With the Twins about to hit the road I thought it was time to dust off the old chestnut of "Clash of the Talking Heads" wherein I review other broadcast teams around baseball (it's one of my mom's favorites). It was convenient because, while I normally don't get to watch any network tv (part of MLB.tv's blackout program) I could watch this one with my friend Leslie who both roots for the Angels and has cable tv!
Tonight's contestants: Jon Miller and Joe Morgan (ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball Team)
Credentials: As of this year both of them are hall of famers (Miller for decades covering the Orioles and Giants, Morgan for...you know...playing the game). Which means whether they are your cup of tea or not, they will be broadcasting together until they decide to stop. [Though it should be noted that rumors of animosity between the two may make a split over "creative differences" more likely than with other announcing teams]
Analysis: Unquestionably the best pairing of network tv announcers working today. Even if you can't stand one or both of them, I'd be shocked to hear the average fan say that Joe Buck and Tim McCarver (Fox's team) are better. It's a shame that ESPN/ABC don't have playoff rights any more because it means that Miller and Morgan play golf while less talented talking heads prattle on and on throughout October. Whatever else you say about them you have to admit that Miller has almost every angle of the game covered, with a finger on the crucial stat, a germane anecdote about players or fans and no clear bias to any one team. Meanwhile, Morgan clearly knows his stuff, and delights in telestrating proper alignment during swings and particular intricacies of defenses (if Bert's telestrating skills got that much air time I think we might start seeing doodles of funny hats and mustaches on players). After decades on air together, they have a rapport--and if it's soured over the years, it's hard to tell. The one critique (made by Barry, a new student in my program and a Twins fan) is that Morgan tends to repeat a piece of analysis until he has something else to say. This was the case when Baker nearly picked off Angels Center Fielder Peter Bourjous, thorughout the rest of the at bat (and it was a long one) Morgan kept explaining again and again how Bourjous beat it.* The other minor flaw I can point out is that Miller, for all his years in the booth, doesn't quite employ the humor the way other announcers do--it's not as though he were reading the news, but he's so consumed with the game that a little ribbing and joshing with Morgan appears out of the question.
*Note: Even this wouldn't be too bad, except it meant we got a lot of close-ups of Peter Bourjous, who--while undoubtedly a nice guy--looked like a mannequin come to life, and not in the "what-an-hilarious-premise-like-that-movie-Mannequin" kind of way but in the "oh-my-god-that-mannequin-can-steal-bases-and probably-my-soul" kind of way.
Best quote: Honestly, I was having so much fun chatting with Leslie, Barry and Jen (a Yankees fan, but please don't hold that against her) that I didn't really hear a great quote from the announcers. However I did manage to call Bourjous: "Johnny Q. Mascara" and Leslie reacted to my plethora of "Minnesotans love Torii Hunter" stories by saying: "Yeah...but you guys have snow...so...you lose"--oh Californians.
Rating: 4.5 Blylevens. (Undoubtedly they are talented, but they aren't your hometown crew. Still, better than most everyone else)