Monday, April 21, 2003

Off-Day Chatter

This extravaganza of baseball viewing my sister and brother-in-law have subjected me to has been way beyond a better way to follow the Mets. True, it may cost me my marriage, but it has been amazing thus far. One of the more interesting perks has been the exposure to announcers, promo spots, and even local ads of markets outside this one. There is a reason Joe Morgan and Jon Miller are hired by ESPN to call games twice a week -- they're about the best guys going; still, mixing it up is the way to go, and this Extra Innings package does that expertly. Different games within a series may flip-flop the coverage of home and visiting announcers. Plus, the local broadcasts of any given team may vary across several different stations with their own crews. A few thoughts on these baseball bonuses encountered thus far:

-- [Starting back at home] Jim Palmer and Michael Reghi were much better served by the presence of Mike Flanagan last year. They're decent, but his raspy potshots were better. Too bad he disappeared to the abyss known as the Orioles front office.
-- You'd think the megabucks YES Network would have a better voice. Play-by-play guy Michael Kay comes off like any old jackass Yanks fan, and Paul O'Neill is pretty wooden. Ken Singleton's solid, but he was a Met, for Pete's sake. Jim Kaat is good, but he's only been on once since I've been tuning in. In another chapter of Saw That Joke Coming Down Madison Avenue, just say no to YES.
-- Without a doubt the pleasant surprise of the young season is Boston commentator Jerry Remy. The wry, dry humored former Red Sox second baseman is much better than his NESN straight man Don Orsillo, and a significant improvement over the ordinary tandem of Sean McDonough and Bob Montgomery who called games during my summers on Cape Cod. It helps that Remy is a Mass native -- he comes off like a (very knowledgeable) local and therefore crass Sawx fan in an industry filled with dime-a-dozen ex-jocks and unmemorable broadcasting school grads.
-- It seems like some of the worst teams have the best guys in the booth. I have heard good supplemental commentary from the crews of the Marlins, Pirates, Devil Rays, and, yes, the Mets.
-- It's darkly humorous to watch the Detroit Tigers promotional ads right about now. They're 1-16 or so and still run those goofy ads where the guys look tough and talk about the new season and how they're going to dominate. The Yankees can get away with these things, as they're dominant and essentially cheesy in both roster and fan base. The Tigers . . . not so much.
-- Low budget local ads -- it's great to see these have not gone away. Sullivan's Tires outside of Boston is running some beauties on NESN.
-- The Braves' Skip Caray is probably the most imitated voice among the bunch. You know you've done it.
-- Vin Scully of the Dodgers is still about the best out there. Timeless.
-- Finally, the Mets. I mentioned the stellar, snide work of Keith Hernandez a few days ago. I usually catch Healy and Ted Robinson, though when it's Tom Seaver it's much better. And Kiner is good for a few unintentional laughs (he's the Mets' version of Phil Rizzuto), but he is seriously slipping. All in all, the Mets' crew is pretty strong, and much better than the Yanks.

And it's still just April. Take note, gift-givers -- this is the one that keeps on giving.

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