully tries to copy others. I have yet to hear him say "Put it on the left side" after a Yankees win, which is a really good thing.

I know many Yankees fans here enjoy listening to Cone because he tends to embrace the newer age of statistics and loves to point them out during the game at times. With O'Neill, I don't know if he goes with newer age stats, but at least he has a general clue of what he's talking about, plus he makes it a point to insult Kay during almost every broadcast. That is what makes Cone & O'Neill so good, for me at least, in that not only do they know what they are talking about, but they are genuinely entertaining to listen to during the game. That's what makes the Mets booth so good. That's what makes Vin Scully so good as well. For me, that's the most enjoyable type of broadcast booth. Mind you, there are broadcasters out there who do know their stuff, but are intolerable to listen to for an entire three hour game, like the Mariners for example. Whereas I'm not sure if the Twins broadcasters always know what they are talking about, but I find their broadcasts entertaining, and for a good reason and not a masochist reason like with Hawk. It's not easy to find that balance, as well as a play by play guy who can shut up at times, but they are out there.

So PSA, what type of broadcast booth do you enjoy? For those of you with MLB.tv who watch other baseball games despite the Yankees, are there any broadcasters you enjoy listening to? What are you looking for when you watch a game? Or, would you just prefer the ambient sounds from the game itself rather than listening to anyone at all?

Also, should I do more broadcasts during the year?

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